Summer break has not gotten off to the best start in terms of the weather here in PA. We have had deluges of rain for several days on the trot and thunderstorms in the evening. No exaggeration, my street looked like a creek at one point on Wednesday. I did not emigrate from the rainy west coast of Scotland to America for this weather, no siree. * The only upside to this ridiculous level of precipitation is that largely being confined indoors means more time for art – and cooking and baking, which I don’t blog about.
This week’s Art Journal Adventure prompt was the letter “A” so really broad scope to do whatever I wanted really. Maybe it is the preschool teacher in me but “A” immediately made me think, in this order, “Apple, alligator, aardvark, armadillo” and that was as far as I needed to go in my mental dictionary because I determined “armadillo” was it. And not just any armadillo, oh no, but a pink fairy armadillo. My 12 year old did not believe me that those are a real creature so I forced him to google. I literally would not let him leave the room until he had googled and I had proved that pink fairy armadillos are indeed a real life thing. What pink fairy armadillos do not have in real life is fairy wings, or wings of any kind, but I wanted to add them just to accentuate the pink and magical quality of these wee critters. It is an awful lot of pink on one page but, on such a grey and miserable day, lashings of bold pink were welcome. It was also fun to do a more whimsical and childish illustration again.
*And I cursed myself by writing this blog post. As I was drafting it, we were walloped by another ferocious rainstorm and our basement flooded. We used our basement for storage (since our house has no attic) and as a playroom for the kids. We have lost a great number of possessions and only time will tell what the damage is – and what the related expense is to remedy it. I can only assume that the sump pump was overwhelmed and failed. I still feel like I jinxed myself.*
One of my sons is obsessed with Greek Mythology – all of my kids were at one point – and that means that, thanks to osmosis, I have become a bit of a Greeky Mythology nerd myself. The mythological figures, especially the monsters, therefore often appear in my sketchbooks. A few years ago now, that theme was even the basis for a challenge I did to draw 40 drawings in 40 days. I have contemplated returning to that theme for a whole series of drawings – but without the time challenge – but that shall be for some future juncture. For now, I decided to draw Icarus in my Rainbow Art Journal.
I am currently working through the yellow section of my art journal and bold yellow suggested sunshine and sunshine suggested Icarus’ wings melting … This was my thought process. This was another page that had some little underlying texture as I had previously scraped leftover white acrylic over the page. You can spot the lumps and bumps. I kept the illustration simple and, therefore, kept the colour palette limited. I generally suck at drawing wings but I actually really like the way these turned out given that they are supposed to be a) manmade and b) broken. I tried using spray inks to create some visual texture between the sun disc and the falling figure but it seems that the inks don’t perform well on top of acrylic – hello, learning opportunity – but it adds a sort of glow around the sun so at least it did not ruin the illustration.
Last week’s Colour Me Positive theme was Expanding and the associated quotation, provided as an additional prompt, was “Until you spread your wings, you’ll never know how far you can fly”. Rather than strictly focus on the theme, therefore, my imagination ran with the visual image of wings. The phoenix has recurred a few times in my art these past couple of years and that was the idea that developed on my art journal page in response to this prompt too. As I created the page while meeting up with my local art journaling group, I kept things pretty simple, using portable supplies. The fiery colour is pooled and spattered ink and I used black micron pens for drawing the winged figure. I quite like how this turned out and might use it as a preparatory sketch for a more developed piece at some point.
I have been in a bit of a mixed media doldrums in recent weeks. I feel as if I have been going backwards rather than forwards with my skills, making messes rather than progress. Granted I have had two weeks of having a different kid home sick from school following on from a week of having no heating in the house, I have been juggling a lot, my free time has been squeezed and choked, my creative mojo has been wilting, but I feel as if my mixed media abilities have atrophied or at best plateaued. This week’s Life Book lesson, therefore, was a test of whether I could get things heading in the right direction again.
This week’s lesson was taken by Tamara Laporte which was a good start since Tam is always upbeat and sunshiney and positive with a “can do” attitude. I also find that I can better mesh my own style with her lessons than with some other tutors. The learning focus of the lesson was creating a darker skin tone for a winged figure. There was a second learning opportunity which was using molding paste to create texture but, since I do not own molding paste, I did not do that part of the lesson.
The things I like about my painting are the peacock feather, jewel colours; the way the green eyes pop; and the way the tilted head makes the figure look as if she is daydreaming. While it may not represent great progress with mixed media, I at least feel as though this is a step forward rather than backwards. Let’s hope I keep moving in that direction.
The prompt for the second week of Colour Me Positive was about being brave. Given that I have decided that this year, in order to make progress in several areas of my life, I need to quit fearing failure and learn to take more risks, the theme chimed well with my goals for the year. The quotation for this week was “She took the leap and built her wings on the way down”. That too chimed with me because I am such an over-thinker, processing all the possibilities, and such a control freak that I find it difficult to make leaps. Obviously I am capable of making some significant leaps (I emigrated across the Atlantic after all) but it is something I find really challenging.
It does not always happen when I read prompts, but I immediately had an idea for the art journal page. The visual image that formed in my head was of Icarus tumbling through a golden sky. Obviously Icarus’ story is one of failure, hubris and not following parental instructions. However, I thought I could definitely make something out of a winged figure in a golden sky. The second, optional prompt was to use a silhouette. I decided to silhouette the wings because it would save me time, not having to draw all those feather details. The sun is gold paint. It doesn’t photograph well as all the brush marks show but it is nicely metallic. I finished the page by stamping the quotation.