I have always been drawn to interesting portraits and I have an over stuffed file of them that continues to grow. Some came from magazines and newspapers, some from the web. Still others are old photographs with interesting faces. The file is labeled, simply, “Faces” and I turn to it whenever I want a reference for drawing and/or painting. I have no concern for whether or not the finished work is a good likeness of the reference, only that the proportions are correct and the expression is true.
A few things became my inspiration as the Round Robin journal for the 5th month arrived. I had been reading some articles about endangered species and how that relates to humans and our environment. I had also just received a sample pack of Liquitex fluid paints accompanied by a letter asking me to use them and report back to the company what I thought of them. There were just two colors; red and blue. I wondered if I could create something interesting using only those two colors.
I began the spread by tearing some old book pages that would otherwise be destined for the trash and gluing the pieces down at different angles to cover the entire two pages. I love starting this way, knowing full well that this layer is generally covered with paint and offers a wonderful texture to the finished work. Over this paper, I laid down a thin layer of white gesso. As it was drying, I started across the room for my “Faces” file, and that’s when I spotted a new stack that hadn’t yet made it into the file. The top portrait was an old photograph of Michael Stipe of R.E.M. fame. Well, it couldn’t get any more interesting than that, so I began to sketch him onto the page with a charcoal pencil. A damp brush moved the charcoal around just enough to leave shading where it was needed. He seemed to be looking toward something, so I decided to put a bird on his shoulder. (Don’t ask why…I have no idea.)
Now for the red and blue paint. I decided to paint the entire portrait using just the blue and a little white gesso and I was actually quite pleased with the monochromatic result. The paint flowed nicely and I enjoyed using it. That left the red paint for lettering and a little black Stabilo All for shadowing the letters. Yes! I had accomplished my goal of working with two colors of paint (plus white gesso) and I had even managed to make a statement in the end. I hope the recipient of this two-page spread will be very happy.
It’s been some time since I’ve been here. I thought I was on a good roll, then WHAM! Hit from all sides with family obligations and, of course, a little thing called a pandemic. It seems senseless to list my excuses, so I won’t go any further. Suffice it to say, I’ve been busy.
This was the fourth month of the Round Robin journal exchange. I was excited to receive this particular journal because I know the maker/owner personally. She is not only a great artist but a poet as well, so I thought there should be some reference to poetry.
I began with collaged papers just for texture as I knew that I would be mostly covering this layer. My search for a reference photo produced a lovely young woman looking over her shoulder. I approached this as a good challenge since I had not previously drawn or painted this pose. Once her hair was painted the rusty red color, I chose a blue for the background to compliment. Some of this was scraped back to reveal the texture from the first layer. I had intended to fill in the lettering but ended up liking just the outline. A thin black line was added inside the white, making the letters pop. I am quite happy with the results. I think it’s Pure Poetry!
The day this book arrived in the mail, I happened to have a great napkin on my work table with leaves that looked like watercolor. I knew that I would use those wonderful leaves somehow. They reminded me of many family vacations in my growing up years spent camping in the beautiful woods of Michigan. I have always loved the forest and feel most calm among the trees.
I painted the background with shades of green, adding some of the autumn reds and oranges found in the leaves. After painting the dreamy-eyed portrait (doesn’t she look calm?) I collaged the napkin leaves onto the surface. To my disappointment, they looked lost. Using Stabilo pencil, I traced around the leaves and then used a damp brush to move the pencil into a watery outline. That did the trick!
My final addition was the lettering. I love to vary the font on a journal spread to add interest. I couldn’t resist embellishing the “F” in Forest to represent one of my beloved trees. The script on the other page would change it up even more. I hope this will inspire you to give portrait painting a try, experiment with different fonts in your journal and, most importantly, to take a walk in the woods.
Continuing on with the Round Robin, I was very excited to receive, at last, someone else’s handmade book. The cover indicated to me that the creator of this book liked to travel. I immediately put down some black gesso (LOVE how acrylic paint looks over black gesso!) and set about looking for inspiration. I kept seeing spirals! So, after the gesso was dry, I added some light blue paint and “carved” a spiral into it with a skewer while still wet. I dried the pages, then drew and painted a figure moving out of the spiral, as if on a great journey through life.
A magazine photo of a woman in a red hood caught my eye and I couldn’t resist sketching and then painting her onto the page. This is the nature of intuitive journaling and why I love it so much! No plan…just go! I tried to make both the standing figure and the portrait work together, but eventually the figure was lost (you can barely see remnants between the portrait and the spiral with text). The face is a bit wonky, but that doesn’t bother me. Her eyes tell me that she is planning her next great adventure and that kind of optimism is perfect for these uncertain times.
I’m back! It’s been almost two years since I’ve posted here. Life gets in the way, as they say. As punishment, I could not figure out how to get into the admin part of my blog…..but that’s not important now because HERE I AM! So, what has prompted me to post after all this time? Well, my friend Cindy decided to do a Round Robin art journal project and asked if I wanted to participate. Of course I do! Each participant is to put together a book of watercolor or mixed media paper in the size specified by Commander Cindy, paint the cover and send it on to the next person. There are 16 participants, so the entire project will be in the works for 16 months.
As luck would have it, I’ve been studying the work of English (living in Spain) painter Emma Petitt. I’ve taken three of her wonderful online classes and have learned so much from her. So, in Emma’s style, with flowing red hair and lots of turquoise, I painted the cover of my Round Robin journal (pictured) and sent it off to the next person. Sometimes, seeing your work on a computer screen gives you a fresh view, as if seeing it for the first time. I now know that, when this journal returns to me, I will be adding text.
It will be great incentive to post on this blog by sharing all of my work in these 16 journals, so please check back to see what’s new. Your comments are most welcome.
I have always treasured my friends. Those I’ve known most of my life as well as those I’ve met on my journey through life. With twenty two moves in my married lifetime, a lot of new friends have been collected along the way. The true friends are the ones who always keep the connection alive, even if just with an annual holiday greeting. An occasional get together with them finds you picking up right where you left off, with no uneasiness whatsoever. You know the type. The ones with whom you are willing to share more intimate details of your life. I am grateful for each and every one of my very supportive and caring friends.
My tiny travel journal had pages that got roughed up on the journey and were falling out. So I tore some old book pages and laid them across the seam, wabi sabi style. This made for great texture under the “painting” that I did next with Neocolor II crayons, Stabilo All and a waterbrush.
So grateful am I to have my little travel journal to get lost in. The tea bag papers and the tea stained papers that I worked on in the hotel room are proving invaluable with my limited supplies. Very often, those wonderful stains suggest faces or other mysterious shapes and I am immediately inspired. This one showed up almost on its own with just a few additional strokes of graphite. I will eventually add text to the other page when the mood strikes.
Working in my small travel journal while waiting for a decision that could change my life and the lives of other family members. I believe that I am a patient person, but this has been going on for some years and has been the cause of many sleepless nights for all involved. We know that his kind of stress over several years can take its toll on our good health, so we are trying to remain positive and keep a good attitude. Not so easy for us, and even harder for little ones who do not understand what is going on and why the wait is so long. With so many wonderful people sending good thoughts and prayers our way, we know we’ll get through this. Thank you friends and family.
There is much to be said for traveling light. That is a skill that I, unfortunately, do not have. However, two days before my current trip, I suddenly had the urge to make a new book to work in while traveling. My time was limited, so I quickly took a full sheet of 140lb. watercolor paper and tore it in half again and again until I ended up with a nice little stack of papers to create my signatures. The book went together quickly and I liked the small, chunky feel of it in my hand. I stained all of the pages with walnut ink and added a long piece of sari ribbon to hold it closed.
In addition to my new book, I put the following items into my traveling art kit: small stack of collage papers, small bottle of clear gesso, a few Neocolor II crayons, a couple of Stabilo All water soluble pencils, a water brush, glue stick, scissors and a graphite pencil. This very simple supply kit would serve me well for my 2 1/2 week trip.
Best laid plans….. As luck would have it, my trip has been extended by an additional month. I’ve used all of my collage papers so had to come up with an alternative. With my book being in dark values and having a bit of a “grunge” look, I decided to stain every bit of paper that I could collect with used tea bags and little packets of instant coffee readily available in my hotel room. Et voilà! A whole new stack of collage papers with very interesting results.
I am so enjoying my exploration of this little book and the challenges of stretching my limited supplies. In the following days, I hope to show you some of the pages that I have completed.