Last week’s Art Journal Adventure prompt was “trees”. The obvious subject would have been a Christmas tree but I really was not in the mood to draw or paint one. I, therefore, chose to depict a frosty tree but in a slightly abstracted way. I worked on this page gradually over the week before Christmas and got it finished thanks to having two days off work while my kids were still in school. It is a bit sloppy and imperfect thanks to being worked on inconsistently and in a bit of a rush each time but it’s only an art journal page so that’s quite OK.
Next year, I am not signed up for any courses and I have no art based commitments or obligations. I am just going to do my own thing and will try to be disciplined about eking out some art time each week without having a prompt to do so.
For this week’s Life Book lesson, the tutor was Effy Wild. The visual elements of the lesson were connected to some introspection but I mostly choose to gloss over the more art therapy aspects of Life Book and just focus on the art. I also did not have time to view the video demonstrations so I relied on the accompanying PDF to provide me with an understanding of the steps involved. As always, my finished outcome looks little like that of the tutor but I utilised techniques and approaches that she demonstrated. I think the finished treeis reminiscent enough of a plump baobab tree that I wish I had thought of the resemblance sooner in the process and made it completely like a baobob. It was at its core an exercise in patchwork collage and negative space. I used bronze paint over the collage layer for the tree trunk and gold for the leaves so that it would glint in the light and because I look for any excuse to use metallic paints. The tutor’s version incorporated text. I wasn’t feeling that way inclined but do feel my piece lacks a focal point. I just need to ruminate on it for a bit and return to it once I have an appropriate epiphany.
This week’s Life Book lesson was a bonus lesson taken by Jenny Wentworth. The idea was to paint a tree intuitively using layers of watercolour paint, the tree growing from a seed that represented hopes and aspirations, and Wentworth added a female face into her tree trunk so that it became a personification.
I experienced a real creative block with the lesson. I just could not find a way to get started. I even considered skipping the lesson entirely but I am too anal retentive and it didn’t sit right with me to not complete every single lesson in the course. I told myself I would postpone it until I came up with an idea that worked for me. Then my kids – so often a source of inspiration to me – came to my rescue. I asked about their day at school and they asked me what art I had been doing. I explained that I was creatively stuck. They wanted to know what the lesson was about and I explained what Wentworth’s painting looked like as a potential outcome. “So like a lady Groot?” my 8 year old asked. Ping. Light bulb. That was my inspiration: I could anthropomorphise a tree!
I used watercolour and created the small branches and twigs by blowing the paint with a straw. I may not have painted intuitively or used lots of layers of watercolour but that was my nod to being less controlling with the outcome. I did not want to lose the shapes the branches had created plus the leaves are rapidly falling off the trees so I decided to make her an Autumn tree. My 10 year old said she looks like a Dryad. Whether Marvel comics or Greek mythology, the lesson got done and it only took me the time in which dinner was cooking.
It was a relief to find that the majority of the Life Book lessons I had missed were bonus lessons which meant they were instantly accessible, minimum fuss and make efficient use of time. One such lesson was delivered by Rachael Rice – who had delivered an earlier LB lesson on feathers – and was about creating a hamsa hand symbol using watercolour as the medium.
I am not from a culture or faith group that utilises hamsa hand symbols so I did not feel much of a connection to the idea of creating a spiritual symbol that has actual meaning to those who do form part of those cultures or faiths. However, I did engage with the idea of creating art revolving around a hand symbol. It was, after all, one of the first forms of artistic expression that early humans opted for: hand prints on the cave wall.
I painted the whole thing with watercolour and then used paint pen to draw stylised branches and blossoms along the fingers, the palm of the hand becoming a trunk. I quite like the way it turned out, specifically the bleeding together of the colours and the branch patterns.
We were gifted a bonus lesson by Tamara Laporte last week on the Life Book course. Happily, having had enough time to get through the scheduled lesson early in the week, I had time to work on the bonus lesson too.
The lesson was titled ‘Tree of Life’. It was another practice in painting on top of collage elements and depicted a girl swinging from a tree. I departed completely from the style of the exemplar but I used the techniques and the colour palette. All Winter I seem to have been drawn to the cooler colours, the blues, purples, greens and pinks. I probably need to challenge myself to use a warm colour scheme soon. Perhaps that will force Spring to arrive!
This was truly a mixed media effort as I used watercolour (for the face), acrylics, collage, aquamarkers and neocolors all in the one piece. This was a piece that definitely evolved over the days I spent on it and it most certainly went through a scruffy. This was mainly thanks to the background looking chaotic but somehow painting over it and pushing it back saved it from ugliness.
One creeping realisation I have had since starting the Life Book course is that my ability to draw faces has regressed, markedly so, probably as a consequence of having not attended a life drawing class since I left Britain in October 2013. This is something I will need to attend do in some way. I cannot have my skills rusting any further. Time to grease those artistic joints.
The challenge for Week 25 of the Documented Life Project was to incorporate hearts. I have some serious time management problems now that the kids are all home for the Summer break and frankly I was just lacking in inspiration. However, looking through my 8 year old son’s school art folder finally set the creative wheels in motion. I had wanted to do something much more mixed media this week – steering myself away from my default drawing – and had even hoped to experiment with some new techniques. However, it came down to some cheap children’s watercolours and black ink.
This is what I came up with:
For something that took me under fifteen minutes start to finish I am fairly pleased with how it turned out. I am not really one for mawkish sentiment but the quotation seemed to tie in with the image and incorporating some text helped reduce the black in the tree trunk. I wish I had given a little more thought to composition as the branches are very near the top of the page while I have all that empty space at the bottom of the page. That’s what happens when I rush, I suppose.
This is my 8 year old’s art work which inspired my Art Journal page. I like it a whole lot better than my version: