Having to stay home and rest doesn't necessarily mean I'm not doing anything (as many people seem to imagine). My interior life is a lot more lively than my social life, and just as well because without it I would definitely be stir crazy.
A painted background using 3 shades of acrylic paint in yellow/orange, getting some texture with baby wipes and scrubbing with an old paint brush. I love these burnt orange tones - as you might have noticed if you follow my work regularly!
So the Modigliani lady in the orange sweater really just belonged on this page, and then I found some tissue paper with script on it which I absolutely loved, so pasted that down too. Originally it didn't show very well against the background so I put a thin black line around it.
The torn edges of the tissue made nice shapes on the page so I added collage using the same wavy forms, just having fun finding colours and textures that seemed to belong there. This was another occasion when I had no idea what I wanted to say at this stage ... which is wonderfully freeing because you can just "go with the flow".
The words came because I looked at this lady and wondered if she was just staring into space or thinking. I decided that, like me, her thoughts were far away but purposeful - perhaps reflecting on something or someone, praying for some need, whatever - the point is that she isn't just sitting there any more than I am on a rest day! That is what I tell myself, so please don't argue!
This is a relatively simple page but it says what I needed to say and the colours bring me joy. That's kind of the whole point of art journalling isn't it?
As I've previously mentioned, we are in an in-between stage of our lives, getting ready to leave the home we'd retired to and thought was "forever". Ahead of us lies a new life and calling, in which many things are as yet unclear.
I needed to write and journal about this strange limbo, so laid down some blue paint and then buffed it off with a wet wipe, before beginning to add collage.
Then more collage, grey shadows and a black outline began to bring the disparate elements together. Here I was trying to avoid straight lines and keep the outline curvy and soft.
At this point I decided the page was just TOO blue and needed something more, so I used my Neocolour II crayons to introduce lime green, and added even more via collage. I ended up with this framed page and only a vague idea what I wanted to write on it, so I set it aside until inspiration struck.
And then one day, I just wrote this ... because when things aren't in your hands trusting God for the future is all you can do.
Since then a house has been found for us and the purchase of it is in train. All we have to do is declutter our present home and get ready to move on when the purchase is all complete. Its exciting. It WILL be a challenge for a wheelchair user with limited energy ... but there will be a way.
It was a great pleasure recently to find one of my pages saved in someone's Pinterest folder of art journal inspiration. It also served to remind me of a technique I haven't used in a while - that of drawing wavy lines across the page in which to write.
But first a simple background of lime green paint in two shades, blotted off with a wet wipe to give some interest and texture.
Then came the lines drawn across and the beginnings of some collage elements. I once took colour copies of an old journal in order to re-use some elements in new pages ... and promptly forgot about them. However, this pennant saying "there are times when I wonder" was one of those pieces, and it was enough to get me thinking ... and wondering.
We are at a time in our lives when we're poised between an unexpected calling which will take us on into pastures new, and trying to decide what to keep of the old life we've made here. I know what I ought to do is just stay calm and let things like where we might be going to live unfold, but I'm not made that way. This means I spend far too much time speculating about the shape of the future, and looking back at other times and places to learn what I can from them.
So that's what I found myself doing as I continued into the doodly phase of the process - which actually lends itself very well to the reflective process.
I know I need to learn how to spend more time in the present, just appreciating what is here and now ... and maybe this time of relative uncertainty is a gift in which to do just that?
A perennial problem for me is always wanting to do/be more than my body or mind actually has energy to achieve - so my life is a constant compromise and an exercise in the art of the possible.
I started this page in positive mode by painting it my favourite pinks and blotting it off in places with a wet wipe.
Then it was out with the pink collage scraps tray to begin the creative process. I was trying to avoid the all too predictable route of simply generating a border around the page - with the risk of too many straight lines.
I'd drawn these birds on a master collage sheet, which I then copied so that I could cut out and colour the shapes. Choosing to add the birds also gave my page its theme - expressing my feelings about wanting to fly but being earthbound. You can see once again my favourite technique of outlining shapes in black and adding a grey shadow to give depth.
I ended up with with large gap in the centre of the page, and I just doodled and coloured into that space until it looked "right". I've recently got some water colour markers, and I love the subtle shading they've given me here. I also outlined and added to some of the collage patterns I'd used, to make them more "mine".
It took me a long time to figure out the answer encapsulated here ... that my spirit IS free as a bird, and there are virtually no barriers (beyond tiredness and brain fog) to where it goes. I can still pray, meditate, reflect, learn and grow, albeit slowly ... and I can do all that while my body takes the time out it needs to rest.
Following on from last week's post, and the change that is coming, I've been forced (again) to acknowledge that I'm not a patient person! So much in this process is beyond our control, so for now at least I can't take refuge in the plotting and planning that I'm really pretty good at. What I'm NOT good at is waiting for other people to get organised and make something happen. This page arose out of trying to manage my impatience ...
I painted the blue background and wiped some of it off with a baby wipe, which gives interesting texture, and then started laying down grey collage pieces.
I just kept adding a bit more, including a lady with a slightly frustrated look on her face (my own face was probably MUCH worse).
Black outlines and grey shadows as ever make all the difference to how the page elements string together, not to mention getting the words out of my brain and onto the page ... helping me to feel lighter.
And here's the finished product - not too much doodly detail for once - but it says what I needed to get off my chest. Basically it was/still is "grant me patience, Lord, but hurry!".
Hopefully I will manage not to chew my knuckles off while other people decide where we will be relocating to, and what kind of house we'll be living in. Then yet more patience will be required while disabled adapations take place. We might get there by Christmas, but then again ....
These photos show just how different images can look in daylight and artificial light. When I started work on this page it was in natural light on a slightly cloudy day ... when the yellow as you can see below looks more primrose than anything else!
The real colour is much nearer to the main picture, and I began by adding pieces of collage in shades of grey. This is one of my favourite parts - just sitting with a drawer full of paper scraps feeling my way towards something which will make sense.
And below you can see the collage process complete, finished off with black outlines and grey shadows. The figure is my own drawing to represent me ... inevitably somewhat thinner and younger looking than the reality, but reflecting how I feel inside!!
With the journalling part complete I added the doodling and drawing, and took the final picture in electric light, which makes the yellow look much more vivid.
We had thought we were settled and looking ahead to a peaceful retirement, but it seems we were wrong ... and we've been invited to consider an alternative future. It was a shock at first, but gradually I've become convinced that this is a calling from God, and the right thing for us to do.
Being a normal human being as well as a woman of faith, its in the wee small hours that the doubts creep in, and I wonder if I've completely lost the plot ... Once again we're preparing to put ourselves out there on a new road, not entirely sure where it leads, but believing (most of the time) that it is meant to be.
After last week's offering about pain I needed to talk myself into a better frame of mind - looking back at recent pages I got the distinct impression that I might be "wallowing". I tell myself that I'm doing all I can to stay positive about the future, but sometimes (without noticing it) I do get a bit bogged down!!
So I painted this page a bright yellow with touches of orange - you can see from the pictures how differently the colours photograph at various times of day - and added a piece of bright red collage.
Then I set to work on a collage border and added the figure with wings and a crown just for their cheering effects! I often use this rubber stamp for a face to represent myself, and I have a big pair of silver wings on my studio wall to help me remember that I can still fly ...
And then, because I am inclined to worry at things, over-analyse and generally fret ... this became a page about remembering who is really in control, and affirming again that I can trust that all will be well and turn out to my/our greatest good. Its easy to forget that ...
So here's the finished article with the usual doodly decorations - and I am there in the middle of all this glorious technicolour wearing my crown and smiling.
I hope I will look back at this page sometimes to remember what I learned in this process. Let go, let God.
Something of a cri de coeur here ... a page that arose out of an appointment with my arthritis specialist. She told me that the drugs I'm on were working, and I asked why in that case I was still in so much pain? Oh, she said, I can't do anything about your pain. She repeated this forcefully about three times, just in case I hadn't understood it the first time. I wanted to scream and shout "what use are you then?", but what I actually did was cry, real gut wrenching sobbing from a deep place of despair. Maybe it was necessary that I got that out. Then, there being no alternative, I picked myself up and got on with life again ... and gradually made my negative feelings into this page.
I think the prickly cactus actually represents the ever present pain, but I put it down in the corner where I can make it smaller and more manageable. The butterfly is about rising above that reality, and my attempt to live a vivid and colourful life despite it.
I was thinking about the way I'd cried from the depths of my being that day, and how healing it had (eventually) been, so I made my lady into a clown of sorts - the kind who presents a smiling face, which is what I do. The doodles across the corners represent the layers of my life that most people never get to see or understand.
But then the words came, and the cry from the heart that SOMEONE has to see and understand my pain, believe in how hard this journey of 26 years has been and is. That's all I wanted; acknowledgement. Its OK to say you can't fix it, but I need someone to recognise its importance and how it dominates my life.
The painted face and the bright colours are the face I show to the world - let's face it nobody loves a Moaning Minnie, so I try very hard not to be one. That can be TOUGH.
So this page isn't just for or about me, its also for and about all those who suffer chronic pain but try to put a brave face on it to spare the people around them the realities of their daily life. Its a cry from the heart to just now and again be seen, heard, and sometimes even briefly understood.
You have to have that to make it possible to continue ...
When I was a lot younger, along with the majority of my peer group, I enjoyed listening to music radio. Gradually I shifted my allegiance towards talk radio, the serious kind, which is BBC Radio 4 in the UK. A decade ago I would have had the radio on most of the day, but then I began to select to stream only the programmes I really wanted. Now I've come to appreciate quietness more and more, and have days when I don't turn it on at all. It might just be me, but I wonder if less external noise is something a lot of people crave as they grow older?
I started this page with no sense of purpose or direction, but chose to use soft blues for my painted background ... seeking a kind of visual quietness?
I just let the blue collage grow and spread in soft curving shapes with no hard, straight lines ... and as you can see the grey shadow and black outline manages to delineate individual areas and yet at the same time unify the elements into a whole. The word "life" just looked right when I put it there!
I added hair to the lady at the bottom and a little bit of doodling. The pink just sort of crept in, but there's not too much of it. That left me with a big blank space in the middle, and (after some staring into space) I just wrote this in it - a quote from the desiderata which I've always loved.
Some people might have left it like this, but I was unable to resist the temptation to doodle on it a bit more until a point came when it felt finished.
I've discovered that I need silence more and more - just as my health problems mean I have to rest a lot, so I also need to rest my poor tired brain or I suffer from sensory overload. I could play instrumental music but I only do so occasionally, I'm just happy with my own thoughts a lot of the time, and do some of my best praying in that space.
Apologies for being missing ... my life was interrupted not only by the Christmas and New Year holiday activities, but also by being ill the entire time. NOT the most festive of seasons, and therefore more time was spent on the sofa than at my desk working in my journal.
This is the solitary page I produced, and while its not necessarily one of my best or most inventive, it does capture that beginning of a new year feeling, always a reflective time for me. Wishing to strike a positive note I painted the page red and added the beginnings of a collage border.
And then below you can see the border pretty much finished and looking suitably cheerful.
Adding black outlines, grey shadows and a human being turned it into something more personal and genuinely my own. I like to think this Modigliani lady looks slightly doubtful but vaguely optimistic, where is where early January found me!
So then I set out my thoughts concerning a new year - I never make resolutions - but I am hoping for and expecting the usual mixed bag of highs and lows. Bring it on because experience teaches that both turn out to be blessings in the fullness of time ...
Forgive me that this is somewhat brief, am still far from well - when you are immune suppressed you never get mild infections only Great Big Horrible ones that can put you in hospital. It almost did but I talked my way out of it, saying that my Beloved would look after me at home better than they ever could. Which turns out to be true.
Many Blessings to you and yours in 2019.
In recent months a number of incidents have added together to stoke the fires of my lifelong feminism, and resulted in my making a deliberate choice to assert myself more. When you have limited energy its easy to just go along with stuff because the cost of fighting back is too high.
Someone was incredibly rude to me, but because children were present and obviously aware of the atmosphere, I chose to simply walk away and not take on my critic. Afterwards (like you do) I asked myself if I should have spoken up, and whether I was in fact a Difficult Woman who should mend her ways. Eventually, after a lot of prayer and reflection I concluded that it had been right to spare the children embarrassment, but it also reminded me that I don't have to apologise to anyone for being a woman unafraid to state a strong opinion. You don't have to agree and I'm not afraid to be challenged, even if I do have to choose which battles to fight and which to walk away from.
All this was in my mind as I worked on this page - a simple painted background with collage elements.
Frida Kahlo is a particular heroine of mine because she lived in lifelong pain but also very much on her own terms, so she seemed to belong on this page. I've also added more collage, grey shadows and some doodly details to make the collage pieces more truly mine.
At which point all that was left was to speak my truth ... and leave it there. I'm not going to stew over it, and I am going to forget and forgive the rudeness of the person who spoke to me. However, I'm not sorry that it reminded me of some of the truths I have lived by for 50 years, and stirred up my fire again!
I hope you and yours have a lovely Christmas season, and thank you for being with me on the journey.