Remembrance Mandala

In Flanders Fields – John McCrae

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
  That mark our place; and in the sky
  The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
  Loved and were loved, and now we lie
      In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
  The torch; be yours to hold it high.
  If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
      In Flanders fields.

Today is Remembrance Sunday, the closest Sunday to Armistice Day, 11 November 1918.

Armistice Day marks the end of World War I, at eleven minutes of the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month, 1918.

In the UK it is held to commemorate the contributions of British and Commonwealth military and civilian service men and women during both World Wars, as well as in later conflicts.

In the pink

It’s funny how colours seem just right one day, and the next day I wonder what on earth I was thinking at the time.

Yesterday’s mandala, with it’s kind of yellow-brown background just doesn’t seem ‘right’ today.

I often mention about how I feel I really struggle with colour at times, but feel much better if I stick with simple color palettes, even monochrome ones, more or less.

So, this morning I wanted to draw a mandala, as is so often the case. They give me a chance to practice drawing digitally and using pattern and texture within them too.

The drawing was just fine and dandy, nearly always a pleasurable experience and I end up with a design I like well enough.

Then, there’s the coloured background. Today I wanted a soft pink colour. I like the colour I’ve chosen. Black lineart would look start on it, to my mind, but a soft, warm, cream was just perfect. It looks almost like lace.

And I can breathe a sigh of relief as my faith in my colour sense is restored somewhat. Monochrome is the way to go, unless it’s coloring templates. Though perhaps I should try a monochrome colour scheme for them, or at least analogous colours with a pop of complementary here and there. I’ll see what happens.

For the rest of my day, I’m going to be gathering sketches of ideas and elements for the coloring book I’m working on, and creating a mandala has got me somewhat in the right frame of mind to do this.

Template Thursday

I was in the mood for a mandala this sunshiny morning in the Valleys of South Wales, so that’s what I created for this week’s coloring template for the Angela Porter’s Coloring Book Fans facebook group.

Some Mayan-style glyphs have been appearing in my sketchbook lately, and I felt I needed to incorporate them into a mandala design. So I did.

I also chose colours that reminded me of golden stone and primary coloured gems/paints/inks, including the golden-sand coloured kraft paper background. It has lovely warm, desert feel to it.

As usual, the uncoloured template is available to members of the facebook group. Membership is free, as are the pandemic templates, just some simple terms and conditions of use need to be adhered to.

Sunday Morning Art

This was a lovely way to spend the first three hours or so of Sunday morning. Abstract digital painting. Chilled out music playing on Spotify. A slow sunrise behind the grey, rain-dropping clouds.

Again, the pattern was inspired by rocks and geology. Some of the patterns I’ve added remind me of rocks and shells, others are a bit too geometric.

It’s always nice to play around with pattern, texture and colour. And when I limit my palette to just a couple of colour families I get much better results. Today, I used the B and YR Copic colour families from the Copic palette included with Autodesk Sketchbook Pro.

While not reminiscent of rocks, the colours remind me of sea and sand. This year, I’ve not been able to get to the coast, other than once way back in February. The colour choice is a subconscious desire for the sea and shore, a liminal place, a boundary between one element and another.

The coast is a place where I feel my whole body exhale and relax. Sadly, it’s not possible to visit at this time, maybe not for a long while. However, the pandemic won’t last forever and the coastline will still be there.

Anyways, creating this artwork was a lovely way of spending some time on a Sunday morning. I can see where I’ve been clumsy with the patterns, making the layers look flatter than I wanted them to.

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

Eerie and spooky?

A fun, quirky, cute Hallowe’en themed mandala was what was needed on Monday morning.

I started with the skull, without any clue as to what I was going to do with it. Then I thought about adding a mandala around it, and I wanted it in eerie, almost glowing colours.

As I drew the skull without any outlines, I thought I’d do the same for the rest of the mandala. I also kept a pretty simple colour palette – violets, teals and blues.

It’s worked out OK. It certainly is a bit different. The most important thing is that I enjoyed drawing it, and that is most probably the most important thing of all.

Sunshine and mood

Today, there’s some sunshine and that helps to keep my mood up. I did feel a bit better yesterday – sleep and Star Wars really helped! I may have felt better, but settling to art just didn’t happen yesterday.

I’m still so tired. I think it’s all to do with some anxiety at this time. There’s nothing specific for it, just general anxiety. I think it was triggered by my boiler breakdown and then the engineer fixing it, and the increasing cases of Covid combined with a national lockdown in Wales.

I’m not sure I can drive less than a mile to the cemetery I like to walk around. I feel safe there in a way I don’t walking around the streets and town I live in at this time.

Of course, worrying about whether I’ll be breaking the rules to take a walk adds to my anxiety.

What a pickle!

It may be that I baulk and just stay home, and check the rules carefully before I do venture forth for a walk.

Pumpkin knitting

Knitting pumpkins while watching Star Wars. Guaranteed to reduce my anxiety. And knitting, unlike crochet, is something I can do without having to look at my fingers.

Also, I’ve found it really relaxing and the feel of the knitted fabric in my fingers is soothing and pleasurable. As I’ve been kintting in stocking stitch, it’s a very smooth fabric. Crochet tends to have more texture to it. I think I’ll be doing more knitting and less crochet for a while.

Saturday arty day

Artsy ramblings

Today I’m feeling a tad ‘meh’ to say the least. I’m tired despite sleeping plenty last night and yesterday. The weather is gloomy – leaden grey skies and rain. At least the autumn colours are glowing a little in the gloom.

So, today I just needed some arty fun. Nothing too big and overwhelming, something with a little whimsy, and no pressure for anything other than making art for art’s sake.

Hallowe’en is my favourite festival, so that’s where I started, along with pen and paper.

The drawing isn’t all that big – 8cm x 10 cm approx (3.25″ x 4″),s o it was relatively quick to complete. I scanned it in to tidy it up, but decided to add a spooky border around it, which I did digitally.

Then, I set to colouring the image, in Hallowe’en colours, mostly.

I played with texture brushes and how I can work with colour. I’m pleased to get some areas that seem to glow eerily. My brain won’t let me fully process that or go back to the image to add this effect to other design elements.

It was, after all, a few hours of fun, arting for art’s sake, and to do what I can to lift my mood.

Polymer clay

I spent sometime yesterday afternoon playing with polymer clay. The Sculpey clay I purchased is soft enough to work with almost straight out of the packet, which is a good thing.

I’m not entirely sure how I’m going to work with it. What I thought would work just didn’t for me. So, I’m going to let the ideas rumble around my subconscious and come up with how I could work with the clay my way.

I was disappointed with myself, but worked hard be easy on myself as this is a new skill to learn and develop. It won’t happen overnight. Also, there’s no rush or panic to get it done either.

In the meantime, I’m wrangling with myself as to whether I should invest in a pasta machine to roll out the clay or whether that’s a decision that can wait until I work out if polymer clay is for me or not.

Borders

This morning I’ve focused on work for my next Creative Haven coloring book and I wanted to create some borders I could use for the templates.

These are all approx 2cm (about ¾”) wide. When I was colouring templates for Entangled Gardens, I realised how much I enjoyed not only colouring the border but the finished feel it gave to the templates.

So, I want to build up a library of ready-to-go borders.

Some are organic, others geometric. Some more ornate than others. they are all devoid of any guide as to shadow as that then leaves it entirely up to the colorist how they approach the template.

A nice, if different, way to start the day.

Monday Mandala

Teals and five-fold symmetry for this Monday’s Mandala.

I was going to draw a much bigger mandala, but realised that this is just perfect as it is, although I can always go back and add to the mandala at a late date.

I’m still working out the best way to get highlights and shadows the way I like them, and I’m happy with today’s mandala. However, I think I’m realising that there is no one single, perfect way to add shadows and highlights. I think it depends on the design and the effect I’m looking for.

All the experimentation isn’t a waste of time. I’m learning new things all the time about digital coloring.

Tuesday Mandala

Another day, and the inner need to create a mandala. I’m not entirely sure about this one. Whether it’s the red colour I’ve chosen, or the dense texture of the widest ring, or something else.

It may not be the mandala itself, but how I’m feeling today and how the mandala is, perhaps, a reflection of that.

Perhaps I’m just trying to read too much into it.

Though I’m not too sure about the finished mandala, the process of creating it was pleasant, calming, satisfying in it’s own right. Maybe as the day goes on the mandala will reveal more about myself today.