Monday, 26 January 2015

UGLY .....

I actually made this page in response to reports of yet more atrocities perpetuated by the Isis militants, wondering how anyone could seriously believe that God supports and applauds the rape, murder and torture of thousands of innocents.

And then today, this theme felt right for another reason - today the first woman Bishop will be consecrated, which should be a day for rejoicing.  However, in a week's time in our Diocese a man will also be consecrated Bishop who won't allow the Archbishop of York to lay hands upon him because those same hands will have consecrated Libby Lane.  This is the idea of "taint", as in somehow poisoned by laying hands upon a woman.  This man further asks that female incumbents of parishes do not celebrate communion while he is in their church.  Words fail me, or at least they haven't and I have written to my Bishop protesting this appointment in the strongest terms.  You can probably appreciate my point about ugliness, and I cannot understand while these two contradictory appointments seem right to the church's hierarchy?

Anyway, that's enough church politics.  This page began as a painted background, with a collaged pair of shoes and some washi tapes.  The shoes kind of represent the spiritual journey, and the birds on a wire the general "twittering" of many voices.
The rest is more or less purely decorative, put there for no particular reason except that I liked it and it looked right, although the colours might be said to reflect my feelings of anger?  I added more pieces of collage - just shapes and patterns that I happened to like, and which I added to with my paint pens.
The starburst shapes are a stamp, and of course no page of mine would be complete without a gazillion dots as shading ....
Forgive me if I'm using my art blog to rant about my particular concerns (and perhaps prejudices), I don't normally do so but on this occasion it was too much on my mind not to 

Saturday, 10 January 2015


Well after that little bit of  (unpleasant) excitement, lets get back to the art!  I may have mentioned that I'm now working occasionally in a junk journal - literally made from junk in the form of any old flyers, leaflets etc that I could lay my hands on, plus a variety of paper offcuts I've been saving for years "in case they come in handy)!

This is one of the pages - I was feeling my age (60) and as an older woman pretty much invisible and of no value, so this was me standing on a mountain top shouting "hey, I'm here, I've got lots to offer if you'll only listen".  It was a bit the same when I was "just somebody's mummy" and not a person in my own right.  Nothing more certain to get my feminist hackles rising ... and I tend to growl a bit too.

You can see below that the basic page was a bit of a patchwork with left over bits of paper joined together with washi tape and cut outs from a copy of an old journal page - its fun to do that, recycle your own work.  I've got a print/scan/copy printer which makes it easy to do, but its well worth getting copies of your favourite pages.  At one stage I'd also collected a lot of vintage collage images, which I don't use much any more, so one of them found its way onto the  page as well.  Its all junk, right?
And then I'm afraid it turned into a bit of a rant, or possibly even a mega-whinge, according to how you look at it.  At least it gets it off your chest and down on the page, which definitely helps.

And this was the finished result - sorry the pictures are a little bit dark, but as you may know, its been that way in the UK for the past few days!  Am thinking of building an ark, but then again January is always like that.

This is the page in context showing a bit more of the junk journal, and the picture below shows the spreads overleaf - still works in progress.

You can see that the pages in the journal are all different sizes, depending on the paper available, and I've incorporated fold-outs in places as well.  Overall its an attempt to stretch myself and try different things without feeling that I'm "ruining" my main journal.  I'm enjoying it, and the freedom to make ugly art without judgement!!

Friday, 9 January 2015

I hope you are able to see this and be warned that malware has hijacked my blog address and now redirects to an advertising site.  If anyone knows how to get it back I'd be SO grateful for their help - after years building up this blog I'd be devastated if I have to start over.

PROBLEM SOLVED thanks to my altogether amazing and wonderful niece.  Blessings be upon her bonny head for getting me out of this one, which took some tracking down but she did it eventually!  

Tuesday, 6 January 2015


Those of you who've been with me a long time will know that I sometimes make pages about my inner spiritual life, but these are the ones I don't post very often because they're deeply personal and may not make sense to everyone.  However, I hope this one is an exception and I'm sharing it because I really LIKE it ... and I don't necessarily like everything I make!

I'd begun a page I didn't like at all so had gessoed/painted over it - I didn't mind at all that you could still see some parts through, because that just makes it more interesting.
I'd recently bought this new eye stamp and knew I wanted to use it - unfortunately it didn't stamp very well on this surface but I just drew over parts of it.  What I was originally intending here was the eye would represent God, and the small person underneath would be me ... but that's not how it turned out!
In the end it became all about God, visually at least, but the thought expressed below made me feel calm and peaceful at a time when there's a lot going on in my life!
And perhaps one of the reasons I'm so pleased with the result could be the bold simple shapes, when too often I go in for too much fiddly detail?  Well it seems to work here anyway. The pointy finger is from a collage sheet, as are the letters GOD, and the other shapes are cut from patterns and colours that appealed to me - from magazines and books - and then drawn on top to make them my own. Detail mostly added with my trusty Posca paint pens, the shading on the face uses my Promarkers.
Happy New Year to all my readers!  I don't make resolutions but I do have hopes and dreams for the year ahead which may well come to fruition in 2015.  My take on it is always that if its meant to be then it will be, and if not I was barking up the wrong tree (again)!  I let God sort it out.

Monday, 22 December 2014

Sorry I have been AWOL for a couple of weeks - just overtaken by the usual Christmas busyness of course, as I expect most of you are.  Am pleased to report that all is now organised, and if it isn't that's just too bad, because I'm not losing sight of the real reason for our celebrations ... a great mystery of love unfolding before us if we can tear ourselves away from excessive consumerism, snowmen and robins for a minute.  Sermon over.

Anyway, this started in the simplest possible way when I just painted the page red using standard acrylics.  Sometimes it doesn't have to be more complicated that this, and I chose the colour because it was a dark wet day .... adding an eye from my collection of collage images, a new honeycomb stamp (which I'm not altogether thrilled with) , a section of black and white border from my own home made collage sheet, and a scrap of tissue paper laid down with matte medium.
The circle pattern is another new stamp, part of a set I really like.  I've been so into black and white line drawings lately, its obviously my latest "phase" but its such a simple concept that you can do so much with!  The words just came ... so presumably were the ones I most needed to get off my chest at the time.
The pointy finger is another stamp, an old favourite, and then I just started doodling with my white paint pen, because I knew that what I'd written was enough, and there was no more to say.
So you know how it goes, I doodled away to my heart's content - its almost meditative doing this and possibly the part I love the best, or maybe second-best anyway!
There's no answer to give to this because it isn't a question, just the statement of how things ARE, but at least admitting it here is the first step to making the changes that will bring those Better Times to fruition?  With the coming of a New Year shortly its probably a good time to do this kind of thinking ...?

I hope your Christmas is Holy and Blessed, and I look forward to your company as the journey continues into 2015 ...

Tuesday, 9 December 2014


This is quite a simple page for me - in its basic construction anyway.  The leaves took ages, but as you know I LIKE doodling.

Still not feeling 100% after a really nasty cold which had me in bed for a couple of days - I NEVER do that, not least because it would mean staying out of the studio.  Husband completely understood  that my having done so meant that I really felt awful.

So simple is good, when you're finally back in the studio but convalescent?  I had a vague idea that I would be painting branches etc across this when I started out, so the background was deliberately kept to one colour.  In later pages I toned down the colour in the face (broadly representing me) because the real me was (and still is) distinctly pale and wan ....
Then I began to sketch out the tree and its branches, trying to go across the figure without obscuring it too much.  I was still feeling wobbly and not quite "with it" at this point, and when I looked at my inboxm the ironing, and all the other things which hadn't got done because I'd been ill, I felt utterly overwhelmed and incapable of starting.  It actually took 4 or 5 more days before I did!
The paint is just ordinary acrylics, built up in layers, hoping for a bark sort of effect.  Its in there somewhere I hope!
Then I went on to outline the branches using my posca paint pen and began to draw in the leaves.  I painted them first (also Posca pen) and when the paint was dry went back with a fine black liner.  The words came last of all .... even though I'd sort of known from the beginning what they would be about.
I must admit to some artistic licence here - I DO have short naturally black/brown hair, but after that any resemblance to the genuine person fades!  My eyes are green - but that would have been too much green, and they are not large and luminous as depicted here, I just wish they were.  I am this thin in my imagination if not in reality, and considerably younger, so am constantly surprised by the tubby grandmother in the mirror!

Still this flight of fantasy achieved its aim of getting stuff down on paper and making me feel calmer. Heck, I thought, it can all wait until I feel better.  And it has.

Saturday, 29 November 2014



I haven't blogged one of my spiritual pages for some time, but as we are just about to come into the season of Advent it seemed an appropriate time.  This is a variation on Psalm 91 but with a feminine pronoun ... I guess you all know by now that I relate to a female God at times, which is perfectly legitimate since God is beyond gender. This has been a very helpful part of my inner life and one I have used for almost 30 years.

I don't usually draw things out in pencil first, but on this occasion wanted to work out the wings and feather placement by looking at images of real wings.
Then I went in with paint, and it was at this point I lost the centrality of the face above the wings, but what the heck.  This is just standard acrylic hobby paint over gesso, and then I outlined the features with a Posca paint pen and added some shading to the eyes with a marker.
And then I added the detail to the wings with the same Black Posca paint pen, and it got a tiny bit zentangly but I loved doing it.  I'd been waiting  all along and get out the gold pen and add elements such as the halo.  Somehow there always has to be gold in my spiritual pages, because I work and live with the idea that God is the seam of gold in all the mundane things of life.
The lettering was done with a white Posca pen, and then I just went to town with the gold and filled all the remaining space.  I'm slightly niggled that her face now seems offset, but not enough to go back and change it.
Advent Sunday tomorrow and the beginning of our celebration of the coming of the Light, always with the words "Give us Grace to cast away the works of darkness ...." lovely stuff.

PS Sorry this is brief - I have a cold in the head and am not doing joined up thinking ....


Saturday, 22 November 2014


These colours are just so JOYFUL aren't they - just splodging about with them made me smile and cheered me up, so I was working on this page and giggling to myself whilst doing it.  If I keep this up there may be doubts about my sanity!

Anyway, below you can see how it all began, acrylic paint in wide curving bands across the page, with a few shapes cut out from my collection of collage bits and pieces. Some of it is sections cut from colour copies taken from previous journals, and the rest is bits of magazines and other publications.  What I liked most about the page at this stage was the touches of red which really added something ....
So I added a few more reds - you might notice that the piece in the top left is redder than before.  I coloured it using my Promarkers, which is a great way to change cuttings to suit your purpose!  I was having fun with this, and had no particular theme or message in mind, and in the end I just wrote about how happy the colours made me.  The red spots were added with my Posca paint pen, which is wonderfully opaque and writes over anything.
And then the red spots sort of took over!  I admit there are rather a lot of them, but what the heck I was enjoying myself.
Sorry this is a rather brief post - we have had a new grandson this week and I have been somewhat distracted by this joyful news.

I also wanted to add these pictures which should have been included with last week's post, which shows the difference adding water makes to Caran d'Ache Neocolour crayons.
On the left is what the page looks like when you've scribbled with the crayons, and on the right you can see what happens when you add water!!  Perhaps this demonstrates just why I love them so much - alchemic magic!!

Monday, 10 November 2014


This ended up being a cry from the heart - and one I didn't know was in there until it came out!!  I was just playing around with my Neocolour II crayons as you can see below.  I MADE myself pick up an assortment of colours, because usually once I pick up a blue for example, I reach for other blues, or greens in the same spectrum.  I'm trying to teach myself that more colour is even better, and if they clash that's good too!  The lady in the corner just got added for no good reason, which is why she looks a bit random down there.  She is!
And then I started drawing on the top with a fine black Posca paint pen - I've recently moved away from all other black pens to use this one practically all the time.  It gives a very intense and solid black and although its not possible to get a really fine one (I think this is 0.7) the effects I get with it more than make up for that. Best of all it writes over ANYTHING!
The pink circle in the top left corner is cut from a copy of a journal page, and so is the bottom left shape.  One these were glued down I began to doodle shapes and patterns on top, still with absolutely no idea where this was going - I just put stuff down because I liked it!  I do believe its possible to over-think art journalling and obsess about what to put down, and where, and why.  This is me just going with the flow, and it the result is a bit random that's OK because in the end the process is what I'm about as much as the finished page.

But then, out of my depths popped this heartfelt statement .... literally a cri de coeur, which absolutely NEEDED to be got down on paper.  Its something I've worried about and prayed over endlessly, and you might like to know how I've eventually resolved it?
I'm a great fan of Kaffe Fasset's patterns and tapestry, and in my spiritual journey have come to believe that the entire universe and everything in it makes a pattern of glorious colour and complexity.  Every stitch is exactly where its meant to be, and essential to the whole, but its easy to forget that in our little lives we only see a tiny part of the tapesty, so that often the pattern doesn't make sense because we can't see it all.  That doesn't mean that the pattern isn't there, or that we aren't part of it, or that it isn't beautiful, because it IS.

So in the end that's what I had to remember .... that although the pattern for my life isn't visible I'm a beautiful part of it, meant to be exactly where I am, and it all makes sense to the One who made it all. On the other hand, if she'd like to show me just a tiny bit more .... maybe it would make better sense? No?  OK, I get it - we aren't meant to know ..... sigh.

Sunday, 2 November 2014


Having lived in vicarages for the last 35 years (mainly old, cold and beyond our means to heat) we've never actually owned a house, and now that we're in our sixties its becoming a concern.  As you know I always work out my worries in my art journal, and that's why I made this page.  There's something about putting things down on paper and naming them that helps to sort them out!

I didn't actually know it was going to be a cri de coeur at the time, but I wanted to make a page in monochrome shades so I began as you see below with a simple coat of grey paint and a spot of gesso on some bubble wrap.  I like to use expensive art materials!
Then I made a border around the page using scraps of this and that, mainly culled from magazines. Again, very expensive collage stuff!  These are the sorts of techniques I go with when I'm not 100% sure what I'm doing with a page - just paint a background and put a border around it.  Sometimes it will stay like that for a while ... but I almost always come back to it eventually.
As you can see, at this stage it sort of needed something - so I chose to add some touches of red, and that really livened it up!  I had liked the orangey feather when I stuck it down, but it definitely looks better coloured red with a Promarker - I often use these to change the colours of collage elements.  If I want to blot something out (like a pattern or writing) then my wonderfully opaque posca paint pens are the best for this.
It was coming across the word "where" in my collage cuttings box that produced the cry from the heart "where are we going to live".  Now of course know that I should have faith and trust in God's provision, but sometimes (like most people) I have a bit of a wobble.  That's what happened here.
And then it was a matter of finishing off with the final details.  You might notice that I actually outlined the edge of the border to give it more definition, and I used small black dots as shading. This is actually quite a simple page, technically speaking, but its not always necessary to use ambitious techniques - the main thing for me is getting the thoughts and feelings down on paper.

I am now back to trusting Herself Upstairs for the future, but I have been mentioning lately that something with no stairs would be a great blessing ......

Saturday, 25 October 2014


This is me trying to illustrate for myself just how complicated my life gets when I have too much on!  Now its entirely possibly that someone else might find what was going on extremely easy to deal with, but as someone with limited energy I find I get overwhelmed easily .... and then nothing AT ALL gets done!

It began, as most of my pages do, with a painted background using my Neocolour II crayons. You'll appreciate that this basic page is nothing fancy, but you see it doesn't have to be, since I will cover much of it up anyway.  Some people new to art journalling can get in a bit of a panic over producing "arty" backgrounds, but they can be very simple because they're just a jumping off point!
The next stage for me is collaging - all sorts of bits going on here, as you can see.  The figure is made up from bits cut out of colour copies of previous journal pages,plus a scrap of patterned paper.  The round element top and bottom right has been done using a stamp (with a few bits added).  The rest is just me drawing bits and bobs and decorating with dots.
The twisty wormholes on the body got me thinking about feeling overwhelmed by a complicated tangle, so I chose to extend them some more and tangle up the figure.  As you can also see I've used my Posca paint pen (black) to add spiky extensions to some of the corner elements.  I use these pens for nearly everything now, and the black is particularly good compared to most pens because its a really deep dark black, so stands out against the background brilliantly.  My only complaint is that they don't make them fine enough, but I manage.  Also the full range of colours isn't available in the finest point, which is disappointing.  If ever I find the energy to do so I might write and tell them that.
And then I just fiddled around and doodled some more in the spaces, which for me is my favourite meditative stage of building a page.  You can also see on the lower right that I totally changed the element there - I just wasn't happy with it so used a paint pen to go over it and give me a plain background to work on instead.
Fortunately, in the 10 days or so since I made this page, a few things have been resolved and life became very much less frantic.  Except that now I have to get ready to shoot off south directly after church tomorrow to drive to the other end of the country to attend no.2 daughter's MA graduation, not to mention taking a car full of the baby stuff I've made/collected for the baby she's expecting in 4 weeks time.  Ooops, I think life just got a bit busy again, but at least I can snooze in the car while himself drives .... or then again maybe I'll knit and see if I can use the journey time to finish the baby cardigan I'm working on?

I do LIKE to keep reasonably active and occupied, just not quite THIS busy .......!!  Anyway, here's a challenge for you - make and share your pages on the complications of life and I'll put them up here.