February daily art project

February can often be a gloomy month. It’s been winter for so long and then suddenly it gets even colder! This didn’t get me down in quite the same way as it often does, even with a 3 week winter cold! I think the fact that I made art every day really made a difference to bring warmth and colour into the wintry days. Art is the new Vitamin C!

I had originally thought my daily art would be a sideline to my main art journaling projects, something that would take no more than a few minutes a day. Instead, I have found it to be the backbone of my recent art practice, a place to touch base with myself each day. It has also taken on a wonderful diaristic feel, recording how I’m feeling and the things that are going on in my life.

The start of the month was also the start of the Season of Kindness at Get Messy Art Journal. I found myself on the receiving end of some lovely acts of kindness when my dear friend and fellow Messian, Rosie, sent me some beautiful flowers to wish me better. On the same day, artist and soul sister, Henrietta, sent me some luscious healing aromatherapy oils with incredible names like Breathe and Immune Bomb. I felt grateful to my dear friends for their love and care. There is no greater magic.

Is it possible to have too much chicken soup? (Answer: No)

I recently completed the Spirits class with Roxanne Coble and loved the way she draws faces. So I continued playing around with this style of drawing portraits:

I started playing with patterns in my daily art journal, inspired by the wonderful patterns Jessica McMillan has been making in her daily art. Go check them out!

“Hey big heart, I know you’re in there!” I have found that the Season of Kindness has been having an effect on my heart. I feel like old dusty corners are getting their first rays of light and breaths of fresh air in a long while.

I have also found that keeping a daily journal has helped me notice small moments during the day, such as this moment when a friend and I reached across the table and created a spontaneous colour palette with our sleeves and a smoothie!

Art is an interesting sort of mirror. It often shows me things about myself that I haven’t yet noticed. I didn’t realise I was in a good mood until I saw these pages I had made!

During these last few days of February, I have been taking over the Get Messy Instagram as a member of the Creative Team for 2018. (Yes, I thought I’d just casually slip that in there. A post on this very subject is coming soon!) It has been great fun hanging out with the community and creating some fun prompts and tutorials for Instagram stories. Today, the last day of February, we have been googling for kindness inspiration. I chose the phrase: “Kindness is the best medicine”. Some brightly coloured gouache and a white gel pen later, this is the page that resulted:

It would seem that I have come full circle this month. Kindness really is the best medicine!

The daily art project is such a wonderful way to move through the year. Many of my fellow artists at Get Messy are taking part in this movement, too. Check out all the awesome art they are making each and every day on the #mydayarted hashtag.

Wishing you all a wonderful March!

Season of Kindness (part 1)

It’s the Season of Kindness over at Get Messy Art Journal. I usually do a big post at the end of each season, jam packed with all the pages I have worked on for the previous two months. This time round, I thought I’d try something different; I’m going to post my pages every week or two so that it’s less overwhelming at the end of the season and more of an enjoyable ride along the way. With that said, here are my pages from the first two weeks of the season!

The start of February found me in the midst of a rather pernicious strand of winter flu that ended up lasting three weeks or so. During that time, I felt I was very much on the receiving end of so much kindness and I wanted to reflect this in my daily art journal.

I felt very loved when a bouquet of flowers arrived at the door for me with a lovely note wishing me better from my dear and beautiful artist friend, @rosieraindrops. I was blown away by the kindness, love and care that brought these flowers from Rosie’s heart to my doorstep.

But that isn’t the end of the story! The very same day, I received not one but TWO beautiful aromatherapy love packages from my dear friend and artist soul sister, @angelwingshen! With little bottles that said things like ‘breathe’ and ‘immune bomb’. Oh my goodness.
I felt like the luckiest girl in the world to have such loving and thoughtful friends.

Each day I continued to watch Rosie’s flowers bud and bloom and inhaled the exquisite aromas from Henrietta’s beautiful oils. All this love and beauty was working its magic and I started to feel better. What a way to begin the season of kindness! I felt so grateful to my dear friends for their love and care. There is no greater magic.

I spent a few days at the start of the week working on my page for the Spirits class with Roxanne Coble. The page ended up being very much about the wanderers on the left, with the figure on the right a sort of guardian angel watching over them. The words surrounding the travellers say: “I am with you in your wanderings.” This felt like a very healing page to make while I wasn’t feeling well as I felt a bit disconnected from my plans and routines – a bit like a wanderer!

Meanwhile, after spending the WHOLE first week of the season deliberating whether or not to make a special journal for the Season of Kindness, I finally decided to take the plunge with Kiala Givehand’s dos-a-dos journal. We are so lucky to have Kiala as our guest artist this season. Her bookbinding tutorials are really inspiring and make me want to drop everything and just bind some books. This was the first time I had ever created a journal specially for a Get Messy season and the first time also that I have worked this small (A6). I felt excited to see what was going to happen!

The dos-a-dos journal opens from both sides. Above is the front cover and below is the cover as seen from the other side.

For the first page in my journal, I wanted to follow one of the prompts about defining kindness and discovering what it means to me. I was surprised to discover how hard I found it to say what kindness is. So I decided to hang out with this question for a while.

Sarah Rondon’s beautiful healing heart tutorial was the perfect thing to do on Valentine’s day. I had a little panic when I couldn’t figure out how my broken heart was meant to fit back together. Then a dear friend came over with her two girls and we drank tea and hugged and drew pictures. It was really wonderful.

When they left, I returned to my journal and the pieces immediately came back together! I added some gold paint along the cracks, thinking of the Japanese tradition of wabi-sabi — a notion of beauty that accepts imperfection and impermanence – and the art of kintsugi which uses gold along the cracks when piecing a broken object back together.

The words around the heart say: “You pieced me back together.”

This next page is a thank you letter to one of the kindest people I’ve ever known. Maureen was a real-life fairy godmother to me when I was a girl and I feel like she gave me enough love to last a lifetime.

I am enjoying this season at Get Messy so much and the theme of kindness feels like a warm and loving hug at a time of year which can so often be rather cold and dreary.

Sending out that warm and loving hug to you and wishing you all a lovely weekend!

January daily art project

This year, I have decided to join the daily art movement! This is essentially a 365 day project of making art every day. I read about this idea in Julia Cusworth‘s inspiring article in Brush Magazine and knew I had to give it a go. I chose a Moleskine daily planner as my journal – perfect for the job because it has a page already designated for each day. Not so perfect because the paper is really thin and not meant to have paint, glue and markers thrown at it.

I imagined that the art I made in here would be relatively quick and simple and some days it was. But, more often than not, I spent as long on the day’s page as I would do on any in my “proper” art journal. As the month went on, I really enjoyed the diary aspect of the project and I found myself spending more time with comics and cartoons than I have done for some time. And it also became a great place to practice working with different supplies and techniques.

Here are my pages from the first month of this project!

From the get go, I came up against the thinness of the paper and some of the materials showing through. I added a bit of collage on day 3 to cover up the markers that had bled through. I imagine that over the course of a year too much collage will bulk the book out too much. So I will use it sparingly!

There was a little bit of New Year’s anxiety coming through in days 7 and 8.

Days 11 and 12 were very much influenced by Katie Smith‘s “Connected to Nature” tutorial in the 21 Secrets: Tell Your Story class. The fern on the right is a gelli print I made for the tutorial.

Days 13 & 14 featured drawings made with my eyes closed (and then coloured in with my eyes open!)

I pretty soon got into the pattern of using the same materials or approach on both sides of the page. I found it funny how the two days end up playing off of each other. Monday’s brain ache ends up looking like it’s coming from the intensity of Tuesday’s patterns!

Days 17 to 20 were inspired by a wonderful book called Imagine a Forest by Dinara Mirtalipova.

Up to this point I had been using the same materials on both sides of the page. Days 23 & 24 seemed to have broken the pattern. Crayon on the left and drawing pens on the right. I love this art woman who appeared. Her arms seem to be incredibly long…

My colourful self-portrait for the week’s Get Messy mini-challenge appeared on day 25 (At 10:46 pm!) At this point, I was thinking Tombow dual brush pens to be my favourite art supply for this project. The colours are incredible and yet they don’t bleed through to the other side of the paper. Magic!

I’m imagining that veterans of the daily art movement will be all too familiar with the highs and lows of discovering what materials this Moleskine paper can (and can’t) handle. The Crayola felt tips from Friday bled through completely into Saturday. And then, on Sunday, I discovered how wonderfully gouache works on this paper. Oh joy!

I was inspired to try gouache paints after seeing how perfect they are for painting folk art in Dinara Mirtalipova’s book. I joined the Oh My Gouache class with Mary Ann Moss and started mixing my own gouache palette. After discovering how well the gouache works on this paper, I expect I’ll be using a lot more of it in this project!

Thank goodness for art journaling when you’ve been stuck at home with flu!
On the last day of the month, I played around with gouache on a dark acrylic background. Topped with some enthusiastic gelli roll pen marks.

I enjoyed this first month so much. I found that the daily art project ended up being far more than a quick side project. During quite a busy month, it encouraged me to learn, practice, and make art every day when I otherwise might not have done.

I look forward to sharing next month’s pages with you. In the meantime, check out the #mydayarted hashtag to see all the wonderful art people around the world are making as part of the daily art movement.

Wishing you all a good February!

Autumn Days

Brandi Kincaid, guest artist for the Season of Connection at Get Messy, gave us an inspiring tutorial on creating small books to record our everyday moments. And so I decided to make my own little book and document something each day this past week.

I was eager to experiment with the task of keeping a daily art diary after reading Julia Cusworth‘s article, ‘How I started an art diary and why you should too’, in the wonderful new Brush Magazine. And I’ve been itching to make a mini-sized art journal ever since coming across Torrie Lynn’s incredible series of tiny art journals.

From the first day, I found myself relying heavily on my Tombow dual brush pens. They are so quick and easy to use and create amazing results. I came cross these pens during Julia Cusworth’s Pen + Ink class, and discovered yet more of their amazing capabilities while Painting Galaxies with Katie Smith. I’m certain that if I join the #mydayarted daily art movement for 2018 (and I plan to!) I will be using these pens A LOT.

And now, without further ado, here’s a glimpse into the last 7 days:

It was wonderful to celebrate each day by bringing some moment from my experience into my little book. And what a sense of accomplishment to complete an art journal in the space of a week!

Take me with you

It’s one of those moments: I’m really enjoying the Totems class over at Get Messy and I’m loving this taste of the wild and wonderful world of art journaling. 

Yet whenever I start exploring something new, I can end up feeling like a creative harlot. I get anxious that I’m abandoning the things I’ve been caring about and working on — in this case, comics! 

What better way to explore this than in an art journal spread that is also a comic!

You can check out some of the things I’ve been getting up to in the Totems class here and here

The beautiful one and the ugly one


The beautiful one and the ugly one. — a split I can very much relate to, some days more than others. It’s not just about how you think you might look to others. It’s about how you see yourself and, more importantly, how you feel. 

In the second Totems class we have been looking at archetypes and what a great exploration it has been! Through working on this piece I came to realise that both these archetypes have their beauties and both have their limitations. Now I love them both!

Coming from a cartooning background, I wanted to add a speech bubble for some of the words. As things progressed, however, I realised how powerful it was to have something undefinable inside the bubble.

Ways in to colour

postcard-from-the-beach

After spending almost all of 2016 working in black and white, I decided it was time to play around with some colour. So I set off on my winter holiday with my little Koi Sakura sketch box of 12 watercolours, determined to give it a go. But the task was not so simple. I realised that while I associated the world of black and white with clarity and simplicity, the world of colour seemed to present an almost dizzying array of choices. Where to start?

wave

In Picture This, Lynda Barry gave me the perfect way in:

Can you color a picture if you have only one color? It’s a good thing to find out. The only color we have for this picture is brown. we start with a pale layer, let it dry and then add darker layers one by one.

melting

This technique was a wonderful way to experiment with colour without getting overwhelmed by choices. I could focus on areas of light and dark, greater and lesser intensity. It was like working with black and white except more… colourful! And it was a great way to really dive into the qualities of each colour: the bright sunlight in yellow, the cool moonlight in blue, the heat in orangey-red, the lush of the trees in green.

drivin

I love holiday photos and usually take way too many. But these paintings capture the feeling on the inside in a way that my photos don’t seem to be able to do.

moonlight-dancing

When I began using this technique, I had the idea that the addition of colour to a piece would bring chaos and lack of focus. Instead, I found that it can bring a new kind of focus. By the time I came home, I found I could experiment with several colours at a time without things becoming too chaotic. Now I feel like Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz, leaving the black and white of Kansas for a whole new world of technicolour!

If you are at all daunted by the thought of using colour in your work, this is a great way in. One colour at a time, one layer at a time. Give it a go!

You can see more images from my holiday sketchbook here.

Hitting the dance floor

Writers live twice. They go along with their regular life…But there’s another part of them that they have been training. The one that lives everything a second time. That sits down and sees their life again and goes over it. Looks at the texture and details.

Natalie GoldbergWriting Down the Bones

I’m thinking the same must be true of cartoonists. I certainly enjoy the moments in my day all over again when I draw them as cartoons. This effect is enhanced when the moment I am capturing is already a celebration. 

I used to love dancing but a nerve injury in my foot has caused my dancing shoes to gather a considerable amount of dust. Then, last night, I went to a beautiful wedding and my husband and I danced together for the first time in years.

I have recently been experimenting with a new form of rehab which is allowing all sorts of things to become possible again. The band was playing and the lights beckoned. I thought why not give it a go? I was surprised to find my feet moving to the beat and that wonderful energy moving me around the dance floor. 

Today, drawing this cartoon, I get to enjoy that moment all over again and to celebrate new possibilities. 

If you don’t do your dance, who will?

Gabrielle Roth 

The Queen of the Underworld cooks dinner

One of my favourites from Lynda Barry’s Syllabus is the suggestion to draw yourself going about your day as Batman. I had a go at this some time ago and the cartoons still crack me up each time I look at them!

Then I wondered: what other characters could be going about my day? The Queen of the Underworld immediately popped into my mind and it turns out she was the perfect fit.

photo-08-12-2016-21-17-07

The Queen of the Underworld has brunch with her BFF

One of the things I love about this exercise is that even if you try to remain faithful to the ordinary activities and moments that occur during the day, they can’t help but become extraordinary (and just a little bit hilarious)!

photo-08-12-2016-22-49-36

The Queen of the Underworld brushes her teeth

This is a perfect thing to try on those days that seem unremarkable and uneventful. Eating porridge might seem uninteresting but what if you were an astronaut? A movie director? A shaman? A mermaid? Why not give it a go?

photo-08-12-2016-22-47-12

The Queen of the Underworld visits the spa

9 things I saw while walking in the park

I am usually an introspective walker. While I walk, I’m often more alive to my thoughts, feelings and daydreams than to the things that are going on around me. 

When I went for a walk in the park today, I had the idea to notice a few things and make a comic about what I saw when I got home. 

This totally transformed my walk! I noticed so many things – things too numerous to make it into the comic in the end. Life was running towards me, laughing and playing and kicking the ball across the field. 

Inspired by the quick timed drawings we did on Writing the Unthinkable with Lynda Barry, I spent a minute on each scene. The result is less ‘clean’ but more alive. I also had way more fun with it. There’s nothing like the seconds counting down to put some juice into your pen.

I was also inspired by the list comics we made in Summer Pierre’s Writing and Drawing Comics e-course earlier this year. (If you have ever wanted to take a comics class, I can’t recommend this class heartily enough. Summer Pierre is an awesome, enthusiastic and inspiring teacher. And there’s a new class starting on September 12th!)

I got to enjoy my walk twice today. Once while I was walking and again while I was making this comic. 

Fancy having two walks for the price of one? 

  • Next time you go for a walk, notice a few things. See what catches your attention. Nothing is too ordinary, nothing is too weird! 
  • When you get home, list a few of the things you remember. 
  • Spend a minute drawing each one. 
  • Enjoy your walk all over again!

A good & true friend

A good and true friend

So happy to see the return of my good friend, comics! I haven’t seen this guy since The Creative Harlot. I have a feeling he’s gonna stick around for a while!

Lost in the forest

Lost in the forest

I’ve been thinking lately about the huge benefits to wellbeing that come from making art. Sure enough, by making a comic about feeling lost, I no longer feel quite so lost. I reckon, this is pretty close to magic.

A little goes a long way

4 daily diary pics

The day has been filled with moments far more interesting than I first imagined…

With a house move and renovation on the go, it has seemed lately like there is little time for creativity. Then I remembered the magic that is Lynda Barry’s 4-minute diary. I spent some time over the winter practicing this every day and it has felt so good to return to it.

Tea with an old friend

There’s nothing like sharing a cup of tea with an old friend.

Here’s how it goes:

  • Spend 2 minutes listing what you did during the day.
  • Spend 2 minutes listing what you saw during the day.
  • Write down something you overheard. 
  • Do a quick drawing. (The 4-minute version includes a 30 second drawing. This time around, I took a little longer for this part.)

These few minutes have the effect of turning the whole day into a space of creative possibility.

Often, when I sit down to write about the day, it seems as though nothing “special” has happened. By the time I have made my two lists of the things I did and saw, there is always something I feel excited to draw. Making pictures of these moments, I am able to enjoy them in a new way. And I realise that the day has been filled with moments far more interesting than I first imagined.

Here’s a video of Lynda Barry talking through a timed version of the 4-minute diary. Why not give it a go?

Sometimes a little bit of creativity goes a long way!

 

Tea with a good friend

Diary 3 tumblr

This week, in Comics: Art in Relationship, we’ve been adding an interesting element to the daily diary. Each day, Matt Silady, our inspiring course tutor, has encouraged us to explore relationships both between the images in each panel and between text and image within each panel. Continue reading