Sunday, 28 September 2014

THE MIND OF GOD .....

   
I don't always blog my spiritual pages - some of them are simply too personal - but this one isn't in
that category!  It came out of a line in one of our Sunday hymns where the phrase "the mind of God" was used, and I remember thinking that I wouldn't dare to presume to know what God was thinking!

So anyway, that was what was rolling around my brain when I was working on this page.  I just made a painted background as usual, and as usual I stuck to one colour.  I keep telling myself to use two or three but I'm not very good at it.
So then when I put some collage on I made myself use a good strong contrast colour - very often I'll end up choosing pieces which are from the same palette, I get sort of stuck in the tone on tone way of working, and lots of shades of blue looks GOOD doesn't it.  Anyway, I climbed out of my rut on this occasion.  Not quite sure what I was thinking when I made the figure - she reminds me of an African woman with big necklaces, can't remember the name of the tribe who dress that way.  Reflecting on the fact that she looks a bit "other" and "different" connected back to my thoughts about the mind of God, and that it doesn't work in the same ways as ours.
So then of course I had my page subject, although I wasn't quite sure what I wanted to say yet, so focused on doing a bit of doodling, and you know how much I enjoy that!
On this occasion I didn't even feel the need to cover every single inch of the page with doodling, although most of it got treated to some dots - I do like adding them, they seem to work like shading.
And of course I was able to work through my ideas about the mind of God, and to conclude that the problem in thinking was mine and not Hers!  When you try to see the world from God's point of view a lot of things change ....

This is one of my favourites among my recent pages - its partly the colours, but somehow it seems quite "free", something I work towards in my art but don't often achieve!!

Saturday, 20 September 2014

FRIDA ... AND THE GELLI PLATE

  
While I was in Virginia back in May I bought myself a gelli printing plate, but have only recently managed to find time to play with it.  This page is the product of one of my early efforts - and I'm pleased to say that I managed to print directly onto a page in my (wire bound) journal, without needing to either extract all the pages or paste one in!  Success.

My first few experiments were on separate sheets, but eventually I had a go in the journal and was thrilled with the results I got on the lovely quality paper - I didn't risk best quality paper on the the first ones!  So anyway, below you can see what I got - I understood why I'd got the white patches (uneven pressure on the plate) but didn't care too much.  In fact what I did was use some yellow paint to sort of "fill in" the gaps.
But what I really LOVE is the pattern it gives on the paper (you do need to use plenty of paint). Don't know how to describe it really, but the close-up picture below gives you a better idea - very organic-looking somehow?
So then I had a gorgeous page in my journal that I couldn't WAIT to work on.  Black seemed like an obvious foil for the pink, orange and yellow and I started with a bit of collage in the top right corner and a picture of my heroine Frida Kahlo in the other.  Then I started doodling a black line around areas that seemed to be shapes in their own right ... and it sort of went from there!
In fact I go SO absorbed in what I was doing that I forgot to take any more pictures until I'd finished it, but at some stage I made the connection between the organic shapes I was working with and Frida and me .... so it kind of became about the little cells and bugs than are the unseen enemy (pain) and how you can find against it.
Because of course, that's why Frida is my heroine, because she did and she made art anyway even when she had to lie in bed and work on an easel which rolled towards where her hand was, because she could hardly move.  Now that's heroism!  Am not heroic but try to be brave in my own small way .... at least on my better days anyway!

Sunday, 14 September 2014

DIFFERENT?

 
Another page from my latest journal - my new square (the pages are approx 10 x 10") journal.  Still finding this a joy to work in, especially because of the quality of the paper, but hoping to move on from this eventually into hand-made journals.  I like the idea of a journal which is literally my own work - from sheets of paper to finished, bound result.

Anyway, I was messing about with backgrounds and trying to incorporate shapes and colours which I could work with and around, not to mention making sure that I used a variety of colours and not just shades of the same one!  This one was produced with my trusty Neocolour II crayons.
I hadn't any idea when I began work what the page would be about, so below you can see my tentative steps into creating a "frame" for the page using pattern and doodling, and a bit of collage. For those who are new to my work, the wormhole doodling is done with a Pitt artist pen which is waterproof and writes well over paint and other substrates.  The doodles involve Posca paint pens, my second favourite art material after the crayons!
There was a hiatus of a few days before I worked on this page again, adding the collage figure, a bird and a section cut from a coloured copy of a much earlier journal page.  I learned that tip from Teesha Moore and its a really valuable one.
It was contemplating the weirdness of the figure I'd produced that led eventually to what I wrote here - I almost never use quotes, but only journal my own words and feelings.

Where I live we have a large population of migrants from the Indian sub-continent and women wearing Islamic dress, up to and including the full burkha are a common sight on our streets.  I struggle to see a fully veiled figure because all my instincts tell me that what I'm seeing is a repressed, subjugated woman, and as a lifelong feminist that really troubles me. I'd found myself giving glowering looks at such figures and realised that I had an attitude problem I needed to address. I'm still working on that.
But what I wanted to express was the way we, the way I was treating people who looked "different" and making judgements about them.  I was guilty of assuming that the women I saw were downtrodden victims; now some of them may indeed be, but by no means all, or even most.  This perception of difference does not give me the right to glower disapprovingly, any more than any other difference of dress, race or whatever.  Just because my intentions were good doesn't make it any less discriminatory.

I do feel passionately that we are all just human beings, often with enormous cultural differences, but we mustn't let these things divide us but try to find ways to bridge the chasms of misunderstanding and ignorance that separate us.  As always journalling about the things which trouble me help me find a way to understanding and acceptance - and I've now embarked upon a mission to smile warmly at every burkha clad woman I meet.  You never know, it might just make a little bit of difference .....

Sunday, 7 September 2014

AN EARLY AUTUMN??

 
I made this page just over a week ago, one of those times when I'm recording life around me rather than wrestling with stuff I find difficult.  I do both.  Historically I've always dreaded the approach of Autumn - it comes from decades of living in old, cold houses with not enough money to heat them properly.  Every year I have to remind myself that I now live in a modestly sized house which has cavity wall insulation and double glazing, and that I won't have to huddle in 3 sweaters and fingerless gloves if I want to make art!

Anyway, this was one of those pre-prepared backgrounds I regularly make - in this case blue paint with Neocolour II crayons in fuschia pink around the edge, plus some ink blot/rings stamped in purple and burgundy.  I've got lots of ink pad colours because I like to use them as you might watercolours.
Then when I decided I'd make a page about the early Autumn, this didn't seem quite the right sort of colour palette, I mean shouldn't it be golds and browns?  Then I thought, it can be any colour I like, so why not blue and burgundy?  I had some new leaf stencils I wanted to play with so tried these out with gesso, added a wormhole or two and some bits of collage.  As you can see the white didn't really work too well for the leaves.
So I went back and outlined the leaves with a fine point pen, added a Modigliani lady who looks a bit cold if you think about it, and doodled some dots.  I still wasn't that thrilled with the leaves, but didn't hate them enough to trash the page.
My solution in the end was to introduce some some colour into the leaves, and that seemed to work out OK, although now I wish I'd left them black and white.  Never mind.  Anyway, I do rather like the finished page, particularly the colour scheme.  The burgundy dots were done with my Posca paint pens, as were the light pink doodles on the collage - this is where their opacity really comes into its own.
But best of all, where I am right now we're having a bit of an Indian summer, so long may it continue!  It won't of course, but I don't need to dread winters any more - maybe I'll do a journal page about looking forward to snuggling up by the fire in my favourite blanket and warm PJs, watching feel-good films on the TV as I wait for it to be Christmas ....

PS: Still loving this new square journal!

Sunday, 31 August 2014

FIFTH DECADE ....

 
By golly its all excitement around here!  I have a new journal and I'm LOVING working it in - its another spiral bound book and approx 10 x 10" square.  I've filled 8 A5 ones so far, and it was a big step to branch out from those, so forgive me if this seems like a small thing to get excited about, but I am!  The extra space of the square format allows so much more possibility.

For those who like to know such things its a Pink Pig journal and the paper is a really nice quality - although I am still sticking two pages together as I like them to be nice and strong for anything I may throw at them, and don't want any bleed through.

You can see below what nice effects I got on this new paper (gessoed first) with my Neocolour II crayons - I never got subtle watercolour type results like this before.
I was so delighted that it took me a while to decide I could bear to do any work on top, but eventually I went for outlining some of the "layers" and doodling in the spaces.  This was done using Pitt Artist pens which write pretty well over the crayon - except if its laid on too thick when it gets a bit waxy.  However I now have a secret weapon to combat this problem in the form of a black Posca paint pen, which writes superbly over absolutely anything!  Its not as fine a nib as some others you can get, but its great for doodling and drawing.  The white and greeny blue are also Posca colours - I have a selection of these in medium and in the finer 0.7.  The colour range is sadly much better in the bigger chunky nibs (why?) but I have fun even with the limited choice of 10-12 colours, and particularly like their opacity.  If I want see through colours I go with my Promarkers.
The page was then left like this for over a week because I was so delighted with it that I didn't want to ruin it, but in the end a journal page isn't one (for me anyway) unless it has words on it, and these are what popped out of the far recesses of my brain.
So as you can see, I'm not at all troubled by the fact that I shall be 60 next week - my fifties have been absolutely fabulous (painful illness notwithstanding) and I hope my next decade will see me grow as an artist as much or more than I have in this one.  We shall see!!

Saturday, 23 August 2014

ITS NO GOOD ...

 
This is me doing self-therapy again!  Because its difficult for me as a disabled person to get out of the house unless I have help (ie somebody takes me) I do spend rather a lot of time at home ... albeit mostly contentedly occupied in my studio making stuff.  But while I can stand a lot of my own company (especially when I've got Radio 4 on) I'm also a social sort of person and if it weren't for online groups and art communities I might have gone quietly bonkers by now, and its got to be said that I do get lonely at times for "real" people and conversations.  However, I  sincerely thank heaven for the internet, because without it my limited life would be a whole lot more  impoverished!

But there are times when I think ... what can I do to get out there, or find artsy people who like me have their days free, so that I can go out and meet them, or invite them here for mutually satisfying artistic encounters and exchanges of skills etc etc.  So that's what was on my mind during the making of this page: the background below is my usual Neocolour II crayons, but laid down before I discovered just how much more intense the colours become on a gesso base.  The glasses thingy (it must have a name but I'm blowed if I know what it is) is a stamp I've had for some time and never managed to use before!
So there I was, talking to myself and God bothering all at the same time, when it came to me that it was up to ME to do something about it.  By the way, the light bulb is another stamp, a hand carved one bought from Etsy, and telling myself "its not Facebook friends you need (nice as they are) but a few more real ones". Anyway, having written all that down, out came the collage sheets to beautify it - lots of Teesha Moore images here.
And then I drew the doodly seams and strata - for me they kind of represent the complex layers that go to make up a life, any life not just mine.  I like drawing and decorating these, especially because they start with wobbly lines, and in all the doubt and self questioning I was doing wobbly felt about right!!
So did I get out there and change my life into a giddy social whirl?  Nope, but I thought about it a lot and the conclusion I've finally come to is that, although I love the art journalling groups on Facebook, if I want to attend a real life one I'll probably have to start it!  So how about it - are any of you nice kind followers based in the north of England within reach of Preston?  It really only needs a handful of us to make it work - I've got the table if you want to come and sit around it!!  OK I'll settle for one or two ... just make yourselves known and I'll put the kettle on .....

Saturday, 16 August 2014

FLY AWAY ...

  
I've always said art journalling is therapy, and that's particularly true for me as I often work out my negative feelings in these pages.  That's what was happening here when I just felt tired and overwhelmed by all the things that were going on, none of which seemed madly urgent or important at the time, let alone deserving of my limited energy. OK, its entirely possible that there was an element of self pity going on in there as well ...

So in this less than positive mood I'd painted the page grey and added a torn off strip of paper with some rather interesting panels of paint (printed on the paper rather than put there by me).
Then I added the grey, worn out looking lady but she looked so miserable I couldn't resist giving her pink wings - bright pink is my strong brave colour.  Then of course I had to add other touches of pink, just to lift it all a bit.  The writing at the very bottom is from a Teesha Moore collage sheet, and I've learned from her to make colour copies of my own work and cut it up as collage fodder - so that's what the top left panel is.
So then of course, the thought about flying away from everything turned out to be what I wanted/needed to get down, and everything else followed.  I wrote "but stayed" before I did the other writing on the right hand side, and it ended up a bit of an orphan in terms of meaning, when disconnected from the main message.
Unsurprisingly I was much more cheerful by the time I'd finished - not to mention having got rid of a few things in quick telephone calls and the time-honoured strategy of ignoring some stuff as well.

This is a short post because I'm tired after my day trip to the Motability Show this week (by golly I know how to live the exciting life).  It was brilliant and helpful but very tiring, so am slumped in the studio doing very little more than make pretty backgrounds at the moment - seem to have run out of words!

Saturday, 9 August 2014

BE YOURSELF ....

  
At the risk of sounding self-congratulatory, I am really pleased with this page!  I like the colours and the layout, I managed not to write in straight lines, the Easter Island head makes me smile, and I got down something that I'd been thinking about a lot.  Successful art journalling I believe?

Anyway, below is how the page began - I have this terrible tendency to just paint a page a single colour, so I was determined to use at least two.  Having just bought a new bottle of turquoise/teal and this glorious lime green (these are just bog standard acrylic paints) it was obvious that I would try the two colours together, having noticed how great they looked together in the car going home!
It needed a bit of shading and a touch of white too, and then I was off with the bits of collage and this wonderful image of a carved stone head I'd found from somewhere, a newspaper I think.  The collage is just bits of colour and pattern which appeal to me - something I've learned from Teesha Moore.  As soon as I added the glasses (using one of those cheapy £1 clear stamps) I knew instantly what the page was about.
So then I developed it a bit more - doodling on the collage shapes and getting the writing down.  My stone head stands for someone trying to be something they aren't, so as well as the glasses he got a beard etc. Man in disguise - geddit?  This process doesn't necessarily happen all in one session, although I don't normally work on more than one page at a time ... except when making general purpose backgrounds.
And then, my favourite part, when its almost finished but it "needs" something?  This is usually resolve through the "I know, lets doodle on it" method!  In this case with an assortment of posca paint pens, although you should note that I resisted the temptation to doodle on every single inch?  Proud of myself I was.
Like I said, I'm pleased with it and while I rarely blog my worst efforts - well I paint over the really awful ones - this one is up there with some of my favourites.  You don't have to like it obviously, but thanks for coming by anyway.
Love
Rosie X


Sunday, 3 August 2014

EXPOSED ... ?

  
This page is very recent and I made it because I'd been inspired by some black and white (well shades of grey really) journals I'd seen online.  It seemed a very interesting way to work and although I didn't want to do a whole journal this way, I chose to try it out for the last page in the current one

You'll have seen my Modigliani ladies before - and not least the ones from the accidentally copied in black and white page.  I sourced the images on Google and made a collage sheet with them, which I now copy at need.  That first non colour page was a happy accident that I've had a lot of use from.

So with these ideas in mind I made a monochrome copy of another of my home-made collage sheets and used that here.  The background is a simple coat of grey acrylic paint, with borders cut from my collage sheet.  I then went on to add bits and pieces like the bunting shapes at the top, and the clock, and then of course my Modigliani lady - I'd avoided using this one because she never seemed to fit before with what I was doing ....
But once she was in place on the page - at this stage just an exercise in working monochrome - I decided she looked as exposed as I sometimes feel, and there was my subject matter!
It is my mission to be brave and fearless with myself in the journals I make - after all anything else would be pointless wouldn't it?  I then try to be equally brave about the ones I share (almost all but not quite) in the hope that this might help somebody else, or speak to them in some way.
I'm really pleased with the finished piece, although I did miss bold colours a bit, but nonetheless its an interesting way to work now and again - the grey might be particularly appropriate for difficult days or sad ones?

There will be a few more pages from this A5 journal to share, but at the moment I'm doing exploratory work in a new size, and loving it!  My new journal is SQUARE, which gives me just that bit more scope, and the paper is so much better quality.  Its approximately 8 x 8, so it still sits comfortably on the shelf, but the question now is whether I buy more of these or bite the bullet and try making some of my own?

And of course a number of people asked after the adopted pussycat, and the news is GOOD.  William, as we've named him, has settled in amazingly quickly.  He and Stanley are on their way to be firm friends and enjoy taking turns to chase each other around the house.  Apparently their relationship will be less combative once William is neutered - he's so very distinctively male at the moment that my beloved calls him "fluffynuts". Here's a picture of an early meeting between the boys - William is the black one.
Just noticed that the cats are also monochrome!!  What an artistic household we are ....

Saturday, 26 July 2014

MAKING A DIFFERENCE?

  
With this page I really wanted to be quite wild and free, especially in the colour department!  It was one of those times when, as quite often happens, I had no idea what I wanted to say until I got around to saying it. Below was the painted background I started from - it took me a while to realise that these could be as messy as I liked, since most of it will be covered up anyway.
Interesting how different colours can look in varying lights - the above picture was taken in the evening under electric light, but the others in the daytime, where you can see the true red and oranges more clearly.

I'd found these bits of doodly scrapbook paper left over from another project, and just loved these scribbly shapes, so cut some out and just plonked them down.  By the way I use PVA glue (Anita's) to stick down everything, I buy a big bottle and then decant it at need into little fine top glue bottles - cheap and easy.

I've recently discovered the joys of printed tissue paper, which I put on with gel medium - if you see any grab some, it makes great collage, and I like the transparency of it.  I've got some plain tissue and plan to try printing my own using stamps - yet another item on my long list of things to get around to ....
Next I used a fine liner pen to sort of extend the wiggly lines a bit, but then I just went for it with a Promarker and drew huge squiggles as well. The page had got to this stage when it suddenly came to me what I wanted to say, so I wrote it in grey Posca paint pen - I get these at my local art materials shop.
And after that I just did my usual pleasurable squiggling and doodling, mostly using the Posca pens.  These come in different nib thicknesses and buying a few at a time I've now got a nice selection of colours.  The general loudness of the page (I was thinking fireworks and names in lights) made me realise that I don't want those things any more, if I ever did.  Fame is over-rated it really is, not that I seem to be at real risk of having any!!  That's the way I like it, burbling along in my own little corner of the world, with occasional travels to broaden my mind.

We've just done something totally out of character - which is to impulsively bring home a stray cat which had been hanging around a place we visit regularly for a week.  Now he (newly named William) and Stanley appear to be good buddies after less than an hour's acquaintance, and have taken themselves off upstairs on a voyage of exploration.  How nice is that?  And we'll overlook the deep scratches on my arm from trying to stuff a very frightened little cat into a carrier .... he didn't mean it.  Note to self, do NOT fall head over heels for this little chap until we've checked in at the vet's on Monday and established whether or not he's micro-chipped.  Hmmm, might already be too late on that one.

Saturday, 19 July 2014

CLEAR SIGHTED? I wish.

 
Just a quick post because I've been away this week and am still tired.  This is a page I was particularly pleased with - I've seen some black and grey pages that intrigued me but didn't want to do without colour completely, so told myself I could have just one!

Unfortunately I was so absorbed in what I was doing that I forgot to take a picture until I got to the point below, but I think you can probably see its evolution anyway?  The background is Caran D'Ache crayons as usual, and I added a grey border with Posca paint pens.  I've made myself some collage sheets using Modigliani images (now out of copyright), and when making copies I accidentally pressed the black and white button instead of colour.  Great result, talk about serendipity, and I've loved using the black and white images, and of course the lady bottom right is one of these.

The glasses are the top are a stamp by Stampers Anonymous - a Memento ink pad works well over the crayons as long as they aren't too thick and waxy.  Then as you can see I let rip with the writing, except for the drawing of a life plan page, and some Posca Paint decorations in the top right corner.
The little panel in the bottom right is another home-made collage sheet - I borrowed an idea from Teesha Moore and made colour copies of some of my pages and cut them up to make collage images for future use.
Not nearly as much doodly drawing on this one because I actually like the spaces here.  Luckily I took this photo of the finished page BEFORE disaster struck!  I had used a very soft pencil to add shading around the figure and noticed it was coming off onto the facing page, so decided to seal this one using Mod Podge.  I THINK that what I'd used for some of the writing may not have been totally dry, so to cut a long story short the black lettering got smeared.  Aaarrgghh.  I've cleaned it up as best I can but the result is nowhere near as clean and crisp as in this picture.  Lesson learned.  I just love these colours though, and can't wait to use them again!!

And as for being more clear sighted ... well that's a work in progress, but I am trying not to be someone who is just swept along by things but to make and implement decisions to achieve the things I'm after.  Its all a bit hit and miss, what with the brain fog, and I don't have much control but I do have a BIT.  And that helps.  I'll keep working on it!

Saturday, 12 July 2014

COLOURS

 
Here's another background done with Neocolour II water soluble crayons by Caran d'Ache - I am amazed how much more vivid they are when put on over a gesso base - how come I never knew that before?  I loved how these colours came out so much that I forgot to take a basic picture until after I'd added the foliage, doodling and Modigliani lady!  I used Posca paint pens to colour the leaves because they give an opaque colour over the background - I was just doodling and drawing here because I didn't immediately know what the page would be about.
But when I looked at it again, the point of the piece was obvious - I just LOVE these colours and they make me smile.  Simple as that.  So that's what I wrote, and then I doodled some more in the spaces.  Job done.
We can easily make art journalling into something which seems complicated and difficult, but it needn't be. Just throw down some layers in intense colours that make you smile, add some collage elements you like, do a bit of doodling, then write whatever comes to mind!  Don't let the idea that you have to write something profound and deep stop you from just having a go.  If you don't have words of your own you can always use a wisdom saying or quotation that strikes a chord.  Personally I rarely do that because this is my journal, my diary if you will, so I like the writing to be authentically my own thoughts and words, but you can do whatever works for you.

Now I must go and iron some stuff as I'm going away for a few days ... a change is as good as a rest, and I WILL be taking my basic journalling kit with me!