Thursday, 22 March 2018

Art Journalling: The Last in What Became a Week-long Art Series

You will know from reading this blog that I am working on confidence and courage and that while I have plenty of ideas about how to grow both of them, it's always a work in progress for me.  Every day I make art and look at art.  In the space of half an hour I can swing more than once between feeling good about what I make and feeling convinced it's crap and everyone else on the planet is doing it better.  Okay maybe not everyone but at least a billion people.  And they are all on Instagram.

I am thinking about putting my work on Instagram too, although I currently don't own a smart phone so that is apparently a problem.  

Some time ago I realised that I was wasting time not making enough art.  It's not so terribly unusual to be afraid to do something you want to do, but it took me awhile to realise I was avoiding it.  I have a variety of interests, I read and write and love getting outside for walks.  I still have the usual mundane chores and responsibilities that most people have and I have a larger requirement for sleep and rest than most people.  In other words, I had plenty of excuses. But I didn't know I was making excuses.  It's possible that an obsession with personal style that burnt itself out was a bit of sidestepping, an interest in something creative that felt much less risky to me.  We all have to wear clothing.  If I put on an outfit that fails creatively I can always fall back on the excuse that I have to wear something and this was the best I could do at the time.  Being creative with clothing is fun but there are others who do it much better than I do and eventually I lost interest.  I love colour and style systems from an academic point of view but I drifted away from my focus on clothing as an art form and then, in a sense, I was naked.

Okay, not actually naked, I was still wearing clothes but I was exposed to myself and I knew that the creative outlet I really needed to focus on was my art.  

As you can tell by all of the sharing, I am painting quite a bit, and you will be happy to know, I even refrain from sharing some of it.  Like all people enthused by something, I want to share my joy and also what I learn along the way.  I also want to share what I learn and how I deliberately go about learning it just in case it is helpful to anyone in some way.  And because I believe that at least some of the time, the lessons are applicable to other things, whether it's other types of creating or just life in general.

I've dabbled in a variety of art journals and at one time I thought I was going to make a very specific type with a particular style quite popular on Pinterest and Blogs around the web.  I bought many books on it and collected ( also purchased ) supplies for this mixed media type of art journal.  But it turned out not to be the right thing for me.  More than anything I am just compelled to paint, once in awhile sketching or making marks and lines as a form of practice or warm up.  I might like to doodle sometimes or make Zentangles but my passion is with brushes and globs of thick, creamy paint.

My challenge was to get looser and leaning a little more abstract and the minute I am in front of a canvas I develop some sort of worry about it needing to be a 'serious' painting and it affects the results.  The results are usually tighter than I want, leaning more towards realism than abstract and while I do want something that is somewhere in the middle, I want the lean to be in the abstract direction.  So I decided that a journal might help.

I like themes.  In this journal I paint only flowers, I give myself permission to experiment both with medium and style.  I generally work from my imagination so the flowers are sometimes pure inventions, other times they come from my memory.  Once or twice I've looked at an image as a reminder, since it has been several years since I had a garden.  I didn't want to be tied to realism much, not in colour or shape though I did want the images somewhat recognisable.

There are many people painting flowers.  It's definitely a popular genre and particularly with women painters so sometimes it discourages me a little to be one of the herd and that nasty little voice in my head says, 'yeah and not only one of the herd but one of the lame ones'.

Oh that nasty voice is such a bitch.  I should slap her.

But painting in an art journal has taught me quite a bit about myself and my painting.  I get closer to my goal when I paint in the journal so now begins the process of recognising that and translating it to canvas or large pieces of art paper.  The downside to the journal is that although acrylics dry quickly they do remain sticky for awhile so pages can get stuck together and it's difficult to paint several in one sitting for that reason.  I am currently glazing all of these pages and that will take awhile given the wait for drying time.

Painting in my journal I have let go of the worry about whether or not it's perfect, let my strokes be looser, and if something looks a bit wrong or off I usually don't worry about it.  Sometimes I do a bit of correcting, but I life with imperfect and I like imperfect.  This is also an advantage to painting imaginary things.  You can't get the look of a flower wrong if you made it up!  It's good practice in letting go of perfection.  I prefer the lines a bit wobbly, some of the shapes a bit questionable and the colours both exuberant and not always 'realistic'.  I experiment with how I make lines, where I place colour, the brushstrokes, the shapes, and sometimes with using ink or charcoal, making darker outlines or not making any.  I just play with it to find out what I like best.

Yes, other people are painting similar things.  Or at least they are painting loose representations of flowers, usually as still live, sometimes as abstracts.  I am sure I will constantly hear that little voice reminding me this, but I know that it doesn't matter if other people do it too.  I am doing it my way, in my own style and taking pleasure in it.  If other people can take pleasure in what I make too I will be happy and there are enough flowers and there is enough happiness to go around.

Final Note:
These are imperfect and that is what I like about them.  It is difficult to resist the temptation to go at them and attempt to 'fix' things.  But the point is for them not to be fixed.  After photographing them I did glaze them which is a look I like and to me it seems to meld the colours together better so I finish all my work that way.


  1. These are beautiful and I love how versatile they are. One of them looks like watercolour (if I'm not mistaking no.9 ). I love how you use acrylics, your flowers always look layered (I don't know if that is a proper term to use but I can't think of a better one) and the colours are so rich and appealing. I really like the backgrounds in your floral art. It is interesting how much the background can change everything.

    I wish I was better in writing about art. Don't think about what is a common motive and what is not...pretty much everything was painted by someone sometimes and there is probably a reason why something is a popular theme.

    There must be something primal about our fascination with flowers. I don't paint flowers often, but I'm always fascinated by them and I enjoy floral art. You are being very productive and I think that's always a good sign. Experimenting with good.

    I'm terrible with Instagram, for some reason I can't open it on my laptop anymore, but here is my tip. You don't need a fancy cellphone with a good camera to get on Instagram, there are programs you can use to post your photographs and use Instagram from your laptop but these can be tricky to use. The easiest thing to do is to get a phone that has an email option (doesn't have to be anything fancy) email your photos to your self then save that photo from email and publish it on Instagram. I don't have Instagram app installed on my phone because my phone is so old that it doesn't have space for it anymore. I used to have it installed, though. Now I can access the application from my cellphone (but not from my laptop)and post photographs but I can't see the direct messages.

    1. Thanks, as always for your reflections and comments. You are right, it is watercolour! I don't use watercolour as often because I prefer more layering and texture and a slightly thick look to the paint.

      Thanks for the tip about instagram. I was searching online for ways to use it with just my laptop but came to dead ends. I have an old smartphone that works and gets internet but isn't being used as an actual phone. I might be able to use that though I would want to read messages and interact with people.

  2. I find art journals frustrating due to the drying time and getting stuck together.
    I have an art journal which is a slow journal. I take it with me on day's off and sketch my surroundings in ink. Sometimes also watercolour and mostly with a poem. It has become a lovely reminder of where I've been and gives my precious outing a focus.
    I'm so glad you are persevering with your art experiments and not being put off by the general floweryness. There is so much nature to go around.
    I find life analogies in music, especially as I'm working up some pieces at the moment. Finding my voice again...
    xo Jazzy Jack

    1. Yes, I have the same frustration and I am considering using a journal for a daily painting project and then doing other paintings on similar sized paper, which I can spread out so as to use several pieces at once.

      I like the sound of your journal and your advice that there is so much nature to go around. Indeed there is! I also am not surprised that you find life analogies in music. It is a form of art, after all and I think they are to be found in all forms of art. Though I also suspect they are to be found in anything we love and understand deeply.

      So glad you are finding your voice again! It's so important. xoxo


I love comments; What blogger doesn't? If you take the time to comment, I will take the time to reply.

Over 50 Tall Gamine

Sometimes I reflect on everything I’ve worn over the course of my life.  Does that sound odd or unbelievable?  I have a good memory for t...