Well my friends, it has been quite a while since I’ve posted anything to my site. I’ve found that work/life balance little askew of late and while I’ve still been making time for art, I haven’t been doing as well with sharing it. So, here is a little taste of my art journal over that last couple of months. I finished my third volume and have moved on to the fourth – with a new binding style that I’m finding much easier to work in, as the pages stay flat when opened.
Here are my last pages in the third volume…
Followed by the first few pages of the fourth volume – there have been a few Sundays missed due to birding and work commitments, but I hope to get back in the routine again.
I love Sunday nights – have I said that before? It’s my time to be creative for no reason other reason than the sake of being creative and trying to work out some of the big ideas that have been rattling around in my brain throughout the week. I get to play – try new ideas or technique and not worry about whether or not it would be something that I can market or sell.
I set out with #Strombo on the radio, this week featured the first 50 songs of the Strombo Hundo and started to play with my Gelli plate. I’d picked up the medium sized plate about a month before and this was the first chance I had to play with it. I used a variety of Golden paints (including the high flow and open acrylics) and all kinds of fun stuff to make texture and pattern on the plate. I ended up with 6 prints in addition to the ones I used for the plate – I had to cut it off, so much fun, but I wouldn’t have completed a journal page if I’d kept it up.
The yellow and purples print (aptly described by a friend as a crazy octopus) was the basis for the page and I used the colours on the page as my leaping off point. I used the other print photo as collage elements on the page – the colours worked well together and in the end the octopus comment led me to an ocean theme and then came the small mermaid. I was feeling little dwarfed by all my thoughts and ideas of late – wonder how I’d be able to get them all out – and the colourful chaotic mess is the result. I’m very energized with this page and feeling a little more focused because of it.
To alleviate some of the guilt of not making many Christmas presents, I decided to make tags, using my gelli plate. The results were great and I will be making more in the future.
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:
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!
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.
Despite my love for Molly Ringwald and a good John Hughes film from the 80s, I am really not a big pink girl. When I was asked what colour I wanted my room painted when I was small I said “red!”…I got pink and was never very happy with it.
Fast forward a good number of years later and I have a great appreciation for pink and use it a lot in pieces, but it is rarely the dominant colour….until this page took me to a hot, pink 80s revival.
I started the Sunday night ritual with coffee and my friend #Strombo on the radio (it was a repeated episode, but my art was mentioned in the opening of the show – still giddy thinking about it) and not a lot of ideas. I’d spent the day before doing all my Christmas shopping and then working an overtime shift until midnight – I was not feeling energetic or inspired.
So, I pulled out a bunch of tags I’ve had for years – always like the patterns, and decided to use them as the base for the piece. It was then layered with pattern tissue, gesso and some molding paste through a feather stencil. I really struggled with what to do with the feathers. They weren’t popping from the page in the way I’d hoped. I tried some glazes, white paint and graphite and nothing was really working – so I pulled out the magenta and took a leap. I added some book text with a bird silhouette and I was done. While I’m not entirely convinced that the page doesn’t look like it was inspired by Pepto-Bismo, I’m also not entirely unhappy with the results.
Sunday night fast approaches and I really hope the muse is not in a pink mood again this week.
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.