A little drawing this morning, used to embellish a quote that describes my artistic journey, well part of it.
The quote also describes the long journey I undertook to heal CPTSD enough that I found a touchstone of contentment inside me. That touchstone was something I’d never experienced and it is a very precious part of me.
Part of the healing process through EMDR was learning to trust myself, my memory, my emotions (which I discovered in the process).
The wonky motifs that form the border are perfectly imperfect. The imperfections in my art are part of my artistic expression. I’ve learned to recognise when my art is good enough.
I accept that my art is often perfectly imperfect, much of the time. I’m still learning how to not be so hard on myself, to recognise when something is good enough with me. It’s a work in progress for sure.
The motifs were drawn with Uniball Unipin pens on Canson Marker paper. I used Autodesk Sketchbook Pro and Affinity Publisher to create the ‘meme’.
Yesterday evening, I found a little oompf to play with colour in my watercolour sketchbook. The little blocks of colour on the right hand side are the result.
I dropped wet into wet, both watercolours and metallic watercolours, and just let the watercolour do their thing. I also tried similar with Inktense ‘watercolours’ too.
Just doing something simple like this, playing with colour for the sake of playing with colour, led me to want to try something different.
I had got frustrated and not all that happy with the designs on the left page over the past couple of days. Browsing through Pinterest, my attention was caught by illustrations that use black line drawings with a wash of colour. So, I thought I’d try those out.
I also wanted to try different pens to see how waterproof they are on watercolour paper. Unipin pens in grey and black, Pitt artist pens and a Signo DX pen were what I had to hand.
I used the pens to draw some of my favourite kinds of motifs, but rather than leaving just the outline, I used the pens to add shadow and the illusion of shape to the motifs. Once I was happy, I added watercolours. I did go back and add more lines where needed once the watercolours had dried. I also used a white gel pen to add highlights.
Firstly, all of the pens were waterproof. The grey Unipin pen did bleed more as I was drawing with it initially than the others, which showed little bleeding at all. Anyway, I’m happy that I now know for sure they are waterproof.
I have used colours that are different for me. They have more of a vintage vibe to them. I actually like the colours, a lot.
Still developing my artistic voice(s)
I keep trying to move away from black line drawings with colour, to paintings made solely of colour. Each time I do this, I’m never really happy with what I produce, it never seems to feel it is ‘me’. I love to see how others use just pure colour to create art, it just never seems to work out quite right for me, not unless I work digitally. Even then, the digital artworks make me smile, but they still don’t feel right.
I like to draw colouring templates that help others express their creativity and to use for relaxing, meditative, calming activities. These are lovely in their own right and for the purpose they’ve been created for. However, they lack the details that I find satisfying.
That ‘Aha!’ moment
And there it is, I’ve worked out why things don’t feel ‘right’. Detailed line work. Using line and pattern to create shadow and volume in a drawing. There’s also a need for me to use line to define and structure artwork.
That was something I always used to love to do in my earlier artsy years, and something that has gone by the wayside as I’ve used my skills at stylising motifs for my work as a colouring book artist/illustrator.
Those skills will never be lost and will always be used. However, I have a need to find ways to express myself in ways that satisfy my artsy heart, and this revelation is one answer to that.
It’s obvious when I look back at my blog, that I’m constantly trying out new things, going back to old things.
Sometimes I return to old crafts and styles I’ve tried in the past as they are familiar to me and that familiarity comforts me when I need time to just create and feel some level of satisfaction in what I do. Comfort art I’ve described this in past, and it’s just as true for me now as then. There are times when I’m not up to challenging myself as I try or develop a new style to me. Then, I go to art and craft styles that I know I can do fairly easily.
At other times, I’m seeking for the new, different and to stretch myself artistically. Out of a lack of inspiration over the past day or so has come a style that will stretch me, and perhaps will sit easily with me so it becomes one of my ‘voices.
Oh, I’ve not abandoned my new-found passion for typographic portraits/art. In fact, my mind is ticking over how I can incorporate that along with this coloured detailed drawings. Before I try the idea, I need to get some drawings done! I’d like to try the idea out digitally to see if it will work. That way, any drawings I’m really pleased with won’t be messed up.
Last weekend, I made a small sketchbook that would hold approx 4″ x 4″ pieces of paper that was held together by book binding rings. I thought this would be a good idea as I like to work on small pieces of paper.
Then, last night I tried taking some prints from alcohol ink designs on A5 paper. I really didn’t want to cut them up to fit into the smaller custom sketchbook. I also didn’t want to use the metal binding rings again.
I woke this morning with the idea to use a disc binding system to create a custom sketchbook-come-art-journal.
I have been using an A5 Arteza mixed-media sketchbook for this, but it has rapidly become very, very wedge-shaped. I also realised that I want something where I can add a variety of sizes and types of paper, as well as move them around to suit my needs. A disc bound system seems to be the best way for me to do this.
I’ve yet to work out a way to make a hard cover for the sketchbook. For now, I made each cover from two sheets of A4 pearlescent card glued together. They’ll be sturdy enough until I work out how to reinforce them in some way.
I decided to place the disc binding on the landscape edge, just for a bit of a change, no other reason. I’ll be able to take the paper out of the binding to work on. This actually suits me just fine as the spines of sketchbooks really irk me when I work in them, be they sewn or spiral bound.
What I also like about the disc binding system compared to the book binding ring is that the holes in the paper are much closer to the edge. It’ll be much easier to leave a ‘margin’ on the paper.
Of course, there’ll be plenty of times when I’ll work in a commercially produced sketchbook still, especially as I’ve now rediscovered the joy of using one again. However, the ability to colour paper, use different kinds of paper and sizes of paper really appeals to me as a variation on the sketchbook theme.
The different sizes of papers also add a bit of intrigue to the sketchbook. There are glimpses of other designs and backgrounds further on that add to curiosity.
I can choose to add notes either to the back of the work or on sheets of dot-grid or squared paper I’ve added.
Nor am I precluded from adding journaling elements such as envelopes and pages with pockets, for instance.
The top page is an abstract drawing I completed this morning. The colour and pattern on the paper (a piece of ClaireFontaine Paint-On mixed media paper) was added by taking a print from alcohol inks on Yupo paper.
I spent some time yesterday evening experimenting with alcohol inks on Yupo paper (a synthetic paper). Once I was happy with what I’d made, I added some Alcohol Lift-Ink and used a brayer to spread it over the design. Quickly, I placed a sheet of mixed-media paper on top and allowed the alcohol inks to be transferred. If you’d like to know more about this technique, pop over to the Lavinia Stamps YouTube channel; they have lots of videos showing how this is done.
The inks lose their vibrance and become more muted when this is done, but it means it’s much easier to draw on the design without wrecking pens in the process.
I used Pitt Artist Pens by Faber-Castell to draw the abstract design on the paper. Once I was happy with the design, I added some metallic/pearlescent paints in shades of orange and yellow to some of the white/pale circles in the design. Sadly, the photograph hasn’t picked this up.
I decided to not to cover the whole paper with the drawn design. I wanted to leave some areas of the background as they were.
I really enjoy working like this – creating a colourful, textured background which I then use as inspiration for the line-work. It is, for me, a very meditative process. Of course, patterns and forms appear that I can then use in future artwork.
Of course, I could choose to intensify the colours in select places using any variety of media. Today, I have chosen to leave this as it is. I may scan it in and try this out digitally at another time.
Digital or Traditional Art?
Both! For me anyway. I do love working in both ways, and using them in concert too.
I love the portability and smaller scale of paper and pen/pencil, as well as using other traditional art and craft media.
I also love creating art digitally, sometimes using backgrounds I’ve created using traditional media or pen and ink drawings.
Each has their pros and cons. Each allows me to do things that the other can’t.
One thing I do know, however, is it takes time to become skillful in each and also to find your own artistic voice (or voices) for each medium used.
Which I use at any given time depends on the style of art I need to do, what kind of ‘finish’ I want with it, and also what my arty heart and soul requires at the time to be content and happy.
No matter which I use, I’m constantly trying new things out, or revisiting old techniques with fresh eyes and ideas. Of course, changing media and methods also freshens up my art and recharges my motivation when it’s in ebb rather than flow.
Stress, motivation and inspiration
This week has been dominated by stress from venturing forth from my home for the first time since March. When I’m anxious/stressed it can be incredibly difficult to settle to anything. Also, I can easily feel overwhelmed by even the simplest tasks. Activities that usually soothe me can irritate me. My ability to focus on anything approaches a vanishing point rather rapidly.
Working in a sketchbook has helped; there is then no pressure to create a finished piece of work, or even to finish any sketch or artwork. It’s just about doing and enjoying and exploring. I let go of my expectations of artistic success and replace them with expectations of finding some peace and contentment in the whirl of emotions I experience at times like this.
I find it hard to be motivated to create, and even more difficult to find inspiration. I tend to slip back into old, familiar and self-comforting styles of creating art.
Hence this style of abstract art.
Even when I do slip into a familiar style, the art produced may be familiar, but it’s moved along, altered either subtly or more noticeably showing the progress I’m making artistically. It also reflects the current variations in the particular fugue that my artistic voice wants to sing to satisfy it. My artistic voice, song, doesn’t have one tune, it has many, plenty of which are yet to be discovered.
My previous blog post about a mixed media work in progress is still on hold, although I have added a crackle paint to it in places, which has added some texture to it. I’m pleased with the result, but I still am not sure what else to do to complete it.
I have completed a very textured background for some mixed media work; you can see it above. What I’m going to do with it I’m not quite sure, but I’m sure it will all come together at the right time.
Abstract Line Art
I’ve been drawing more ‘Doodle Worlds’ images from time to time and now need to gather them together to see if there’s enough for another ‘book’ for the Colorist app.
I also turned my attention to colour and pattern and the two images above are the results of around three to four days work.
I used A4 300g/m² smooth watercolour paper and applied distress inks to create the coloured areas. I wanted to create the illusion of shadow and light in these areas. Next, I used various drawing pens to add the patterns. On the green piece, I’ve added copper and gold coloured metallic highlights. The pink one isn’t quite finished yet.
Sketchbooks and my artistic journey
As the days are becoming lighter and warmer, my thoughts are going to getting out to visit places and to do some sketching/drawing (intense anxiety and intense self-consciousness allowing).
With this in mind, I’ve prepared pages in an A5 and an A4 sketchbook. I’ve used Distress and Distress Oxide Inks.
The image above shows the first page in my A4 sketchbook, a page full of daisies, worked using different media, trying out different styles and degrees of detail.
I like to work on a coloured background, I don’t know why, I just do. I think it may be that I like to add shadows and highlights to create and image from the colour on the page.
I’ve not done much in the way of sketchbook work for a long while, but the need to revisit and to continue to explore different ways of expressing myself artistically has surfaced. I think this is a much over-due response to the surfeit of work on colouring books in the past three or so years, as well as the struggle I’ve had with my mental health.
My energy, when mentally able, has been focused on completing the work I was contracted for with various publishers. I enjoyed the work, the subject matter pushed my boundaries in the subjects I tackled. I’m so grateful for that work as well as it allowed me to make changes in my working life that helps me to take care of my mental health. It was/is also an activity that helps me manage my mood. I lose myself in drawing/creating, finding myself ‘in the flow’ where my mind stills, or, rather, where I no longer pay attention to the inner critic.
However, the colouring book work was the focus of my artistic energies for much of that time, and I had little energy left to explore other areas of artistic expression. I didn’t mind that at all, as I’ve said, I enjoyed all the work I did, and I will continue to create templates. However, that is not all I want to do or to create.
I now have time to revisit ways of artistic expression I put to one side in my focus on the work for publishers, and I have the chance to see how my skills and expression have developed/changed. I also get the chance to explore and discover new ways of expressing myself, using new media.
In this way I can continue to discover, practice and refine my artistic voice and vocabulary. I still feel like a toddler in the world of art. I wonder if I’ll ever progress from that state.
The biggest obstacle to me doing this is the lack of belief and confidence I have in myself and my artistic abilities. I also have a problem in deciding on what to draw. Then, there’s also the issue of finding themes/styles/media to explore that will challenge me just enough that I feel I can make a good attempt at them and gain confidence in them, but not so much that it overwhelms me and I fail before even trying.
The most important thing for me, however, is to enjoy my artistic journey, no matter where it leads me. The pleasure and peace I get from creating will be something that will serve me extremely well throughout the rest of my days on this planet.