I have always been drawn to water, specifically the ocean. So, when I started planning this post for this Art Lesson, which deals with archetypes and their meaning, I decided to see if there were creatures of the sea that had any ties to creativity. In this quest, I discovered that whales are associated with compassion, solitude, and knowledge of both life and death. But they are also associated with creativity. The whale was the perfect choice for me.
In this Art Lesson, Cathy Nichols uses the symbolism of the fox to create a unique art journal, sharing an inspiring way to enjoy storytelling with mixed media.
To begin, I traced a 3″ x 5″ index card on the cover of a handmade journal as Cathy does in her lesson. After sectioning off the bottom portion for later use, I drew an ocean setting within the rectangle in pencil.
Using watercolor paint, I used various shades of blue for the water portion, darkening the blue with more and more black as I moved toward the horizon. I used blue for the sky and added some gray, white, and a bit of yellow as contrasting details. I let that section dry, then added white caps around the whale’s tale for effect, like he had just reentered the water.
Cathy suggested using a warm color at the bottom, so I added red and then accented it with a dab of white, which I blended slightly with my finger.
I painted the whale’s tail next, using black, then added details in gray and white.
I had a sheet of mixed-media paper that I had stamped with small inkpads in a variety of colors, and used that to cut some seagull shapes to add to the image. Cathy suggested using a brayer to add colors to watercolor paper for these accents, but I liked the mix of colors on the inked paper, so I used that. Using bits leftover from other projects adds to the storytelling in mixed-media art.
Once the paint was dry, I went back to the small space at the bottom. I wrote “Creativity” on a piece of the index card using a black PITT® artist pen. After I cut a rectangle from the inked paper I used earlier, I glued the word to the inked paper and then glued the rectangle to the painted space.
Next came the self-portrait. Like Cathy, my self-portrait does not look like me, but I had fun creating her. I sketched the portrait using Cathy’s tips for drawing a face. I made some of her hair blue as a nod to the ocean on the front of the journal, and used the same blue on her shirt, creating waves. To further tie the two images together, I added white caps to the waves, seagulls on her shirt, and another seagull in her hair.
To finish, I added waves with blue paint throughout the journal. It will be fun to write around the waves and on them.
This project was a lot of fun. As each piece was created, I thought about how it would relate to the next. Reading about the symbolism of animals was intriguing. Having a journal that has a story woven through it is a great way to inspire all kinds of artistic interludes.