Saturday, 3 October 2015


I'd love to claim to be calm and serene, but those of you who've journeyed with me for some time will know that it just isn't true!  I get passionate, enthusiastic, angry and noisy about all kinds of stuff and I can't seem to be any other way. I DO however work hard at the "think before you speak" thing, but with varying degrees of success .....

This page began just laying down paint in shades of two colours I really like together.  I just use basic craft acrylics because I figure I'm going to throw a lot of other stuff on top, so the only thing I always do is gesso first.  It gives a really great surface on which paint can slide and flow - without it would just soak into the paper.
I was just floating around with no very clear idea of where I was going with this (which is nice and relaxing), so I got out the Posca paint pens and began doodling here and there.  The word "art" at the bottom was cut out from a colour copy of a previous journal page - I do like to re-use things sometimes, though I generally try to change it up a little in the process.
Another Posca marker but the black one this time - its the blackest pen I know, nothing else comes close, and I love how a sinuous black line can link elements together that started out being unconnected.
I found a little Mona Lisa in my stash of collage bits, which led to my adding another one and thinking about her famously serene face, and that's when I began to write on the page.  Very often this is how journalling works for me - its an organic process and one step leads to another, without my necessarily being able to say how I arrived at the end result.
And you know me, I can never normally leave a page alone until I've doodled all over the place - sometimes afterwards I regret not allowing it to remain simple and uncluttered, but its just not how I seem to work.
Very often the pages I do which are very simple and unadorned reflect my saddest mood, when I can't find the necessary energy to doodle and decorate.  At least when I do you'll know that I was really enjoying going for masses of details, and not stuck in an empty place I couldn't escape from.

Himself goes back to the Big Doctor this coming week, when we will find out whether the next step for him is major surgery, or "just" chemotherapy.  Oh yes, and we're trying to get organised to move house in a month's time.  No pressure then - I guess its not surprising I'm not feeling particularly calm or serene!!

Sunday, 27 September 2015


The genesis of this page was in a trip away from home where the weather was warm and wonderful, and I was much better health and pain wise ... and of course we were free from the usual demands on us.  Coming back was hard because I also came back to the reality of living in a colder rather than a wondrously warm climate, where the pain is so much less.  If I could live somewhere warm all the time ..... but alas Lancashire in north-west England is home, and its cold.

So as ever I got what I was feeling down on paper and got over it!  This is just about my favourite colour combination - blue and green - and I'm really fond of this acidic lime green.  The collage materials came mostly from a home wares catalogue which yielded all sorts of wonderful colour and pattern - and best of all was free!  I don't always work like this but you can see here how I gradually built up a border around the painted page.
Then I added the eye, the human (blue with cold?) and one or two other bits, just to break up the straight lines.  You can also see a bit of doodling and on the right some printed tissue paper which I pasted down with matte medium.  If you see any nice printed tissue paper grab it because its great for collage.
Then of course the writing - still trying to remind myself NOT to write in straight lines, but I don't always remember.
And then I finished it off with all manner of doodling, dots and whathaveyou which I can never resist.  Paint pens figure heavily at this stage, and I have them in a wide variety of nib widths.
And to answer those of you who were kind enough to ask - Himself has now had two operations and we are now at the crossroads waiting for lab results, following which its either a big operation or chemotherapy.  Getting read to move house in a few weeks time is a challenge while dealing with all this, but oddly enough it takes your mind off worrying about the cancer when you have to think about flooring and tiles, and shall we have French doors or a sliding patio door.

We're quite calm because its all in the hands of God, whichever way it goes, and just trying to focus on the positive and finding some joy in every day.

Wednesday, 16 September 2015


Sorry there was no post at the weekend - I was just a bit overwhelmed by all the things that were going on .... I kept MEANING to do a post and never actually getting around to it!

Anyway thought I would just quickly share my journals - as you can see above no.11 (I know it looks a bit like 22) is now finished, and the blue journal no.12 is all pristine and just waiting to be worked in.  I LOVE starting a new one, it seems full of possibility somehow - I don't date my pages but I do
write the start date in the inside cover, and later add the date I finish.

Below is a quick snapshot of some of the pages in no.11 - its interesting to see how my style changes and develops as I look back over them.
And here below is the finished no.10 and no.11 all ready to go ... that was back in March.  I seem to fill about two journals a year, but am not counting or setting myself any standards.
These books are Pink Pig journals, nothing fancy - the pages are 8 x 8" and I glue two together for strength.  The paper isn't watercolour standard or anything like that, since I gesso every page first and throw a lot of mixed media layers at them it really would be a waste of the best paper.

I decorate each new book individually when I can see that I'm getting near the end of the current one, so there is always one waiting.  I add ribbons and tie on charms etc., but not too many to begin with because it can make working in the book a bit awkward.  I add more decorations when the journal is finished and they make quite a show up on my shelf with their decorated spines and numbered labels.

Life is a bit more exciting than I really want it to be right now.  I'm still grieving a number of losses this past year, we're in the middle of Himself's cancer treatment and the roller-coaster and steep learning curve which that involves, while at the same time trying to downsize a 4 bed house plus studio into a two bed flat plus studio plus balcony.  Retirement and move is planned for early November - it will be such a wrench to leave our church and the very special people in it, but it is undoubtedly time to put our own needs first.

Sunday, 6 September 2015


Something of a departure for me you might think, but then again maybe this is just an extension of the line and pattern that I've been enthusiastically exploring in recent months.  I also LOVE Scandinavian motifs, you know the kind of thing with a pair of birds facing one another and a pattern of hearts and scrolls?  So when I set out to paint a bird this is very much what was in my mind ....

And this was one of those times when I knew from the outset that the title of this page would be "Love gives Me Wings", which is why there obviously had to be a bird.
Now I draw better than I paint, and if I do paint then watercolour is my medium of choice, as I find acrylics a bit crude for fine detail and shading.  However, blue background and blue bird both went down OK and I knew I would be adding black line detail to liven it up.  At this stage Himself leaned over my shoulder and looked at the bird a bit doubtfully.  "Go make coffee" I told him, "then you'll see".

When he returned I'd added these basic lines and he began to understand where I was going with it. "Looks a bit Scandinavian" he said.  Good, because that was the look I was after!  Oddly enough no hearts found their way into this, and you'd think as a strong element in that kind of design, and the theme, they would have belonged?  Apparently not.
Then I was on a roll and exploring all sorts of line and pattern ... which is a bit of an obsession with me lately.  The words I already knew, but I expanded on them a bit.  It reached the point below and I felt like it was finished, but I couldn't help thinking that it was still a bit bare?
Not wanting to do my usual trick and risk spoiling it with too much decoration, I hit on the idea of using a white pen so that I could add doodling which would be very soft and subtle against the pale blue background.  I think it worked :)
We are just beginning the journey of living with cancer and embarking on treatment (Himself not me) so there have been a lot of dark days and some tears, not to mention a few rather bleak journal pages. However, one effect all this has is to make you take stock and be very VERY grateful for what you have.  We have been so fortunate to have more than 40 years of a great love, which time has not dimmed or diminished.  My man has been the one to give me wings and encourage me to test my limits, always with the safety of his arms to come home too.  Blessed?  You betcha.  

Saturday, 29 August 2015


Sorry I was absent without leave last week - the page I made during that period speaks for itself.  In fact this is the only page I made during the past two weeks, when I generally average 3 or 4 in that time.

I'm not going to undertake an explanation of how it came together because the pictures pretty much speak for themselves, as do the words.

I'd probably be coping better if we weren't also trying to organise ourselves to move house in a couple of months, but we're getting there in little steps.  Its also strange to go from being a cared for person to trying to do the caring - basically we support each other, and some things we can't do even between us!!

But we're doing OK and next week go for the follow up appointment post surgery, at which we'll find out about the plans for chemo etc.  So far so good, but it helps so much to have my journal to explore and put down my feelings.  Cheaper than therapy too!

Saturday, 15 August 2015


I wrote last week about a close family member with a possible cancer diagnosis.  It was my husband, and earlier this week he had surgery to remove a tumour, and is now home recovering.  It all came completely out of nowhere (and it was very lucky that the problem was spotted),  just as we are planning to retire in the next few months.  The prognosis is good so (most of the time) I'm not scared about the future, but it has taught me that I must not take anything for granted and just treasure all the time we have together!

So in very serious and reflective mode this page began with a coat of cheering pink paint and some basic collage.  I always tell people that I don't really do fancy backgrounds - they aren't necessary if you're going to cover everything up the way I do.
I gradually laid down more bits of blue collage, and when that was done used a black Posca pen to provide a strong outline, and a white one for some doodling.
Having no idea where this was going, I then doodled some more  - the dangly "jewels" were inspired by a bead curtain I saw the other day.  The other doodled sections were added because I was trying to escape from my usual "border around a rectangle" style.
I've been wanting to improve my drawing of faces lately, so I painted a simple ivory face shape in the corner, added hair with a Posca paint marker, and took in from there in terms of adding colour and shading.
Since she probably represents a (younger) me, in the end I could only write what was going on in my head that day - which was and is a determination that from now on nothing will be taken for granted and I will joyfully celebrate every moment I can with the man who has walked beside me for more than 40 years .....
You truly never know what lies around the corner, and life comes with no guarantees.  That's one of those things you know but don't really BELIEVE until it comes to you.  Six weeks of chemo lie ahead to be got through, and shortly after that we'll be moving to our retirement flat.  I hope the days we spend there, however many we are given, will all be jewels ....

Sunday, 9 August 2015


Fortunately that was LAST week!  All sorts of difficulties raised their head, culminating in a possible cancer diagnosis for a close family member, so when I made this page I was feeling ever so slightly overwhelmed!  For me this is when keeping a journal really comes into its own - once whatever it is is safely down on paper you can let go of most of it ....

Anyway the page began with a background made with blue paint and white gesso, with a touch of dark blue Neocolour II crayon on the edges for emphasis.  On top of that I placed an assortment of reddish pieces of collage - I don't so much use pictures from magazines as bits of colour and pattern that appeal to me.  Sometimes I cut out sections of a good plain colour that I can stamp or draw on.
Then instead of a shadow I added a simple black outline and some scribbly lines and doodling using black and white Posca paint pens - the 0.7 fine nib ones.
You may know by now that for me there always has to be a face or something on my pages, so this slightly dodgy looking person represents me hiding out and saying "is it safe to come out yet"?  I just painted a pale face shape onto the background and then added black paint pen for the hair.
As you can see below, it didn't really look finished at that point and needed something?  Well I thought so at the time.  I do know I have a tendency to over decorate my pages but those big blank spaces were bugging me.
So a few more pieces of reddish collage and some black and white doodling and I was satisfied with the result.  It did me good to get it out of my system, and for once I even managed to use two colours instead of just one!
Family member is in surgery tomorrow and I hope and pray that all will be well - it will be an anxious day, and I will probably have to journal about that too!!

Sunday, 2 August 2015


This was one of those pages where something I didn't know was swirling around my subconscious suddenly popped out and made its presence felt!

You can see below how I set out to collage over a painted page - just done with ordinary craft acrylics, and then adding bits and pieces from my collection to make a border.  I hope it gives you an idea of what sort of things to look for and save when trawling through magazines for collage materials.  I'm looking for colours and patterns or words that appeal to me, and I don't want them to be identifiable so I only rarely use actual pictures, or if I do I alter them in some way.   I can't explain it but I don't like shiny images, so always look out for the kind printed on heavy matte paper - they're often free furnishing catalogues and the like.  I love it when my art materials are free!
Then below you can see that I added a little bit more and turned the lower striped section into a person - there's always got to be something human in my pages.  I guess to represent myself somehow?
Then because I try to alter faces and make them unique this stamped face got some doodly decoration - I'm not sure if its an improvement but at least she's mine rather than some generic image.  I was looking at her and thinking that she looks a bit of an oddball, and that sparked the thought I began to write down ...
I wasted so much of my early life desperately trying to fit in and wondering why I couldn't, and when the revelation came to me that I was MEANT to stand out it was like light shining in the darkness.  I became someone who could stand up in public and speak my truth, someone who was happy to lead if called on to do so, and best of all (finally) someone at ease in their own skin.  Maybe I just grew up.
If there was one thing I tried to teach my own daughters you can bet your life this was it.  Don't struggle to fit in if you can't seem to, rejoice in being your glorious unique self - its who you are meant to be.  Perhaps you can't do that so easily while you're still a young person?  It might be one of those things that comes to most of us only as we mature?  Either way, I'm just grateful for the insight which transformed my life.

Monday, 27 July 2015


This is a deceptively simple page using one of my favourite colour combinations.  As you can see below it began with a simple coat of lime green paint - just the ordinary craft kind.  Next I drew some curvy lines with two colours of purple Posca paint pens, then I just began to doodle around the edges, adding a white wavy line, and a checked strip over the lime green.
I added the Modigliani lady having copied the image in black and white, and used a Promarker to give her some pink cheeks and altered her eyes to give her a slightly less anxious expression!  Then I couldn't resist adding yet more layers to the frame - I was just having FUN.
You can also see above the difference a grey shadow makes - I added this one with a Promarker.  The text is about how much I hope I can make some kind of positive difference in the world.  I like to think I can - and being mostly at home I do have TIME to listen to people who need that.  But sometimes I doubt myself and feel like I'm just a waste of space .... so this page was about affirming for myself that my life has real meaning and purpose and does make a difference, to someone somewhere, sometimes.
Then a bit more doodling, and little collage to fill some gaps, and it was done.  Sorry this is just a short post, I'm particularly tired at the moment so its more of a lie on the sofa kind of day .... and I have an art journalling magazine to take with me!

Monday, 20 July 2015


With this page I was determined to use some different colours to my usual - looking back my journal is a riot of pink and purple, with orange, red and occasionally lime green or blue.  So the first thing I did was pick up a bottle of this deep gold paint "Caramel Corn" is what the label says - such a lovely name!

So anyway, below is my starting point with gold paint and a border of warm brown.  I think of these as "bumble bee" colours, there's something warm, fuzzy and comforting about them!
I've recently reorganized my collage stuff by colour in a tall trolley of flat drawers - so I went into the one containing orange/brown/gold and pulled out all kinds of bits and pieces.  This system is working so much better for me.  You can see below that I just cut curving shapes and stuck them around the edges - some of the pieces are from a rather shiny children's book page, so I had some reflection problems with the photo.
Then below is almost exactly the same stage of work, except for the fact that I've added a soft brown shadow around the edges (using Pan Pastels) and a strong black outline.  I've also added some bits of doodling and a couple more images.
In the final view you can see that I made changes to the figure, giving her different hand-drawn eyes. Its important for copyright reasons to always alter what you use from magazines etc.  You'll see that I generally cut out shapes and colours that appeal to me, rather than recognisable images, and then  try to doodle on top so that they become "mine".

Then it was onto the message of the page, which was about finding peace in a situation where its how I think about things that will make it possible to get through.  In other words I needed to calm down and think positive!  I do love how peaceful and serene this girl looks, and I like to think that the little gold bird is telling her "everything is going to be fine"
Sorry this is a little bit later than usual - we had a slightly mad weekend and I never got around to posting until now!

Saturday, 11 July 2015


A friend reportedly said something which hurt me.  I know it wasn't intentional and I chose to see it for what it was - a moment's idiotic lapse.  We all have those don't we, including me.  But stupidly the words kept going around in my head, and I realised that I needed to work harder to let them go. Making a journal page about it was one way of doing that.

Its no coincidence that I started to paint the page green - a colour I really like a lot (I have green eyes) but when I use it in my journal I never seem to like the result!  I even brushed some gesso over the top because I wasn't keen on it.
So then, because I'm very colour co-ordinated as a rule and didn't want to make an all green page, I added some bits of collage which introduced a secondary colour - orange in this case.  Some of these pieces were cut out of a John Lewis (big department store) catalogue, and the bark was from a children's story book I cut up.
My pages always have to have a face or an eye or something human, so another Modigliani lady made an appearance, and once again I added a grey shadow and some black outlining and doodling.
I had the black (Posca paint pen 0.7) pen in my hand, and for some reason I just began to draw wormholes.  I think they're there because the feelings I was trying to get down (and out) were tangled and complicated....
The final form of the words I needed to say came last on this occasion ... and it helped a lot to get them on the page.  I finished it off with some more doodling, but kept this soft using only grey and white.  Am still not 100% sure I like it, but the page did what I needed to do in terms of setting aside negative feelings and determinedly concentrating on the positive aspects of a friendship which is important to me.
Its easy to say words about forgiveness but store up the injury in your heart, until it ends up poisoning YOU.  Anyway, as a believer I know I have to lay things like this down.  So I did.  Still, its all a bit GREEN isn't it??!