Thursday, 26 December 2013


I made this page in the run up to Christmas at a stage when I simply had to take some time out to restore my sanity.  It appears the Queen and I are at one on the subject of reflection, since this was a strong theme in her Christmas speech.  God Bless you Ma'am, and that's a very cute grandbaby you've got there.

But it was actually one of those times when the page just grew, and I didn't actually know when I started out what it would be about.  I'm genuinely learning to love paint for backgrounds, and the wondrous properties of first adding a coat of gesso - which transforms the rather poor quality paper in my journals into a surface which doesn't just drink paint. 

So I picked out a cheerful colour and splodged away, before diving into my collage supplies to come up with these images - I love these Modigliani ladies, they're a sheet from Ceremony I think, and the square panel is Artchix with its central picture changed.

Noticing the reflective pose, I added the word sometimes ... meaning to write about something else entirely.  However, it got me thinking about how much I need space in my head just to think and be, and somehow the theme then got changed into what it needed to be.  
My subconscious does that to me sometimes, serendipitously mostly, and manages to tell me what's really going on in there that I need to pay attention to.  That's when journalling is at its best for me, listening to that inner prompt and getting down on paper something I didn't know I needed to express until I'd got it on the page.

So it seems that this is what it was really important, amid all the busy stuff that threatens to overwhelm you at this time of year, to take stock and figure out what really matters and what doesn't.  Actually my body was forcing me to slow down anyway since I fell victim to the most awful throat infection/virus, and am only just emerging from its grip.  There are times when God just has to trip you up to make you slow down ....?
And the page ended up a very simple one really, and my usual urge to doodle everywhere had gone away.  Perhaps its just that this basic truth needs no embellishment - it just is what it is.

Hope your Christmas was blessed and special - I like this pause between Christmas and New Year, when the world goes quiet for a while.  Well ours does.  It always feels like a gift to have time off at this stage, its when I get some of my best reflecting done ....

Friday, 13 December 2013


Ever had one of those days when you just want to ESCAPE?  Well this was one of them.  Basically I was feeling like just about ALL the doors in my life had closed, leaving me feeling trapped with no possibility of escape or growth and looking for a window to climb out of.  As always, I worked out my feelings in my journal ....

Sometimes I like to challenge myself by painting a page black, and starting from there, because it forces you to work in different ways.  The page below was just one that I was making without any particular theme in mind - I make a few basic starter pages here and there, and generally come back to them later.
So this was the page I found when I needed an outlet, and the first thing I focused on was the windows in the building, and it just went from there.  The house is from a Dyan Reaveley collage sheet and the strip on the left is from a collage sheet I made myself from magazine offcuts.
So then of course in my usual fashion I started writing on the page what was most on my heart at the time.  Often I don't know what that is until I do it, and you can see the result below.
Recently I bought some more Posca paint markers - I've been picking them up in ones and twos whenever I was in the art materials shop, and they work absolutely brilliantly on a painted background like this - even when its black!
So that's what I used to doodle away in the spaces ... very simple, just dots and triangles for the most part - give it a go.  There's something very restful about just doodling away until it looks "done" and it does help with the angst moments.  I also doodled myself in a window with ladder to make climbing out easier!

Sorry not to have posted for 3 weeks - I'm still journalling, but Christmas is catching up with me fast.  I try to be very organised and ready in good time, ie by the end of November, but there are always last minute things to catch up with, and the carol services etc which take up a lot of time in December are already under way ....

PS I make absolutely no apology for addressing God as "she", its how I think of her.  For a lot of women it works better than the father analogy.  Neither is "right" but neither are they wrong .... and it works for me.

Friday, 22 November 2013


I recently bought a stamping magazine which had a free stamp on the front of a moustache and glasses, and for once I knew right away what I wanted to do with this page!  I dug out this image which I'd cut from a history magazine (charity shop find) and began work on the background below, which I wanted to fit around the picture.
As you can see, Caran d'Ache neocolour II background, and head stuck in place, Bob's your Uncle as we say in the UK.
This was an amazingly quick and easy page to do - some of them just are, and none the worse for that, but I did manage not to write in straight lines.  As I've explained before, my lettering sort of grows, and the way I do it is to write in a very simple form, as you can see below, and then go back and embellish.  I've also taught myself to mix together upper and lower case, and to vary sizes as well.  Just play and have fun!

Then, as I hope the picture below shows, I go back to the beginning and thicken up each letter, adding curly bits to the outer edges and just generally embellishing as it takes my fancy.  I do look at lettering everywhere around me, and note different styles and ways of doing things, and thats how I learn.
So here's the finished result - as I said, a pretty simple page but it works.  This is something of a heartfelt cry, as anonymity is something you crave when you don't have it. 
But some days you just feel grumpy and want to go out without putting your face on or combing your hair, or most of all being nice to anybody.  Where did I put that hat?

Thursday, 7 November 2013


I've often told people that, when I got ill and my life and career hit the fan, I might have gone under if I hadn't been a crafter.  It meant that when I was suddenly at home all day every day there were lots of things I'd been waiting for the time to do .... and exploring all those things was terrific therapy while I struggled to get used to the idea that (barring a miracle) I wasn't going to work again.  That's what I was trying to get down on this page.

It began with lots of lovely PINK and a Stampotique image which I really like - intended to represent me, though I do admit to not being quite this thin!  I'd seen a magazine advert with a black band with text down one side and liked it, so thought I'd try that here - its funny where you get your ideas from!
The pink is of course (what else) the trusty Caran d'ache Neocolour II crayons.  I coloured the stamped image with promarkers and gave myself a saintly pair of gold wings, whilst adding the headline which explains the page using my latest love, Posca paint pens.
I was however, as you can see above, thinking negative thoughts like "my life sucks" so was engaged on my Think Positive therapy - it does work, honestly.  So an outpouring of my thoughts on the subject followed, and a bit of doodling in black - which looks so good against the pink.

I'm not quite sure what made me divide up the page with these curving lines, but I like them a lot, and it does allow you to separate various "thoughts" from one another.  I do like sinuous lines rather than straight boxes - life rarely goes in straight lines (well mine doesn't) so they had no place here.
And below is the final result, complete with doodly white bits, but the light was bouncing off the gold so the picture didn't come out too well.  I really like the limited colour palette of pink and black, and how the colours are a total contrast.  In the end its yet another of those (necessary) exercises in which I count my blessings and try to focus on the many positives in my life rather than dwelling on the negatives....
Yep, I do know I sound like Pollyanna, but what the heck?  You'd rather read an outpouring of gloom and despondency?  I make pages like that too, sometimes, just to get it out of my system.  Being a journaller the good, bad, indifferent, EVERYTHING goes down on the page ....

Saturday, 26 October 2013


Looking back I seem to be posting about every two weeks where once I managed more or less weekly - its not that this blog isn't important to me, but this year hasn't been the greatest health-wise.  Or maybe its just that I am now adding the normal aches and pains of ageing on top of my other problems.  Whatever, it has slowed me down some ....

I made this page when I felt kind of overwhelmed recently - developed a painful shoulder problem which made life rather difficult, and there were a couple of things on my mind as well, all of which contributed to my feeling somewhat "got at"!  I found this gorgeous picture of an antique angel - I love these images, especially the pre-raphaelite ones, even gravestone angels - which began the train of thought about wishing my Guardian Angel would come around here and see off some of the problems assailing me!

I'd made this bright background with no particular aim in mind - I just liked it.  Anyway, if you look at art angels are very often shown robed in deep colours, so the ones in my head always look that way.  Also they aren't girls - Gabriel, Michael,  Raphael .... sorry, that's something I tend to go on about.  Regular devotees of these pages will quick identify that the background is done with Neocolour crayons by Caran d'ache, absolutely my favourite media.
The writing followed easily from there - and as ever you can see how the lettering begins very simply and then I go back and fancy it up.  The pink wings (and the gold ones I added to the angel) are German foil, a great product I used to use a lot in the days when I made ATCs all the time.
I think the drooping skeleton tree says everything about my state of mind at the time?  Drooping would definitely cover it, but then the gold pen came out and jollied things up a bit, and I coloured the robe of the stone angel too (previous remarks apply).
I don't know if my angel turned up (and I definitely do believe in them and always have) but making the page engendered a more positive frame of mind, or maybe I just pulled myself together and stopped droooping.  But sometimes you just have to - so I definitely reserve the right to droop occasionally, just not for too long and without inflicting it on anybody else.

Friday, 11 October 2013


Given that today it was announced that the Red Cross would be delivering food aid across the UK, it felt like the right moment to share this page I made a couple of weeks ago.  It needs no explanation, but I just wanted/needed to share my huge sadness at what is happening under a government which doesn't seem able to understand the needs of ordinary people .... or is unable to grasp the concept that not everyone has savings to fall back on.

This was one of those times when I shamelessly used an interesting piece of paper rather than working up an artsy background.  Its allowed, and don't let anybody tell you its not real art if you don't make every bit of it yourself ...
It needed very little but I added a few bits and bobs, including these words I'd cut out from an Oxfam leaflet.
Then I just wrote what was on my heart.  We do what we can to help, our church makes heroic efforts to collect for the food bank, but it isn't and can never be enough.  Its still a tragedy.
Then the odd doodly line with a white pen and it was done.  I cried when I'd done, but felt better for expressing it.  Every time I sit down to eat I think about those who can't .... the ones right here at home in this rich, western country.  And I feel ashamed.
You see in our early married life there were plenty of times when we weren't sure what we were going to eat the next day, or we lay awake wondering how on earth we could pay the bills.  I've been there; its terrifying.  We support the food bank run with real heroism by our local Salvation Army, but it shouldn't be happening and it makes me terribly angry!  Maybe you'd noticed.

Sunday, 29 September 2013



This is one of my simpler pages, but one I enjoyed making.  It began when I was looking at a book about Picasso, and I remember being amazed by his early work - and thinking, my goodness this bloke could REALLY draw!  I think he forgot that later on ....

The pensive lady in the bottom corner is from his blue period, and I think she's just lovely.  I was a bit down at the time so I think her generally fed up expression resonated with me.
So that was how this page got started  - with a Neocolour background in greens and blue, Picasso's miserable lady, and some dribbly shapes drawn at the top.  Don't ask me why they're there - at this stage I didn't have a clue what the page was going to be about, and it stayed like this for a few days.  Then somewhere I came across this quote and that was the point at which everything came together. 

And then of course, I had to fiddle about with it a bit - I couldn't just leave it obviously!  I coloured the icicles  at the top (well thats what they look like to me) with Promarkers - they work really well over Neocolours as long as the latter  aren't put on too thickly.   Most of the white doodling is my white Posca paint pen.
Still having a little bit of trouble living joyfully, but at least I'm succeeding some of the time.  Try it, it does work ... and its still a beautiful world out there, even when things get sticky in our own particular corner of it!

Tuesday, 17 September 2013


When asked the (routine) question "how are you" most of us say "fine" without thinking about it.  However, its long been a soapbox of mine that we shouldn't do that, so now when somebody claims to be "fine" I stop them and ask, "how are you really"?  This makes it plain that I'm really asking, not just mouthing polite pleasantries, and genuinely willing to listen to the truthful answer.  Try it and see, its a very powerful thing to do.

But of course, when it comes to myself ... its more difficult!  Let's face it, which of my friends and family really wants to know about my daily struggles with chronic pain and variable symptoms?  Its all a bit much to take on really, so I rarely give a completely truthful answer, preferring something non-specific like "good in parts", which covers all eventualities!  I SO don't want to become a moaning minnie type, always complaining ... so if you see me doing so you have my permission to tell me off very firmly indeed.

This page began with my trusty Neocolour crayons, some lettering out of my clippings box and a picture of Greta Garbo looking thoroughly fed  up!
Then as you can see below I set out my stall in terms of what I wanted to write about.  I really like squishing up the letters to fit the space, as I did in the word "question".
Didn't do nearly as much doodling and fiddling about with this as usual - it didn't seem to require it really, although I did have a go at poor Greta who looked altogether too beautiful and healthy.  Not sure why she ended up with a moutache though ....
I do like putting in arrows to lead the eye through the text, not to mention filling up big spaces, and the rest is just some white doodling and a rubber stamp.

So go on then, ask me how I am?  "Oh well, you know, good in parts" I may well reply, which is true.  Don't hang about after that though or I may regale you with the details of this flippin bad back I can't seem to shake off, although I am treating it with tried and tested home remedies such as chocolate cookies and Jack Daniels whiskey....

Friday, 6 September 2013


.... but I guess you can figure that out from the main word?  The thing that is hard to explain about pain is that it makes you kind of crouch around it, as if you could protect yourself from it by curling up - which in turn can end up with you clenching your teeth,bunching your hands and hunching your shoulders etc., thereby actually making things a whole lot worse.  Don't imagine me rolling about in agony, because I'm not and (thank God) the painkillers do mop up most of it.  But sometimes they don't quite get enough of it, and then it takes an extraordinary amount of energy to deal with it, and can be very VERY tiring.

I forgot to take the very first picture which would have been the page below minus the writing - I'd done a prepared painted background (my favourite activity when there's nothing I feel moved to say, but the arty urge is upon me) so the purple and the arty pictures were already there.  Then one day I just wrote the word pain in big letters, and it went from there. 
For some reason I felt the need to compartmentalise the page into areas - maybe I was trying to get the pain safely into a box where I could contain it?  Perhaps its that pain days draw big black lines through what I can and can't do with my day?  Possibly all of these and more, the subconscious being a funny old thing. Like the houses at the bottom which came to represent how I end up stuck inside and unable to go out.  Or the eye which I think is the all-seeing thing, where even though I'm hiding away wrapped around and inside my pain, someone sees and cares ...
It doesn't take a genius to figure out why the decorative bits are somewhat jagged - and if you're interested the white is done with my rather nifty Posca paint pen.  I didn't think this was much good until I tried it on a painted background, whereupon it worked brilliantly and much better that it does on neocolour backgrounds!  Lesson learned, and I promptly bought some more colours.
And here it is finished - it doesn't SAY a lot, but it says enough, and something I needed to get down on paper.  There aren't too many days like this, for which I'm profoundly grateful, but I wanted to record for myself what it feels like when those days come.  I guess it isn't too self-indulgent, and genuinely belongs in my journal with all my other experiences, reflections and recordings, as part of my life.  Even if I do wish it would Go Away. 

Monday, 26 August 2013

Zero Tolerance???

Only two pictures of this page because I completely forgot to take photos as I went along .... I blame menopausal brain death!

However you can probably see below how it started out - as a painted background onto which I stencilled with a lighter blue.  The bird on the line are done with washi tape, and I couldn't resist this stone angel!  That was as far as I got for a while .... I do sometimes work that way, just make the "beginnings" of a page and then let it lie awhile until I'm ready to work on it.  Sometimes I never get to that point, and then I might gesso over it or cover it with paper.

However, on this occasion I found the words zero tolerance in a newsletter and knew immediately what I wanted to write about ... the question I keep asking myself, why I am becoming so much less tolerant of bad spelling and rudeness and any number of other things as I get older?  I don't know - does it have something to do with having less time ahead of you than behind?  Other people I ask about it say they are the same, but I never WANTED to be a grumpy old bat making speeches to people that begin with "young man .....".  Lord, maybe I'm becoming my mother????

So then of course it was dead easy to come up with a whole list of stuff that makes me cross ... and I could have written more!  Except of course that I didn't want to admit (even to myself) just how very VERY cranky I can be...
And finally of course I had to add my usual doodling just in case the page looked a bit empty - but now I look I seem to have drawn fireworks??  All this tells you that I hav, alas, become the proverbial grumpy person you would do well not to cross - perhaps the angel's tears are for the nice person I used to be??? Help.

Monday, 12 August 2013


I seem to be having a dry spell art-wise at the moment ... which is fine, it goes like that at times.  The one page I have done since our holiday is this one ....

A Neocolour (Caran d'Ache crayons) background - what else - and then the panels which look a bit like vertebrae have been added with Promarkers.  Provided the crayon isn't put on too thickly the markers work really well on top.
This thought came out of one of our bible readings at church (totally forgotten which one!) which set off a train of thought about life as a process of becoming rather than a pursuit of personal fulfilment or happiness.  In other words, the idea that I am a Work in Progress, as yet unfinished, but nonetheless someone who has learned and grown much so far .....
Once I'd developed the lettering the "vertebrae" patterns I'd doodled on tended to fade into the background a bit, so I outlined them to help them "pop" off the page.  I think the backbone pattern I can see here (even if you can't!) may have subliminal meaning, as in the basic bones or structure of my days.  OK and maybe not!  After that I just sort of doodled to my heart's content.
And the result is not a bad reflection of where I am right now - sort of drifting/doodling about, settling to nothing much, yet with a sense of good things ahead .... which is an OK sort of place to be.  August is like that anyway; all committee meetings and other "stuff" stops for the summer, so its a good time to just rest and float about a bit. After all, its not necessary to always be achieving something or growing as a person .... sometimes its just about being and listening.