Saturday, 28 February 2015



When I am short of inspiration I often make backgrounds in my journal, ready for writing on when the moment comes, and this was one of those.

As you can see below I painted the page with lime green (just ordinary craft acrylic paint) and then began to add bits of blue collage.  I really LOVE blue and green together, and lime green best of all. Sadly, my family do not share my love of vivid lime green.
So above you can see what I had when I sat down to work on this.  I used a Posca paint pen to add a grey shadow around the collage elements, but the grey was too dark so it didn't work very well.  I added the face because I liked her grumpy expression - its a sort of "don't mess with me face" isn't it?
Now that's obviously what I was feeling because very soon after I knew what I wanted to say ...  I added a drawn border along the collage edges which helped to disguise the unsuccessful grey outline, and used stamps to get a bit of background texture.
Then I wrote what I needed to say - it seems I REALLY needed to get this off my chest!  A calling such as mine obliges me to be nice, kind and reasonable pretty much all of the time, and try to see both sides etc etc.  Sometimes that's incredibly hard, especially when I have strong opinions in the other direction, or when someone is spreading nasty gossip I don't want to listen to.
But of course I continue to be as nice and reasonable as possible, then I come home and get it all off my chest.  Lots of dots and details as usual here, which as you know by now is almost my favourite part of the process.  I think my actual favourite is when I begin to lay down random bits of collage which then kind of come alive  under my hands.  Magic!

Saturday, 21 February 2015


I thought I'd like to show you that (although I don't usually publish them) I make messes and pages I absolutely hate ALL THE TIME.  Sometimes I even rip them out of the journal, but mostly I cover them up and reinvent them.  Gesso is brilliant for that because it covers nearly everything!

So below you can see how the page originally began - with a blue paint background, over which I was gradually building a face.  I'd just added some lines in the hair with a dark blue Promarker, when I decided I hated what I was doing and wanted to begin again.
So I got out the gesso and painted everything out - except I forgot that the one thing gesso won't cover is the ink in Promarkers, which kept coming through.
So - if you're stuck with something, find a way to live with it, right?  So I began to try and incorporate the blue lines into something much more random, and added some lime green paint and some bits of stencilling.  I still hated it.
So more gesso over all that, and a deeper shade of blue.  A bit dark but I could live with that, and then I found this image of a woman and stuck her in the corner.  
I wasn't keen on the dark background but I loved the red against it, so searched out all sorts of red in my collage fodder and laid that down.  Much better, now I was getting somewhere!
I love the attitude in this woman's face, she looks proud and utterly unapologetic about who and what she is.  So I wrote in the middle "I am myself", and then the rest just followed.  It took me a long time to be able to make this statement (I am the child of a critical mother) and to believe that that is enough, but having got to that place I felt transformed by it and strong.

Lots of dots and other marks then followed, all done with Posca paint pens, which are opaque even over pretty dark colours.  I keep thinking I will work in big bold shapes of colours without all the doodly detail, but every time ....
Anyway, the point of this page is that I AM (finally) myself, though it took a long time to dig through all the layers of expectations laid on me by others and myself.  I am everything I need to be, I am comfortable in my own skin, and I have a valued place in the world.  I only wish I'd got to this place earlier in my life, but now I have boy do I want to celebrate it!  Go Me! :)

Friday, 13 February 2015


If you follow my work at all you'll know that I often work with a limited colour palette - if I start off with blue paint, then I tend to pick out blue pieces of collage, and so on.  I just got made that way. However, on this occasion I was trying to break out beyond my usual boundaries .... so I made this background of strong bright/clashing colours.
Then I began to add bits of collage and some strong black lines to mark the page into sections - don't ask me why, I just wanted to!  Nothing was planned at this stage, it generally never is: I just go with my gut and make shapes and draw lines in whatever way feels right.
But, as always, when I began to write things that need to come out bubbled up from the depths - the first words I put down were "I feel confused", tucked away in the corner as if I was ashamed of feeling that way, and the rest seemed to flow from there.

I love the bright colours and bold shapes I've put down here, but also the way there's no structure here, it all seems a bit random - which strongly reflected how I was feeling at a time when nothing was really making sense.
Its always satisfying to get something out of your head and down on paper, and it was particularly so on this occasion.  Things are no clearer than they were but I feel more comfortable with letting it be like that, especially when there's nothing I can do except wait for things to be different.

As you know I always have fun adding all the dots and doodles at the end, though on this occasion I'm wondering if I might have gone a bit over the top?  Whatever, it is what is is, a glorious muddle of confusion and bright spots - a bit like my life really!

Sunday, 8 February 2015



This is one of my "talk myself out of a low mood" pages!  I try really hard not to be a Moaning Minnie, always on about my pain or problems.  We all know how it can feel to be on the receiving end of someone who only ever wants to talk about themselves, their health, their latest operation etc so when this journey of chronic illness began I made a private vow that I wouldn't turn into one of those. OK I will also admit that we have one in the family as a horrid example ... which made me all the more determined to work at being half full rather than half empty!

But it was a bit of a blue day so I made this background of blue circles, and you can see the first words I wrote down below.  I often do this - make a background and then just write something, anything down.  It frequently surprises me what pops out that I didn't know was there but which needed to be said and acknowledged in order to deal with it.
So of course, having done that the next question had to be "what isn't"?  What's not easy that you need to give voice to?  Then the rest came naturally.  I began to add yellow to reflect a wish for positive energy rather than the negative blue, and the wings just seemed right: the idea in my head being something to do with wings lifting you up and out of yourself.  I know what I mean!  They're done with a rubber stamp which I printed onto a separate piece of paper and then stuck here.
The face is there representing the face that I, and presumably each of us, presents to the world - which doesn't always reveal what's really going on inside us.  The yellow is a Posca paint pen and, as you can see, these write really well, even over a blue Neocolour II background, although as here certain colours may need more than one application.
Then I got to the fun part - the doodling and the dotting etc, which I find kind of meditative and takes me away somewhere else.  At this point it actually began to remind me of a map of the heavens or something like that?  Like some kind of planet glowing in the firmament?  I also added a bit more yellow collage while I was about it because it seemed to need a frame of some kind.
So I guess this page was about being sunny and yellow, rather than blue, while at the same time admitting to myself that its sometimes a struggle to be that way, and to stay cheerful, and that I literally dare not give in. That way lies madness .... if it were not for God and all that she means in my life.

Monday, 2 February 2015



I was a bit fed up when I made this ... you might just possibly be able to tell!?  Life the universe and everything was rather getting to me and I used my journal to deal with it.

So this was me making a blue/green background, because that was the mood I was in - Neocolour II crayons and a strip of collage map. When the background was dry I dripped water onto it and I really like the result that gives.
Then I went hunting through my collage box for greeny/blue colours and cut out a series of scallop shapes.  The blue stars are from some salvaged wrapping paper, and the blue lady is by Picasso when he was still painting real people!  She looks as fed up as I felt.
So then I got out my pens to alter the scallops a bit - I like to change them so that they become "mine" so to speak.  While using a blue paint pen on the top left scallop and it went a bit dry, so I did that thing where you shake the pen and press the nib up and down.  Surprise surprise, the result was a blob of blue paint above the big star.  After cursing horribly for a moment (yes, and me a woman of the cloth) I got out a straw and while it was still wet blew it into a prettier pattern, so's I could pretend it was there on purpose.  Then I just got down on paper my very strong urge to hide from all the people who wanted to talk to me ....
And then I just doodled a bit in the spaces until it felt "done".  I'd seen the black "leaves" somewhere and liked them, so tried them out here; the yellow dots are posca paint pen, which writes brilliantly over just about anything.  All the black work is done with a paint pen too, including the lettering.
Art journalling is SO therapeutic - by the time I'd finished I'd pretty much got over my frustration. Well .... almost!

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.