It’s a gloomy, wet Saturday here in the Valleys of South Wales, and the weather matches my mood. My inner sun touchstone of contentment is still there; I can sense it as a constant beneath the clouds and know that it is there the same way I know the Sun is behind the clouds (or the Earth at night). All storms, or successions of storms, eventually pass, and I know that the stormy inner weather is related to something(s) I’m having to work through and sort out. I will get there. I was reminded today that I’ve got myself through such times in the past and that I’m quite capable of doing so again (thanks to my friend for reminding me!).
To use my metaphor, I’ll weather the storms that come and go, and art will help me do so.
When I sit and draw, my mind empties of all the thoughts the negative self-talk likes to shout at me, the sunny touchstone shines through the clouds a little more and the contentment increases. For a while, I have a break from it all. And when I stop drawing, I feel better, even if the storm starts up again.
I will be fine; I am in many ways. And there’s always art. And writing. And music. And Star Wars!
Oh, the page above. I worked on it last night and today. I’ve done as much as I want on the page. Partly coloured or shaded, and some areas with a darker background. It is, to me, a way to suggest what I could do. That’s why I like pages like this. Unfinished, or inconsistently finished, with possibilities and potential and inspiration.
I used 05 and 01 Sakura Pigma Micron Pens to draw the design. To add some shade and the background, a Warm Grey III Pitt Artist Brush pen was used. And various Graphitint pencils and a water brush added colour to other motifs.
I have decided to keep an illustrated journal full of my favourite patterns and motifs, accompanied by some words of encouragement and, perhaps, advice.
I’ve kept a collection in a dot grid notebook for a few years. However, some people have asked if I’d share it. I thought it was high time to create something similar instead of sharing a battered and dog-eared book. So, that’s precisely what I started in today’s video.
So, I purchased a Talens Art Creation A5 landscape sketchbook for this purpose. I like the paper in it; it’s creamy in colour, so it’s more soothing on my eyes. The scanned page in the image above doesn’t show the cream colour; the struggle with scanners is real! The paper is 140gsm (90lb). It will take a very light wash of water, but I like the fairly smooth surface to draw upon.
For this page, I used a selection of pens: A micro Uniball Eye for most of the drawing 01 and 03 Sakura Pigma Microns for details 0.38 Uniball Signo DX for the writing. Faber-Castell Pitt Artist Brush Pens in Cold Grey 1 and Cold Grey III
I’m fairly happy with how the page looks. However, my handwritten notes are a bit … untidy. Hey ho, they’ll do!
I only drew the flower on the left in today’s YouTube video. I couldn’t find the first drawing for this new journal. Stupidly, I’d done that on a loose sheet of A5 dot grid paper and didn’t put it into a folder for safe keeping. I have no idea where I’ve put it. So, that was another good reason to get a sketchbook; it’s harder for me to misplace a sketchbook, though it has been known to happen. So the arrangement from the centre to the right is a replication of the motifs from the lost page.
As I typed that, my mind thought of the Moody Blues album title “In search of the lost chord”. I’m forever in search of my lost artwork!
This is going to be another interesting project. I do seem to pick up and drop projects a lot. The reason is I need variety in what I’m focusing on. Sometimes, I need a bit of a break from a particular project or focus. At other times, I’m just not well enough to do anything more than some challenging ‘comfort art’.
I now need to decide if I’m going to add some colour to this page. I have shadows in place, so transparent/transluscent media will work with that. I’ll think on it. For now, I need tea and something to eat!
For a long while, I’ve been playing around with hand lettering, using my writing in art, and the idea of marrying together writing and drawing. Today, I started a new sketchbook dedicated to this idea and exploration. I woke up this morning with the concept clear in my head, and so I did!
A sketchbook is a perfect place to experiment and try things out. I’ve already got various notes on this page reflecting on what is working and what isn’t. And there’s some reflective journaling too. My handwriting is a mess. That Distress Ink-ed dot grid paper looks really grubby. The Inktense pencils and the use of a water brush may not have been a good idea on the sketchbook paper. However, it is a sketchbook. It’s not meant to be anything other than a place to explore, experiment, and unearth hidden thoughts and ideas.
The last paragraph had a lot of negatives in it. I do like the border, and this is something I’ll continue to do. The idea of collating notes onto a page intrigues me; even adding pockets and other things from junk journaling could be an idea. Places to store notes about ingredients and so on. I enjoy researching all kinds of things, including foods, ingredients, spices and condiments.
What is new is me drawing food! I don’t know if I’ll ever draw a plate or bowl of food, but the ingredients or various elements interest me. So I’ve written a note to myself to see if I can make patterns or motifs for my more abstract, non-representational work from them.
I also must learn that colours can be imperfect; close enough is good enough! The ginger jam (more correctly, ginger preserve) was troublesome. But it’s good enough for now.
Soothing fraught emotions and thoughts
I’ve been relatively open with my mental and emotional health challenges, to a degree at least. And I thought it would be an excellent idea to combine that with food, and maybe more.
Art and food are two ways I can soothe and comfort myself. On good days, I’ll be adventurous with cooking. It may be a takeaway delivery or something quick and easy on bad days. On the in-between days, comforting food is the go-to, often more traditional recipes.
Cooking is always a challenge as a singleton. However, the motivation to cook and feed me wholesome and healthy food can be a considerable challenge, especially on my fraught and frazzled days.
Where will this lead?
I don’t know. I know it’s a personal project, but a friend and I have talked about collaborating on a project about cooking. So this may be a way of kicking the project off, even though I am still determining where it will go. If nothing else, it will give me a way to draw new and different things, explore various techniques, both in art and cooking, and reflect on all kinds of things. I’ll get to practice my handwriting and hand lettering as well. And perhaps work out how to create a pleasing layout!
This will, I trust, encourage me to take more care of myself in terms of nutrition. In addition, adding daily entries for at least one meal will hold me accountable.
A variety of meals/dishes will be required too and so will stop me from eating the same old things again and again! That’s a rut I can get stuck in. Also, if I find something I enjoy, I will eat it again and again, day after day, until I become sickened by it! That is not good either!
Am I overloading myself with projects?
I have a book to do for Creative Haven by the end of June. There are some self-published colouring books that I’d like to do too. Then there’s my creepy-cute monsters project. YouTube. Writing. And more!
I often can’t see the wood for the trees. Being able to prioritise has never been a strong skill of mine. However, I do need variety and options of what to work on. Otherwise, the work can become stale and uninspiring to me. And I can so easily get overwhelmed by the enormity of the task, or tasks, to be done. And then there’s the fear of failure, of not being good enough, that results in procrastination.
Also, I know that at the moment, my emotions and, thus, my mental state isn’t the best; new challenges in life outside of art and creativity. But that means that art and creativity are more important to me to help me calm, relax, get in the flow and give my mind and emotions a break!
I’m sure I’ll figure it out. I’m not one for schedules of work day by day and hour by hour. That may be something I need to look into.
But not now. Now I need a mega-big mug of good strong tea! I’m British (Welsh), and we think tea will solve everything!
I had a lot of fun with this sketchbook page. It’s well out of my ‘comfort-zone’ as there are absolutely no black lines, not even the lines that define the basic shapes.
This is inspired by illustrator Kate Sutton, whose Domestika course I started watching yesterday. And there’s another project I have on the go that is inspiring me to explore this kind of drawing.
I’ve tried this before, but felt so uncomfortable with it that I gave up very quickly. Today, I was determined not to use any black lines at all. Instead, I picked a colour palette of just four colours of Arteza EverBlend markers. For each colour, I chose a similar one from my set of Zig Writer pens.
I started by creating the collage of simple shapes using the markers, overlapping them so that the colours mixed. I was careful not to mix the pink and green; I didn’t want to make mud!
Once I was happy with the basic design, I used the Zig writers to add patterns made from simple marks. To begin with, this felt really awkward, uncomfortable, and just plain wrong. However, the more I did, the easier it became, and the more I liked what was happening. I’m so glad that I persevered!
I dug out a white gel pen to add some brighter, lighter marks and to play with the ‘stitching’ to the top right. The idea that I was using pen ‘stitching’ to connect shapes and patterns amused me.
Using the white gel pen reminded me I had other gel pens to use, and use them I did.
I love the translucency of the marker pens and the way that the patterned shapes seem to float. The use of monochrome colours in these shapes, along with white, just gives an airy, delicate feel to them. I can now see the value of this way of using no black line. I have a lot more exploring and experimenting to do. My mind is ticking over how I can make use of this in a project I’m developing at the moment.
As eager as I am to continue my explorations, I have an errand to do first. But when I return home, well, I’m going to try out some of my ideas both on paper and digitally and see where this takes me.
Sunday morning (and Saturday evening, which was when this page was started) is the perfect time to practice my lettering, a quirky kind of illustrated journal page, and digital art practice.
I had intended to use just three, maybe four, basic colours for this page, but the vegetables threw me a tad!
I drew the page on paper with a fine Zig Mangaka Flexible pen. The Colour was added digitally after scanning the page. And I had a lot of fun as ideas clicked into place to add colour to the lettering.
Admittedly, some of the inking work is a tad clunky, but that could be fixed if I wanted to. It is a sketchbook page, and so perfection isn’t required. Giving myself permission to work with what I deem as less than perfect is an important lesson I’m trying to learn. Expressing myself in this wobbly, wonky, imperfect, quirky, eccentric, whimsical kind of way is a work in progress.
Oh, I’ll still draw detailed, intricate black and white pen designs. But I suspect I’ll do much more of this style of art. I have much to learn about it, using colour with no black lines, for instance. But I know it’s all a process, and I’ll get to where I need to be. I know that I’m really enjoying the combination of traditional ink drawing with digital colour – tradigital?
I’m not sure my Doodleworlds critters belong, but I just couldn’t resist popping them in to fill an awkward space!