The Art Journal Adventure prompt this week was “heart” but, of course, I did not go all sweet and whimsical with my take on that prompt. Rather than the typical “love” heart, I decided to create an illustration inspired by an anatomical heart. Don’t expect it to be medical-textbook-accurate, however, because realism isn’t my thing either. What I came up with was a female figure with an exposed heart. I used her hair as a sort of curtain being pulled back to reveal some abstracted ribs and that bright red heart. My first impulse was to show her peeling her skin back to reveal the internal organs so I am glad I came up with the more aesthetically pleasing option of the long, dark hair. I do enjoy working with a limited palette so I kept this illustration to just the monochrome and splashes of red.
Since I was in the yellow section of my Rainbow Art Journal, I wanted to include a page that was about complementary colours. In this case, that meant yellow and purple. I have also been using this art journal to record the art materials I use so this page was created using three Daler Rowney Aquafine watercolours: cadmium yellow, gamboge, and purple lake. I got the illustration to the point that the figure was complete and the background was entirely yellow. Thinking that the yellow background was too bland and that the figure was floating in too much empty space, I added the purple plant forms. I think perhaps I went a bit overboard and now the background is too busy – and the purple a bit too dominant in a page that is supposed to be predominantly yellow. Nevermind that I strayed from my intentions because I quite like the illustration regardless.
My youngest son had major oral surgery yesterday so he was off school and I was off work. While he was snuggled up on the sofa recovering from the anesthesia, I sat with him and worked in my art journal. I had to keep things quick and simple as a result of the context. Inspired by this week’s Art Journal Adventure prompt of “birds and blossoms”, I bashed out this rapid illustration of myself in bird form. The scaffolding is my go-to doodle self-portrait that I just tweak and adapt as required. So, for instance, this time I gave myself very round glasses to be more bird-eye-like and obviously I replaced arms and feet with wings and talons. My son asked if I was drawing myself as a wise owl or a harpy. And that, folks, probably tells you as much as you ever need to know about my parenting modes.
Last week’s Art Journal Adventure prompt was to use black. I know a lot of artists who avoid black, including some who think black should never form part of an artist’s palette, but I am not one of them. You may have noted that I use black a lot. In fact, I have no doubt that black and grey probably feature more in my artwork than any other colours (and, yes, I know black isn’t technically a colour but whatever). I like to use it along with a pop of colour. It’s kind of one of my jams. I am quite comfortable working in monochrome. It may be partly laziness and partly down to limitations of time but I like working with a very limited palette. All of which is to say that for me to use black was not much of a challenge really. My challenge, therefore, was to create visual interest and texture while only using black and grey. I used the Ecoline liquid watercolour used in my previous art journal page for the background. Once I added the black, I realised what a warm grey it is but I opted to use it because I liked the way it pooled to create blossoms and blooms for a bit of soft visual texture. To create the visual texture on the figure’s clothing, I did the old sprinkle salt onto wet watercolour trick. I went entirely overboard with the salt, however, as I was rushing to get out the door to my youngest son’s Open House night at school. Better than ingesting that quantity of salt I suppose but it was definitely too much. No time to even attempt to rectify my action, of course, so I let it be. It definitely resulted in visual texture, that’s for sure.
On Friday – thanks to another dose of snow because this Winter is apparently never going to end – the school district gifted my kids with a delayed arrival and an early dismissal. Yes, you read that correctly. Both ends of the day were curtailed meaning they were in school for a whopping two hours and twenty minutes. My four kids attend three different schools, each of which operates on a different schedule. This staggering meant that my youngest had not long since gone to school before my oldest arrived home again. Meanwhile, I still had to go to work on my regular schedule but with extra Dr Seuss party fun thrown into the mix which meant I was dressed as the Cat in the Hat all day. I got some very peculiar looks and a few chuckles from the other parents at pick up time at my youngest’s school. So, yes, Friday was a bit of a stressful day and that meant that, when I got home that afternoon, I decided to sit at my art table to decompress – and fortunately my late afternoon schedule was flexible since all my kids were home by that point.
Last week’s Art Journal Adventure prompt was “Flame”. Fire and ashes have been recurring themes in my art journal. This time I thought about a figure representing a matchstick. I used orange and yellow ink for the background, letting the ink do its thing in wet paper to create random forms and puddles of pigment and hopefully suggest flames. My Daniel Smith Lunar Black was the perfect paint for the torso of the figure since the way it granulates and separates was so reminiscent of a struck, burned out match.
I have been working on an illustration commission that is giving me lots of “crisis of confidence” anxiety that has led to lots of mental blocks. I, therefore, had to take a break and do something that was still arty but much looser, something that was not following a plan or a vision, just to be playful and make me feel less intense in my creativity. Time to tootle around in my art journal then. I used an Art Journal Adventure prompt of “23” because it allowed me to be abstract and just produce 23 of something without it all having to generate an overall illustration or coherent image. Indeed, needing a break from illustration as I was, I didn’t use a pencil or a pen to create any sort of guidelines and just went straight in with a brush absolutely loaded with water and some paint. What I ended up with was a collection of 23 (if I counted correctly!) overlapping pebble shapes. They aren’t trying to communicate anything, they aren’t about anything, they are simply shapes on a page. This page was just the quick liberating exercise I needed to recharge my batteries and return to the illustration job.
My kids and I are Harry Potter fans so, finding time to work in my art journal this weekend, I decided to illustrate wee me at Hogwarts School. I am pretty sure I would have hated boarding school had I attended but I think I could have been persuaded to enrol in Hogwarts, even though the students appear to be in perpetual danger. It’s just a quick ink and watercolour illustration of wee me in my Hufflepuff uniform practicing the Expecto Patronum charm. My patronus is a seal so that is what is emerging from my wand.