Saturday, 29 August 2015

ANOTHER COUNTRY ....

 
Sorry I was absent without leave last week - the page I made during that period speaks for itself.  In fact this is the only page I made during the past two weeks, when I generally average 3 or 4 in that time.

I'm not going to undertake an explanation of how it came together because the pictures pretty much speak for themselves, as do the words.


I'd probably be coping better if we weren't also trying to organise ourselves to move house in a couple of months, but we're getting there in little steps.  Its also strange to go from being a cared for person to trying to do the caring - basically we support each other, and some things we can't do even between us!!

But we're doing OK and next week go for the follow up appointment post surgery, at which we'll find out about the plans for chemo etc.  So far so good, but it helps so much to have my journal to explore and put down my feelings.  Cheaper than therapy too!

Saturday, 15 August 2015

JEWELS ....

 
I wrote last week about a close family member with a possible cancer diagnosis.  It was my husband, and earlier this week he had surgery to remove a tumour, and is now home recovering.  It all came completely out of nowhere (and it was very lucky that the problem was spotted),  just as we are planning to retire in the next few months.  The prognosis is good so (most of the time) I'm not scared about the future, but it has taught me that I must not take anything for granted and just treasure all the time we have together!

So in very serious and reflective mode this page began with a coat of cheering pink paint and some basic collage.  I always tell people that I don't really do fancy backgrounds - they aren't necessary if you're going to cover everything up the way I do.
I gradually laid down more bits of blue collage, and when that was done used a black Posca pen to provide a strong outline, and a white one for some doodling.
Having no idea where this was going, I then doodled some more  - the dangly "jewels" were inspired by a bead curtain I saw the other day.  The other doodled sections were added because I was trying to escape from my usual "border around a rectangle" style.
I've been wanting to improve my drawing of faces lately, so I painted a simple ivory face shape in the corner, added hair with a Posca paint marker, and took in from there in terms of adding colour and shading.
Since she probably represents a (younger) me, in the end I could only write what was going on in my head that day - which was and is a determination that from now on nothing will be taken for granted and I will joyfully celebrate every moment I can with the man who has walked beside me for more than 40 years .....
You truly never know what lies around the corner, and life comes with no guarantees.  That's one of those things you know but don't really BELIEVE until it comes to you.  Six weeks of chemo lie ahead to be got through, and shortly after that we'll be moving to our retirement flat.  I hope the days we spend there, however many we are given, will all be jewels ....

Sunday, 9 August 2015

A BAD WEEK ....

 
Fortunately that was LAST week!  All sorts of difficulties raised their head, culminating in a possible cancer diagnosis for a close family member, so when I made this page I was feeling ever so slightly overwhelmed!  For me this is when keeping a journal really comes into its own - once whatever it is is safely down on paper you can let go of most of it ....

Anyway the page began with a background made with blue paint and white gesso, with a touch of dark blue Neocolour II crayon on the edges for emphasis.  On top of that I placed an assortment of reddish pieces of collage - I don't so much use pictures from magazines as bits of colour and pattern that appeal to me.  Sometimes I cut out sections of a good plain colour that I can stamp or draw on.
Then instead of a shadow I added a simple black outline and some scribbly lines and doodling using black and white Posca paint pens - the 0.7 fine nib ones.
You may know by now that for me there always has to be a face or something on my pages, so this slightly dodgy looking person represents me hiding out and saying "is it safe to come out yet"?  I just painted a pale face shape onto the background and then added black paint pen for the hair.
As you can see below, it didn't really look finished at that point and needed something?  Well I thought so at the time.  I do know I have a tendency to over decorate my pages but those big blank spaces were bugging me.
So a few more pieces of reddish collage and some black and white doodling and I was satisfied with the result.  It did me good to get it out of my system, and for once I even managed to use two colours instead of just one!
Family member is in surgery tomorrow and I hope and pray that all will be well - it will be an anxious day, and I will probably have to journal about that too!!

Sunday, 2 August 2015

IT TOOK ME YEARS ....

  
This was one of those pages where something I didn't know was swirling around my subconscious suddenly popped out and made its presence felt!

You can see below how I set out to collage over a painted page - just done with ordinary craft acrylics, and then adding bits and pieces from my collection to make a border.  I hope it gives you an idea of what sort of things to look for and save when trawling through magazines for collage materials.  I'm looking for colours and patterns or words that appeal to me, and I don't want them to be identifiable so I only rarely use actual pictures, or if I do I alter them in some way.   I can't explain it but I don't like shiny images, so always look out for the kind printed on heavy matte paper - they're often free furnishing catalogues and the like.  I love it when my art materials are free!
Then below you can see that I added a little bit more and turned the lower striped section into a person - there's always got to be something human in my pages.  I guess to represent myself somehow?
Then because I try to alter faces and make them unique this stamped face got some doodly decoration - I'm not sure if its an improvement but at least she's mine rather than some generic image.  I was looking at her and thinking that she looks a bit of an oddball, and that sparked the thought I began to write down ...
I wasted so much of my early life desperately trying to fit in and wondering why I couldn't, and when the revelation came to me that I was MEANT to stand out it was like light shining in the darkness.  I became someone who could stand up in public and speak my truth, someone who was happy to lead if called on to do so, and best of all (finally) someone at ease in their own skin.  Maybe I just grew up.
If there was one thing I tried to teach my own daughters you can bet your life this was it.  Don't struggle to fit in if you can't seem to, rejoice in being your glorious unique self - its who you are meant to be.  Perhaps you can't do that so easily while you're still a young person?  It might be one of those things that comes to most of us only as we mature?  Either way, I'm just grateful for the insight which transformed my life.

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.