This is the final page in the yellow section of my Rainbow Art Journal. I reflected on what things I associate with yellow, the things my mind conjures up when I think of that colour, and one of the things I kept coming back to was warmth and of feeling cozy. This illustration seems appropriate for the transition from Autumn into Winter when my thoughts turn to hibernation and my habits become more hermit-like. For me, the apex of feeling cozy is about being indoors, all tucked up in a sweater or a blanket, and drinking a steaming hot mug of tea. That gave me both the idea for the illustration and the colour palette – yellow for warmth and light brown for milky tea. I often use neutrals with a brighter colour but the neutrals I use tend to be black, white, or grey, so this was a useful experiment in using brown in that capacity. I think that, in this particular instance, the yellow might be too bold and the brown too pale for the palette to cohere but I will continue to experiment with using brown as a neutral.
This illustration is another experiment in a yellow and green colour palette but this time using just ink and watercolour instead of mixed media. That combination of colours always makes me think of ‘Fern Hill’ by Dylan Thomas. It was one of my favourite poems to teach and I have fond memories of doing so. The colours of green and gold are used throughout the poem to signify different things about life’s changes and stages. That got me thinking about the transitional phase between childhood and adulthood so I chose to draw a tween girl. Lately I have been drawing ears too small but I think perhaps I over-corrected myself this time and gave this girl ears that are a wee bit too large – what were called “jug lugs” when I was wee. Maybe the proportions just add to the sense of tweenage awkwardness. Yes, let’s go with that.
I believe that turquoise is a colour that works with every other colour. I am, therefore, making a record of various turquoise colour palette combinations in my Rainbow Art Journal. This page, therefore, is a record of yellow and turquoise. I have been unable to get this illustration to photograph well. In reality, the skin tones are much warmer and the turquoise much more vibrant.
This page is another example of me plagiarizing myself because I sketched this up from an ink and watercolour illustration I did just over three years ago. It is always interesting to see how I translate the same (or similar) drawing between mediums. This mixed media version was also an experiment in using a lemon yellow and lime green palette. I think the combination is as fresh as you would expect from citrus inspiration. I suspect it would have more zing to it if not dulled down with the flesh tones. I am finding that I really like to use text papers in my mixed media pieces. Maybe it is my love of books and reading but I also just like the sort of mark-making quality it contributes, all those shapes and forms.
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.
This is one of those art journal pages that ultimately just defeated me. I painted so many layers on this sucker trying to get everything to balance out in an aesthetically pleasing way, including changing the colours several times, but ultimately I just threw my hands up and surrendered because I got sick of the sight of the same page in my art journal and wanted to move on. The one positive thing I can say about this illustration is that all of that layering led to some decent painty texture.
This was a page that I had gradually filled with scraps of yellow hued collage – including scraps of origami paper, images from cookery magazines, photographs from National Geographic. I sketched in a figure over the top of the collage and then painted the negative spaces in a lemon acrylic so that the background became covered in bubble shapes that revealed the collage layer beneath. When it comes to the figure, I was plagiarizing myself again since I copied her from an ink and watercolour drawing from over two years ago. I prefer that original version but it is fun to translate an illustration into a different medium and see what differences emerge.
Some pages in my Rainbow Art Journal are blank slates; others are covered with bits of collage or scrapings of paint or handwritten notes or even the odd doodle. When I have leftover paint, I scrape or smear it onto a page in the appropriate colour sector of my journal and, when I have a collage scrap, I similarly paste it in. This was one such page that had such a messy start of leftovers. There was some textured gesso on the page and also a prominent wine label. I decided to turn that wine label into the basis of clothing for a female figure. The rest of the clothing element is made of washi tape. Initially, that female figure was youthful but I decided to challenge myself to draw an older face so I did a sort of “age progression” on the face until it looked right to me. I decided to lean into the texture of the gesso by adding more texture on the page, scraping thick paint onto the page, scraping into that paint as it was starting to dry.
Since I was in the yellow section of my Rainbow Art Journal, I wanted to include a page that was about complementary colours. In this case, that meant yellow and purple. I have also been using this art journal to record the art materials I use so this page was created using three Daler Rowney Aquafine watercolours: cadmium yellow, gamboge, and purple lake. I got the illustration to the point that the figure was complete and the background was entirely yellow. Thinking that the yellow background was too bland and that the figure was floating in too much empty space, I added the purple plant forms. I think perhaps I went a bit overboard and now the background is too busy – and the purple a bit too dominant in a page that is supposed to be predominantly yellow. Nevermind that I strayed from my intentions because I quite like the illustration regardless.
I had this idea that I should create an illustration of a sun goddess in the yellow section of my art journal. Once I got started, however, the figure evolved into a pseudo ancient Egyptian woman and the yellow sun ended up golden. I basically cannot be trusted around metallic paints as I almost always go overboard with them. There’s so much gold and bronze all over this piece that there is barely any yellow left beyond the background. Oops. I guess I was still in a Klimty mode after the piece I did a few weeks ago because I ended up creating all sorts of Klimt-esque patterns all over the figure to. If this is the type of thing that happens when I go with the flow without having a clear plan in mind, I definitely need to leave my control freakery be and let it come up with a vision to work towards.