Next up for my Life Book catch-up session was a bonus lesson by Joanne Sharpe. Sharpe had taken one of the first ever Life Book lessons I did and I had enjoyed it immensely, especially the liberating message that my own handwriting was good enough for my art. Since I still have not gotten around to developing my skills with typography, it was good to have that reinforced. The focus of the lesson was on using either a paint brush or water brush with watercolour as a tool for writing and to write empowering or inspirational words and phrases on a full sized piece of paper and on smaller cards.
I did both projects and it was pleasingly quick to create them. My Dad is a very skilled and experienced painter of vehicles including an ability to do sign-writing by hand. Apparently I have not inherited his ability to write in straight lines or to achieve consistency because my text is very skew-wiff on the page. Never mind. I enjoyed the lesson and certainly feel more confident with writing with a paint brush than I did before. I also think I have potential to develop my skills to achieve greater precision.
This week’s prompts for the Documented Life Project were to use writing and more specifically the phrase “words with friends”.
If you have followed my art journalling for long enough then you will perhaps have noted that I do not particularly write in my journal. I certainly do not write anything overly personal. I suppose I use blogging if there is anything I want to express in a more public way but otherwise I am very private. The idea of recording thoughts and feelings in a journal does not appeal to me. I did actually maintain a journal from when I was about 10 through to my mid-teens. However, as my sister could tell you (since she was sneaky and read my diary) all my journal recorded were my thoughts on current affairs, global issues and reviews of books and movies – nothing personal. This week’s challenge, therefore, was not – on the surface at least – a comfortable fit for me.
The friends bit also had me stumped. Writing about or even drawing my friendships felt too personal for a public forum (I share my pages on the DLP’s Facebook page as well as on my blog) especially because, having moved so far away from all my close friends, it is a more emotive subject for me, a vulnerable topic. I decided, therefore, to be a non-conformist and ignore that second prompt entirely. That decision made inspiration easier to come by.
Sunday was Burns’ Night, a traditional celebration of Scotland’s national poet. We marked the evening as best we could – including a small glug of recently sourced Irn Bru, Scotland’s other national drink. As part of that, I read ‘Address to a Haggis’ and ‘To a Mouse’. Ping! That was my inspiration.
I drew the little field mouse on the wheat stalk with coloured pencils and then sketchily outlined it with black gel pen. I then used the gel pen to write the text of the first verse of the poem on either side of my drawing. Yet again, I just used my own handwriting for the text but, following the typography lesson with Joanne Sharpe that I undertook as part of the Life Book course, I felt completely OK about doing so this time.
I managed to find time this week for some of my “own” art work so, if you want to see my Zombie Woodland Creatures, head on over to my art blog – Pict Ink – to check it out.
If you have followed my explorations into art journaling and mixed media for long enough. you will know that one of the things I keep meaning to do – yet never seem to get around to – is to develop my typography skills, research and try new styles, make the writing in my art work more creative. I have adopted a different style once or twice in this past year but generally I keep on defaulting to my own handwriting. I was, therefore, very happy to learn that the lesson for week 3 of Life Book was all about typography as that meant an opportunity to practice a skill I had been keen to hone.
The lesson was taken by Joanne Sharpe, who is famed for her whimsical lettering. I am obviously not going to summarise the lesson in this post because, of course, Life Book is a fee paying course and the lesson is Sharpe’s intellectual copyright. However, the thrust of the lesson was that one should just use one’s own handwriting as the scaffolding for typography in mixed media art work. So instead of feeling lazy for constantly defaulting to my own handwriting I should be embracing that. It was like being given permission to stop berating myself over never getting to that To Do item on my lengthy list of art projects.
I followed the lesson closely for the most part. I do not own any of the pens that were being recommended in the tutorial but my trusty old Faber-Castell Pitt Pens did the job. I did not use the suggested doodles but instead did my own thing with a bunny and birds, some leaves and acorns. I think I was pondering my Into The Woods art project which has gone dormant from lack of free time. I have been using muted versions of jewel colours in my art work a lot lately – the same palette I used in my Advent twinchies – and I used them again in this piece. I must push myself to use a completely different palette next time, however. Maybe even use some colours I rarely use.
I am quite pleased with how this exercise turned out. Certainly it was liberating to actually be directed to use my own handwriting rather than thinking I was copping out. Maybe my doodles could have been more sophisticated but then maybe the painting would have been less me. Daft plump bunnies and geeky birds are me.