Hello! I am still here. I have not disappeared or abandoned my blogs. I have simply been wall-to-wall busy doing things that are not worth blogging about even if I had had time for writing a blog post. I am stuck at the coal face of life right now and it is all a bit crazy and stressful. Nothing major, nothing dramatic, just the type of stress level that accumulates from a zillion little things piling up. Some of these things might be blog worthy once they are completed but most of it is just run-of-the-mill boring stuff. Anyway, that explains my absence.
Needless to say, with everything I am juggling, I have had little time for art. When I have had a gobbet of free time, I confess that I have been devoting it to family history. This is because I had my DNA tested at the end of 2017 which has put me in contact with lots of other extended family members, including others like me who are very into family history, and we have been exchanging information. I have also found, however, that my creative mojo has been lacking lately – I assume because my stress levels are elevated and my brain just cannot relax and focus enough. This past weekend, however, I decided to force myself to sit down with my art journal for 20 minutes in order to stop my creative joints seizing up and going entirely rusty.
The result of this speedy art session is an illustration of half a dozen narwhals. Why? Why not? Partly I was inspired by two Art Journal Adventure prompts – N and 6 – and partly it was just that I have not drawn narwhals for a while. It is just a simple ink line drawing filled in with some watercolour and scattered with salt. Quick. Simple. Done. Hopefully it will get me out of my art-free rut and back into the swing of creating more regularly again.
On Friday, I went to work wearing a raincoat and carrying an umbrella since a rainstorm was forecast for the weekend. However, while I was at work, snow started to fall. I left work in a blizzard. Thankfully my kids were already on an early dismissal (I cannot remember the last time they were in school for an entire five day week) so two were already home and two I picked up on my way home from work. Just as we walked through the door, hoping to get cosy, looking forward to a steaming cup of tea, the power cut out. And it stayed out. From 2pm on Friday until 1am on Sunday, we had no power whatsoever. No light and no heat is pretty miserable in Winter. We kept ourselves occupied with board games and reading by candlelight. However, my 21st Century kids started to miss screens and WiFi after a mere 12 hours and things were rapidly descending into ‘Lord of the Flies’ territory. Thankfully the power came back on before they started sharpening sticks.
Since I could not do laundry, cook complex meals, or run the vacuum around, I found an unexpected ration of time to spend on art. Sure, I could have dusted but you know how I like to sacrifice dusting so I can get in some art time. I decided to work on last week’s Art Journal Adventure prompt which was simply the letter W with an additional option to use shiny, shimmery or sparkly media. Perhaps it was because I had just illustrated a vampire on the previous page of my journal, but I was in a monster mood. That said, when am I never in a monster mood? For me, therefore, W was for Werewolf and I set about drawing one in ink as the sun slipped towards the horizon and the house became gloomy in the dwindling light. It seemed apt for the subject but drawing in the dark is hard on the eyes. I added the diluted ink and watercolour by candlelight while my fingers shook in the cold. Amazingly, despite the circumstances, the illustration turned out to be completely acceptable. I hope, however, to not be doing too much future art in the cold and dark. I am SO done with Winter!
Last week’s Art Journal Adventure prompt was “2”. I almost immediately decided to draw the Grady twins from ‘The Shining’, which probably tells you something about the workings of my brain. ‘The Shining’ is one of my favourite horror movies because I love how open to interpretation it is, how unresolved it all remains, and how unsettling it is for those very reasons. Those are precisely the same reasons why my husband loathes the movie. The Grady twins are significant in the film in terms of contributing to the disturbing atmosphere and in terms of their symbolism. I drew Danny from ‘The Shining’ for Inktober 2016 but in some ways I am surprised that I have not drawn the Grady twins in many years. Maybe I should add a whole Shining series of illustrations to my ever-growing Art To Do list.
This week’s Art Journal Adventure prompt was “7”. It’s the type of prompt that allows a lot of scope for interpretation and creates a lot of possibilities. I was thinking continents, layers, or colours of the rainbow. I liked the idea of working with lots of vibrant colours as an antidote to all of these desaturated winter days so I decided to go with the rainbow idea. I divided my page up into seven strips and then the little figures with the curling hoods just emerged on the page. They are a little reminiscent of the Alpha and Omega figures I painted recently, though the echo wasn’t conscious. I filled the figures with watercolour, added the facial features, and that was it. Quick and easy.
If you are a regular reader of my blog, you may have noticed that it has been quiet for a while. You may also have noted that – other than finishing off my extended Inktober challenge – I have not produced any art in weeks. The reason for both is that I was laid low by some mysterious nasty viral thing. It probably all started on Thanksgiving Day when I spent a large chunk of the day at Urgent Care. That illness then segued into what I thought was a sinus infection. I get sinus infections a couple of times every winter so I am used to just treating the symptoms and pushing through. But then I started to feel really cruddy. Seriously awful. What I assumed was a series of separate cruddy illnesses was, it appeared, probably all part of a bigger illness. A nurse friend diagnosed me with ‘flu from a distance but who really knows. I just know it was completely debilitating and was the most ill I have felt since I had ‘flu when my 8 year old was a newborn. During my entire working life, I have had seven sick days off work; three of them were this month. I had fevers, chills, aches, zero appetite, and a pounding headache that stretched from the backs of my eyes all the way down my neck. Thankfully my kids are all now old enough to largely fend for themselves and get themselves to and from school because I really was not functioning as a human being let alone as a parent. Since recovering, I have been very tired – perhaps with some sort of post-viral fatigue – so I have had almost zero free time because staying on top of regular work, chores, family life, and festive planning is taking me longer than usual. Still, worse things happen at sea and I am thankful to have my health generally. That, however, is why I have been absent from blogging and why I have not spent any time at my art table.
Still, I was desperate to do something arty because I don’t feel fully like myself unless I am doing something creative. I, therefore, picked up my Art Journal because it does not matter a jot if I complete the page or not or make a mess in my art journal. I looked at last week’s Art Journal Adventure prompt which was to use a quotation. I am not one of those people who has inspirational quotations to hand so I was pondering what to write while overhearing my kids, who were decorating a gingerbread house in an adjacent room. They were listening to Christmas music so that gave me my inspiration. I have been thinking about practicing some brush lettering for a while so I thought that writing down some festive words using a brush dipped in watercolour paint would be an easy, fuss-free way to fill a journal page. My brush lettering still needs a great deal of work, especially since I have a tendency to be inconsistent and to lapse into just using my own handwriting, but it was fun to practice and it was therapeutic to sit down at my art table again and splash around in some paint.
I have not worked in my art journal for weeks. This time of year is just busy to a crazily hectic degree. I decided to grab some little pockets of time over the past few days to produce an illustration in my art journal. I decided to work on an Art Journal Adventure prompt that I had missed. Last week’s prompt was “clown”. That was never going to happen given that I am a massive coulrophobe so I pondered the broader prompt, which was circus. My clown phobia is actually tied up in a milder phobia of circuses. However, I have an interest in the history of sideshows and “freaks” so that was the avenue my creative imagination wandered down. I have illustrated the Pig-Faced Lady of Manchester Square before in my art journal and this time I intended to draw another favourite “freak”, Lionel the Dog-Faced Boy. However, I was so short on art time that I decided to produce a much simpler and more whimsical illustration. I, therefore, chose to depict a version of the Fiji Mermaid. This was a curiosity exhibited by PT Barnum as the mummified remains of a mermaid when it was actually the head and torso of a monkey stitched onto the tail of a fish. This is just a simple ink drawing coloured with a very loose wash of watercolour.
Last week’s Art Journal Adventure prompt was “outward from the centre”. I initially had a much more complex and time consuming idea in mind but it took me over a week to even get the chance to open my art journal so I decided to ditch that idea and produce a simple illustration in ink and watercolour instead. I drew a figure – somewhat inspired by Lady Rainicorn from ‘Adventure Time’ – by taking the prompt literally and starting at the centre and working my way outwards in a spiral. Then it was simply a case of filling in the figure with watercolour and drawing in the details using black ink.