Sunday, 14 October 2018

Autumn ....

I am returned from sunny climes, but for some reason the jet lag absolutely clobbered me this time, so I'm still catching myself up and feeling dazed and confused.

Anyway, perhaps with the echo of the sunshine still in my mind, I painted this page a golden yellow - which was then given texture by blotting the wet paint with a wet wipe.  Hunting around in my collage I found a sheet of pumpkin images ... and with multi coloured autumn leaves blowing past my window, my subject was provided!
Below you can see the effect of my usual technique of outlining the images in black and adding a shadow.  The leaves were made using a rubber stamp I've had for around 20 years - one of the most useful I've ever bought, but horribly fiddly to cut out.  At this stage I suddenly noticed that I'd missed the "n" off Autumn and panicked.  However, I put a coat of gesso over most of the "m", then painted the gold/yellow over the top, and finally drew the letters in smaller.  There are few mistakes that gesso can't fix!
So there you are, my own particular ode to Autumn, which while beautiful is actually a bit of a shock to the system after temperatures topping 90 degrees when we were away.  The shops were still full of pumpkins but we were in the USA.
I DO love this time of year, and it felt good to record and take time to enjoy that.  Am I the only one whose thoughts turn ahead to Christmas even this early?  I've already got preparations in hand ... but that comes from having very little money when our children were young, so that we absolutely had to spread the cost of it all from September onwards.
Yours dazedly
Rosie X

Monday, 24 September 2018

I WANT MORE ... but probably can't have it

In a rush with this as off on vacation in a couple of days, and panic sets in every time what with trying to sort out disabled assistance at the airport, medication, not to mention sharps disposal, copy prescriptions etc etc.  It'll be fabulous when we get there (wall to wall sunshine) but I'm at that stage where I'm so overwhelmed by the preparation that I no longer want to go ....

Anyway, enough of that!  A painted background as usual - and I even managed to use more than one colour!  I must be improving ...
Then the collage goes down and the necessary person goes in.  Maybe I need a bit of a jolt artistically speaking, because I'm really starting to feel that my pages are all becoming the same and a bit formulaic?
Completed collage with black outlines and shading.  At this stage I really didn't know what it was going to be about, but my subconscious obviously did when I stuck down "look for more".
Because then I exploded all over the page in my frustration at the limited life I have to live.  I really kick against it sometimes, but I guess that's normal.  I just want a life like everyone else, with friendship and laughter, spontaneous outings etc etc.  The reality is that if friends rang up and said "let's go out this afternoon" there's a strong chance I'd have to say no - but inside I want to say YES!  Yes to all of it, a full life, a retirement rich in experiences ...  In other words s'not fair. 
And it isn't, but it can't be changed so there's no point in using my limited energy to rail against fate.  God reminds me gently that I can still be of use in my small way.  And I get to go on holiday to a warm place where my bones won't ache nearly so much - and that makes me a very fortunate person.  I do count my blessings, honest, its just that sometimes I need to express the darker stuff .... because that's part of me too.

See you in October!!
Rosie X

Wednesday, 12 September 2018


Not for the first time, I encountered that quote from Mother Teresa "do small things with great love".  It came (probably not a coincidence) at a time when I was frustrated by my inability to do anything very much, from a feeling that I wasn't GIVING, wasn't making a difference in the world.  Mother Teresa also said "Let's do something beautiful for God" and when I was ordained priest that's what I believed I was called to.  I already had Fibromyalgia even then, and didn't (couldn't) see how that would come to shape the life I was able to live and the things I was able to give.  I thought back then that God had called me for my strength, but it turned out to be in my weakness that she could most powerfully use me ...

Trying to express this positive truth into my temporary darkness was worked out as ever through my journal.  Pink is my happy colour so that's where I began.  The big bloom is the person I always hoped I might be ...
But as my life went on my ability to "bloom" (in my own terms, not to mention pride and vanity) got smaller and smaller ...
 Until I felt like the small and unregarded person in the corner ...
But that small person and that small life turned out to have greater power to touch people and make a difference than the strong woman I liked to imagine I was ever could.
So here is my celebration of the woman I am now: more understanding of and gentle with my own frailties ... and therefore with those of others, and able to reach into the dark places people inhabit because I have been there myself.  And still visit that place sometimes.

It has been a battle long fought and hard won, and there are still days when I WISH it could be different.  But I do believe I am where I'm meant to be and giving/sharing my particular gifts ... even from my (pink) wheelchair!

Wednesday, 29 August 2018


Bit of a theme with this page and the last one I posted - I seem to have had too much on, more than I really have energy for.  As part of fibromyalgia I experience a kind of sensory overload where my brain goes into freeze mode and won't function.  Always a strong message that I need to rest!  However, if I'm not tied to the sofa then one way of resting is working in my journal ...

So I just opened the drawer with the paint in and grabbed whatever took my fancy - trying hard not to pull out all pinks or all blues, which is a besetting sin of mine.  Delighted that I managed to use THREE colours on this page !
I really enjoy black line drawing and doodling.  I wouldn't necessarily describe it as zentangle, although definitely inspired by those techniques.  Another Modigliani lady also found her way onto the page - sometimes I copy them in black and white, as I'd done here, because I like the look on the page.  She has a slightly stunned expression which fit my mood exactly!
I promised myself that I could go pretty crazy with the doodling because it was going to be there to represent how overwhelmed I was feeling and how complicated it felt like life had become.  It may be true that it wasn't actually all that bad, but it doesn't take much to knock me off course.  I like life simple, well NEED it to be.
You can see that I've added some touches of white and red to make the patterns a bit more interesting, and I like how the painted background shows through some areas.  Just look at all those vines and creepers coming to tangle me up ... and there's almost a jellyfish feeling to some of it?  Well I certainly know all about the "sting in the tail", and it did feel good to get all that negativity out of my system.
On days like these I have to remind myself to breathe deeply and just take things one at a time.  There have been a lot of hospital appointments recently because the new drugs I'm taking have had some negative effects which had to be investigated, one of which was blurry vision, making journalling difficult, not to mention computer time.  Hopefully now that's (mostly) checked out, life will once again become calm and serene (I wish)!

Rosie x

Tuesday, 14 August 2018


I've reached the age and stage in life where I hanker after peace and simplicity - having retired we have fewer possessions (although we do keep adding books ...) and we like it that way.  Yet, despite trying quite hard not to take on extra commitments (will we run the church jumble sale, no) our days seem to be filled with things we don't necessarily want to do.  This week has two hospital appointments and one dentist, leaving little energy for the nice things in life.

However, even if I'm having to rest a lot in between, I can usually still find solace in my journal ... and my concern to simplify what feels like an over-complicated life naturally came out on the page.
As ever, my backgrounds are simple, just acrylic paint.  I never see any need to do fancy ones as I usually cover them up with doodles etc.  I see some lovely techniques on Pinterest and You Tube but mostly conclude that they are too nice to cover up.  Plus I'm lazy and they take a) too much effort or b) new equipment! 
My collage materials are mainly free - I often use copies of my old pages or bits gleaned here and there from catalogues or magazines.  Putting a simple border around a page like this is one of my favourite techniques for getting started when inspiration is slow to strike.
Adding black outlines and a grey shadow makes all the difference, as you can see, and you probably already know how much I love Modigliani ladies - also free from internet image sources.  Among my stash of collage materials I found the phrase "simplify life" which drew a resounding yes from my innermost being!
For me this is a relatively simple page, but it says what I needed it to.  I know I shouldn't complain about frequent hospital appointments because people are trying their very best to help me, but toxic medications mean constant checking of my liver function, and regular discussions about the balance of benefits with nasty side effects. 

Still, it would be nice to have a week which stretched peacefully in front of us and an empty calendar ... is that too much to ask? Probably yes!!

Tuesday, 7 August 2018


You know how you volunteer for or agree to do something even though you know its a terrible idea and you will almost certainly regret it?  Yeah, that.  Well, against my better judgement, I was persuaded to take part in an 8 week Pain Management course.  I had a shrewd idea that it would take too much of my limited energy, and after 27 years figured it was unlikely they would be suggesting anything I hadn't already tried.  I was right, but being too polite to tell them so have persevered hoping it would improve, with the result that I am now very very tired.  Last session tomorrow, thank the Lord, and then I can get my life back ...

So in the middle of the course it just wasn't working and I wanted to say so, but didn't feel I could, and anyway I was grateful that the NHS had provided it, and I did think perhaps I could make some useful contribution even if I didn't take much out.  This page is how I dealt with my mixed feelings ....
I just painted the page some of my favourite colours and took it from there, though I should have guessed in advance what I needed to get out of my head and onto paper.  Below you can see on the left how I put down some collage, and on the right you can see how the addition of a black outline and a grey shadow makes the whole thing come together as a unified whole?
These words below were the ones that just fell out of my brain and onto the page.  I really wanted to drop out of the course and say it was too much (it was/is) but felt reluctant to reject anybody's offer of help (so I didn't).  Sigh.  I used to be assertive but now I just don't have the energy.
But as ever it all felt a lot better to give expression to my feelings and acknowledge them, even if I didn't feel able to act on them.
And because I actually didn't want the helping people to go away (originally written down at the bottom right) I painted that part out.  I wanted to just say no, but that turned out to be hard.  Too hard.  So now its going to take weeks to recover, and its entirely my own fault.  Sigh.
Yours wearily

Sunday, 15 July 2018


The picture above has come out rather dark, but as you'll be able to see below the yellow is much brighter than it looks here.

I started out with a background of old gold/yellow (Anita's Caramel Corn if you're interested) onto which I dry brushed some mid brown for interest.
I'd bought an old book at a car boot sale, and used one of the pages for something.  In my rummaging in the collage drawer I discovered the remains of the page in my stash and so (not an original idea) I cut out lines of text to make random thoughts.  Quite like the effect of this.  It doesn't mean anything unless you think it does.
Then above, I put down the usual bits and pieces of collage, including my Modigliani lady, plus a bit of outlining.  You can also see on the large half moon shape at the top why I try to avoid using materials from glossy magazines, because you get an awkward reflection from it in photographs and I don't much like the result.  I go for matte finishes as much as possible, but free materials of this kind aren't always available.
I didn't know where this was going until I studied the figure and wondered what she was thinking about.  She seemed to be in an in-between stage of happy/unhappy ... which resonated with me.  We moved here 2 and a half years ago, and I am still lonely occasionally for the many friends I left behind.  Not getting out as much as I'd like to means it isn't all that easy to join things and make new ones.
But I'm working on it, and one or two special people have turned up lately who I hope will be sticking around, and (because knowing these things take time) I'm happy for that to be where I am for now.  Great oaks from little acorns grow (I hope).

Saturday, 30 June 2018


I've been sitting in the garden a lot because we have a heatwave at the moment - an uncommon event in northern England, so I feel bound to make the most of it!  However, I have done a little bit of journal work and this is the result.

Determined to address my tendency to work in shades of a single colour, I ruthlessly painted my background in not one, but three different colours!  I know.  Had to have a sit down after that.
Now I LOVE red and black so I grabbed black and white collage elements from my neutrals drawer and just pasted away, as you can see below.  You can also see the difference between the collaged page on the right, and the one on the left with black lines and grey shadows added.  It really makes a difference when you do this.
The reference to "brave girls" is because I've been a long-time member of the Brave Girls Club - google it if that sounds like something you should be part of!  For me, it is often about challenging myself to do things which make me nervous, or will hurt ... so its been difficult when in recent weeks two different friends who don't know each other have told me off (nicely) for not getting out of the house enough.  I've had to admit to myself that part of it is a fear of going out alone - as a wheelchair user I often feel very vulnerable, and anyway why wouldn't I prefer to go out with my Beloved instead?  A corner of my brain is also asking if they might have a point ...
I'm still working on that thought and whether its something I should take action on... do I have to?  Do I need to?  Is it worth the energy?
While engaged in this ongoing process I finished the page off with my usual doodles and drawings.  I still don't know the answers to the question, but a large part of me is going "so what"?  Is it actually compulsory to leave my lovely home and studio by myself?  Now is that fear talking, or me being pragmatic and sensible ... not sure yet.

Sunday, 17 June 2018


This was one of those pages that just "happened" because I sat down to play without any particular thoughts in my head.  That's normal for me, and its fascinating to see what comes out of my subconscious.

First I laid down a quick and easy painted background of lime green with a slightly darker green brushed on top, and then it was out with the collage scraps drawer.  OK yes, because the background was green guess which colour I went for?  I really must cure myself of thinking in terms of just one shade .... weird habit.
My pages never look much to write home about in their early stages, as you can see above.  But when I start to draw on them and add shadows it all begins to make more sense as the disparate elements join up into a whole.  I found this lovely swimsuit lady in my stash and she just seemed to belong there.  A spot of zentangle doodling crept in too.  Still no idea where I was going, but following the process is the fun part.
Then it stayed at the stage above for a whole day because I hadn't a clue what I wanted or needed to write on the page.  That's OK, sometimes (but not often) I never do figure it out and the page stays unfinished.

Then a day later I walked past the open journal and noticed that my female figure was wearing what I saw as Big Pants (OK a swimsuit really).  That set all sorts of mental hares running around "putting your big girl pants on" ... which in turn reminded me of the times when its a struggle to speak and behave like an adult, when your inner child is shouting "no, don't want to" or something very similar.
So that's what the page is about - see, I knew some inspiration would turn up. 

There's quite a big of stamping on this page - I usually just cut out patterns and images that take my fancy, but lately I've started cutting out scraps of plain coloured paper that I can stamp on, as in the green circle my figure is standing on.  I also used some stamps in the background spaces once the page was more or less finished.

As ever, if you have any questions about what I use or how I work feel free to ask in the comments and I will always answer.
Rosie X

Tuesday, 5 June 2018


I thought I'd already put up this post, but Blogger seems to have eaten it, so here we go again.  I haven't been journalling very much while we've been having lovely weather up here in northern England (untypical I assure you).  I've been doing a lot of day-dreaming in the garden, so forgive me if I don't always have anything to show you.

As always, the simplest of painted backgrounds, just two colours of blue acrylic scuffled around with a wet wipe.  I'm now concerned about my use of these and looking into alternatives - don't want to contribute to an ocean full of them, and apparently they take eons to degrade.  Might have to use real fabric scraps instead? 

Then I pasted all all sorts of blue bits and pieces together to make a border.  These are just free found items from catalogues and magazines, which make great

I wanted to put the pictures above and below side by side so you could see the difference adding a subtle shadow around the elements can make, but Blogger wouldn't let me.

I read a statement not long ago which impressed me, and it was something to the effect that we waste too much time worrying what others think about us, and what we should do is set our own standards and try and live to them without explanation or apology.
As somebody who wasted a lot of my early life being a people pleaser and worrying what they thought about me, I so wish I'd learned earlier that being authentically true to yourself (and in my case to God) are all you can do.  I've always tried to treat others in the way I'd like to be treated, but if someone else makes judgements about me because of this I shouldn't let it change me or the standards I try to live by.

I know what I mean but I'm not sure I've explained it very well.  The sunshine and the garden are calling me away ...
Rosie X