This weeks’ prompt for Journal 52 was technology. I started by Googling technology and pinning some images that I found inspiring as my leaping off point. (You can check out my Journal 52 Inspiration board here). I was particularly drawn to a woman with technology surrounding her head and then leap to wearing a technology like a crown. My journaling on the page was about using technology as a tool and not a crutch – not to wear it as a crown that made you royal, but a way to enhance your ability to connect and express yourself. Here is the page from preliminary sketch to completion.
As I mentioned in a post, I recently read “Brave Intuitive Painting” by Flora S Bowley and decided to take a couple of canvases that were sitting around my studio unfinished to play with. The first (Shiny Medals) started out as a birch tree composition and the second (Intuition) was a yellow background I’d started for another painting and then decided to go in a different direction. The idea behind intuitive painting is to follow your gut and just put paint where you feel it should go. It was an interesting process and very freeing – so much of the work that I do requires some precision, and this was about instinct. I really enjoyed making the paintings, but I had to sit with each of them for a couple of days until I was sure that they were finished. I put together a composite of Shiny Medals in progress as it took a while and I tried to get images in most stages, while Intuition came together much faster. I will definitely continue with method of painting, along with the other type of work I love to do.
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.
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.
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.
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)
Week 24 – Courage
Week 23 – Passion
Birds are my passion. Everything seems to stem from birds.
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.
Week 21 – Making a Mandala
Mine was inspired by the native orchids we have in Ontario
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.
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.
I’ve been plugging away at the Journal 52 challenges since the beginning of the year. I have a little catching up to do at the moment, but I’ve included a selection of completed pages to date. If you’d like to find out more about the challenge, click here – it’s not to late to start!
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.
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.
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.
I’ve been watching lots of tutorials on gelli plate monoprinting over the last week and somehow my mind went to alcohol inks. So I decided that this week I would try a journal page using this media. To prep the paper, I gessoed the page and then added a coat of varnish. I think the varnish was a bit of a mistake – the ink seemed to be slow to dry and was rubbing off. Fixative made things run a bit, but it did seal everything in the end.
I started the page with some large drops of different coloured inks (butterscotch and cranberry) and then dropped some alcohol to help spread the ink around. The rest of the ink was apply with a felt-tipped tool – dabbed and twisted the rest of the ink and got amazing texture and colour so quickly. This was the best part of the page – how fast it came together. I started to see some shapes in the colours and defined poppy shaped and stems using the fine tip of the bottle. A little definition with a gel pen and a tag with a quote and page was finished. I will definitely continue to experiment with alcohol inks – next time, I’ll skip the glossy varnish and try matte medium instead.
Enjoy the images.
Sunday night, check. 8 pm, check. @Strombo on the radio, check. Yes, it’s time for another evening with my art journal.
For those who don’t know about art journals or haven’t played with one – they are a space to free your creativity, to play and work out your ideas, before committing them to canvas. Sometimes my journal serves as a template for a painting, but more often than not, it’s a place for me to express what’s going on in my brain and how I’m feeling about it.
Last weekend I’d spent some of my time in a coffee shop – writing and such and had unfortunately forgotten my head phones, which left me little chance of blocking out the conversation around me. And what a negative conversation it was…grey, dark and all about the things wrong in life. The woman doing most of the talking at one point commented that no one liked her – my guess is that the constant stream of negatively coming out of her had something to do it, so I was inspired to create the red umbrella page. I aspire (and don’t always get there) to see the good and beauty around me and not stand with the negative masses. I take down the umbrella that is blocking my view and while sometimes I may get a little wet, I see the rainbows and other delights that so many others miss.
Here is the page from start to finish – in total, this took about 3 hours to complete. I’m already full of inspiration and ideas for this week’s edition – stay tuned.
Not all things go as planned seems to have been the theme for the last week of my life. Internet was down for several days, dealt with terrible customer service trying to get said internet back up and running…work was really busy and artistically, everything was either taking much longer than anticipated, or just wasn’t working the way I wanted to.
So, what’s a girl to do – take a deep breath, assess the situation and move forward. Here are couple cases in point. I decided to tackle a bunch of paintings yesterday that I had pen work completed on and thought I’d start with the backgrounds.
When I started with the Barred Owl, I was really thinking a crimson background would be really impactful. So, I went with it, let it dry and when I was getting ready to start painting, I just wasn’t feeling it. I took a step back and tried to visualize where I wanted the painting to go and decided that a green background was going to work better. And I went with it – happily, the end product was what I’d hoped it would be.
With that painting under my belt, I decided that I would move on to the Short-eared Owl painting. I’d worked on a lovely cerulean blue background that I was really happy with, but when I looked at the actual pen work and subject I was about to paint, I still wasn’t happy with it. I’d been struggling with the sketch from the beginning and never felt I’d really got the proportions and jizz of the bird right.
I had two choices, either plough ahead and finish what I’d started or go back to the drawing board. This time, I scrapped the entire project and went right back to the sketching phase again. I found a new reference photo and pose for the bird that I was much happier with. The image was transferred to the gesso original board (there is some satisfaction in covering up something you are really unhappy with) and the pen work is complete and ready for paint.
Lessons learned – trust your instincts and be patient. Sometimes it’s going to take longer to get the project completed than you’d hoped, but if you take time, step back and assess and follow your gut, you’ll end up with a product that makes you happy.
Images from my first art journal – all image ©Sarah Rupert