Tuesday, 17 January 2017


Sorry about the darkness of this picture of the finished page ... the weather was grey and grim at the time!

You can see below the simple background, done with Neocolour II watercolour crayons.  I love these, and how they react when touched with water.  You can still see where I've rubbed different shades on the page, like the slightly turquoise rivulet going from top to bottom ...
Its fun to work WITH that sometimes, so my next step was to outline that shape with black Posca paint pen, and enhance that sense of movement.  You could use other black pens, but I find this gives me the deepest black of all, and I love the contrast it gives. You need the finest point Posca pen for this, which is 0.7mm.
Then as you can see I added some collage in circular shapes, which felt right with the sinuous lines.  I was thinking about a journey here, so these kind of became potential blockages or threats?  My memory problems are such that I don't always remember what I was thinking afterwards, but that doesn't seem to matter.
Then it became more cellular and almost medical looking, with little clusters and connections, and pink almost dangerous cells in places.  This page sprang from my beloved's failure to understand (or remember) exactly how the illness I have affects me. These words are something of a cry from my heart ....
Himself gets a bit frustrated with me sometimes, like when I ask him to make a phone call for me because I can't do it.  There are days when the cognitive symptoms I experience are overwhelming, and the thought of having to ring someone and explain something is more than my brain can deal with.  However, because I CAN do it much of the time, he clearly didn't want to do something for me that I can usually do for myself.

This made me incredibly sad, as yet another example of how my being ill both comes between us and yet makes me dependent.  The page and its words could also mean a lot of other things, and maybe it says something different for you that speaks into your life?  If that's true then I hope it helps, as getting this down on paper helps me.

Tuesday, 3 January 2017


We've had a very quiet Christmas and New Year, which gave me time to make this page in my brand new journal ... its not often that I begin a new one (this is number 13) right as the year turns.  It feels sort of auspicious somehow?  OK just me then.

I had a very broad idea of what I wanted to do - a central figure, a statement about new year, and some general observations on how I feel about it ... given the general climate of gloom etc etc.  I painted the simple outline of a figure first, then added the red background around it.
Then the "opening statement" and some work on the figure followed.  Apologies for the fact that some of these pictures were taken in daylight and some in artificial lighting - which makes the red look pinker.
I wanted to do something like New Year fireworks on the page, with the figure outlined against them.  This began by using a curly stamp on yellow paper, which I then cut out and stuck down.  I also added some reflections on the aforesaid atmosphere of gloom ... feeling that this is being somewhat overstated by the world's media. At least I hope so.
So more curly bits and pieces and more writing - I don't do resolutions exactly, so this is more of a statement of hopeful intent. I plan to remain optimistic and hopeful about the essential goodness of the human race, even if not about those currently in charge of running many countries.
And then the final stage was to add the dots that turn the curly squiggles into fireworks - at least I see them that way!  I'd always intended to do zentangle type patterns on the body of the figure, but left that to the last minute in case I thought it would look too busy.
Our seasonal celebrations were small and very quiet, and of course I missed seeing my children, but I spent some high quality time with my Beloved and that can only be a Good Thing.  Happy 2017 to you all ...

Friday, 23 December 2016


I don't often do pages specific to a season or festival - like most people I tend to be busy at such times anyway!  This however ended up being a necessary reflection and something I needed to work on.

For the first time in 37 years, none of our children will be with us at Christmas, and we aren't free to travel to them because we have to stay here for my mum in law.  I've been telling myself that its OK and I don't mind, but actually I DO, and haven't really been looking forward to Christmas at all.  Usually I'm a crazy over the top Christmas person, so feeling like this is not usual ....

I knew I needed to work it out through my journal so I began boldly, painting the page a nice festive RED.  But then in crept the sadness and all the collage I added was tones of grey.  Grey was how I was feeling.  This page shows how I don't necessarily paint to the edge because I know I'm going to cover that part.
You can see the difference below when I used a black Posca paint pen to join up the collage elements into a more unified whole.  I added the "me" figure (a Modigliani lady), and she turned out to be grey as well, not to mention looking rather sad!
So I finally began to look into my heart, and talk some sense to myself, trying to remember that Christmas will be what I CHOOSE to make it, regardless of who is, or isn't, here.

So then I jollied up the page a bit with bright holly and a Christmas tree, and its interesting to see how those colours jump off the page, and its almost like looking through a window.
What I wrote on the page was the truth of how I was feeling, that it was all a bit pointless, and having acknowledged that sadness it enabled me to gradually lay it down.  Not quickly or easily, but I made a positive choice to enjoy everything that the season offers and to give thanks for it all, however simple.

I hope your Christmas is peaceful and blessed, whether its noisy and wonderfully crazy, or quiet as ours will be.  See you in 2017, where I have this new journal to begin.

Sunday, 11 December 2016


This page was one of the few where I knew from the beginning what I wanted/needed to write about - light in the darkness.  This came out of seeing a new pain specialist recently and, for the first time in many years, feeling heard and understood.  He can't do very much for me but has some creative ideas so, while I'm not dancing with joy since any changes will be small and subtle,  there is a spark of hope kindled within me that sees a possibility of something improving.

So I did something I only do occasionally, and painted the page black.  Its fun actually, because colours work differently on the dark background, but you need materials that will be opaque over the black - in this case Posca paint pens.

The bird represents me - on the ground, my wings clipped, but looking up hopefully at a spark of light.
And when the words below were finished I could almost have left it like that, because that was all I needed to say.  But of course it was a bit too bare for me, and I started to doodle ...
I wasn't really liking the page very much because the writing didn't seem to look right - but once I put the outlines around it suddenly it WORKED!
And now I DO like it - because it says what I wanted.  But also I realised that I had drawn a lot of beauty around the bird, even grounded.  That helps because even if the new specialist's ideas don't come to anything, it will remind me to look for the loveliness around me, rather than longing for the unattainable ...

Thursday, 24 November 2016


One of the most significant women in my life has been very ill recently, and may yet not make it.  She's in her 80s but somehow has always seemed vibrant and indomitable.  To see her as she is, after a major stroke, a shrunken tiny figure in a hospital bed, is to challenge the huge presence she has been for me.  I made this page to show how I will always think of her - vivid and bright, funny and just plain wonderful.  A mother in her way, a sister, a FRIEND.

It started as a simple page of pink paint, to which I added some of the brightest scraps of collage material I could find.  The black line really makes helps the collage jump off the page, as you can see below from the ones I've not outlined yet.
Then of course there has to be a face - or something human - on every page, I find it sort of grounds the art somehow, and reminds me that my work is about people, and the lived human experience we share.
Then out of me came what I wanted and needed to say. It is a kind of cry of protest against the gradual extinguishing of such an intense life force.
This is the finished page - I think, I hope I have done justice to an outstanding, amazing woman.  I have been blessed to have her in my life for 30 years ... and that's what I want to treasure.
Yet at the same time I have to keep watch by her side as the light fades, and walk with her to the end.  Its the last gift I can give her.

Friday, 11 November 2016


I'm still not quite back in the routine of journalling regularly again, so forgive me for the long gap since my last post.  I'm aiming to get back to posting weekly without working harder than feels natural.

This page background is, as so often, just paint - a basic orange and a slightly darker shade.  Backgrounds don't have to be fancy - after all you're going to write and draw over it, however shades which are lighter and darker can produce some interesting effects you can work round or with.
I thought black and white would look good against the bright colour, and ended up creating the image in the corner.  I decided she looked like a witch, so that's what she became ...
Then I was adding more collage pieces from my black and white drawer, with a strong black line to link them all together and give them some kind of unity.  My "words" drawer also produced the label "wicked witch" so that was clearly meant to be!
And then the rest of the page just grew without me thinking about it very much!  I love that stage, when the work takes wings and flies on its own and you are transported into that "other" place.

It finally came together with a few more words from my collection, the words my heart needed to get on the page, and lots of white doodling.  I added the little bit at the bottom "but inside" at the very last moment.
I'd like to think that, despite being tired and ill much of the time, some brightness and beauty still shows through.  Hope so anyway!!

Friday, 28 October 2016


Apologies that I was AWOL last week - life got a bit complicated with one friend having surgery which she might not survive and another having a major stroke.

When I'm stressed, which of course I was, it tends to make my pain worse so all in all it wasn't a very good time ... and that's when I made this page.  As ever, it really REALLY helps to get things off my chest like this.

I was just painting pages in a random fashion, and one of them was this lovely lime green with a touch of brighter green.  It seemed like the right kind of colour for the mood I was in.
And then, having no particular plan, I just began to add bits of collage.  A besetting sin of mine is to reach for more of the same colour, and sometimes I have to remind myself that you are allowed to use more than one shade - as many as you like in fact.  But anyway, this page remained steadfastly green.
As you know, I often put a black line or a shadow around elements on my pages, and the following picture shows what a difference doing so can make.  I used a grey paint pen rather than black here and you can see how it can be used to unify the different elements into a whole.
A bit more collage and then it was out with the white paint pen, and I found myself doing these wavy stripey lines - not something I've done before, but I like the effect.
Then finally I wrote down what was going through my head - on this occasion a bit of a wallow in self-pity.  It happens sometimes but I try not to let it too often, because it only leads to even darker moods and places.  As ever, getting it onto paper also helps to get it OUT and that's the best way I know to let go of a black mood.
A little image to signify a small sick and tired me, plus some more white doodling and a touch of turquoise, and it was done.  The white "tentacles" creeping towards me strongly suggest the feeling of being overwhelmed don't they? I didn't plan it that way but my subconscious possibly did.

It is SO good to be journalling again (I may have mentioned that already) and as an unexpected bonus finding new friends as a result!

PS One friend came through the surgery and is now recovering really well.  The other has had a series of complications and is now dying ... so I'm making another page about that.

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.

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, including lack of strength and ability, I stopped.  Then when we downsized (twice) I gradually sold or gave away my houses and buildings - I suppose looking at what I'd once been able to do and couldn't any more kind of soured it for me.  Anyway I never supposed there would be room in our new flat, so determined not to look back.  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 that would just fit a little house ... and then I found this  on Ebay - not in a very good state, but after some renovation (with help) on the exterior its looking better.  Working on the inside now ... but for obvious reasons very very slowly.

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 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 ....