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  • Writer's pictureKaaren Poole

Catching Stars

I had a concept I was excited to start working on, so I reached for my art journal and pencil and started drawing. As it turns out, that may not have been the best way to begin. But it had been a very stressful week with the loss of a pet family member, and I always find drawing comforting.

The concept was “catching stars,” and it was to be two hares‒or maybe more in later versions, as I thought there would probably be more than one‒against a night sky, catching falling stars.

Once I drew the outlines of the hares, I needed to decide what medium I was going to use for the sky. I thought a bunch of spirals, vaguely suggesting Van Gogh’s “Starry Night,” would be nice. But how to do the spirals in the background while working around the hares which were already there?

I decided on colored pencil. I could be very precise with my placement of color and easily avoid the hares while seamlessly continuing the spirals behind them. The plan was to build dark values by applying many layers of colored pencil. And, I reasoned that as I could use slightly different colors in the different layers, I should be able to get nuanced and interesting color.

Good theory. And I wish I had taken a photo at this stage so you could see what it was like because I thought it was a good start.

Anyway, after three, excruciatingly slow‒which doesn’t usually bother me, but it did this time‒layers, the color wasn’t getting anywhere dark enough, and I didn’t see how it ever would. So I made a fateful decision. Fatefully bad, as it turned out.

I reached for my Golden Fluid Acrylics. I was going to add a transparent layer of anthraquinone (basically, indigo) blue. Since the paint was transparent, the underlying swirls and spiral should show through a bit, Should work. The colored pencil would have already partially sealed the paper so it shouldn’t be impossible to get a relatively smooth coat, even working around the hares.

Not so! It was a mess! The color was dark in some places, light in others, and splotchy all over - totally inconsistent with the carefully designed layer of colored pencil. My original intent was no longer a possibility. What to do?

My response to this frustrating turn of events was rash, impulsive, and not thought through. I felt I had ruined my piece, and there was no choice but to continue somehow, some way. I called on my Neocolor II water soluble crayons to rescue me. With them, I knew there would be no precision work. They’d need to be ‘set’ with matte medium which would smear them‒more or less, depending on how slowly or quickly I worked. So I just started scribbling.

Then I applied the medium, rubbing it on with my fingertip. I tried a little bit to control how much I blurred the lines, in some places a lot and in other places very little. And I worked two layers or, in some places, three.

The result was totally different from what I had originally intended. But there it was.

What to do next? Back to the drawing, for no particular reason other than it being soothing, and with no ‘next step’ in mind.

Maybe this is how art journalling should work?

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Stephanie Hardy
Stephanie Hardy
03 ago 2023

Understandably a very stressful week with there being a pet family member loss. Soothing drawing time sounds as helpful as can be. I see you mention the finished art (which I think is wonderfully gorgeous!) is completely different from the intent, and yes, I believe I've read that this is how art journalling should work :) 💜

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