The end of the yellow (brick) road

As we reach the close of this month, it will be time to step round to the next color in the wheel. Before we move along, I want to show you what where these adventures with yellow have taken me and what I do when art is misbehaving, uncooperative & tricksy.

Mere color, unspoiled by meaning, and unallied with definite form, can speak to the soul in a thousand different ways. ” 

― Oscar Wilde.

As we reach the close of this month, it will be time to step round to the next color in the wheel.

Before we move along, I want to show you what where these adventures with yellow have taken me.

And I’m going to share with you what I do when art is misbehaving, uncooperative & tricksy.

Because, sometimes art needs to rest.

(just like we do).

Creative work sometimes gets weary and sluggish, uncooperative or just plain troublesome (just like we do).

Knowing when to persevere through the resistance, and when to send the art away to quiet shelf or drawer is not always an easy call to make.

Something I really like about TWELVTY’s one color a month discipline, is that at the end of the month I put away everything I’ve made. It rests until I reach the end of the twelve color cycle and then I’ll see it again with fresh eyes.

And y’know – it always looks better after a rest.

Now I want to let you into a secret….

In all the TWELVTY projects I’ve made – especially that very first 12 color art journal in 2012 – although I really enjoyed the making process, I couldn’t see the finished result as art I liked for a long while. That first book sat unlooked at on a shelf for more than a year, and only when I revisited it did I properly ‘see it’.

I’m writing this for everyone who’s making something and feeling a little underwhelmed by the results.

It might just need to rest.

As I type this to you now, my first episode of one-color-fun is closed.

I’ve a few pieces I could call ‘finished’. And then there’s a big ole heap of bits that are just beginnings – sketchy, experimental, or little scraps that may or may not find a place to belong later.

In isolation they don’t look all that, but when I see them together as a collection, experience tells me there’s potential that could emerge, only after they’ve had a rest.

Not so bad & Not so good

It was fellow artist and online friend, Tammi Salas, who introduced the idea to file away part made and unfinished art in this way:

In my studio I have two big file boxes:
One labelled “Not so Bad”.
One Labelled “Not so Good”.

messy desk 🙂

It doesn’t take a whole lot of discernment to choose which box, and it makes for an elegant solution to so many studio dilemmas and judgement calls.

This is a resting place for art that needs to recuperate from being harried and hustled, berated and bewildered.

(I’ll write more about these boxes and their contents another time).

These are the boxes I’m using now. I recently upgraded from shoeboxes and floor-heaps. Any container or flat space will work just as well.


So, all that said, here are the results of what has happened on my messy desk through this first month of TWELVTY 2020. Everything that’s yellow is here, the not so bad and the not so good (and the little bits in between).

The next color in this journey is yellow-green.
Think gold-green, avocado & olive, turtles & toads, luscious limes, chartreuse. Mmmm!


Every month this year I am making a series of pieces in just one color, so at the end of the year I can combine them into one big multicolored work. 

I’m sharing my process throughout this adventure in this blog.

I’d love for you to join me. TWELVTY is open to everyone, and better yet, it’s free! Sign up for my newsletter to find out more and get your free TWELVTY guide ebook

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Next layers: more mark making

I simply do not distinguish between work and play.” 

― Mary Oliver.

Yester-post we looked at first layers. Now I’m building on those foundations with some variations of these themes.

These are the techniques I use in my art journals and mixed media pieces. Whatever I’m making I like to work quickly and without any planning. It’s even easier without the distraction of choosing colors to use:

The first piece I pick up + the first paint or ink that comes to hand + the first tool I grab. It always surprises me how serendipity brings new combinations of patterns together.

While color is restricted, mark making tools are not. I don’t limit myself to paint brushes and *proper* art tools (although I like using these too).

Like a lot of folk these days, I’m trying to opt out of plastic use as much as possible, but it still turns up uninvited through packaging and whatnot. We know that re-use is more efficient than recycling.

For all that is bad about plastic, the up side to its indestructible nature is it makes very durable art making tools that are easy to keep clean and seldom need replacing. I’ve had some of the stuff I use for years and you’d never know.

These are a few of my favourite mark making things:

  • A hair comb.
  • Plastic cards – old bank cards etc.
  • Bits of bubble wrap, plastic bag and packaging.
  • Plastic netting – the type you get oranges and lemons in.
  • Plastic forks, knives, spoons etc. (especially forks)
  • Old pens that have run out of ink (ball points, felt pens, markers) – and their lids for perfect little circles!
  • Knitting needles.
  • String, feathers, elastic bands.

You’ll likely see all these things (and more) come up in my process videos over the coming weeks and months, they all make their own characteristic marks, some more predictably than others.

Next layers made in Yellow for TWELVTY 2020

I’m beginning to combine these pieces now with collage, fabric and stitching, They’re evolving from scrappy bits of paper with smears of paint and scribbles into curious little pieces of art.

This heap of part done bits and pieces is on my desk right now.

Yellow in progress.

My adventures with yellow finishes at the end of the month, when I skip round to the next color in the wheel. Next post I’ll show you the *finished* {for now} stage, and explain what I mean by this too 😉


Every month this year I am making a series of pieces in just one color, so at the end of the year I can combine them into one big multicolored work. 

I’m sharing my process throughout this adventure in this blog.

I’d love for you to join me. TWELVTY is open to everyone, and better yet, it’s free! Sign up for my newsletter to find out more and get your free TWELVTY guide ebook

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