Monday, 27 July 2015

MAKING A DIFFERENCE ...

  
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

BE AT PEACE ...

 
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

WORDS HURT ....

 
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??!

Saturday, 4 July 2015

MASK

This page is about the way I hide how bad I often feel from my beloved - he worries about me, but since I can't be better even though I want to be, I'll sometimes smile and say I'm OK when actually I'm not. He doesn't always believe me, and although I try to be truthful most of the time, who wants to hear negative responses every single day?  I don't believe he does, because then he has to carry that knowledge and might feel powerless.  We've developed a points system, a kind of code to say how I'm doing.

The page began with a very simple background of yellow acrylic paint, and then I used a collection of black/white and grey collage scraps to create a border.  On the left is the page at that point, and on the right you can see how it looked with a grey shadow and a black outline added.  Makes a big difference doesn't it?
As far as I'm concerned every page needs to have a face of some kind, even if its just an eye or something like that, some human element I suppose.  That's when I put down the head and shoulders (cut from a magazine) bottom left.  She had a smiley face and I thought "that's not how I feel today", so I added the weary-looking face at the top right.  All this got me thinking about how often I put on a brave face when I feel rough, and the fact that out of love I will wear a mask so as not to drag either of us down.  That was when I cut out a mask to cover up her true face.
And acknowledging the truth that this is what I do, led to me writing it down.  Believe me I'm not complaining here - lots of people have it so much worse - but I am trying to acknowledge to and for myself that this is one of my coping strategies, and to remind myself not to over-use it.  Its important that sometimes I'm completely honest with the people who care about me.  

Having said that, there's scientific evidence that smiling puts you in a better mood, so I practice a lot and hope it works!  Its the difference between half full and half empty isn't it?  I know I've said this before but its something I firmly believe, that attitude helps, and that people don't want to spend time with you if you're always negative and miserable.
So then I finished the page with just a few dots and doodles - it didn't seem to need a whole lot more. I'm pleased with the black, grey and yellow - it was a colour scheme I'd seen in a bedding shop and liked, which just goes to show that there really IS inspiration everywhere.
We all wear masks but most of us don't admit it or even know we're doing it.  I know I do, out of what I perceive to be necessity. In a lot of ways I probably shouldn't, but I do it because it helps both of us get through.  Its my own personal Brave Girl thing .... my way of shouting to the rooftops "I'm still here"!!

Sunday, 28 June 2015

VERANDA .....

 
It just goes to show how various and random are the things which can inspire a journal page! I'd painted the page as you see it below - and once again I'd like to point out that backgrounds really don't need to be particularly fancy or clever, particularly when you're planning to cover them up the way I do!

Anyway, my next move was to rummage about in my collage folders, and I came across the word at the bottom of the page "paradise".  I think it might be from a Teesha Moore collage sheet but since it was already cut out I can't be 100% sure.  Anyway, this one word sparked a train of thought ....
So while I was musing on the idea of paradise, and what it might mean for me, I was adding bits of collage and a touch more paint.  I confess to being a bit set in my ways when it comes to colour - if I lay down a blue background I start looking for blue collage elements.  I can't help it, I just got made that way.  Sometimes I try really hard to use a whole mish mash of colour on one page, and it never feels right to me.  So, having painted the background pink and orange (a combination I just LOVE) I began looking for pink and orange collage .... Lately, recognising that I'm not going to change any time soon, I've begun organising my collage materials by colour.  It works for me.
So then I began to add in some black outlining (you can see below how much difference it makes) and those branches which in my mind were "making connections".  I had come to no definite conclusions about paradise in terms of an afterlife, except to acknowledge that if it only involved clouds and harps I'd be very disappointed.  Which turned my mind towards the idea of an earthly paradise.

On our recent holiday to the USA we'd been recommended to visit what turned out to be a really amazing art supplies shop (Sam Flax in downtown Orlando, Florida).  I mentally gave the store a veranda (which it doesn't have in real life) and set myself up with a table in the shade where I could play in my journal, able to pop into the store any time I needed something.
And then to extend my fantasy I thought what interesting characters were likely to pop in and out of an art supply shop, and how much I'd enjoy chatting to people as they came and went.  So there you are - my idea of paradise - a sunny day, a shady veranda, a place to play, limitless art supplies and congenial company!  You could add in the occasional glass of chilled white wine if you like, or perhaps a jug of Pimms is more your thing?  Drinks optional.
Then all that remained was to draw and doodle in the spaces left - and on this occasion I was remarkably restrained and didn't try and fill absolutely every inch, whilst still managing to get plenty of dots and other bits and pieces in.
So when I get to heaven (well, being honest, IF I get there) I hope its something like this.  If you see me there be sure to drop by my table for a chat .... I'll be wearing my pink rose hat. 

Sunday, 21 June 2015

SUDDEN SHIFT ...

 
A sudden shift is certainly something that happened while I was working on this page - which is literally hot off the press.  There I was happily playing in my journal when unexpected news came which rocked my foundations for a while.  So what's a person to do in that situation?  Get it down on paper of course!!  

I had begun with this turquoise paint background, just because I like the colour, and its nothing fancy as you can see.  I rarely bother to do "clever" backgrounds because I know I'm only going to cover them up.  I just brushed a slightly darker blue around the outer edges and added the flower.
Then I began to collage around the border - set in a bit from the actual edge of the page so that the two shades of blue could be seen, and I particularly wanted to show you the before and after stages which follow.  On the left is the page with the collage finished, and on the right after I'd added a grey shadow and some black outlining.  Makes all the difference in the world doesn't it, and helps the sections really stand out from the background.
And it was pretty much around this time that the nuclear bomb dropped on me ... so I got out my pen and wrote about it.  I was all over the place emotionally for a couple of days, but am gaining a sense of proper perspective now - helped by attending the utterly joyous wedding yesterday of two beautiful young people.
And then all that was left to do was fiddle about endlessly filling up any dangerous blank space that might be lurking there!  Don't ask me why - it just seems to be the way I'm made, and if I'm honest, after the collage part its my favourite bit of the whole process.  Its meditative somehow?
It is SO good and cathartic to let everything out on a page this way - its very healing for me.  The girl at bottom left was originally just there because I liked the colour of her eyeshadow.  In the end her serenity was what counted - and a message to my soul, do not let this event disturb your peace.

Sunday, 14 June 2015

EARTHBOUND?

 

Recently somebody said to me (something like) "it must be frustrating to be so tied down by your disability".  Thinking about it afterwards (and don't you always come up with a pithy response later) I came to the conclusion that she was completely and absolutely wrong!  Earthbound I may be, but in my spirit, through prayer and art, I have WINGS and can soar free.

Actually wings would be very useful if anybody up there is listening??  Then my ability to walk wouldn't matter!!  Anyway, below is how the page began.  I was trying to get away from my "usual" way of framing a page so I laid down orange acrylic and then used my Posca paint pen to create a pink border over it.  The strong black lines were added with my new, larger black Posca pen.  This is a 1.8 nib rather than my usual 0.7.
I had absolutely no idea where this was going but I was playing happily, so I added some bits of collage and some doodles. Then I put in some more pink inside the border, and a white line.  At that point I left the page for a while .... I do that a lot, just half make pages until the right words come to me.  Sometimes they never do so I just leave the page as is.
But when I came back to it all I managed to add were a few more doodles and bits of collage.  The page was then ignored until the conversation described above, at which point I decided I didn't like the element top centre, so I removed it and added something else which was quite plain.  That allowed me to write what was really going on in my head, which was "I may be earthbound ..."
Well then I was off like a rocket fuelled by my strong sense of the comment being WRONG and forgot to take any more pictures until I'd finished!  The wings are a stamp, and the rest is just doodles with Posca pens.
I am oddly satisfied by this page - the bold orange and pink please me, as does the concept of flying free from my (very) earthbound body.  All together now .... bursts into a chorus of "I am what I am" etc etc...

Saturday, 6 June 2015

Calm Water ....

 
As we approach (early) retirement I find myself torn between a longing for peace and tranquility, and wondering if I'll find it all a bit too unexciting?  Obviously all the things on my heart always find their way into my journal eventually, and so this niggling anxiety was bound to make its presence felt sooner or later ....

It started with the blue and yellow paint background, to which I added some simple bits of collage and those V shapes were a rubber stamp.  I always find images of the Buddha very serene and calming, so I think that's why he's there, and that deep teal blue colour just appealed strongly. Perhaps those are islands in my sea?  The ink blots are another rubber stamp.  The page stayed like this for some days until I came back and worked on it again.
At which point my thoughts about boats and calm water/safe harbour came out of my head and down onto the page.  These sputnik shapes are not my usual thing at all, but I like how the strong black jumps again the blue and yellow.  The black was done with a Posca paint marker which really does write over just about anything, with white paint marker on top.
And although the page might even look finished at this stage, I couldn't resist adding to it and fiddling about.  The spiky leaves are also a fine paint pen - I think they're reeds at the water's edge, or something like that?  They just seemed to want to be there.
I also made use of a dark grey paint marker for some of the bubbles (at least I think thats what they are, they don't always tell me) which I really like as a colour.

Somewhere in all this I think I've managed to capture my dilemma between a human desire for excitement and interest, and the wish for a safe harbour at the end of the day.  Don't know the answer to my own question yet until we actually take the plunge and go, but I suspect in the end all of us would like a large amount of peace and quiet punctuated by little oases of happiness and excitement??  I think that's what I probably want anyway.

Sunday, 24 May 2015

CAN'T SEE AHEAD ....

 


Well I'm back - and (almost) over the jet lag, although we found a brilliant homeopathic remedy for that which helped a LOT.

This was a page I made shortly before we went .... I must have been in holiday mode already when I put that palm tree in there (we've been to Florida)!

I sometimes feel that my pages can be a bit too tight and controlled, so I tried my best to loosen up with this one.  At this stage its simply acrylic paint in two colours with a little bit of collage on the top.
Then very often I just write down whatever is on my heart at the time - frequently surprising myself with the revelation of what I'm really thinking about or need to say.  You may know that we're making preparations to retire, but any kind of timescale is a bit unclear at the moment.  We'd actually hoped to be gone by now, but in fact the current approximate date is September.  Since building work on our new home hasn't even begun I'm not setting my heart on that happening!
But when I wrote this statement down I realised that was OK - I can still look forward to getting there even if I'm not yet sure how and when.  Its entirely possible that I was also demob happy because of the holiday, and simply content to just let things roll for a time.  Usually I like to have rather more control of things ....
The palm tree is also done with collage, and like the shapes below and above it are just cut from random magazines.  Once I found the texture that I used to make the trunk it was always going to be a tree, and then it just seemed to need the red bird, who seemed to look a bit like a chicken.  Well that got me thinking about our chickens happily pecking about in the yard, blithely untroubled by anything much .... so I added chicken(ish) birds to indicate that state of mind.
Sorry this is quite short - my brain is still slightly out of sync with the rest of the world, but I hope to be back to proper form shortly.

Couldn't resist sharing this picture of me drinking a FABULOUS cocktail on our trip - it was called The Tranquiliser, and boy did it work!  Three kinds of rum, loads of pineapple juice, all topped up with cream and a cherry.  :)
And yes, we DID have a very nice time, thank you for asking!!

Monday, 4 May 2015

WAITING ....

 


My continuing love affair with lime green - something NOT shared by my family, who clearly have no taste and appreciation!  I especially like this colour in the Spring, when the new green leaves are such an intense lime shade, before dust and traffic fumes get to them.

So nothing fancy going on here - I just painted the page in this yummy shade of green acrylic paint, and then began to add bits of green collage, mainly from a children's book I got from the charity shop.
And then the collage just grew and grew .... the butterfly top left and the advertisement bottom right are both from tissue paper which I tore out and collaged on with matte medium.  Its a besetting sin of mine that I tend to get stuck on one colour and produce all manner of tone on tone pages - if I start off blue it often stays blue, and I have to remind myself that it is OK to use more than one colour!
Still didn't know quite where I was going at this stage, even when I added the rather wistful looking Modigliani lady (if you've been with me a while you'll already know how much I love his work). A white Posca paint pen added a few highlights here and there.  Between the pictures above and below you might also notice that I added a shadow, using a grey marker. It always amazes me just how much difference such a small subtle addition makes!
So I left it awhile to come back to another day, when I knew what I wanted to say, and this was something of a cry from the heart.  Something we'd dreamed of and hoped for over a long LONG period of time FINALLY came to fruition, and instead of feeling joyful I found myself oddly flat. I've been doing some work on changing that.
We are off to Florida on Wednesday so this will be my last post for a couple of weeks - but I plan to come home laden with craft bargains (Jo-Anns here I come!) and collage stash.  The sunshine always warms my bones and, combined with the relaxation of being away from it all, I experience less pain, which is rather wonderful!  Arrivaderci ....