I love the combination of red and turquoise. I love turquoise generally but there is just something about the combination of those two colours that really makes both sing, perhaps because it is an unexpected palette that works surprisingly well. It’s a palette I have used quite a few times in my art work so when it came to the red pages in my Rainbow Art Journal I knew that turquoise would put in a guest appearance. This piece turned out to be reminiscent of my Resting Acrobat from a few months ago. I think that previous piece is more successful overall but the face is better in this piece since I managed to keep it closer to my original sketch and not let the proportions wander.
My Rainbow Art Journal has segued out of its initial black stage into a red phase, as you may have observed. I knew that somewhere in this section an interpretation of Little Red Riding Hood would appear because she and the wolf are characters who have cropped up time and time again in my art work over the years. There is a definite connection in terms of palette and pattern between this new painting and a previous art journal page from 2015 but stylistically they are quite different.
I don’t know why I have always been drawn to Red Riding Hood as a fairytale because I was so wee when my moderate obsession started. I do like wolves, love werewolves, and the psychological possibilities of the story of a girl journeying into the wilderness to confront and overcome a dangerous aspect of that wilderness. With this art journal page, I wanted to depict the idea of the innocent girl and the bestial, primal wolf being interconnected, almost like a yin-yang balance. That gave me the idea for the composition. I actually thought to take some process shots as I worked on the double page spread over the course of a couple of weeks. From the basic sketch, I then blocked in large areas of colour using acrylic paint. I find that getting that one layer down really helps me as it creates a uniform surface on which to build additional layers and use a wider variety of media and it also immediately eliminates the white page so that I can more easily push some areas into the background while bringing other areas forward for emphasis. It was then just a case of working away on the piece in little rations and gobbets of time, building up the tones and details. I think of all of the Red Riding Hood pieces I have ever created, this is my favourite so far.
Perhaps it was because the adjacent page was inspired by the fictional, dreamy world of Oz, or perhaps it was all the shiny red apples in the fruit bowl, but when I sat down at my art journal and looked at the blank page I decided that it should be a fairy tale and that tale should be Snow White.
I had fun experimenting with lots of different mixed media techniques on this journal page. I collaged tissue paper, painted with gesso, and lifted paint to create texture. I also forced myself to draw hands in a particular gesture.
Continuing with the monochrome black and white theme in my Rainbow themed art journal, I decided to challenge myself to work in white on top of black. I did not have a subject in mind as I loaded the black acrylic on to the pages and actually cannot remember if anything in particular sparked the idea but I decided to draw an illustration of a female Death figure. I opted against using pencil to sketch anything in so I worked directly in paint pen and gel pen to build up the figure, shape by shape, piece by piece. The lack of pencil scaffolding meant that some of my proportions went skew-wiff (the arm on the right is too long) but otherwise I thoroughly enjoyed the freedom and spontaneity of working directly in pen and piecing all of the fragments together into one whole. I did, however, completely use up my broader tipped paint pen so I really put the tools through a work out. It took me a few sessions of drawing to complete it but it was a relaxing activity.
Last week’s Life Book lesson was taken by Effy Wild. Her lesson had a more art therapy approach to it than most Life Book lessons but, as always, it was easy to focus simply on the creative techniques and adapt it to be less personal and emotional. I also had to be pragmatic about time so whereas the lesson demonstrated two layers, a flap that moved across a lower layer, I conflated the two layers into one. I like putting my own spin on lessons so I experienced no dilemma in adapting the lesson to such a great extent. The idea had been to have a lower layer that included a lot of handwriting and a concept represented visually by a skeleton and the flap that covered this would be a painting of a fully human figure, the flesh over the bones. In conflating the two layers, my figure became a mixture of human and skeleton. I, therefore, coincidentally worked on two skull faces in one week.
I decided to try out a red and turquoise colour scheme with a bit of grungy magenta over the black background and some metallic blue in the circle. I rather like the combination so can see me deploying that palette again in future.
This week’s Life Book lesson was taken by Tamara Laporte. I knew it would be very detailed and would spark my creativity and imagination and get me rushing to put paint on paper right away and I was not wrong. The object of the lesson was two-fold: to work with a full profile; and to balance out working on two sides of a painting in two different ways, intentionally in one area and intuitively in another, and make the two sides cohere. Since I find working intuitively challenging and I also sometimes struggle to make backgrounds complement the focal image, I thoroughly enjoyed this lesson.
Laporte’s exemplar in the video tutorials was of a female figure with a swan on her head and some other whimsical, fantastical elements. We were encouraged, however, to find and utilise imagery that chimed with us. I already had an idea that I wanted to use red and other warm colours in a painting because I have not been using those colours much lately so perhaps that is where the idea of a phoenix came from. Perhaps it is also because it is my birthday today and I am now 40 and waiting for the whole “life begins” thing to kick in, the next chapter in my life. My version is a bit less whimsical than Laporte’s and I didn’t use doodles or writing or symbols but I did use spatter and dribble and dots which make me happy. I am really pleased with how this painting turned out especially when I compare it to how my adventures in mixed media painting started this year.
This week’s Documented Life Project prompt was to use paint and to document “How do I face my biggest challenge?”
It took me a long time to ponder the subject for my page. I have experienced a wide variety of challenges in my life, from the small to the large, the simple to the complex, the flash-in-the-pan to the long-lived. My mind was flibber-gibbeting all over the place. Some ideas I dismissed outright as they were too personal. Then I had a bit of an epiphany. I realised there was a common thread to how I overcame all the hurdles and challenges I have faced in life: I just dig deep, tell myself I will overcome as generations have done before me, as others have done in much more difficult contexts, give myself a bit of a shake and get on with it.
I cannot even recall the mental segues I took to get from that thought to the Willendorf Venus but I decided a version of her would be the central image of my journal page. I used acrylic paint and inktense pencils to create my art journal page. I then stamped the phrase “I am woman; hear me roar” across the top of the page. My sons think this journal page is hilarious.