Recently, my life has not been a life of a middle-aged woman, but of a female tiger. With a new puppy, we have tried to find a balance in the family, and it has felt like a fight sometimes.
At some point in every evening, I become exhausted and demand my herd to calm down. It’s usually 21:34 exactly, so it seems that we run an accurate schedule.
But there’s not much else accurate in our life, because the puppy requires us – like my husband kindly puts it – to go with the flow. We are not talking about a flow state here, but a flow of random things that keep the puppy either awake or asleep.
I feel that the puppy is like a peacock which my husband, I, and our older beagle Stella stare at – the central character of our zoo who makes us happy or miserable, and often both at the same time.
We have had stress. Stella got ill and my oldest budgie Bonneville died, both sudden events.
But when Stella got back from the hospital, I began to think that we will survive. That the peacock sometimes looks like a dove, and that the rest of us can just admire its flight through the youth.
But that would be another page for my colored pencil diary!
This week, I started a project that I have been thinking about for quite a while: a colored pencil art journal! I hope this post inspires you to keep a visual journal too.
From Mundane to Fantastic
The idea of this journal is to connect everyday events with the world of fantasy. I want it to be a visual diary that is inspired by the ordinary but still goes beyond it. I
Books and Pencils
I have kept small art journals before too, and they still feel inspiring many years later. The two old art journals below are Moleskine sketchbooks.
The new one is a blank notebook from Archer & Olive. I chose it because I really like Archer & Olive as a company, and I’ve grown to like their bright white paper for bullet journaling. The size of the new notebook is A5 (5,75 x 8,25 inches), so a little bigger than the old sketchbooks but still very manageable.
When ordering the notebook, I got a discount code, so click here to get 10% off if you haven’t purchased from Archer & Olive before.
I have been purchasing new pencils too. Yesterday, I went to Helsinki to visit art supply stores and got some colored pencils – a mixed selection to expand my knowledge of different brands. So far, I have mostly used wax-based pencils like Prismacolor Soft Core and Caran d’Ache Luminance, but now I also got oil-based Faber-Castell Polychromos pencils. I also bought some Caran d’Ache watercolor pencils and more Luminance that has been my favorite so far. I have always mixed all kinds of pencils in my drawings and continue to do so!
Starting a Colored Pencil Journal
I usually fill an art journal by choosing the pages randomly. But because this journal is about my everyday life, I wanted it to be chronological and start from the first spread. It’s exciting to see how it will change and what kind of secondary stories the images will tell.
What to Draw First?
I suggest you let your journal develop intuitively so that you move from one association to another and mix all kinds of ideas together. So often, the fantasy is in the mix, not in the single element.
My first ideas: a horse and moss greens. A horse because I love to draw them and moss because currently, our garden has plenty of it. We like it more than grass, so we are not complaining!
I don’t use water often, but now with the thick 160gsm paper, I smoothened the strokes of the bottom layer with a water brush. After drawing the moss horse, dandelions and all kinds of weeds came to my mind. Namely, while watching the puppy, I have been weeding almost daily and thinking that weeds are quite pretty too.
Let the Ideas and Associations Flow!
Then, of course, there’s this puppy, Saima! She makes me look at the leaves, twigs, stones, everything that she can find on the ground. My favorite moments in creating are those when I focus on the details and forget the surrounding world. I think Saima does the same many times in a day. For her, reality feels like a fantasy. We, adults, need to find the fantasy in our minds.
I tried Derwent’s burnishing pencil for the first time and quite liked it.
I was also inspired by rain, the wet tiles in the backyard, sunny mornings, and how I love old portrait paintings even if I can’t fully understand why. My favorite fruits are lemons, and it will be exciting to see how many times they reappear in the journal.
A spread with pencils is not a big project like a canvas painting, but can still feel satisfying, especially when the journal progresses.
This week, I have a video for you! It’s about painting freely, but not with paints but with colored pencils! In the video, I talk about intuitive coloring and painting and their similarities. I also make a page for one of my art journals. Lots of art inspiration – enjoy!
Color Like a Painter – Watch the Video!
Intuitive coloring with colored pencils – isn’t that fun?!
This week, I talk about the hidden potential behind artworks and how we can reveal that by not only building but also breaking.
I have just designed a collection of surface patterns called Modern Maximalist. It’s drawn digitally in Adobe Illustrator and more modern than my work usually is. However, I love modern, especially the 1960s and 1970s styles. I was born at the end of the 1960s, live in a house built in the same era, and my love for retro has been too hidden in my art. But still, I didn’t want to design the collection based only on the images of others, but to build a bridge from my art to design. So, most of the motifs were based on this watercolor painting that I made a couple of weeks ago!
More Artistic Potential by Building and Breaking
Often when we create art, we build. We communicate the big picture and compose bits and pieces so that they work together. We get happy accidents (and sometimes some not-so-happy ones) and aim to make an image where the overall atmosphere takes over the details.
But to reveal more, we also need to break. Then the romantic flower that was painted to represent a dreamer, becomes a more stylish and symbolic figure.
Yellow flowers and all the yellow washes can be more geometric when they are away from the big picture.
The juicyness of the fruits and other decorative details can be reorganized.
Picking Ideas from Other Images
We can also add more fuel, and break and pick from other images. This design called “List Maxima” uses motifs from the painting, but also the idea of a list that came from playing with the name of the collection, and fashion pictures that showed puffy and full dresses of the maximalist style.
By breaking and picking, we also develop our ability to curate – to see which inspiration suits what we have already done. It’s an essential part of a style-development and and growing artistic vision.
I saw a pleated skirt on Prince Charles’s wife Camilla Parker-Bowles, not a maximalist style at all, but wonderfully modern so I broke and picked the image and got creative from that.
Artists often say to me: “I need to focus!” But by focusing on narrowing, we non-creatively force ourselves to do one thing. By breaking and picking, we can curate all kinds of inspiration and be creative so that it grows our artistic vision.
Revealing the Artistic Potential
No matter where you are in your artistic journey, your art benefits from the idea of building and breaking. Build to go deeper into the experience and break to reveal more ideas and potential! In practice, building often means painting, and breaking is often connected to drawing – even if, of course, you can use any techniques that suit you.
What was first a watercolor painting, could now be a quilt!
Building and breaking can alternate endlessly when we combine new ideas and results with old ones.
Here I am breaking and picking to create something new into my art journal.
Here’s what I built by cutting and glueing new prints and old hand-decorated papers.
And I couldn’t resist checking if this could work as a repeat too!
I hope you found this post about building and breaking inspiring!