Friday, 27 April 2012


The challenge on Simon Says Stamp and Show was "one word", and I certainly knew what mine would be (see above).  OK so I sat myself down, delivered a good talking to and a stern reprimand, and ended up with a resolution to learn the lesson that worry is pointless.  If you can't change a situation all you can do is the best you can .... and that will have to be enough.  Right?  Anyway, of course I also journalled about it, as always, and sometimes I find the best thing to do when I need to get feelings down on paper is to start by writing the word you want to focus on in nice big letters on the page.  So I did, and then I coloured it a yummy shade of purple with my Promarkers.  At which point I felt better already!  Just acknowledging the problem (instead of incohate panicking) seems to work for me.
Then I used this Stampotique stamp of a frantic looking person to represent my frazzled self, and wrote down the key aspects of all this worry - the waste of time for starters!  Then as you can see below I wrote some more stuff, drew a few doodly flowers, and filled in the background with yet more Promarker.
At which point it looked sort of finished but then again not quite - so I went to down with the white and black pens, doodling away to my heart's content.  I can thoroughly recommend it as therapy for anxious persons - very calming!
So next time I post worried pages about this or that, you are at liberty to remind me of my promise to myself.  If God's in charge (and I really do hope and believe that she is) then its all in her hands anyway ..... and I just need to REMEMBER that!!

Monday, 23 April 2012


When I looked back I'd made a lot of journal pages about worry - obviously more of a preoccupation of mine that I'd previously realised.  Its not that I'm a control freak or anything (no really I'm not!) but I do like to be well organised and prepared for whatever is coming up - and sometimes you just can't see very far ahead.  That's when I start fretting and have to remind myself to stop.

As things have turned out I now have more than enough to worry about because my MIL who lives with us is ill, and caring for her is proving to be a helluva challenge .... We were ambushed by this happening out of the blue, but we are now trying to get Social Services involved to give us some help.  The really stupid thing is that in fact that wasn't what I was worried about here!  Duh, and will that teach me anything? It should, but it probably won't.

As usual (am still trying to love paint, but its not working so far) the background has been done with Caran d'Ache crayons, to which I added a dopey looking female and these typewriter stamps. I've had them for ages but hardly used them - what is it about such old fashioned looking letters that appeals?  I've got a computer font like this too, and use it a lot.  Maybe its because I learned to type on an old fashioned manual and still can't get over how wonderfully easy modern keyboards are to use?
Then I added a wobbly black line around the page, with what look like little cracks creeping in.  I do this quite a lot - it seems to define the page really effectively, or that could be just me trying to control stuff and keep it inside the box?
The final touches to what was a relatively simple page were a pointy finger stamp, some journalling and lots of doodling with white and black pens.  Hopefully whenever I leaf back through my journal I will encounter this page andl be reminded to stop worrying about whatever is on my mind at the time? 
Yeah right - is that the porcine squadron I hear passing overhead?

Thursday, 19 April 2012


The more I hear about the new Welfare Reform Act the more worried I get about the future, and I was on a Disability Forum where people were recounting their experiences of the new assessment procedure (which is producing THOUSANDS of appeals). I suddenly got the complete heebie jeebies - most of the time I try to be strong and positive, but on this occasion simply failed.

As ever, I turned to my journal to work out my feelings - this is a background done with Caran D'ache Neocolour crayons, and a spot of spray ink (which really didn't show up as well as I wanted). I added this little person from Stampotique to represent myself - because I was feeling at the time very small and scared. Normally I am taller, quite vocal and a bit stroppy ....
I got as far as the stage below when I just burst into tears, so there had to be an hiatus for a bit while my Significant Other provided the necessary hugs and such reassurance as was possible. After that I decided I could either let it scare the hell out of me, or just get on with life and fight back.
And that was when I wrote the words about not giving in to my fear, and that got me launched into more positive mode ... so much so that I stopped remembering to take pictures. However, making art was, as it always is for me, a really healing process, and this page allowed me time to work through my panic to a calmer place. I'm one of those people who is sensible and can cope 99% of the time, but then every now and again I lose my perspective and have a distinct wobble.
I've used a sunburst sort of stamp, but also added quite a lot of doodling - my absolute favourite thing to do at the moment! Its slightly mindless but I find that helps.

Anyway I'm probably worrying about nothing, but when it gets to be my turn for assessment I will be ready and willing to fight my corner if necessary, or bring up the Big Guns to appeal a negative decision. Sorry to bore you with all this - it just does me good to face my fears and part of me hopes that by doing so I might just help somebody else .....

I AM WOMAN, HEAR ME ROAR! Yes, well more like squeak in reality, but its a start!

Friday, 13 April 2012


I'm really pleased with how this turned out - not sure if you can see how the metallic lines shimmer so you'll just have to take it from me that they do. I did them with my new metallic Promarkers ... which are delicious!

Anyway, as usual I've taken stage pictures and you can see below how the page looked when I had rubbed on the Caran d'Ache crayons - I rub them at an angle to the page, sort of sideways, rather than using the point as this covers a bigger area quickly.
The photo below shows the difference when I have added water to the left hand side of the page and you can see how intense some of the deeper colours become.
And then this is the whole page once brushed with water, and some shading added to deepen some areas. I often make pages with these swirling bands of colour - for a start it tends to encourage me away from writing in straight lines!
And here it is when I've done a bit of work on it - there was quite a gap between finishing the background above and knowing what I wanted to say. Often I finish a page all in a few hours, but not this one. Just realised that the writing is pretty much in straight lines AGAIN, although later I did do some more journalling sideways on - can you tell it doesn't come naturally? I'm just one of life's straightists.
I picked out this face to add because it is so serene - it has the kind of calm peacefulness I aspire to, even if I don't often achieve it. I do try to tell myself that there's no point in kicking against the way things are - and perhaps even turn it into a positive. Am still working on that one and will let you know .... The lady in the bottle is there to express the feeling I sometimes have of being trapped behind glass (eg these 4 walls) and I try to remember that with modern technology the world can come to me even when I can't manage going out.
Here is the finished page and you can probably tell how much fun I had doodling away on it - kept me quiet and happy for hours! A lot of the wavy lines I drew were done with metallic Promarkers, which have given a lovely glimmer to the page. The smaller white dots were done with my Uniball Signo pen, and larger ones with my Posca paint marker.

Its surprising how much of a blessing not just having to but choosing to live simply can be - my day to day existence isn't complicated or difficult, many decisions are out of my hands, there is a straightforward set of "rules" I need to live by, and I don't need lots of money because art journalling doesn't require much in the way of materials. I try to keep those things in the front of my head, but of course I kick against it sometimes. Like when I see courses advertised that I can't afford to go on, but then realistically I probably wouldn't have had the energy anyhow, so no point in regrets anyway!

What I am thinking of doing next is offering AJ courses here at home (Preston UK) - I have a lovely studio with a big table but would only take 2/3 people at a time so attendees would get lots of personal tuition. I've taught a few classes already and LOVED it, and of course I've been teaching card-making and scrapbooking for years. If you might be interested just let me know ...

Monday, 9 April 2012


I came across this quotation from Proverbs not long ago, and was struck by the image. Strictly speaking the verses refer to the Biblical figure of Wisdom, who is female, but for me it works as a metaphor for God as well, and this page is the result. If you've been with me some time you will know that I (perfectly legitimately) relate to a female deity. Of course I don't wish to suggest that God is either male or female, but has aspects of both, while also being much more than we can begin to imagine. My own mother was such a difficult and unloving woman that I've found a lot of healing in relating to a female, motherly God.

You can see how I began below, with a pencil sketch - what I was trying to suggest was the tree element, which is why she has roots/branches in her hair. I drew so large (my journals are A5) that I didn't leave myself much space for the writing, but for me the image is central so I'm not too bothered, although if I was doing it again I might use the page portrait and write around the edges?
Then it was onto the Promarkers, adding layers of colour and those leaves in her hair. I always draw my God/Woman as both beautiful and SERENE, which for me is the key thing about her. She's calm and unshockable, but also full of love and kindness, and deep wisdom. Not forgetting warnings about graven images, that's what I was trying to capture.

Perhaps you can also see how I've elaborated on the sketched out lettering - first thickening each letter (as on the right) and then adding some curly bits to complete as on the left. Its just a gradual process of building up, and I practised on scrap paper to develop the style. It still needs work but I'm getting there.
And this is the finished page - with quite a lot of Gold marker added in to give her a truly special look. I have this image of myself hanging onto the trunk of the tree for dear life, while she wraps her arms and sheltering branches around me. Yes well, sorry if that leaves you baffled, but I guess some of you will know what I mean and some of you won't, and both are fine. I just hope it touches something in you at this very special time of year ....
Thank you for all the comments you leave - I really do treasure each one and online contact with other art journallers is a real lifeline into a shared forum of similarly obsessed artists!

Wednesday, 4 April 2012


Just LOOK what I've got! These are my new Caran d'Ache watercolour crayons and I love them so much I think I've died and gone to heaven. This is the big set of 84 because I just wasn't happy with the tin of 30 colours I had, always wanting a colour I didn't have. This big set can cost a fortune, especially if you get it in the presentation wooden box but I chose to have the tin, and managed to get it for about £90 - the best price I could find anywhere, and unsurprisingly that was Ebay. I sold a few items which almost covered the cost so feel very pleased with myself! I use my crayons every single day as they're my absolute favourite medium, so I think the expenditure is worth it, and its a real treat having such a big range of colours.

Anyway, that's enough about happy burbling about that - thought I'd also take the opportunity to share a couple of pages where I didn't manage to take stage pictures. At the time I did this journal page (working in no.5 now!) I'd been having a minor explosion about something (probably the government again) and venting some steam at the radio. Afterwards I felt a bit guilty about my intemperate language, so this may have been me justifying getting so cross - I DO try to be calm and reasonable mostly but now and again something gets right up my nose. This is when I demonstrate that Christian charity is not always my strong point .... good job I'm C of E and not a catholic, or I'd have to do penance (again). If you're interested I did the bottle effect with the Stampin Up equivalent of Glossy Accents - which I prefer because its more runny and I find it more controllable because my arthriticky fingers can't squeeze the GA bottle.
The page below was also me having a jolly good whinge about something - I tend to call it therapy and claim that its important (see above) to get it off my chest. I must sound like a dreadfully grumpy old bat, but really I'm quite nice and generally a reasonable person. Does anybody else find that as they get older they become less and less tolerant of bad behaviour? Just me then ...
The writing tells the whole story - I was feeling very tearful and vulnerable because the doctor had insisted on reducing the dose of anti-depressants I take. This made me feel quite threatened because I have suffered from major depression in the past, and was really afraid that cutting the dose might tip me over the edge again. It hasn't, and it was probably never going to, but it was important to face my fears on the subject. You may be pleased to know that a few days later things settled down, and I now feel pretty normal again. If you know me at all and think of me as a sorted, confident person (I do a really good impersonation of one) this reveals the awful truth that I can do scared with the best of them! Better out than bottled up eh?