Choose Your Word, Give it a Color: Challenge 54

Michelle Ward's Crusade Challenge

Some people are addicted to Sudoku, I cannot keep my virtual fingers away from Michelle Ward’s Crusade challenges. We’ve done some neat color challenges–from color evolution to naming your own colors,  which brought Michelle (and her street team) to this color challenge: Think of a phrase or a word, then pick a color for it.

For someone who loves words and plays with colors, I reacted to this challenge like the dog who loves bacon.

My first choice was a verb: To blend. The color above reminds me of smooth, easy colors. So I chose this mix of cream and Naples yellow.

Could be a map, but it's a color called Passport

My second word was Passport. I thought of the first time I got on an airplane as a child and was horrified that I couldn’t see the state outlines like they had on maps. Passports remind me of borders and change. So this change of color seemed right.

A good color for a hard emotion.

Next was Retribution. I thought of it when I used the quote “Retribution is like stabbing yourself in the heart 1,000 times to hurt the other person.” This seemed just about right. It’s an experiment using clear tar gel and Quin Orange acrylic with glass beads for texture. It seemed the right color for pain and anger. And those glass beads could stand in for salt to rub in the wound.

Works even upside down.

The last two are just goofy. I had a series of yellow paint samples. On a brown background, the staircase could go either way. So this is called Staircase.

And finally, in honor of the summer that would not quit in Phoenix, I have Landscape. It’s a piece of handmade paper with grass inclusions. There are also paper inclusions that look like money. Which, of course, I would pay to make it cooler. Too obvious, maybe, but I couldn’t help myself.

Want to play with words and colors, but don’t have a studio full of paint and paper scraps? Here’s The Color Of: a website that will help you create colors. You type in a word, and it accesses images on Flickr that contain your word in the title or tags, then layers the main colors until it creates a blend. It’s fun.

–Quinn McDonald is a writer and artist who is thinking about her next book. Her first, Raw Art Journaling, has just been released on Kindle, after making it to the top of three categories at

Name Your Own Color

It’s time for another Michelle Ward Street Team Challenge. Last month, she asked us if our color palettes changed from season to season. Living in the Sonoran desert, where the temperature is currently on “broil” I instead compared the colors and styles I used when I loved on the East Coast and then when I moved here.

This month, in Crusade #53, Michelle asked us to find colors we had blended ourselves, and give them new names. I love exploring color, so I picked up my three Daniel Smith watercolor paint sticks–New Gamboge (yellow), Quinacridone (red), and Ultramarine (blue) and renamed them to Arizona colors. Our sky is huge and bright blue, so the blue became Arizona Sky.

The yellow is a dusty, dry color that matches the color of our horizons when the dust storms move through, so it got the name of our dust storms: haboob.

The red is the color of a the juice of a saguaro fruit. The fruit is pressed out of the very seedy pod, mixed with sugar, fermented, and then used by the Tohono O’odham in a ceremony to call forth the clouds that bring rain.

But that was just renaming the colors I used. The real task was to create blended colors and name those. Below is an acacia tree –from which we get gum arabic, among other things. The tree was painted with the three color sticks above. No other colors were used. The three colors I used are primary colors, and every other color can be made from them. The greens were mixes of yellow and blue, sometimes more yellow, sometimes more blue.

The sand and underpainting of the trunk were an orange mixed from yellow and red. I then added blue to the orange and made brown, added a bit more red and made the trunk and stems.

The re-named colors are: in the top of the tree: Sun-Shot. Over to the right, the tender green is April Morning. In the center, the leaves in shadow are July Shadow.

On the right edge, the dry, tired green is Sun-Blasted. The trunk is Bent Trunk, and below the tree, there is Hot Sand.

What a great challenge! Thanks Michelle, for your unending imagination and inspiration!

–Quinn McDonald’s book, Raw Art Journaling, is newly released by North Light Books.

Color Evolution: Crusade 52

 When Michelle Ward asked if our color palette changed from winter to summer, it was a hard question to answer. When you live on the Sonoran desert floor, the tendency is to quiet down in the summer. When people in other parts of the country are running around outdoors, we desert dwellers are looking for every scrap of shade we can find. It was 111 degrees F today, and it will be 113 tomorrow. That’s just not running around weather. Talk to me again in last September and October when our temperatures are in the 80s and I’ll be perkier.

Back to Michelle’s question–do the colors you use in your  artwork change? I wanted to check on something slightly different–color evolution. I’ve spent most of my adult life on the East Coast. The light is different, the culture is different, surely the colors I used in my art journal pages were different.

What I had forgotten is exactly how much those colors had changed. Let’s take a look. This is a drawing I did after my first visit–nothing wrong with pen and ink, but it is a bit spare.

In my East Coast days, I limited my drawing to a small area, and my hand lettering yearned for the traditional.

This drawing was made when I was already in Phoenix. It spreads across the page, but it’s still kind of restrictive.

The color doesn’t surprise me as much as the space use and technique. I sprayed ink randomly on the pages, then created a map. Much less control, much more randomness. Notice the title, “The world turned upside down,” is actually upside down.

Again, full spread in uncontrolled colors. Also cut paper, stitching, and writing in different directions. There is a line of words up the left third of the page that says “If you aren’t failing some of the time, you aren’t trying hard enough.” It’s written in silver sparkle ink–a color unknown to me on the East Coast.

I’ve always loved found poetry, and always used it. But I rarely spread it out across a page and used red so heavily. On the East Coast, I didn’t own red. It was a color I didn’t like. Here, well, it adds heat. The poem reads:

Your Choice

He does not know that he is in love with her.
His mind slammed tightly closed, a violent “no!”
His life suddenly seems unaccountably sabotaged.
“Never mind. It doesn’t matter.”
A woman in the kitchen, her eyes so blue.
She wanted to be out of the
quiet swiftness. That meant nothing.
Then, suddenly, like a hand passed over his face, his smile would come, transforming it.”

I knew I’d changed my color choices, but I didn’t know how much. It’s good to watch your own growth.

What’s changed in your life? Check out Michelle Ward’s Street Team Crusades and join the fun!

–Quinn McDonald is the author of Raw Art Journaling, almost ready to ship!

Collage: Street Team Challenge

Michelle Ward's street team logo

Michelle Ward  at GPP Street Team runs a monthly challenge for creatives. I don’t want to limit it to art journalers or artists, because the contest is always open to interpretation. The contest is always interesting, just enough challenge to make it irresistible and enough left to the imagination to make it intriguing.

This month’s challenge was to rip lines of text from a magazine and create a collage. The alternative was to create a collage background.

I wanted to create a word collage, something I haven’t done in a while and love doing. The background needed to be related, but not distracting. While cleaning out some files, I noticed that a lot of envelopes are printed with security patterns–small patterns in green, gray or blue that keeps prying eyes from seeing what’s in the envelope. I loved that these patterns had such variety. I tore them in strips and pasted them down with Golden’s gel.

The background uses security envelopes to create color and pattern.

The magazine I used was a New York Times magazine from several months ago. The table of contents used interesting numbers written in an elaborate calligraphic hand. Seeing only the numbers of different sizes, I saw ages instead of pages. Using the numbers, I searched the magazine for thoughts or events that might happen during a lifetime and pasted them next to the age appropriate for that thought.  Below the image are some of the words that may be too small to read.

Inner Beauty/Outer Space © Quinn McDonald, 2010 All rights reserved.

The words create a path through a life. Holding the idea that inner beauty is important doesn’t mean that the rest of the world want to agree to that idea every moment. We live in judgment–our own, others,–all the time. The idea of a life lived without fear and sadness exists only in the vacuum of outer space.

Title: Inner Beauty/ Outer Space (The Lives They Lived)

17. . . Simple Truth: It’s important not to be gifted.

22 . . .She wrote songs about being crazy in love.

28 . . . Women who want to want.

32. . And independent woman, she married but that wasn’t enough

36. . . They lived apart isolated by circumstances and by choice.

38. . .Seeing inside, she got beneath the surface of people–and things

42. . .The price of success is less than you think.

49. . . She taught others how to listen to the unspeakable.

52. . .The police can be so literal. They should read more Kafka.

-Quinn McDonald is a raw-art journaler. Her book, Raw Art Journaling, Making Meaning, Making Art will be published by North Light Books in June, 2011.