Tuesday, 11 October 2016



I got so absorbed in making this page that I completely forgot to take pictures until it was half done - but my excuse is that I was teaching someone else how to journal at the time and that's why my mind wasn't fully operational.  I can only do one thing at a time these days!

Anyway - you can probably guess that I began with an orange page to which I added (for no particular reason) a pink blob.  Then I was showing my friend how I use random collage pieces to make a kind of frame or border.  I cull these from free catalogues, and sometimes photocopies of my own pages.  The Modigliani lady is one of my favourites from a selection I use regularly.

I was also demonstrating how putting a black line around the collage elements can be used to bring them together as a joined up whole - I draw curves that link them and this simple technique works really well.  I also outlined the pink rose I found in my stash of collage stuff - this was not in Modigliani's original painting but I think it suits her?
The words just "came" as they often do - I was in hopeful mode and wanted to record that as I have so often recorded my less hopeful days.  I needed to get down on paper the feeling that, a year on from the move and the cancer, and retirement, and all the HUGE things which have happened ... I'm beginning to find my way in a new town and make new friends.
So that's what I wrote, and added a few doodles with a white Posca paint pen, not to mention turning the pink blob into another rose, also with Posca pens.

Its been an often terrifying journey, made all the harder because we had to do most of it in a new town where we knew almost no-one. It WAS the right decision but it didn't always feel like it.  Thank you for all the support along the way - all his tests are clear and we are able to look ahead again.

Thursday, 29 September 2016



I came across this quote just as I was beginning to make journal pages again, and although I generally prefer to use my own words, I liked this saying enough to want to record it.  I've no idea where it came from but will attribute it properly if anyone can tell me.  I don't think its biblical, but I could be wrong.

I'm not truly back in the groove with the journalling yet, so began with a simple grey/blue circle on a strong pink background - you know how much I love pink!  Anyway, backgrounds do not need to be fancy.  This was done using bog standard acrylic paints from the hobby shop - again materials don't have to be posh or expensive either.
Then I put in my favourite face stamp - I have short dark hair so often use this one to represent myself.  Grabbed a few pieces of blue(ish) collage and I was away .... lost in that lovely zone where you just create for the sake of doing it.  I've missed that.
I like to put the words in before I fill too much of the space up.  You may notice also that I link my collage pieces together with a black line, always curved, rarely a straight edge.  It gives the random bits of paper some kind of unity and connectedness.
Can you tell that the picture below of the final page was taken in a different light - it makes the pink look completely different!  Lots more collage and of course the doodly bits I love so much.
I was sufficiently "lost in the moment" that I missed out a word in the smaller sentence, but just managed to squeeze it in.  If you do something like this its always possible to paint over it - I'd use gesso first - and do it again, but on this occasion I couldn't be bothered.  Never mind, I never said I was perfect did I?  You don't get to see my mistakes or the muddy messes I occasionally make ...

Thursday, 22 September 2016


I've been journalling again - not often, but now and then, and it feels very good.  In fact I feel stupid for forgetting how much it meant to me, but the last 9 months have been quite a journey.

So here we are, Himself is well and all tests clear, which is nothing less than wonderful.  Its taken this long to realise that now we can stop holding our breath and actually make plans for a future we weren't sure we'd have.  But the reality is that I find myself in a new town, knowing just two people, and needing to put myself out there and make friends.  That's how I was feeling when I made this page.

As you can see, nothing very complicated for my first page in months - just pink acrylic paint with some orange splodged over it and a bit of collage.  It actually stayed this way for a few days ....
Then I picked up a pen and a bit more collage (remember I was rusty from lack of practice).  I've always loved this little girl image, she reminds me not only of myself but our youngest daughter.  The words awkward and difficult come to mind .... and here it represents me feeling like I don't know how to begin.
I didn't add a lot more except the words I wanted to say.  Once I would have doodled all over the place and filled the page, but on this first foray back into journalling it felt finished at this point.
And I DID do something to move on - I went to a Pain Support Group and was made very welcome.  Its a beginning.

Tuesday, 10 May 2016


Still alive and still distracted (from art journalling) by this little 12th scale Tudor house - now named Bow Cottage.

As you can see below I've laid some floors and decorated the ground floor - which will be the workroom of Miss Millicent the dressmaker.  Sort of inspired by my great aunt but also by this old photo ...
Her workroom being what the world sees will be somewhat smarter than the rest of the house - her own accommodation on floors above being simpler and a little more shabby.
Working on bits and pieces for the room, beginning with this table of work in progress.  I made everything except the sewing machine.
And the outside has had extension renovation ... the chimney stack was just a simple wooden block, so I added brick slips to it which I painted to look worn and sooty, added a (cardboard) platform for the top and used a (bought) chimney pot, suitably aged and dirty.
I wouldn't have put all this up here except that a number of you asked ... and it does answer the question "am I enjoying myself?". Well what do you think?  Off to Florida for 2 weeks shortly, where I plan to raid arts and crafts shop for materials and miniature makings!  The rest and sunshine will do us both so much good, and draw a line under the anguish of recent months.

BUT I am missing my journal a bit, so there are hopeful signs that I will pick it up again one day soon .....

Saturday, 30 April 2016


Sorry folks but I've got kind of distracted from art journalling and blogging ... and its all the fault of this!
I used to love to work in miniature but for various reasons I stopped , including being deeply upset by someone in the hobby who really spoiled it for me. Then when we downsized (twice) I gradually sold or gave away my houses and buildings.  Anyway I never supposed there would be room in our new flat.  Since we retired I've reconnected with an old friend from my dolls house days, and being around her has made me remember why I loved them so much.

Then looking around I realised I had this small space ... and then I found this little house on Ebay - not in a very good state, this is after I did a lot of renovation on the exterior.  Working on the inside now.

So you see I haven't made a single journal page and although I felt a bit guilty about not blogging, I was having fun ... something I really really needed.

I will be back because I love art journalling too much not to keep doing it, but right now I'm in the throes of a new (old) love and giving all my attention to that.

I've been blogging away faithfully for years so I hope you'll understand that a break will do me good.  See you when I've worked this out of my system!!

Monday, 11 April 2016


My apologies for the lack of a post this weekend - my computer blew up and I am (slowly) getting to grips with the new one which arrived today!  Unfortunately it is being temperamental about resizing pictures and a host of other things, but I WILL get it sorted out.  Just probably not today ....

Saturday, 2 April 2016


Firstly my apologies for being AWOL over the Easter weekend.  Despite having the quietest Easter in decades (now that we've retired from leading services) and no guests either, I still managed to be weary and out of sorts.  I just never got around to doing a blog post, sorry :(

Anyway, I had no idea that this was going to turn out the way it did!  I began with a painted red background and then I was thinking black/white/grey on top - its such a gorgeous colour scheme.  I found this tissue paper in my stash which has architectural designs on it, so that was a good place to start.  I was thinking of God the great architect, or something .... it would all become clear.  It usually does.
Then I found this big eye in the black and white box, and coloured the white background with a Promarker to get it to blend into the red.  So then I collaged some more, and doodled a bit and with the bird shape at the top I was beginning to hear in my head that song from the psalms "His/Her eye is on the sparrow" (whichever gender you prefer), so that's the direction I thought it was going in ...  I added elements cut from magazines and catalogues (free collage stuff!) but I always try to draw on them or redesign them in some way so that they become different from the original.
But there was something going on in the back of my brain about the 'architectural plan' element, and the twists and turns of the wormholes, which led me to the impossibility of understanding the mind of God, or the great tapestry of life she weaves.  These words below were that actually came to me in the end... so I'm assuming they're the ones I was meant to use?
Looking at it afterwards I think these reflections came out of recent experiences and our brush with cancer? I'm not and never have been afraid to die, I'm much more afraid of being left behind.  We all fear pain and loss, and that seems to me to be only normal and natural, life is precious.  In a way this was a reminder for me that we go to something better, something beautiful and lovely, so that death is not an ending but a gateway into something new and wonderful.

I had been trying to prepare my heart to let go of my beloved, if it was his time, but I needed to remember where he was going (although thankfully not yet).

Funny the places the mind takes you - this week I've also been thinking a lot about theories of atonement (yes really!) but can't quite imagine making a page about it. For a start I'd need a bigger journal!

Sunday, 20 March 2016

PAIN ....

Its probably reaction, but I really haven't been in good shape this last week.  With Fibromyalgia, pain and its location is very variable.  At best its all achey and drags you down a bit, at worst it puts you to bed unable to move.  I've been somewhere in the middle, and yes I do think there's an element of being able to stop holding everything together now, and this is the collapse after the crisis, in the way some people get migraine after its all over.

Anyway, I was still working but slumped in a heap not exactly inspired or effective.  Splodged a blue background with acrylic paint, and was cutting up a children's book bought for 50p at a car boot sale.
Then when I'd done a collaged border - the simplest way I know how to work - I outlined it using markers and a purplish shadow.

Then here I began to add bits of doodling and the word "pain", which I'd actually cut out of an old journal page I'd photocopied - its fun to recycle bits of your own work that way, though I almost always want to make it different in some way.  I added a face to represent me hiding out behind the walls of pain. If you compare the collage elements above and below, you'll see how I've changed the patterns with doodling to make them truly my own.
After I'd added the writing, I went ahead and ruined it!  I guess you know that feeling?  I'd just run out of steam and rather hastily filled in the spaces with these zentangle doodles.  I don't really like them at all, and even contemplated painting over them, but don't have the energy so it will have to stand.
And yes, before you ask, I'm still over the moon with the wonderful news that himself's cancer is basically GONE.  Its almost too much to take in.  I guess I'd just used up my reserves back there, and need time (and my journal) to build them back up again.

Sunday, 13 March 2016


Frida Kahlo has been my heroine for a long time - because of a horrific car accident in her youth she lived with a LOT of pain and wore a leather corset because of back injuries.  But she made art and painted anyway, sometimes even from her bed.  If she can do it, then so can I ...
You can see the very simple way the page began with a background of pink and touches of lilac.   Teesha Moore (another of my heroines and a real inspiration) issued a challenge to do something with cut outs from one of her pages, and I found the idea intriguing.  What you see below is various shapes cut out and laid over my pinky background, and I really liked the result!
But it did seem to need a strong black line (Posca paint pen) to delineate the various "windows" as I was thinking of them.  You may also notice that I added a touch more orange paint around the centre.
So then I had Frida looking bravely and somewhat challengingly out of my 'windows".  Her direct gaze made me think about being brave when I really wasn't feeling it, and that's where the words came from.
And then I remembered that saying about bravery not being the absence of fear, but acknowledging your fear and going on anyway, and I figured that DID make me brave, however little I felt it!
The wormhole doodling was an afterthought but I like the way it enhances the window effect and the sense of seeing through .... I'd never had page a page like this without Teesha's challenge as inspiration!

And, I have the most amazing news to report.  The lab results from himself's surgery came back completely clear of cancer, COMPLETELY.  It wasn't in the lymph nodes at all, so he has an all clear and no further treatment.  It has to be the result of the many prayers which were offered on our behalf, and we can't quite take it in yet ... although we have booked a holiday!!

Sunday, 6 March 2016


So I was sitting staring out of my window (view of solitary daffodil and garages) and thinking about nothing in particular, when I painted this page in shades of lilac and purple, with the odd bit of white.
And there on my desk was this little Stampotique stamped figure - it was on a birthday card I'd made for Himself, and before the cards went into the bin I'd recycled what I could from them for collage (the sign of a true addict)!  The little figure became myself and I added a couple of bits of collage from my stash.  I knew why I'd done it - I was feeling very small at the time, and this little figure captured that feeling very well.
She looked so alone in the middle of the page that a border seemed to be called for.  This is the story of my life; if I can get things safely into boxes it will all be OK!  I don't believe I'm a control freak but I am very organised and like to have things in their proper compartments, not least so that I can always find or access them again.
Look at the contrast between the picture above - where the similar tones are blending into each other - and the image below to which I've added strong black outlines and borders.  Using this technique I find I can bring a lot of disparate collage pieces together in a unified whole.  I use my Posca paint pen for this, because nothing else gives such a strong solid black.
I was looking at the small 'me' person and gazing out of the window again, when I remembered that there is a prayer about being very small.  It took me a while to track it down and then I wrote it on here.  You may notice that I also changed a few colours (using Promarkers) while I was about it - this is the great thing about magazine collage pieces, if they aren't quite the right colour you can just change them!
Then all that remained was to finish the page off with doodles and decorations, as you can see below. Mainly Posca pens again to make dots and swirls and whatever else took my fancy.  My favourite part as you probably already know!

While the idea of feeling very small could seem quite threatening, seeing it in this light of a small human in an eternity of love is oddly comforting.  It made it OK to be small, and safe, because all around me was endless, undying, unchanging love.  It brought me peace.

Sunday, 28 February 2016


This was a really heartfelt page, from a deep place inside me - much of my journal work is like that, but on this occasion it felt pretty much life-saving!  As you can see below, it began with a very simple painted background - the hint of print was an experiment with text transfer from an old book which didn't really work!  Not important in the end.
Then I began to draw wiggly lines with paint pens and fine black pens - the beauty of setting out to draw crooked lines is that it doesn't matter if your hand wobbles!  I just like to hold the pen loosely and see where it takes me.  The black line came first and then the greeny one, and the rest just followed.
Now there is sort of a stage missing between the above and below pictures - when I added the collage faces and the words "finding strength".  I didn't and I don't FEEL strong, but people keep telling me I am or that I'm brave.  It isn't how I feel, but I just keep putting one foot in front of the other because its not like there's a choice.  And that's when these other words came out of the deep place, (after I'd cried a river of tears).  Yesterday was the first day in two months when I haven't cried at all, but actually I'm OK with that, its important to let the negative feelings out.  I dump them all on God and then I can go on.  Making this page will help me to remember that, on my worst days, I only have to take one more step, just one.
And after that there was nothing more to be said, so I simply did my usual doodling and filling up the space!  I added a couple of collage panels, which I doodled and drew on to make them my own, and lots more pen work, but for once I didn't find it necessary to fill every inch.
I debated whether or not to share this page, but in the end it felt right because the message is quite general and might apply to all kinds of situations.  I hope it might help someone else who is in that place where they feel like they just CAN'T take another step.

And if that all sounds very negative, don't panic!  Himself continues to do well, although progress is a tiny bit at a time.  I made this page on a very bad day that's all.  We don't know yet whether the lymph nodes were involved, and whether more chemotherapy lies ahead, but  that's all in God's hands, and for now we're just getting him over the massive surgery.  What I may lack in bravery I make up for in persistence!

Sunday, 21 February 2016


This is me being experimental .... I may have mentioned before that I've been studying Australian Aboriginal Art, where everything is done with dots.  I came across one work that had been done with lighter colours on a dark background, and that gave me the idea to paint the page burgundy and work on top with pale shades.

You can see below my first efforts - the plant motif is a classic one used throughout Aboriginal art, I think it probably represents a native species since these shapes are ubiquitous in the art form. Anyway, making outlines just using dots (with my Posca paint pens) was a very interesting and kind of meditative way of working.
Then I began to add leaf shapes, this time out of my own head, although I guess every continent must have a plant with a generic leaf like this?  What I loved about working with the dots was that you could give the impression of images behind and in front very easily, so although I'd put the white plants on first I could later add the leaves "behind".
I added a few more leaves, a face and the statement about unfamiliar territory.  Now that he's home from hospital there is no road map for how to proceed, we just stumble along day to day trying to work out what to do.  Its uncomfortable a lot of the time - adults aren't used to feeling so out of their depth and unsure what to do next - quite apart from the fact that the cared for (me) has had to become the caregiver.  Very hard for someone with extremely limited energy, but we have managed somehow.
This is the finished page with my usual doodles and embellishments, but it does at least feel like I pushed myself to work in a new way and extended my boundaries in the process.  The black lettering didn't stand out very well, so I outlined it in white - I'm not convinced that it was an improvement but there you go.  I wonder now if I should have just done white lettering?  Whatever, it is what it is.
Perhaps I should have put in two faces hiding in the undergrowth, because here the two of us are, feeling each step of the unfamiliar way .... but its OK because we also feel ourselves held and protected in the hand of God.  I could not have come through the challenges of the past 10 days in particular without that knowledge.  And today he made his first outing, just 21 days after massive surgery, so we are getting there, one small step at a time!!