Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Art Journal Page–Tyger, Tyger

What is the essence of tyger-ness?

Tyger, Tyger, burning bright
In the forests of the night,
What immortal hand or eye
Could frame thy fearful symmetry?

In what distant deeps or skies
Burnt the fire of thine eyes?
On what wings dare he aspire?
What the hand dare seize the fire?

And what shoulder, and what art
Could twist the sinews of thy heart?
And when thy heart began to beat,
What dread hand? And what dread feet?

What the hammer? What the chain?
In what furnace was thy brain?
What the anvil? What dread grasp
Dare its deadly terrors clasp?

When the stars threw down their spears
And water'd heaven with their tears,
Did He smile his work to see?
Did He who made the Lamb make thee?

Tyger, Tyger, burning bright
In the forests of the night,
What immortal hand or eye
Dare frame thy fearful symmetry?

William Blake, 1757-1827

This has always been one of my favourite poems. I remember having to learn it by heart at school, and from an early age I was captivated by the archaic spelling of “Tyger” – somehow any tiger spelt “tyger” would have to be far more tigery than just any normal tiger, spelt “tiger.” This poem expresses for me the Essence of Tyger-ness.

What better subject to inspire an art journal page? It was a fairly daunting prospect, because I have never painted a tiger before, still less a Tyger, and I wanted to do it justice!

Here is the page with the elements mapped out in pencil. Apart from the tyger head, I knew that most of it would be obliterated by the inks and paints, but I needed to know where everything went, so this photograph served as a guide as I worked.

So that no white paper would show through the background, I began by inking it, using Mowed Lawn Distress Ink (from the Summer seasonal collection), using an Inkylicious Ink Duster.

You will see that I have slipped a sheet of scrap paper underneath each page – this is to protect the pages underneath.

Using my leaf trail stencil, I added more Distress Ink, this time Pine Needles, to create some leaves around the tiger’s head. Ink Dusters are great for this, because you can stipple away to your heart’s content with no danger of snagging or moving the stencil.

To get a more jungly effect, I added some more leaves, this time stamped ones, using a combination of Mowed Lawn, Crushed Olive and Forest Moss Distress Inks.

At this stage I freaked out a bit, because the leaves were coming out much too strong! I did multiple stamps with each application of ink, to give an effect of depth, but I wasn’t too happy with it at this stage. I cut a scrap of paper approximately the size of the tiger head and used it as a mask, and sprayed the whole page with my Forest Moss DIY glimmer mist – panic, panic – it came out MUCH too dark, so I quickly blotted it off, and the effect was a lot better all round.

The next step was the painting. I began by blocking out the main colours of the tiger’s head, before filling in the features with a finer brush. This is the only photo I took of the process, because I got carried away with what I was doing and forgot to take any more until I’d finished!

You can see that I also started painting the frame. The effect I was after was a suggestion of flames (“burning bright”) in tiger-stripe colours.

This is the completed tiger. I decided to add some more paint to the background, to darken it a bit behind the tiger, to add some contrast and give a more dramatic effect, and I also added some painted leaves in the foreground, to give the tiger a more menacing appearance as he emerges from the jungle undegrowth. I also painted the border at this stage, and again forgot to photograph the different stages! Then it was time to start on the journaling.

(The colour balance isn’t quite right on this photo – it’s a bit on the blue side – see the following photo for a truer rendition.)

On my last journal page, I did the journaling with white acrylic paint, but as this text is smaller, I wanted to try and make my white marker pen work. It is a broad white Uni-Ball Signo. A major problem I’ve experienced with this in the past is that if you try and use it on a water-based medium such as a Distress Ink background, the marker, also being water-based, blends with the underlying colour and you can’t get a true white. I had thought of spraying fixative onto the work before using it, but in this case there seemed to be sufficient acrylic paint and mica powder to prevent this from happening. I went over it again just to make sure, and I found the pen worked better if I didn’t press too hard, which tended to push the ink away from the centre of the line. I’d be very interested to hear what other people use to achieve such good results with their white text.

Finally I outlined the white text with my 08 Zig Millennium permanent black marker that I use for zentangles – no problem with this as it’s not water-based.

Here is the finished art journal page. The colour is a lot more accurate on this photo.

I hope I have captured the essence of tyger-ness!


  1. I've always liked that poem too, although I never knew all the verses. And I have to agree with you about the "tygerness" of the spelling. Love what you have done with it on the journal page! Fabulous!

    RosA # 31 (I think)

  2. Oh my goodness he's stunning! Just love tigers. Have you ever seen the white ones? Saw some in Busch gardens many years ago, just delightful, the most beautiful creatures. Glad to hear you are feeling creative, best wishes and Happy WOYWW, Cindy #17

  3. Wonderful! Love to see how you build up the page. Hope you are keeping well and your parents are doing ok.

  4. OMG Shoshi

    This just takes my breath away. This is truly amazing. I'm lost for words - it's just - well, brilliant.

    Loved seeing it come to fruition via the photos you took - don't be too disappointed about missing some because it comes as a bigger surprise when you show the finished version.


    Paula x x x

  5. Oh Shoshi!What a fabulous job you did with this Tyger!!I didn't know you could draw.
    I'm having a Giveaway at my blog if you'd like to pop over some time soon.

  6. Wow excellent , thanks for showing how you created your journal page. stunning

  7. Well half way through I did wonder where you were going with this, it did seem to getting a bit messy, then the tiger came into view, LOVE IT, stunning as usual, love your painting.
    Hope all is well sent you an email

  8. Another "Oh my gosh!" post, Shoshi! You never cease to totally amaze me. Your tyger and your forest are gorgeous.

  9. I am a new reader to your beautiful blog. I am across the pond in the USA. I love your tiger. He is so beautiful. I love his ears. I love the stenciling. I was so inspired by your stencil posts I designed and cut out stencils this week on my die cut machine.

    1. Hi DeeAnn, I'm replying here because I can't leave comments on your blog, so I hope you come back to read this! I'm so glad you like my tiger, and really happy to hear that you've been inspired by my stencils to start cutting your own! This is the best possible outcome of sharing my work!


  10. A...MAZ...ING ...what a finished masterpiece ...xx

  11. Wow Shoshi, this is absolutely gorgeous!! I don't think your Tyger is fierce though, he has lovely soft eyes and he looks quite cuddly to me ;) The depth you've created is amazing, the white lettering is very effective and the flames are wonderful. It's so good to see you back in your ARThaven creating fabulous art *hug* xx

  12. This is stunning, Shoshi. The frame around it really makes the picture. The colours are perfect. I really must look into those inks as the colours are so bright. The white writing is perfect for the piece. I really love it.

  13. fantastic! I love the painting and all the layers! To answer your question on the floor wax I think any acrylic based floor wax would work fine:) Good luck, Lindsay

  14. yes, i think you captured the tygerness. beautiful job. thanks for showing us the steps.

  15. Hi Shoshi
    I've popped over from Fuzzies blog to let you know about the new blog SKETCHBOOK FRIENDS, I think you will like it. You can even join in if you want. There will be lots inspiration in the form of books, blogs, pin boards, people, techniques.
    I only started it a couple of days ago and the response has been great.

  16. Wow, he is very, very Tyger-y! I love your painting of him, especially the little hairs around him - he looks very realistically furry! Stunning colours and outlining in black just brings the whole thing alive - fantastic!
    So glad you are back getting creative and trust things are a bit easier for you and your husband now. Thanks so much for sharing your wonderful work!


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