Art Journal Every Day: For When Your Brain Deserts You.

This week has been crazy work-wise, and when I got home last night I planned on doing more work but my brain had pretty much left the building. So instead, I opened up my art journal to a painted background and let my mind wander:

1. Background created using JournalQuest technique:

JQ Background

2. Gold writing (the lyrics to a Pink Floyd song):

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3. Collaged blocks of colour ripped from an old magazine:

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4. Random doodles using a correction pen:

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5. Focus image added (stolen from an Armani advert):

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6. Black acrylic spread across the background using an old card and voila!:

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I really like the way the correction pen peeps through the black paint, and I’m definitely loving this whole layered look. This photo doesn’t really do the page justice, but no matter how I tried, I couldn’t get the light to stop bouncing off the shiny magazine paper… It was nice to have a reminder of how fun brainless art is!

Hope you’ve all had a great week!

D x

P.S. Linking this up to Art Journal Every Day, Quirky Crafts and Poisoned Peas.

Fall Fearless and Fly – Challenge 4

It’s time for the Fall Fearless and Fly Challenge! This time I decided not to use all three of these prompts:

Headline Prompt:  Security:  What makes you feel safe and secure?  What rattles your sense of security?  Where do you go for comfort and refuge?
Colour Prompt:  Cool colours (blues, greens, violets, etc.)
Quote Prompt: You can’t make a place for yourself in the sun if you keep taking refuge under the family tree.  Helen Keller
I thought I might just use the quote prompt this week, as although it’s not particularly poetic it’s relevant to me. I am, and always have been fiercely independent; as much as I love my family I like to stand on my own two feet and dance to the rhythm of my own drum.
Here is the page I created:
I didn’t have great chunks of time to devote to artwork this week, so I’ve gone for a less messy ‘doodly’ approach. And as you can see I ended up incorporating the other two prompts (although my cool colours got invaded by red and gold). The journaling squeezed between the letters of the quote and in the door of the house is a bit of word vomit based on the headline prompt (security). It’s a little bit hard to read (even for me) but it says: A thousand places to find comfort * shelter * protection * a place of warmth * both literal and metaphorical * A place to laugh * to cry * to scream * to shout * to love * to live * in pure unadulterated calm * A sense of purpose * an aim * Having someone to hear your worries * fear * pain * someone to understand the quirks that make you YOU * a hearth * a home * a cup of tea * a bear hug * a duvet * a bubble bath * and holding hands.
Hope you’ve all had a great week!
D x

The Awakening

The Awakening (by Kate Chopin) is a bit of an odd one to describe. There’s nothing offensive about it, but not a lot really happens… I’d probably describe it as a less dire version of Madame Bovary. The protagonists are very similar in their outlook, adventures and endings, but Edna is much more appealing than Emma. Edna does what she does because she has a completely different view of what motherhood and femininity are, compared those around her. Emma does what she does because she’s bored.

I would say that The Awakening is less pretentious, and because it’s not so hyped up, I didn’t know how it ended before I began. I can also imagine this one being more controversial at the time; Chopin describes female sexuality in a less than subtle way whereas Flaubert provides a critique on the French bourgeoisie.

It is a very short novel, so I struggled to form an attachment with the characters as I would with something longer. However, the narrator actively encourages you to sympathise with certain characters and be suspicious of others. This sort of made me feel as though my response to the book was not my own; it was predetermined by Chopin.

I’m not sure what else to say… I read it because I had to, and knowing that I have to study it is what propelled me on… I didn’t think it was terrible, but nor would I recommend it to anyone. It’s rare I’m so lost for words…

D x

Art Journal Every Day: Watercolour Girls

I had a bit of an ill end to last week so didn’t get a chance to upload my weekly art journal post, but all’s well again so here you go:

I was browsing through the blogs that keep me company over my lunch hour, and I came across a mention of this tutorial n Julie’s. I just love the faces, and I love the idea of a super-quick arting activity because God knows I’m lacking spare time at the moment! The tutorial was designed for ATC’s (Artist Trading Cards), but I decided to blow it up and fill a two page spread:

This took me about 10 minutes… what do you think? I think I might have to make a few more of these pages next time I’m pressed for time and feeling painty…

D x

TMA 1 – Done and Dusted

This is my 100th blog post! I haven’t been the most faithful blogger since I started, but I think I’m getting slightly better… It’s been great fun and I hope to keep going at this pace for the rest of the year. Anyway, back to the topic of this post: assignments!

I managed to submit my first AA316 Assignment without too much procrastination… I think there comes a point when you just need to stop looking at it, grit your teeth and press send.

Like I said before the Jane Eyre question seemed better than the Northanger Abbey option; I don’t know what I would have written for the other one. However, Jane Eyre wasn’t the easiest book for me to write about… the problem is it’s one of my favourites. I’ve read it so so so many times, I just couldn’t bear to pick it apart in the same way I would with most novels.

This year my seems great… less than 24 hours after the deadline it was marked and ready for me to download! I am pretty pleased with my mark but it’s not the best ever. My tutor made some good comments about how I can improve my analytical skills and the structuring of my essays… so I definitely have something to work on for next time. But you know what, this was my first Level 3 assignment so I’m not going to beat myself up about those few points that would have made my grade better.

I’ve barely had time to breathe a sigh of relief and already my next deadline seems to be looming in the distance… these are my options:

(a)    Consider the importance of female friendship in Northanger Abbey.

(b)   How significant is slavery to the central themes of Jane Eyre?

(c)    How are relationships between adults and children represented in Dombey and Son?

We can pick whichever we want, as long as don’t write about the novel we chose for TMA 1.

I’m feeling more inclined towards the third option… I think this looks like a really great question, there’s a lot to write about, and as a book I definitely enjoyed Dombey & Son more than Northanger Abbey; it’s just a bit grittier.

Which question would you choose?

D x

The Portrait of a Lady

I went into this book with an open mind; I didn’t know anything about the story and I’ve never read anything else by Henry James, so I didn’t know what to expect style-wise.

First thing to point out… this is a looong book, and it’s not the easiest to read to start with. James favours very long, complex sentences that can be quite arduous to get through. However, once I’d got used to the slightly awkward, stream-of-consciousness style I really got into the story.

James manages to conjure a vivid world of decadence that definitely appealed to me; I love that kind of old world glamour and drama. The characters are great, whether like them as people or not, they all elicit some sort of emotion in me. The ‘villains’ are superb; Osmond and Madame Merle are both a twist on Gothic archetypes: the tyrannical oppressor and the manipulative femme fatale. Strangely, the character that appealed to me the least was Isabel (the protagonist). I found her completely frustrating!  Having said that, provoking any feeling in a reader is surely a sign of literary genius.

I found the ending truly maddening… it seemed like a thousand pages of anticipation had ended in lukewarm nothingness. Not impressed! But I did enjoy the book as a whole… it was interesting reading something in a completely different style.  I’m definitely going to try another Henry James in the future, but I think next time I might go for something a bit shorter…

D x

21 Secrets – Alternative Lives

‘Alternative Lives’ by Zom Osborne is another of the amazing mini-workshops offered as part of 21 Secrets.

The idea behind this class was to imagine an alternate life for yourself, using a number of writing prompts, and create a journal page based on your idea(s). I came up with a ton: a mermaid, a 1920’s flapper dancer, a Victorian psychic, a futuristic robot, a Celtic princess, an evil pirate, a Renaissance painter’s muse… and then I didn’t use a single one. I ended up choosing a vampire theme for two reasons:

–          The next blank page of my ‘altered encyclopedia’ journal was covered by image of the moon cycle.

–          On top of my pile of collage materials were a few pages from an old copy of Dracula. I took this to be a sign.

Anyway, here is my final page:

If I’m completely honest, I don’t like how this page looks. HOWEVER I had so much fun working on it. This is one of those pages that is all about the process; I really enjoyed trying to tell a story using subtle hints and symbols, and I really loved experimenting with a style so different from my own. I will definitely be using Zom’s techniques again, I just hope next time the results look a bit better!

Have a great weekend everyone!

D x

206 Bones

I love a good crime novel- especially if it’s by Kathy Reichs. I don’t care if you think I’m biased; she was the one to introduce me to the genre that fast became one of my faves. I don’t want to summarise in too much detail, as I’d probably give the ending away, but the gist is:

-Multiple deaths take place, and as a forensic anthropologist Tempe Brennan has to look into these, and make links between cases that she thinks are related.
-As a favour to her in-laws, she tries to discover what happened to a friend of the family who has been missing for years.
-Her career (and life) seem to be under attack from an unknown source.

To me, Kathy Reichs is pure genius; I love her heroes, her plot, her voice… I love her villains, I love her secondary ‘pain in the bee-hind’ characters… I love that she at once explains the technical aspects of forensic anthropology while treating her readers as though they have brains (which is always appreciated, I’m sure you’ll agree).Having said all that, this one was probably my least favourite of all her books I’ve read up to now. I’m not saying it was bad; it just wasn’t quite as fabulous as some of the others, for a couple of reasons:

-I guessed who the main villain was relatively early on.
-The big dramatic scene was built up from the very first page, but seemed to be resolved a little too quickly.
-The crime that took place wasn’t quite as bizarre as usual.

HOWEVER I still couldn’t put it down, I still adore Ms Reichs and I will still be reading more of her books- I think there are two or three I haven’t managed to get hold of yet…

I would more than recommend that you read her Temperance Brennan series, but I’d suggest you read them in order (as I didn’t and I kept missing out on some of the juicy ‘relationship’ stuff). And if you’re not a book person I DEMAND you watch Bones (which is based on these books, and is one of my must-watch TV shows…. so excited for it to start again).

D x

Fall Fearless and Fly – Challenge 3

So it’s time for me to share my response to the latest ‘Fall Fearless and Fly‘ challenge. These are the third set of prompts:

Headline Prompt:  Triumphs and Defeats:  What do you see as your greatest triumphs or defeats?  What have they taught you?  Which have you learned more from?
Color Prompt: 
Black and white
Quote Prompt:
Not in the clamor of the crowded street, not in the shouts and plaudits of the throng, but in ourselves, are triumph and defeat.  Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

As usual I tried to cram all three of the prompts into my page. Here is how I created this spread:

1. Using black and white watercolours I doodled patterns across a two page spread.

2. I added more doodles with a black felt tip. I think I must have had the latest Inspiration Avenue post in my mind, because I seemed to come out with mandalas…

3. In silver gel pen I copied out the quote, and in black ink I wrote my answer to the ‘headline prompt’. As a finishing touch I added a bit of white out pen.

And here is the final page:

Things I’ve learnt from this challenge:

1. Leaving colour behind is genuinely torturous.

2. Sometimes torture yields some positive results… I do quite like how this page has turned out!

Hope you’re having a great weekend!

D x

Reading Update: September/October

The last time I monitored my reading progress was the beginning of September, so I thought I’d write a post to keep me on track (and make sure I’m adhering to all New Year’s Resolutions and self-imposed reading targets).

September:

(Set books)

Far From the Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy

Dombey and Son by Charles Dickens

(Reading for fun)

Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger

The L-Shaped Room by Lynne Reid-Banks

206 Bones by Kathy Reichs

October:

(Set books)

The Portrait of a Lady by Henry James

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte

The Awakening by Kate Chopin

(Reading for fun)

The Help by Kathryn Stockett

Breakfast at Tiffany’s by Truman Capote

This brings by TBR PILE reading challenge total to 36, which means I have already achieved by goal of reading 31-40 books in 2012! So because I love to give myself even more to do than necessary, I’m changing my new reading goal to 41-50. Wish me luck!

D x

P.S. Reviews of all of these are en route!