Tag Archives: artjournal

In the margins (more or less)

It’s been a while since my last post. I took a summer art history course that ate up all my free time, and I let my blogging slip so I could concentrate on getting a good grade. I don’t regret it (I haven’t taken a serious college course since 2005), but I miss the process of picking a topic and art to talk about.

But then when I got back to my art journal, nothing seemed to go right. The words wouldn’t come, the art felt stiff…like I’d forgotten how to access that part of me.

I started with a shouting bird (redundant, I realize). Sometimes words have to be forced out, and the art reflects the strain.

Is shouting the serenity prayer counterintuitive?

Then I tried some Egyptian motifs, but my mongoose went poorly and I put the page in time out.

Egyptian motifs…not entirely successful

Finally, I just put random paint down on a new page and let whatever was lurking there decide what it wanted to be. As usual, I found weird creatures:

My next class starts in a few days, and I’ll be learning to write specifically about art. I’m excited! Maybe it’ll help me find my voice in this area…I feel like I’m still too stiff from all of my years as a tech writer. I wanted to take a drawing class so that I could have some formal training and learn some discipline, but the only classes I feel comfortable with are remote only, and I’d have had to attend an in-person lab session. Oh well. Maybe I’ll take some online workshops instead! If you have any suggestions on good resources on YouTube or CreativeBug, I’d appreciate it!

Trying something different (part two)

So I tried the painting again! Started with a sketch:

blue lead pencil sketch

I’m really proud of this sketch, actually. I don’t usually sketch realistic objects or scenes, and I wasn’t sure I would be able to do a good enough job. But I did! Hooray for me!

Once the sketch was done, I decided to work on the background first, instead of last (like last time). And I used Derwent Inktense watercolor pans so that each layer would stay fixed, and hopefully not get muddy looking. Once I got the background in, I worked on the leaves. I switched to Dr. Ph. Martin’s Bombay inks, and did multiple layers of greens.

After adding some frisket to protect certain parts of the flower, I started working on the reds in the blossom. I never realized how complex the red in a pomegranate are!

Finally the finish line was in sight! I’d started working on deepening the colors in the pod part of the flower when disaster struck! I knocked over a bottle of ink and it spread all over my desk…even worse, it splashed onto my painting:

jamming on the flower petals and all the many different shades of red, working on the pod, when OH NOoOoooOo

I am not ashamed to say that there was wailing involved. It was so shocking and distressing I could barely think of how to react to save it and the other art in the notebook. Luckily this painting was the only one that had any substantial damage, but even so, it took about three days for me to be able to work on it again and finish up some last details:

after three days of sadness and anxiety, I managed to go back and finish it up. final details on the (actual) branch, removed the frisket, dropped in the yellow pollen and pistil ends, and finished deepening the flower colors.

All things considered, I think I did a pretty good job. I’m thankful that the spill happened in such a way that it only barely touched the flower itself, and so it sort of looks like a weird branch.

What do you think? Have you had art disasters happen to you, and were you able to recover, or work the mistake into the image so that it didn’t stick out so much?

Trying something different

My garden has a couple of pomegranate bushes, and they’re in bloom:

Pomegranate blossom from my garden

It’s so lovely and vibrant! They don’t have much fragrance that I can detect, but they make marvelous fruit. I’ll be very happy harvesting them in the late Fall when they’re ripe!

I’m trying to improve my watercolor skills, and so I’m pushing out of my comfort zone by trying to paint more realistically. So I got out my watercolor and inktense palettes, and gave it a shot:

A pomegranate blossom
Pen, watercolors, and Inktense on multimedia paper

I think I did pretty well, for a first try. Next time I’ll do the background first, and I’ll try to get the colors of the leaves closer to reality. But I’m really pleased with the layering on them!

I think I might try this same painting again. Usually I move on to something different, but this seems like a good exercise. I’ll update this post with the next version when it’s done. 🤓

Sunsets in my Mind

There’s something about the colors the sun paints across the sky at sunset. Giant watercolor masterpieces, painted with light and air movement. It’s so stereotypical, right, for an artist to find inspiration in the event that defines the day?

But look:

Sunset light on the Organ Mountains, Las Cruces NM. September 2019
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What to draw during a pandemic

I worry too much, all the time, about all sorts of things. Whether they matter or not, are likely or not, regardless of the actual danger involved.

I did not think to worry about a pandemic, and now I find myself unprepared! What do I draw or paint when I don’t know how to begin to think about what’s going on? How do I visualize this virus that’s raging across the planet, on every continent but Antarctica? That we know so little about, and yet are becoming so intimate with?

Sometimes I can draw the thing that’s scaring me. I kept looking at the virus picture the CDC put out, the one with a gray body and red triangular spores haloing it. But I couldn’t get anywhere with that reference. It felt too real, too scary to caricature. So I went in a different direction and thought about the growth aspect of the virus, how it spreads so fast. Like a molecular pinball machine that sprouts with every bounce.

March 16th, The Coronavirus Pandemic (journal entry). I couldn’t find a way to draw the virus that looked anything like the version from the CDC that they show in the news. But I finally settled on rings and lines and vines.
Continue reading What to draw during a pandemic

Doodle times

I love to doodle when I write. I like how the words and the visuals interact, and it thrills me when I subconsciously end up creating something that reflects what I’m writing about. I’m not entirely sure how to make it happen. Maybe it’s a kind of meditation… It works best when I don’t try to force anything in particular. Sometimes I draw towards a feeling, if that makes sense?

February 20, 2020. Box Office.
Journal entry from February 20, 2020. I knew what I wanted to draw. It came out differently than I’d first imagined, but I like where it ended up! I’d gotten a job offer that day, after a long run of rejections (being unemployed is so hard on the ego).
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Inspiration in a box

A few months ago, one of my older sisters sent me a box of scraps of paper, fabric, stickers, glass vials, and all sorts of oddments. A literal box of potential. She’s a wizard at artistic transmutation, so to have a box of stuff she chose for me that she would use in her own artistic endeavors is a little bit like being given a glimpse into how she sees the world and what she finds interesting.

This collection of stuff (for lack of a better word) made me think about how I can fall into the habit of seeing things on a macro level…where an object is already fully realized with form, color, texture, size and purpose. Where it is itself the destination, rather than a starting point. An end, versus a potential beginning.

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Demon Hunting

Like a lot of people, I struggle with anxiety and a host of other brainular issues. I have a few diagnoses that I could rattle off, but right now I don’t feel like the particulars matter. What is important in this moment is my conception of them, and how I use art to deal with their sometimes unwelcome presence in my life.

I call them demons. I’m not a particularly spiritual and not at all religious person, so I don’t mean demons in any literal “fallen angel” or “personification of evil” sense. It’s more that they have recurring roles and specific emotions associated with them. For example, for me, Anxiety is a demon that walks around with me every day, whether I’m consciously aware of it or not. Fear is another. It helps me to name them, to conceptualize them as having a physical form, and behaviors that I can learn to recognize and then counteract.

“I cannot see which demon it is until I open my eyes.” Nov 2018 journal entry (markers, pen, Derwent Inktense on multimedia)
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Been scribblin’ in some journals

…and now I’m ready to open them up to the world!

Okay, I’m not actually ready. I’m more than half-convinced that this is an exercise in egotistic delusion, but whatever. If no one ever visits this blog and reads this, then it’s substantively no different than just scribbling away in my paper journals, and thus I haven’t embarrassed myself because no one is looking anyway, right? (If a tree does something embarrassing in the forest, does it matter?)

Continue reading Been scribblin’ in some journals