The aim of art is to represent not the outward appearance of things, but their inward significance.
Today is World Art Day. It is meant to be an international celebration of the fine arts which was declared by the International Association of Art (IAA) in order to promote awareness of creative activity worldwide.
Each year, on 15 April (Leonardo da Vinci’s birthday), World Art Day celebrations help reinforce the links between artistic creations and society, encourage greater awareness of the diversity of artistic expressions and highlight the contribution of artists to sustainable development. (UNESCO)
“Our Organization would thus like to pay tribute to the solidarity shown by artists and institutions at a time when art is suffering the full force of the effects of a global health, economic and social crisis.”
— Audrey Azoulay, Director General of UNESCO
About today’s art
I started by choosing one of my Distress Oxide backgrounds to use for today’s art.
I woke knowing I wanted to do an arrangement of stylised poppies with a mandala for a background, and this is the result.
Poppies symbolise, among other things, a lively imagination, messages delivered in dreams, beauty and success, as well as remembrance. They, along with their seed heads, often appear in my art.
It took me many iterations of colour, shadow and highlight to get the mandala appearing as I wanted it to – lacy, light, in the background but still standing out. I think I’ve managed to achieve that fairly well.
Overall, I’m pleased with the finished artwork. I do think the poppies and mandala could be moved towards the top of the background, something that is easy enough to do as I have the layers saved. However, the artwork is good enough for now.
I suspect I’ll be creating more art using a couple of the backgrounds I’ve created through the day. It’s a satisfying process to use backgrounds I’ve created myself rather than using ones that I have purchased.
I’ve had a play around with Distress Ink backgrounds, painting on the basic shapes of flowers, leaves and stems, and then adding black line art to it.
And, as I got up to put this on the scanner, I hurt my back. So, today I’ll be finding somewhere to sit/lie where my back doesn’t hurt and most probably crocheting and hoping the pain/stiffness eases off soonest. My back was a bit niggly as I woke up – I’d slept in a different position to usual and I wonder if that’s what had started it off.
Ho hum, so no arty stuff today, it’s too painful to sit at my studio desk and work.
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.
John McCrae, May 1915
Poppies have been the symbol of remembrance for those fallen on the fields of battle since Moina Belle Michael was deeply moved by the last verse of John McCrae’s poem. She vowed to always wear a red poppy of Flanders Fields on her lapel in memory of those who had died in WWI, and wrote this poem in response to McCrae’s.
We Shall Keep The Faith
Oh! you who sleep in Flanders Fields, Sleep sweet – to rise anew! We caught the torch you threw And holding high, we keep the Faith With All who died.
We cherish, too, the poppy red That grows on fields where valor led; It seems to signal to the skies That blood of heroes never dies, But lends a lustre to the red Of the flower that blooms above the dead In Flanders Fields.
And now the Torch and Poppy Red We wear in honor of our dead. Fear not that ye have died for naught; We’ll teach the lesson that ye wrought In Flanders Fields.
Moina Belle Michael
Moina wrote her poem on 9th November 1918 while working at the 25th Annual Conference of the YMCA War Secretaries’ Headquarters in New York.
Some of the delegates approached her and gave her a $10 donation in appreciation of the flowers she had used to brighten up the place. She showed them the poem she had written and vowed she would buy twenty-five red poppies with the donation, which she did later that day. On returning to duty, delegates at the conference taking place in the headquarters crowded around her, asking for poppies to wear. She gave out all but one of the poppies, which she wore herself.
Moina campaigned to get the red poppy adopted as the symbol for Remembrance for the fallen. However, it wasn’t until the 29th September 1920, that the National American Legion adopted the red poppy as a symbol of remembrance.
Anna Guerin, a French woman, was present at the National American Legion convention. She was inspired by Moina’s efforts, and saw how the poppy could be extended to raise funds for the needy.
Anna founded the American and French Children’s League, and she organised French women, children and war veterans to make cloth poppies to be sold, the proceeds of which could be used to help fund the restoration of the war ravaged regions of France.
In 1921, Anna either went herself or sent representatives to America, Australia, Britain, Canada and New Zealand, to tell them about the poppy and the work of the American and French Children’s League.
Anna went in person to meet Field Marshal Earl Douglas Haig, founder and President of The British Legion. She persuaded him to adopt the Flanders Poppy as an emblem for The Legion. This was formalized in the autumn of 1921.
The first British Poppy Appeal occurred in 1921, in the run up to 11th November – the third anniversary of the Armistice of the Great War.
Since then, red poppies have been sold during October and early November to raise funds for the charitable causes of the Royal British Legion.
About my Remembrance Mandala
I chose green and red for the background to the white poppies.
Green represents the battlefields that so many lives were lost on, and so many more changed forever.
Red represents the blood spilled that soaked into the ground.
The black lines represent the death of so very, very many during the World Wars, and so many other wars and conflicts since.
Why have I not coloured the poppies red?
White peace poppies are warn by many. Not as a sign of disrespect, but as a sign of respect and a sign of hope for peace in the world, so that no more lives will be lost through war and conflict.
My white poppies are that wish for peace, but also tolerance, compassion and understanding. They are also a reminder of how the causes of past wars still haunt humanity today, of how hate-speech is on the rise, how societies have become divided in ways that are reminiscent of the times before WWII.
I have always hoped I would live in a world where peace reigned between all peoples, where there was enough for everyone, and everyone’s needs were catered for. I hope for a world described in John Lennon’s “Imagine”.
Yes, I know I’m a dreamer, an idealist. I’m also a realist and know it’s not likely in my lifetime. It doesn’t stop me dreaming and doing what little I can to help make the world a better place.
Before anyone complains or criticises me, my father was a veteran of WWII, Korea and Burma. He rarely spoke of his experiences; when he did, it was usually the humorous ones. Once, when he was drunk one New Year’s Eve, he mentioned he’d been at a concentration camp. When he realised what he’d said, he refused to speak any more and I will never forget the haunted, pained, deeply saddened look on his face that showed the ghosts of his past had risen up to torment him once again. I have the deepest respect for my father, for what he must have gone through, and for how he carried that pain with him through his life.
I have the greatest respect for all those who have served in the armed forces, for all they give to help to restore and maintain peace.
I do, however, wish there was no need of them; that all nations, all religions, all people could come together and work out how we can all live together in peace and find better ways to work out our differences rather than through threats, violence and hate-filled rhetoric.
There Will Be Peace
There will be peace: when attitudes change; when self-interest is seen as part of common interest; when old wrongs, old scores, old mistakes are deleted from the account; when the aim becomes co-operation and mutual benefit rather than revenge or seizing maximum personal or group gain; when justice and equality before the law become the basis of government; when basic freedoms exist; when leaders – political, religious, educational – and the police and media wholeheartedly embrace the concepts of justice, equality, freedom, tolerance, and reconciliation as a basis for renewal; when parents teach their children new ways to think about people. There will be peace: when enemies become fellow human beings.
Today, I have a simple tutorial for a Remembrance dangle design.
To draw and write the design and instructions I used Faber Castell Pitt artist pens and Claire Fontaine Dot Grid Paper. I also used a Tombow Fudenosuke pen for the broader ‘Remembrance’ to the bottom right of the page.
I did colour the design digitally using a very simple colour scheme and colour gradients.
I do hope you have a go at drawing your own version of this design. I’d love to see what you create with it – maybe a greeting card, or in a scrapbook spread about a loved one lost during a war. Perhaps you’ll change the sentiment for a birthday or other occasion, and change the colour scheme with that.
I based this design on the one that is in my book “A Dangle A Day”. There are over 120 dangle designs in the book for you to learn to draw or as inspiration for your own designs.
It’s been a while since I did any whimsical dangle designs, so here’s an A4 sheet full of ideas!
There are six complete dangle designs on this sheet along with lots of ideas for motifs to use. I’ve also done some hand lettering, something I don’t do often enough these days.
I know there are likely to be things associated with autumn missing from the sheet, but it is a collection of some of my favourites. I had a lot of fun filling in some of the space around the dangle designs with the lettering and design elements.
I used Tombow Fudenosuke and Faber-Castell Pitt Artist pens to draw and hand letter on an A4 sheet of dot grid paper by Claire Fontaine.
After scanning in, I decided I’d like to add some colour digitally. I used a different kind of brush setting – natural blend with an airbrush. I’ve not quite worked out how it works, but I like the way it’s turned out here. The colour blends turn out quite soft and gentle, however this brush setting does need some more experimentation by me.
These are lovely, simple designs that would be perfect for using in bullet journals (BuJos), planners, diaries, scrapbooks and journals as well as for greeting cards, bookmarks and more.
My book “A Dangle A Day” is a great resource for dangle designs and design elements (called ‘charms’ in the book), even if I say so myself. It also has easy to follow step by step instructions for beginners to more confident creatives, as well as lots of inspiration – there’s nearly 200 dangle designs in the book!
So, Angela, how are you feeling today?
I’m feeling content, fairly upbeat and the exhaustion of the past few days seems to have mostly subsided. There’s still some tiredness there, but I feel more able to cope with the demands of daily life.
I do have to venture forth into the world; in my rather emotionally fragile state the thought of going grocery shopping filled me with, well not horror but trepidation. Fortunately, I keep a fairly well stocked fridge, freezer and cupboard, but now I do need to go get some fresh fruit and veg, which I will do in a short while I expect.
It is good to be back to having the contentedness the dominant feeling – it’s not as strong as it has been which tells me there’s still some emotional distress lingering. However, it is the prevalent emotion.
I’ve weathered another emotional storm. I do try to remind myself that I’ve come through plenty of hurricane force emotional and mental storms in the past and I can come through them again. Nowadays, I know what contentedness feels like and during emotional storms it acts a lighthouse to guide me back to emotionally calm waters.
I’m a tad late with the design for the November cover page for my BuJo. It’s very sketchy and rough and the scan has missed the edge of the page to the left. I used Crayola Supertips for the colours and a variety of black drawing pens, a white gel pen and a gold Sakura gelly roll pen for the outlines and highlights. Of course it’s a dangle design too – but a very simple dangle design with just hearts dangling from the wreath. No one ever said that dangle designs themselves have to be complicated, but dangles can add fun little embellishments to other things, such as this wreath.
November to me always means poppies. My dad passed away 10 years ago on the 10th November. He was nearly 87 and a veteran of WWII, Korea and Burma. He saw the effects of fascist Nazi Germany on the everyday citizens there. He was at the opening of a concentration camp. He never spoke of what he saw. In fact, he only mentioned it once when he was very, very drunk after celebrating Hogmany here in the Valleys of South Wales. As soon as he realised what he’d said, he refused to say any more about it and you could see the pain of the memory etched on his face and in his eyes. He joined the British Army to bring an end to the hate and the genocide and the desire for the end of freedom of speech and beliefs and human rights.
He was a kind, caring man who would do his best to help anyone, no matter of their religious or political persuasion. He did so without any expectation of anything in return. He loved to make wine and would share bottles of it around the community. Even when he couldn’t drink much anymore, he would still make wine and would give it away. He enjoyed the process of making it and he enjoyed seeing other people have the pleasure of drinking the wine. This is a quality I only recently recognised in myself.
Last weekend, I took my amigurumi monsters and knitted pumpkins to the hallowe’en coffee morning. All the pumpkins had new homes with people asking me ‘are you sure you want to give them away after the time you’ve put into making them?’
My answer was that I enjoy making them and if I can find new homes for them, my home would be too full for me to make any more. I added that it’s lovely to see other people enjoy them. At a meeting last night I was told some of the boys at a youth club were fighting over the pumpkins and the lady who’d taken them said ‘I’m sorry, I had to give them to the boys’. My reply was, ‘It’s ok, I’ll make some more for you and them. I enjoy making them and that others enjoy having them warms my heart too’.
Something else I realised about my dad as I’m writing this is that he loved the old war films – John Wayne’s films, Dambusters, 633 squadron and the like. I think they gave him an alternative narrative, something less painful for him to remember about the wars he was involved in. I remember him just throwing his medals back into their box dismissively. He didn’t think he was brave. He didn’t think he was a hero. I think they just reminded him of the horrors he must’ve seen. I do know he wanted me to have his medals when he passed away, he said I would understand what they meant to him. I think I do.
His medals didn’t come to me, as my mother decided she knew better than he did about where his medals and other belongings should go. I’m not bitter or upset about that, as the words my dad said in the hope I’d get him and understand him one day were the real legacy from him, not objects.
We used to have long conversations when he followed me out to my car when I left after a visit to the family home. I always knew I’d need to leave an hour before I needed to so we could have these long chats without my mother talking over him or telling him to shut up or making fun of him. I think he and I are a lot like each other in many ways.
He developed Alzheimer’s a few years before his passing. He caught pneumonia, was admitted to hospital and they found he had a tumour in one of his lungs. Eight months later he passed away. At first I’d sit with him and he’d talk to me about his younger days, his childhood, things he’d never told me before. But as the days and weeks went on his memories faded away until he was unaware he was in a hospital.
I visited him as often as I could as even though he didn’t know who I was consciously, having someone with him would calm him and he’d be more settled.
I was with him when he passed away, and even then he helped me to learn and understand various things.
These are just a few things I remember about my Dad. He wasn’t perfect, no person is. But, he was the person who took me to music lessons and choir practice and came to the concerts I was involved in. He took a genuine interest in what I was doing and he features in many of the very few pleasant memories I have from childhood and beyond.
So, forgive me my indulgence writing about things not related to arty things. Except that in many ways they are.
My art isn’t full of profound meaning and commentary on society and so on. I make art that is pretty, colourful, often abstract, sometimes whimsical. What I hope is that it makes people smile, gives them some pleasure, some joy in looking at it. By sharing it I share my pleasure, my joy, the peace that I find in doing art with others. As I do in making knitted pumpkins and amigurumi monsters and other things and gifting them to others. Just as my dad enjoyed making wine and also enjoyed the pleasure it brought to other people.
It took me a couple of days to draw and colour these poppies rising through and floating on the green swirls.
It was a very intuitive drawing, and as I completed it I realised that the poppies are like memories, remembrances that rise with and float upon the currents of thoughts that flow through our conscious minds. Sometimes they stay below the surface, not forgotten but resting, at other times they rise up singly or, as in this case, in a plethora. Sad, painful even, in some cases, in others joyful.
Quite fitting as we leave Hallowe’en behind and move towards Armistice Day and Remembrance Sunday.
As you know, I’ve been spending quite a lot of time developing a good relationship with both my Microsoft Surface Book and Autodesk Sketchbook Pro.
I’m fairly happy with drawing on the surface, though I’ve yet to get the texture of the ‘pen’ I use to be a little less perfect and a bit more ‘human’. There’s also the issue of not quite getting how big patterns will be when printed out, and then finding out that a powerful magnifying glass along with microscopically fine pointed pens/pencils will be needed to colour the patterns if not done digitally.
Now, I have mostly been printing my designs out and then colouring them with traditional media; particularly my Chameleon Color Tones and Color Tops marker pens. I do love doing this – it’s a very sensory experience.
However, I am aware I have a different tool for colouring viz. Sketchbook Pro and it’s suite of brushes and textures and so on.
Believe it or not, it takes me longer to colour an image in digitally than it does with traditional media, and I mean a LOT longer.
I love the way the colours are clean, almost glowing, when I use the marker pen ‘brush’ or one of the watercolour brushes. I’m getting to grips with which particular kind of blending or smudging ‘brush’ I like to use. I’m starting to get the idea of working with layers.
What is vexing me, is how ‘perfect’ the finish is, and how simple it looks. I wonder if it is way too simple a finish. It also frustrates me that I’m kind of trying to replicate the effects of traditional media but with digital tools, and failing as everything either works out almost perfectly blended with bright, clear colours, or ends up as a bit of a mess as I try to use different brushes or textures.
A dear friend of mine pointed out to me that I’m trying to compare apples and oranges, that perhaps I should treat digital colouring as an art medium all of it’s own instead of trying to make it like traditional media.
It was also pointed out that I do have a tendency to give myself a hard time when things seem too easy to me, or end up too perfect.
All of the images in this post have been coloured digitally, and the colours have shading/gradation in colours, but there’s no texture in them. But then, there’s little texture in the colouring when I use marker pens, such as my Chameleons or Copics, unless I deliberately add it, which I’m always disappointed with. I much prefer to add texture with black lines, which I need to bear in mind now as I work with digital colour.
I also recognise that I need to do a bit more to make more ‘contrast’ between the paler and darker shades of colours, as well as making sure there’s good deep shadows to add that illusion of 3D to the drawings.
I will continue to experiment and explore the other digital media and brushes, as well as special effects, and in time I may work out how it can all work for me in a way that I’m happy with.