Abstract Strata

This morning’s warm-up art is another abstract digital painting inspired by patterns in rocks and strata.

It’s a very soothing process for me to create art like this, even though it lacks the intricacy and detail of my more usual ‘entangled’ style. Simplifying and stylisation is a feature of my entangled art; this artwork takes those processes a few steps further along.

I started the day sketching some simplified patterns taken from geology in general. I scanned them in and chose one to turn into a painting.

Layer by layer, I added colour and texture, choosing earthy colours. I paid attention to shadow and highlight making sure that there’s an illusion of dimesion in the painting.

I’m still experimenting with this style of digital painting. In this one, I think I’ve chosen one or two colours too many, and a couple of them are a bit brighter than the others which makes them stand out more.

I also need to work with different color palettes, limiting the colours to produce a cohesive design.

The ragged edges created by the brush texture I used make the layers look a bit like torn paper. However, I would like to try a smoother edge in future experiments.

It’s been a nice way to spend three or so hours this morning. It’s now time for me to breakfast!

Strata

Arty musings

I’ve been awake since silly o’clock. I have a delivery due before midday, so while awaiting it I have been arting.

This started off as a simple line drawing of patterns from the strata of rock formations of Raplee Ridge, Utah. Then, I added some patterns between them, zentangle or entangled style. I used fineliner pens on paper to do this drawing (left image).

My next job was to scan the drawing in and tidy it up digitally. Then, I thought I’d colour the design in. I kept to fairly earthy tones for this (middle image).

Finally, I thought I’d do a pure colour study of the line art. And I really like this one. I’ve played with shadow and light to give a sense of dimension to the artwork (right image).

I’m really pleased with the pure colour image. Not just for choosing a fairly pleasing palette, but for finally discovering how to use textured brushes to draw, colour and texture the different areas.

I’ve done work like this with traditional media, but have never really had much success digitally. It seems I have found some confidence here.

It does remind me of work I did some 15 or so years ago while studying for A level art as an adult, and how much pleasure I got from that. Now, as back then, I used simple colour palettes.

I suspect I’ll be doing more work like this – line art of patterns, followed by a coloured interpretation of those patterns. My mind is ticking over whether I could include some typography in these kinds of artwork too.

Moody mutterings

My mood is better today, I’m pleased to say. I’m not sure if it’s rest, self-care, Star Wars, knitting, art, or a combination of all these things that has helped lift it.

I know that my mood has weather, just as the world does. And in Wales, the weather can be changeable and varied! But like all weather, the gloom passes and sunshine returns. Though I wouldn’t say I’m sunshiny, I am content with a soft glow within. That is good enough for me, and for today as it’s rather wet and gloomy outdoors.

Monday Mandala

It’s always a lovely way to start the day – mandala drawing. Symmetry is one of the things that I love.

There’s also plenty of detail in this one – lots of line work to add dimension, which is then enhanced by highlight and shadow.

I chose a rather muted kind of background for this mandala. Sometimes, I tend to make things too bright and colour-saturated. Today, it’s soft and dusky purple.

There’s plenty of my favourite kinds of patterns and motifs in this one – seed pods, arches, spirals, leaves and hearts. But there’s also some unusual, for me, spirals.

This morning’s art brings a warm and gentle smile to my heart, soul and my lips. As I said, it’s a lovely way to start a day and sets me up just nicely for whatever else I need to do this day, and the first task of the day will be breakfast!

Weekend WIP

This drawing is very much a work in progress. It’s being worked with black Unipin and Sakura Micron pens. When it’s complete, I will scan it in again, add a background, along with shading and highlights.

There’s some motifs in here inspired by fossils, others by flora and nature, and others that are purely abstract in nature.

Art is one of my self-care activities that help me manage my mental and emotional wellbeing. I mention this as it is World Mental Health Day #WMHD #WMHD2020 and, ironically, I need to do a fair amount of self-care today.

There’s plenty of information and advice out there on the internet. If you are struggling with your mental or emotional wellbeing, or if you just want to learn more about good mental and emotional health, ideas for how to look after it, then I’d encourage you to do a google and/or seek professional help.

We all have physical health and if something goes wrong with us physically, we don’t think twice about seeking out medical help and advice.

We all have mental and emotional health too. Yet too few of us will seek out help and advice when we need it due to the stigma and/or discrimination that cloud mental and emotional health.

It is high time that seeking help and advice for mental and emotional ill health was as natural and normal as seeking help for physical ill-health.

Monogram “a”

I got this monogram finished yesterday evening. I think I may have been a bit heavy handed with shading in some places. However, overall I like it and I like the volume or dimension that the shading adds.

I definitely enjoy working in such a detailed, intricate and organically intuitive kind of way. Having the monogram as a design to work around does help quite a bit.

On a kind of related point, I had a new A5 dot grid notebook delivered yesterday so I can start to make a collection of motifs and patterns as I use them or create them. The idea is I can winnow out those that I never/rarely use. The reason for this is that the dot grid notebook I’ve kept as a visual dictionary for the last couple of years is just about full! I will keep it as a reference, but it’s time to start a new, more relevant one I think.

I have a snazzy, teal coloured notebook, covered in vegan faux-leather. It has 218 numbered white pages that are a tad thicker than the usual dot grid notebook pages, The paper is velvety smooth and a pleasure to write/draw on. It’s made by Wordsworth & Black and I came across it on Amazon. Oh, the ink doesn’t feather, bleed through or ghost on the pages. I paid £15 for it and I’m very happy with it so far.

Monogram B

Finally finished it! It’s taken many hours to do – probably around 15 I think, and it’s taken some perseverance by myself to get it done.

Uniball Unipin pens (05, 03 and 01) on Claire Fontaine Paint-on mixed media paper. Two pen nibs now wrecked; the paper is velvety smooth to touch, but just too rough for the tips of the Unipin pens. Will move to Bristol board for the next monogram.

Art for heart’s sake.

Experiment in watercolour

It’s WIP Wednesday, so here’s a work in progress I started this morning.

I woke thinking it was about time I tackled rendering one of my abstract, stylised, imaginary botanical designs in watercolour.

I think I’ve gained a bit of experience with watercolours, kind of have a feel for them and how I like to work with them. Or so I thought.

Anyways, I started by drawing the design lightly in pencil. I used a 0.5mm mechanical pencil by mistaked; I had intended to use a 0.3 mm one instead. No matter, this is an experiment, a trial in my Arteza watercolour sketchbook.

Once I was happy with the drawing, knowing I can always add more to it or alter it before painting it, I started to add colour.

I started with the bottom right blue seed-poddy/stylised flower motif. I thought I’d use two different shades of blue alternately around it, adding shadow and depth. That didn’t work out too well. I tried dry brushing on the ‘spokes’ of the motif. My reaction was ‘yeuch! Angela what were you thinking???’.

I didn’t give up at this point, though it would’ve been easy to do so. I continued on, reminding me this is an experiment, I’m trying something out that I’ve not had much success with in the past; just keep going.

So I did. And I know I have work to do to recognise when the wet paint has dried enough for a different wet colour to spread nicely, but not too much, when dotted into the first colour.

As time was going on, I was becoming more comfortable with how I was adding colour. I was working out that adding glazes was a way to darken areas, and that I could gently blend the edges out while the glaze layer was still damp so I didn’t get harsh lines.

Slowly but surely I coloured in different motifs, careful not to do wet next to wet.

All in all, I’ve worked on this painting for around three hours. There’s a lot more to do, but I can pick at it from time to time.

What I have noticed is, however, how much I want to add colour in the same way I do when working digitally. An interesting observation, the implications of which I have not even started to unpack yet.

Therapeutic art once again…

Once again, I turn to art to help me manage my unsettled emotions and thoughts. I am so tired, again. The stress of the past week or so has taken it’s toll. However, like the heavy rain and rather windy weather we’re experiencing here in the Valleys of South Wales, these will eventually blow over and I’ll be able to focus on my contracted work.

I’ve learned that when I’m all out of balance, it’s best for me to focus on art that is soothing, that no one expects anything from me, that I don’t have to worry about messing up. If I try to do art that others need to be happy with too, then I get frustrated and negative about myself, doubt myself.

So, for today at least, I will be creative in ways that will give me the time and space to heal my frazzled emotions and gradually work my way back to mental and emotional well-being once again.

After a life-time of putting everyone else’s needs and happiness first, I’m gradually learning to take care of my own needs first.

I felt guilty and selfish to say ‘my own needs first’. But it isn’t selfish to look after myself. It’s a recognition of being responsible for myself and my own needs and well-being.

And so, today I art, for art’s and heart’s sake.

I just wish it wasn’t so darned rainy and blowy. The rain alone I’d be happy to go and walk in, or the wind alone. But not both together. It is forecast to ease off in a couple of hours, so maybe I’ll get a walk this afternoon, with brolly and waterproof jacket. I’d like that. But for now, I’m going to go and drink tea, draw the design for Template Thursday, and have the quiet time I need to heal, recharge and refresh.

Kintsugi art therapy

My artistic method today

I do apologise for the poor photos. These were the best of many that I took of my arty pursuits this morning. I’m not sure if I’m finished with it or not.

This was an unusual excursion into the realms of art for me. I was feeling totally emotionally overwhelmed – scared, anxious, sad and confused.

So, I thought I’d try to express my emotions artistically, with watercolours.

I used masking tape to edge an area approx. 6″ x 2.75″ (15.5 cm x 7cm) in my Arteza Watercolor Sketchbook. I used a new page for this, and it was the smooth side of the paper.

Next, I applied a wet wash of indigo watercolour, and then dropped in greys and rusty oranges, reds and browns into it.

The paper warped with the quantity of water. No biggie though, as this is a sketchbook. Once I’d finished adding colour and letting the watercolour do it’s magic, I used a heat tool to dry the paper. When I removed the masking tape, which was low tack, it lifted some of the paper with it, which was a bit of a disappointment. However, it is a sketchbook, so no biggie.

I then wanted to add some gold patterns and lines. I dug out a Cosmic Shimmer iridescent/metallic watercolour palette and a size 1 brush.

Finally, I thought I’d add some details in black pen (Uniball Signo DX 0.38), but I’m not sure about them at the moment.

Reflections

My emotions were, and still are to a degree, all over the place. I tried to meditate to find some peace and calm; my mind was just racing faster and faster and I just couldn’t sit with the emotions.

So, I decided to try to paint my feelings, to put into colour and pattern what I couldn’t put in words, or make sense of. I thought I’d try a totally intuitive block of colour where I asked my feelings what colour they wanted to use, where to put it and when it was done.

I chose dark, gloomy inky indigo for the background, and rusty yellows and browns. Indigo for both the sadness and upset I was feeling, but also the deep calm I was seeking. The rusty colours perhaps represent the blood, sweat and tears I’ve been expending for a while now. Or maybe the stains on my soul and emotions that have resulted in my struggle today. Either way, the colours just seemed the right ones to use.

There’s also a lot of depth in the way the colours sit on the paper.

Oddly, this is a colour palette I’ve been using for a while now, but never quite so dark. Perhaps my unconscious has been trying to tell me what was likely to come if I didn’t take care of myself.

Once I’d got the block of colour done, I knew I needed to add lines and patterns of gold, a kind of artistic kintsugi. I hoped that the gold would help to heal the shattered pieces of my emotions and mind in the way gold infused resin is used to repair much loved pieces of porcelain. I hoped that the gold would remind me that my healed trauma-wounds that have been filled with gold would remain healed and I could be reassured that I wasn’t going to break.

I won’t, but I could feel myself unravelling.

For some reason, once I’d calmed a little, I felt the need to put the pattern of black at the bottom. Piles of tiny little stones. What springs to mind is they represent the touchstones that are the foundation of my emotional wellbeing. There’s quite a few of them there! That surprises me, as my usual one is the one of contentment, a gentle smile in my heart. I may have to explore what these other touchstones are at some point.

As I look at the panel now, I can see there are lighter areas, where a storm seems to be breaking. Light is shining through, clarity perhaps. The photo doesn’t show the colours at all well. I really do need to learn how to use the camera on my phone or my DSLR much better I think.

A successful experiment

I know art always is a source of peace and calm for me. What surprised me was that I felt I was expressing my feelings in this little, very personal artwork.

I’ve never really used art as a way to work through difficult (or not so difficult) emotions before. I think it’s something I’ll be doing again in the future.

Monday Mood

Drawing done with Faber-Castell Pitt Artist Pens.
Arteza Mixed Media Paper coloured with Distress Oxide Inks (Stormy Skies, Chipped Sapphire, Dusty Concord, edged with Hickory Smoke).
Paper measures 3″ x 8.25″ (8.3cm x 21cm).

“I make art to show my soul I am listening.”
“This, too, shall pass.”

Art is my solace, my form of expressing my soul, my inner self.