Journal 52 update – Weeks 19 to 27

As I stated in my last instalment, I’ve been away from the studio quite a bit in the last two months.  And of course this means that I have been getting behind on my Journal 52 project.  I’m happy to say that with a couple nights of regular studio time, Canada Day and a lovely day off yesterday spent painting, I’m back on track with this project.

I’ve really been enjoying the themes and have been surprised where some of them have led me.  The courage prompt stands out in particular.   The prompt challenged me to create a page about what courage means to me.  Through the process, I came to the realization just how much the definition has changed for me, especially in the last 5 years.  Before, courage was about putting on a brave face and continuing on, even when things were broken inside.  It was about supporting everyone else and not asking for help when I needed it.  Courage used to be about sticking with a situation or relationship, even when it was toxic, because the unknown was too scary.  Now, courage is about asking for help, moving into the unknown confident in who I am and what I can do and turning my back on situations that aren’t good for me.  This is a really big shift in my thinking process.

So here are the last few weeks of the Journal 52 prompts, starting with the most recent.

 

 

nostalgia complete©

Week 27 – Nostalgia

This week’s prompt took me back to the summer of ’88.  That last “perfect” summer before everyone started going their separate ways.  Dancing on Thursday nights at the Elephant and Castle, making mixed tapes and generally having the times of our teenaged lives.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

under the sea complete©

Week 26 – Under the Sea

I decided to revisit the mermaid theme that I tried out in my very first art journal.  While I was generally satisfied with the first attempt, I always felt that there was room for improvement.  So, I used the same background technique (spray inks and gesso) and created from there.  I was thrilled with the result.

 

 

 

 

 

 

inspired by nature complete©

Week 25 – Nature Inspired

If you’ve followed my work at all, you know my main inspiration is nature.  So, I decided I needed to break away from the birds and try something new.  This one was a struggle at first, but in the end it all came together.  (to see all the images, check out my Facebook album)

 

 

 

 

 

 

courage complete©

Week 24 – Courage

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

passion complete©

Week 23 – Passion

Birds are my passion.  Everything seems to stem from birds.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

travel complete©

Week 22 – Travelling

I’ve been out west (to Banff) as well as the Bruce Peninsula – Indian Paintbrush connected the dots between the two places.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

mandala complete©

Week 21 – Making a Mandala

Mine was inspired by the native orchids we have in Ontario

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

book inspired complete©

Week 20 – Book Inspiration

I read Brave Intuitive Painting and used one of the exercises as my prompt for this page.  Not my normal colour palette, but it was fun to get messy.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

photography complete©

Week 19 – Photography

One of the many photos I took on my travels (the famous MacGregor Elm) used as a photo transfer for this page.

 

Update – the Barn Owl panels – complete!

It was a labour of love, and the gold and blue barn owl panels are now complete.  The pieces are on 12×36″ wrapped canvas with acrylic paint and india ink.  Here are some photos of the progression of the gold piece (which was much easier than the blue) and the two completed paintings.

Barn owl blue panel fixing lines© Barn owl blue panel complete© barn owl gold panel penwork© 2 barn owl gold panel with background© barn owl gold panel first layers© barn owl gold panel in progress© barn owl gold panel complete© barn owl panels complete©

Art Journal Page – The Christmas Card that wasn’t…

The Sunday before Christmas found me desperately trying to finish gifts, wrap presents and above all else, stay sane.  I took a break from all the creating to play in my art journal – which was a very good move on my part.

Among many things that were dropped from the agenda this year, including many handmade gifts, were Christmas cards.  I had wanted to make a holiday card with my own art to send out this year, but time was not on my side, so this page had to serve as my holiday greeting this year.

With the massive influx south this year, Snowy Owl seemed to be a great species to play with.  I always love to see them and when they are sitting on a fence post in a snow drifted field, there is a sense of peace.  Building on the piece from the previous week, I refined my snowy owl and was fairly please with the result.  So much, that I’m going to work this one up on a panel, to use for a holiday card next year.

Here is the page from start to finish:

art journal page peace backround© art journal page peace fence© art journal page peace complete©

Art Journal Page – my Christmas wish list

The last month has been very busy – as December typically is.  I’ve been trying to spend as much time in the studio as I can and have managed to keep my Sunday night art journal date throughout the month – I wish I could say the same for updates here.

My mind has been on birds in particular this month as is it Christmas Bird Count season, and this art journal page was inspired by the count at Point Pelee which took place the morning after I completed this page.

After cleaning out my studio, I found all kinds of treasures I’ve been squirrelling away and not I’m trying to use some of them up.  I found some chipboard mini-albums in the shape of Christmas tree balls and that’s where the first page’s inspiration came from.  This page was a little more challenging to complete and keep cohesive as it had the gap between two signature, so I wanted some big and bold that would make the space disappear.  I decided to make ornaments of my Christmas Bird Count wish list – including Varied Thrush, Snowy Owl and Evening Grosbeak.  The ornaments were fun to make – I used acrylic paints and a clear, glossy crackle paint to give the effect of a vintage Christmas ball.  And I did get one of the species on my wish list….Snowy Owl!

art journal page wish list blank page© art journal page wish list bird balls© art journal page wish list branches© art journal page wish list complete©

A work in progress – Wood Thrush Family Portrait

I’ve had an idea in my head for a couple months now – I’ve been calling it the “Thrush Family Portrait”.  Most people are very familiar with our common thrush in North America, the American Robin, but may not know the others in the family.

I love thrushes – they are amazing vocalists and such a big part of my #birding experience in the spring.  The sound of a Wood Thrush on a misty morning is magical. We commonly see five species of thrushes in spring migration in my part of the world (Hermit, Swainson’s, Wood, Gray-cheeked and Veery). At first glance, you may think they all look alike, but upon closer examination they have, in some cases, some very subtle differences that I just had to paint.

wood thrush speciment ROM november 2013©I recently spent an afternoon at the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto dedicated to sketching specimens of the five species from the vast collection of birds.  From there, I pieced together a “family portrait” in my travel journal.  The first incarnation (which has since been erased) looked very much like a posed portrait and not at all interesting.  Dipping into my experience in the field, I created a scene like those I’ve seen from my office window – birds interacting with each other, moving in different directions.  Here are the sketches and the start of the painting process.  The colours will be added to the birds in the next week.

art journal page thrush family portrait penwork©art journal page thrush family portrait with bkgrd©travel art journal thrushes start©

Art Journal Page – Under the Sycamore Trees

I’ll admit it – I was (and still am) a little obsessed with Twin Peaks.  So when you find another person that shares that kind of passion for your geeky obsession, you can’t help talk about it….at length.  I just spent a very fun weekend doing just that – talking passionately about all my geeky obsessions.

Sunday night rolled around, the Strombo show was wafting from the speakers and my mind went right to the song, “Under the Sycamore Trees” from Fire Walk with Me (the Twin Peaks movie for those who have not yet been initiated into this world).  The song was haunting and creepy, reflecting the ideas that David Lynch was portraying in the film.  When it was time to start journaling, I already knew the direction I would go – the entrance to the black lodge, when the backdrop of the forest became red velvet curtains and everything turned upside down.

I started the page with some texture, achieved with layers of red tissue paper over the gessoed background.  I added layers of crimson paint in different shades and tones to create the highlights and lowlights of the backdrop.  Then to add the ghostly trees in the circle around the pit…thank you to the internet for the great reference photos from Twin Peaks.  If you’ve watched the show, you’ll know what an important symbol the owl was – so of course I needed to add one to the scene.  I worked out a loose painted sketch on paper, which I cut out and then adhered to the page using matte medium.  The owl probably should have been a little paler (given it was a west coast bird) but I was really happy with the look and intensity of this owl.

Finally, I added the lyrics of the song and some journalling reflecting on my weekend and the page was complete.  I’m extremely happy with the results – and have no idea what I can do next week to top it.

art journal page under the sycamores start© art journal page under the sycamores background© art journal page under the sycamores with trees© art journal page under the sycamores owl detail© art journal page under the sycamores complete©

Travel Art Journal – November 2013

I recently had the opportunity to take a little break from work and visit friends and family in Toronto.  Not only was it a nice break from my 9 to 5 job, it was also a chance to have some time to just hang out and play with paints.  Travelling with art supplies is always challenging – especially when you are taking a form of public transit, so I took a cue from the great Jennibellie and made a travel palette with some of my water soluble media.  I had some limited acrylic paints along for the ride – I found some travel pots that reminded me of the paints you used to get in a paint-by-numbers kit.  I was able to get out a bunch of ideas that had been rattling around in my head for a while and just hadn’t had a chance to explore.  I also got to visit the bird collection at the Royal Ontario Museum for a sketching session.  I focused my energies on thrushes for a painting I will be working on in the coming months.  The travel journal includes a rough sketch/layout for the painting, which is still awaiting colour.  Not all of the pages are complete – I will steal away some time from the commissioned pieces I’m working on and preparations for the holidays to complete them.  I will bind this mini-journal into my larger journal when everything is complete.

Most of the pages were complete with watercolours, or a mixture of watercolour and acrylic paint.  To see how to make the journal, visit my previous post for a link to the tutorial.

Enjoy.

room with a view nov 14 2013© travel art journal set up© travel art journal flamingo face complete© travel art journal flamingo parade complete© travel art journal winter wren start© travel art journal winter wren complete© travel art journal sugar maple leaves© travel art journal bee-eaters complete© travel art journal watercolour shoreline start© travel art journal watercolour shore complete© travel art journal art nouveau background© travel art journal art nouveau with colour© travel art journal thrushes start©

New painting – the Barn Owl series

After the Great Blue Heron painting, I decided to continue on with some art nouveau inspired pieces.  I’ve really enjoyed all the Barn Owls that I’ve been painting and decided to continue along this path and make a matching set of panels.

I’ve started adding colour to the blue panel, the second panel will be in yellows and golds.    I was having reservations about the blue colour and was thinking of replacing it with purple, but at standing back and taking a break, the blue is going to work well.  Here is the progress so far.

barn owl gold panel penwork© barn owl blue panel penwork© barn owl panel progress© barn owl blue panel progress©

Finishing up…

I started this Great Blue Heron painting a couple of months ago with intentions to finish it right away.  I had been looking at lots of paintings in the art nouveau style and was thinking about how to incorporate nature into the genre.  I did some preliminary sketches and started the pen work on the canvas.  And then life happened, as it often does.

So after weeks of being sick and then another week of being tired from being sick, I finally was feeling like tackling this painting again.  I had done the preliminary pen work for this painting and started to paint it and then decided I needed to go back and change some of the layout….so layers of gesso later I was able to work on it again.

The subtle colours in the neck of this bird are particularly challenging.  When you see this bird in the field, you don’t always notice all the different colours, but when you look really closely, it’s amazing what you will see.  It took a while, lots of layers of paint and glaze, but in the end, I’m quite pleased with the final product.

great blue heron painting with blue background© Great blue heron with leaves© Great blue heron almost done© Great blue heron complete©