Sunday, March 20, 2016

Art Journals: Working through mistakes

An entry in my larger mask journal... I've got two going at the moment. This one is made from watercolour paper.
One think I like to do in my art journals is experiment. I come across a lot of different techniques in my reading and online exploration, and I've got a list of things I want to try. Sometimes it takes me ages to get around to trying something. Sometimes I try it out and like the effect, but it doesn't necessarily work with what I'm doing at the moment, so I set it aside until I need it.

This page started with an image transfer of a photo I found online. I didn't really remember how to do a transfer... It had been a while, and though I remembered the basics, I figured I should try it out and make sure I didn't forget something important before I included the technique in a workshop I was teaching. So I had my background painted and collage done, and placed the image where I wanted my transfer. The next day I took off the paper and... it looked pretty bad. The image I used had a lot of tone. I hadn't adjusted it to have more contrast. And my background was too dark. I could hardly see it. 

I decided I was going to figure out a way to make this work. I got out my paints and slowly built up the form... highlight, colour, highlight, colour... until I could see the image. He still looks like he's in the background. Maybe looking through a window? Or a ragged hole? So on the facing page I drew the mask, in the foreground. Almost like he had removed it and set it aside. I think I am satisfied with this page. It may not be particularly beautiful, but it speaks to me. 

I could have just as easily painted over the entire thing with gesso. It would actually have been a lot easier to do that. But I think what was there wasn't awful, it just wasn't what I had planned. By looking and thinking and figuring out a way to make it work I not only salvaged the page, I created something unique that would communicate something about my life. And that's what art is.