Last week’s Life Book lesson was taken by Tamara Laporte and involved drawing two figures. I had not gotten around to working on Life Book lessons for a few weeks so I was keen to tackle this one over the weekend. I find drawing more than one figure in a piece to be fairly challenging because of the need to make them cohere and keep proportions and angles of light consistent. That was another good reason to complete the lesson. I had to improvise a lot with the lesson because I don’t own the markers that Laporte demonstrated. I, therefore, used ink and watercolour instead. I tried to stay true to one of the focal points of the lesson, however, by working on creating a range of skin tones. This is a skill I definitely still need to develop but I was nevertheless reasonably pleased with the flesh tones I created in this piece because at least I avoided making them too sallow or adding too much ochre.
This week’s Art Journal Adventure prompt was Time which was ironic because it took me the entire week to find the time to even sit down at my art table. I was, however, thinking about the prompt all week and had all sorts of ideas running around in my head. I initially thought of time travel and HG Wells. My 9 year old Steampunk fan was very keen on that idea but just the thought of drawing all sorts of cogs and gizmos made me feel stressed. After that, I had all sorts of different ideas. It was, however, a chat with a friend about our shared love of ‘Blackadder’ that led to what finally appeared on my journal page. The idea of taking a character and plonking them in different periods of history combined with my habit of drawing funny bunnies. I decided to limit myself to eight drawings and to European history so that it did not become a crazily big project. Once I had the idea and some time at my art table, I was able to whip through the illustrations really quickly as they are just ink and watercolour. I chose to depict a bunny as a neanderthal, Roman, Viking, in a Medieval costume complete with codpiece, as an Elizabethan with a large ruff, as a Regency dandy, as a Victorian gent, and as a World War One Tommy.
This week’s Art Journal Adventure prompt was “Here comes the sun”. I wish! This Winter has been so grey and dull that I am longing for sunshine. The intention of the prompt was to create an art journal page featuring the sun. However, as a Beatles fan, I just had the song lyrics playing over and over in my head and I decided to go down that path and create an illustration of The Beatles in my art journal. My 9 year old is a huge Beatles fan so I let him choose the “era” that I would depict. He chose the Sergeant Pepper era and I am glad he did as it made for a brightly coloured page. I drew the illustration with fountain pen and added colour with watercolour. It was fun reducing Ringo, John, Paul, and George to simplified shapes and trying to capture something of their looks and personalities. I must admit I am rather pleased with how this drawing turned out.
There were two lessons in this week’s Life Book course and I managed to find time to complete one of them. The object of the lesson was to create a piece inspired by a hummingbird incorporating collage as one of the media being utilised. I have been using collage regularly as a background or otherwise visually minimal element but it has been a while since I have used collage papers as a prominent feature so that was fun. I used origami papers for the wing and tail feathers and then drew with activated Inktense pencils over the top of the collage in order to make it cohere with the body, which I painted with watercolour. It’s a simple piece in technique and outcome but it provided just the therapeutic decompression I needed in yet another over-scheduled week.
After five weeks, I finally managed to open my art journal and create a page. This was thanks to me actually being able to go along to my art journal meet up group for the first time in months. I decided to use the most recent Colour Me Positive art journal prompt as my jumping off point. The prompt was the theme of “new beginnings”. There are a lot of ways I could have chosen to interpret that prompt, from the personal to the more expansive and profound. I chose, however, to think about the regular beats of life, its cycles and rhythms, and the idea of each passing day being a new beginning came to mind. I decided to illustrate a winter sunrise. I was actually going to keep the page monochromatic, just shades of black and grey, but one of the other ladies at the meet up suggested I add just a splash of colour to the sun so I added some yellow and orange. I cannot decide if that was a positive step to take or not. I think maybe yellow would have looked nice against the greys but not so much the orange. But such experiments are precisely what an art journal is handy for.
Last week’s Life Book lesson was taken by Tamara Laporte and was all about Autumn. Autumn (or Fall as it is called here) is my favourite season. I like the quality of light, the colours of the trees, the justification for getting into my pyjamas earlier in the evening and snuggling on the sofa under a warm blanket, the holidays, and the cosy foods. I was, therefore, eager to carve out some time to work on this particular lesson. I had actually been working with Autumn leaves all week at preschool, getting my little students to make collages with them, make Fall leaf prints, and play in piles of actual leaves outdoors so it felt entirely appropriate to spend my evenings at the end of the week painting Autumn foliage, albeit whimsical, stylised leaves and plants rather than anything even approaching botanical realism.
I have not opened my art journal in over a month. Any free time I have had to spend on art has been rationed for tackling some Life Book or Let’s Face It lessons, my 100 Faces project, or Inktober drawings. There has been no time going spare for just playing with materials and ideas in my art journal. After a couple of intense weeks of being over-scheduled and no real end in sight before Thanksgiving break, I decided I needed some creative play in my art journal just to decompress and recalibrate bit.
I looked at the two most recent Colour Me Positive art journal prompts for inspiration. One of them was about Dreaming and Dreams and one was about Laughter and Joy. Those seemed like the right sort of positive qualities to focus on. I decided to just start drawing and splashing ink and watercolour around and see what emerged on the pages. Perhaps because I have been working on my series of faces, in both instances it was a face that emerged first and then the pages evolved from that starting point. While visually it does not relate much to the theme, I quite like the way the Dream page turned out. The page with the smiling figure, however, went pear-shaped early on with the placement of the hands. I thought I could maybe fudge those and still pull the page together but then another “cat collaboration” happened. Peanut the cat decided to stroll across my page, right through some yellow paint, smearing it right across the face. A jaundiced face was not part of my plan. I kept adding to the rainbow around the edge of the figure, pulling the shape out as a negative space, while trying to decide what to do about the smudgy yellow face. The face, quite frankly, was a little creepy even before the cat’s contribution. Then I remembered the Roald Dahl quotation about good thoughts shining out of a face like sunbeams and thought maybe I could use that as an excuse for the yellow cast to the face. That quotation got stamped on and the page was complete. Not a success in any aesthetic or artistic sense but I played in my journal for long enough to complete two pages so that was a score for creativity.