Saturday, 12 December 2015


It has taken me about ten days to complete this page - generally I do one in two days at the most, but having one or two other things on my mind has meant I haven't have much time just to "play".

I rarely do anything fancy in terms of background because I know that I will be covering it up - and the picture below shows just how simple it is!  Just acrylic paint - the ordinary kind you can buy at hobby stores.  In this case I didn't even bother to go right to the edges of the page, because I wanted to do a collaged border.

So because I tend to stay in one colour range I then dragged out my drawer of orange/yellow/ gold/brown elements.  Its a very simple technique to create a border in this way and to be honest right now I can't really manage anything more complicated.  I don't worry about my collage pieces being the same width, because  a varied edge gives it more interest.
You may notice below that I've added a shadow and a black line around the inner edge - I hope you agree that this makes a substantial difference to how the page looks?  I found this Modigliani lady among my images, and thought she looked kind of reflective, or wistful even, as if she might be looking back - and that's why the writing tells her/me not to!
The rest of the page was added here and there, as I had a few minutes to spare, and is of course (as always) a message to myself.  We're in a new place and have left all but a few special friends behind, so life can feel a bit lonely and isolated at times.  When I get to feeling that way I remind myself not to look back, but to look ahead to a time when we've made new friends and become better established in the area - we HAVE only been here one month!
Still there's no doubt that life feels a bit quiet and our social life is distinctly limited for now.  Maybe that's why I feel disappointed that while almost a thousand people have been by in the past week, only ONE person opted to leave a comment.  Now I am NOT a comments junkie, and that's not why I keep this blog up faithfully, but right now it would be nice to know that you're out there and that I'm not just talking to myself - so say hi if you have time and tell me whether the blog helps you.  It would be so nice to know its making a difference to someone.

Sunday, 6 December 2015


You can imagine that in recent months I've been doing some rather desperate praying, what with a house move and Himself's cancer diagnosis to deal with.  The day I made this I had one of those moments of absolute calm, when I "knew" it was all going to be OK.  Its not easy to hold onto that, but whenever I start panicking its as if a voice in my head says (wearily) "will you not just TRUST me"?  So I try to, with varying degrees of success.

I wanted, no needed, to use bright hopeful colours, and I took these two pictures to show you the magical difference using water on Neocolour II crayons makes!  On the left is the sort of scribbly wax crayon look, which is how it goes down - then on the right is the intense colour you can achieve with a moderately wet paintbrush.  You could also use a waterbrush I guess? The result is awesome!

So onto that background I began to put down some collage.  I organise my collage pieces in a trolley with slim 12 x 12" drawers, and have drawers for colours and then others for neutrals, words and people.  I may think of other categories as I go along.  Now I'm a bit of a tone on tone sort of gal - I like using shades of the same colour, and sometimes you have to remind me that I can use different colours or more than one!

So I pulled out my red/orange drawer - that's the other great thing about the trolley I use, you can just take out the whole drawer and bring it across to the workspace.  I like to cut curved shapes out and layer them up.  Its easy to do and if you're looking for collage techniques you might like to try it?
Anyway, part of this moment of God-given calm was the sense of the interconnectedness of all things, so I began to draw a black line to join them up.  The great thing about drawing wobbly lines on purpose is that it doesn't matter if you er .... wobble!  I also began to add the writing which as you know is so much a part of every page I do.
And once I'd written my words I just set to joyfully doodling to my heart's content - a lovely meditative process.  You'll see that I've drawn and "improved" on the collage pieces themselves - I like to change them so that they're "mine" if you see what I mean.
So there you have it - a happy page for a change, though I can't guarantee to sustain this mood as I am a born worrier however much I try not to be.  But we're safely moved into our lovely new flat (all wheelchair accessible) and beginning to find homes for all our stuff, though the studio still needs work.  Himself is two thirds of the way through chemotherapy (tolerating it amazingly well, must be all that prayer thats going up on his behalf) and should be finished by Christmas.  Then we have daughters and our darling one year old grandson coming - just for a couple of days, which is possibly all we have the energy for, but it will be LOVELY.  Surgery lies ahead but I'm not thinking about that for now, just planning to enjoy the Christmas season :)

Sunday, 29 November 2015


These are lines from Psalm 139 and I've always loved them.  Cut off from my former church community and friends, and yet to build new relationships in our new life, I was feeling a bit sad and lonely.  At times of self pity it always does me good to remember that I'm never alone .... and as always I chose to document this in my art journal.

This was one of those rare times when I did know from the beginning what I wanted to do with the page, and that the first thing was to draw the serene female mother God face.  You can see below its earliest sketchy beginnings ... and no I can't explain why she turned out blue, she just did.
You can see below how I travelled from a simple outline and took it on from there.  Once I'd painted the background, the black sweep of hair was done with a big chunky Posca paint pen  The blue was painted with ordinary acrylics and a brush, then I added some shading with a grey marker and colour to her lips.
My mother God pictures always have swirling long hair for some reason, so when I looked at the above I felt it needed more but wanted to leave room for some writing.  I extended her hair a bit, and also added a blue edge to give the page more definition, and did some more subtle work to the eye.
Once the writing was done I began to feel that the black hair was too 'flat' a colour, so I got out some gold and silver pens and added swirls of these to her hair, and some touches of gold to her forehead and the neck of the dress.  Oh yes, and couldn't resist adding a few dots for decoration ..... well it would be wrong not to, wouldn't it.
Its very early days in our new life - barely 3 weeks since we moved and although the flat is looking more and more like home as we find places for things, there are still 9 boxes waiting for shelving in the studio.  However, I am managing to work anyway using what I have to hand (which is quite a lot actually) and that does my soul good when I'm feeling a bit low or lonely.

Himself continues with the chemotherapy, which is hitting him harder these days, and that runs right up to Christmas.  Then he has 4-6 weeks to build up his strength again before major surgery to remove his bladder and create a stoma.  Apparently its possible to live a full and active life with one of these and it should leave him cancer free.  Its big surgery so its going to be tough, but together we can do this.

Sunday, 22 November 2015


I began this page just before we moved, and finished it in the last few days by adding all the bits and dots you know I'm so fond of!

This is how it began - swirls of orange and yellow done with Neocolour II crayons - sometimes I have to challenge myself to work with different shapes as I tend to go for straight lines ....
Being somewhat brain dead from stress at the time I didn't have any clear idea where it was going, except that I wanted it to be bold and simple because I didn't think I could manage anything else.
And then, as so often happens, something came out that I needed to affirm - namely my own strength and deep roots in a good place, all of which would get me through what lay ahead.  It was a bit wild and windy at the time too, which added to the way I was thinking as I watched the big old trees in our former garden bend with the wind.
And above is where the page had got to when we moved.  Below is how I finished it off when, after only about 5 days, I found a space I could sit down and work in.
I guess the symbolism needs no explanation?  I'm still being very influenced by Aboriginal art and its use of dots and simple marks, and think that shows here?  Look on Pinterest if you want to discover more, its an art form I'm growing to love, and anyway I always did like dots!

We are down to just 9 boxes but are stymied in terms of progress because we really need somebody to come and put shelves up .... the walls here are TOUGH and appear to need an industrial strength drill to make so much as a dent in them!  Best of all we have SURVIVED, we are retired, and we'll find everything eventually.

Saturday, 7 November 2015


There's lots of change around here as stuff gets cleared out, packed up or comes off the wall and there's just 36 hours to go before the removals company arrives ....

Obviously I made this a few days ago when I could still find my favourite art materials, but I have packed a bag of art journalling "necessities" to tide me over until my studio is up and running.

The page background was done with Neocolour II crayons and then I added the curved black edge with a Promarker.  The figure is a Modigliani lady I accidentally copied in black and while instead of colour - a very happy mistake!
The strong white on top is a Posca paint pen - these give very good opacity over most surfaces, so are my go-to white pens.
The writing is kind of "stream of consciousness" because this is what is swirling around in my head at the moment.  Of course life right now is crazy, and there's too much to do etc etc but how I respond to that is a matter of choice.  I can be threatened and overwhelmed or I can allow it to be exciting and positive.  I choose to look ahead to the new life we will be building, and to focus on the positives contained within that.  I don't always succeed in holding to that, but I keep working on it.
And as you can see I had a lot of fun just drawing and doodling on the rest of the page, which is the reflective part I like the best and find the most relaxing.  On this occasion relaxation was definitely the whole point of the exercise!!
So dear readers, I will see you on the "other side" - not sure when because my studio will not be high priority on the unpacking list, beds and kitchen having to come first!  There's also the small matter of a broadband connection which is booked to be done the day after we move.  Hope that goes to plan as life without the internet is NOT fun!

I'm looking forward to our new life, but not to the process of unpacking the old one and putting it all in a van.  Doing a great deal of God bothering and putting it all in her hands .....

Saturday, 31 October 2015


Sorry this is brief - too much to do and not enough time to do it in.  Below is the gelli plate print from which this began, and then I guess the rest is self explanatory.

It is our retirement from the Parish tomorrow - very emotional, lots of mixed feelings, but overall it is time.  Just trying to stay well enough to get through it.

Sunday, 25 October 2015


I found this rather lovely lady in a book of black and white Victorian illustrations I bought, and I'd meant to do a page about looking back ... or even something to do with the life in retirement I HOPED we'd very soon be having.

So that's where I was mentally headed when I laid down simple paint and the image - I can't seem to manage or even contemplate creating anything very fancy at the moment!  Too much happening what with getting ready to move in two weeks and Himself beginning chemotherapy for bladder cancer tomorrow.
A bit of collage in toning pinky/purple shades helped fill the page up a bit, and I added a black outline with a Posca paint pen and a grey shadow using a marker.  Its amazing how much difference such a simple technique like that makes.
But then I veered away from thinking about what might have beenand decided to get a grip on myself, because this is no time for regretting the life we'd hoped to have, or even the one we're about to leave behind.  The only way I can cope right now is by living in the present ... so I'm stamping hard on my tendency to look ahead and say "yes but what if" ....
"Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof" - can't remember who said that but it works for me right now.  So I'm working on taking life as it comes, one day at a time, and doing my damnedest to trust God for the future.  I'm also trying to be mindful of and give thanks for the love and friendship that surrounds us, and the house is full of the flowers we've been sent!

Someone commented that they were amazed I could journal through this, but actually the truth is that without journalling I'm not sure I would get through it.  This is my time out, space to reflect, a chance to scratch my creative itch, and it helps more than I can possibly say.

Saturday, 17 October 2015


This is the message I need to affirm to myself right now, so what's an art journaller to do but make a page out of it?  Sorry these pictures are a little bit dark - that's what the weather has been like here lately.

I'm not up to making complicated pages right now, but then again who says they have to be?  This is a simple coat of lime green paint over gesso, and then I grabbed my "blue" drawer of collage materials ....  That's how I organise my stuff - I have a set of shallow drawers on wheels and I have labelled them by colour, including neutrals, then words and people.  It works pretty well but is still something of a work in progress.  When I have time or am short of energy or inspiration I grab some magazines etc from the pile on the floor and rip out things I like, cut out shapes and file them in my various drawers.
I suppose there was probably a reason why I chose the lime green, but don't ask me what.  I only know I couldn't manage pink and red at the time.  Anyway blue and green is my favourite colour combination.  Below you can see how I added a grey shadow around the collage elements, and some lettering ...
The last stage was to  complete the lettering and then tackle the very plain background.  I wanted to keep it subtle so as not to detract from the main message, so simple circles with white and grey did the trick.
This is something of a mission statement - I've certainly gone back to look at this page several times this past week.  It does serve to remind me that all things pass, even the worst of times.  Not sure why I chose the bottles at the lower edge, but I assure you I've not turned to drink or anything like that!!

We are moving in 3 weeks and are almost ready for that to happen, and Himself begins chemotherapy in about 10 days.  Even with the help of amazing friends whose offers of help have been nothing less than heroic its not going to be easy, but with God's Grace we can do it - at least on the other side lies retirement and relative calm from which to approach the rest of the treatment.

Sunday, 11 October 2015


If this looks a little bit difficult to see or foggy or whatever, then its deliberate!  I could have used black for the writing but chose to use grey, which doesn't show up as well, and that kind of fits with the theme.

I sort of knew where I was going with this - I knew the page would be about struggling to see and have an eye at the centre.  I found this one on Google Images and really liked it!
I did colour the eye a bit - it started life black and white - and began to add the writing.  I had to add up the letters and spaces in what I wanted to say, to work out where the centre should be.  Didn't work out exactly but close enough.
And then because it was pretty much finished and I hadn't the mental or emotional energy to do much more, the page was completed using dots in grey and white. Its a very calming, meditative process, and you can see just how much difference something so small can make - and anybody can manage dots, even if you don't think you're particularly "artistic".
Both the page and the post are simple because its all I can manage right now.  Himself has to have his bladder removed and a stoma made, and probably chemotherapy as well.  We thought we were braced for this possibility, but it turns out you simply can't be, so it feels like being hit by a truck, or several of them.  Oh yes, and we have to move house in less than a month.  However, we're surrounded by kind friends and family, all willing volunteers to do whatever is needful.  There is also a calm place in the centre where God is, and we know she's in charge of where this goes.

Saturday, 3 October 2015


I'd love to claim to be calm and serene, but those of you who've journeyed with me for some time will know that it just isn't true!  I get passionate, enthusiastic, angry and noisy about all kinds of stuff and I can't seem to be any other way. I DO however work hard at the "think before you speak" thing, but with varying degrees of success .....

This page began just laying down paint in shades of two colours I really like together.  I just use basic craft acrylics because I figure I'm going to throw a lot of other stuff on top, so the only thing I always do is gesso first.  It gives a really great surface on which paint can slide and flow - without it would just soak into the paper.
I was just floating around with no very clear idea of where I was going with this (which is nice and relaxing), so I got out the Posca paint pens and began doodling here and there.  The word "art" at the bottom was cut out from a colour copy of a previous journal page - I do like to re-use things sometimes, though I generally try to change it up a little in the process.
Another Posca marker but the black one this time - its the blackest pen I know, nothing else comes close, and I love how a sinuous black line can link elements together that started out being unconnected.
I found a little Mona Lisa in my stash of collage bits, which led to my adding another one and thinking about her famously serene face, and that's when I began to write on the page.  Very often this is how journalling works for me - its an organic process and one step leads to another, without my necessarily being able to say how I arrived at the end result.
And you know me, I can never normally leave a page alone until I've doodled all over the place - sometimes afterwards I regret not allowing it to remain simple and uncluttered, but its just not how I seem to work.
Very often the pages I do which are very simple and unadorned reflect my saddest mood, when I can't find the necessary energy to doodle and decorate.  At least when I do you'll know that I was really enjoying going for masses of details, and not stuck in an empty place I couldn't escape from.

Himself goes back to the Big Doctor this coming week, when we will find out whether the next step for him is major surgery, or "just" chemotherapy.  Oh yes, and we're trying to get organised to move house in a month's time.  No pressure then - I guess its not surprising I'm not feeling particularly calm or serene!!

Sunday, 27 September 2015


The genesis of this page was in a trip away from home where the weather was warm and wonderful, and I was much better health and pain wise ... and of course we were free from the usual demands on us.  Coming back was hard because I also came back to the reality of living in a colder rather than a wondrously warm climate, where the pain is so much less.  If I could live somewhere warm all the time ..... but alas Lancashire in north-west England is home, and its cold.

So as ever I got what I was feeling down on paper and got over it!  This is just about my favourite colour combination - blue and green - and I'm really fond of this acidic lime green.  The collage materials came mostly from a home wares catalogue which yielded all sorts of wonderful colour and pattern - and best of all was free!  I don't always work like this but you can see here how I gradually built up a border around the painted page.
Then I added the eye, the human (blue with cold?) and one or two other bits, just to break up the straight lines.  You can also see a bit of doodling and on the right some printed tissue paper which I pasted down with matte medium.  If you see any nice printed tissue paper grab it because its great for collage.
Then of course the writing - still trying to remind myself NOT to write in straight lines, but I don't always remember.
And then I finished it off with all manner of doodling, dots and whathaveyou which I can never resist.  Paint pens figure heavily at this stage, and I have them in a wide variety of nib widths.
And to answer those of you who were kind enough to ask - Himself has now had two operations and we are now at the crossroads waiting for lab results, following which its either a big operation or chemotherapy.  Getting read to move house in a few weeks time is a challenge while dealing with all this, but oddly enough it takes your mind off worrying about the cancer when you have to think about flooring and tiles, and shall we have French doors or a sliding patio door.

We're quite calm because its all in the hands of God, whichever way it goes, and just trying to focus on the positive and finding some joy in every day.