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 ....

Saturday, 2 April 2016


Firstly my apologies for being AWOL over the Easter weekend.  Despite having the quietest Easter in decades (now that we've retired from leading services) and no guests either, I still managed to be weary and out of sorts.  I just never got around to doing a blog post, sorry :(

Anyway, I had no idea that this was going to turn out the way it did!  I began with a painted red background and then I was thinking black/white/grey on top - its such a gorgeous colour scheme.  I found this tissue paper in my stash which has architectural designs on it, so that was a good place to start.  I was thinking of God the great architect, or something .... it would all become clear.  It usually does.
Then I found this big eye in the black and white box, and coloured the white background with a Promarker to get it to blend into the red.  So then I collaged some more, and doodled a bit and with the bird shape at the top I was beginning to hear in my head that song from the psalms "His/Her eye is on the sparrow" (whichever gender you prefer), so that's the direction I thought it was going in ...  I added elements cut from magazines and catalogues (free collage stuff!) but I always try to draw on them or redesign them in some way so that they become different from the original.
But there was something going on in the back of my brain about the 'architectural plan' element, and the twists and turns of the wormholes, which led me to the impossibility of understanding the mind of God, or the great tapestry of life she weaves.  These words below were that actually came to me in the end... so I'm assuming they're the ones I was meant to use?
Looking at it afterwards I think these reflections came out of recent experiences and our brush with cancer? I'm not and never have been afraid to die, I'm much more afraid of being left behind.  We all fear pain and loss, and that seems to me to be only normal and natural, life is precious.  In a way this was a reminder for me that we go to something better, something beautiful and lovely, so that death is not an ending but a gateway into something new and wonderful.

I had been trying to prepare my heart to let go of my beloved, if it was his time, but I needed to remember where he was going (although thankfully not yet).

Funny the places the mind takes you - this week I've also been thinking a lot about theories of atonement (yes really!) but can't quite imagine making a page about it. For a start I'd need a bigger journal!

Sunday, 20 March 2016

PAIN ....

Its probably reaction, but I really haven't been in good shape this last week.  With Fibromyalgia, pain and its location is very variable.  At best its all achey and drags you down a bit, at worst it puts you to bed unable to move.  I've been somewhere in the middle, and yes I do think there's an element of being able to stop holding everything together now, and this is the collapse after the crisis, in the way some people get migraine after its all over.

Anyway, I was still working but slumped in a heap not exactly inspired or effective.  Splodged a blue background with acrylic paint, and was cutting up a children's book bought for 50p at a car boot sale.
Then when I'd done a collaged border - the simplest way I know how to work - I outlined it using markers and a purplish shadow.

Then here I began to add bits of doodling and the word "pain", which I'd actually cut out of an old journal page I'd photocopied - its fun to recycle bits of your own work that way, though I almost always want to make it different in some way.  I added a face to represent me hiding out behind the walls of pain. If you compare the collage elements above and below, you'll see how I've changed the patterns with doodling to make them truly my own.
After I'd added the writing, I went ahead and ruined it!  I guess you know that feeling?  I'd just run out of steam and rather hastily filled in the spaces with these zentangle doodles.  I don't really like them at all, and even contemplated painting over them, but don't have the energy so it will have to stand.
And yes, before you ask, I'm still over the moon with the wonderful news that himself's cancer is basically GONE.  Its almost too much to take in.  I guess I'd just used up my reserves back there, and need time (and my journal) to build them back up again.

Sunday, 13 March 2016


Frida Kahlo has been my heroine for a long time - because of a horrific car accident in her youth she lived with a LOT of pain and wore a leather corset because of back injuries.  But she made art and painted anyway, sometimes even from her bed.  If she can do it, then so can I ...
You can see the very simple way the page began with a background of pink and touches of lilac.   Teesha Moore (another of my heroines and a real inspiration) issued a challenge to do something with cut outs from one of her pages, and I found the idea intriguing.  What you see below is various shapes cut out and laid over my pinky background, and I really liked the result!
But it did seem to need a strong black line (Posca paint pen) to delineate the various "windows" as I was thinking of them.  You may also notice that I added a touch more orange paint around the centre.
So then I had Frida looking bravely and somewhat challengingly out of my 'windows".  Her direct gaze made me think about being brave when I really wasn't feeling it, and that's where the words came from.
And then I remembered that saying about bravery not being the absence of fear, but acknowledging your fear and going on anyway, and I figured that DID make me brave, however little I felt it!
The wormhole doodling was an afterthought but I like the way it enhances the window effect and the sense of seeing through .... I'd never had page a page like this without Teesha's challenge as inspiration!

And, I have the most amazing news to report.  The lab results from himself's surgery came back completely clear of cancer, COMPLETELY.  It wasn't in the lymph nodes at all, so he has an all clear and no further treatment.  It has to be the result of the many prayers which were offered on our behalf, and we can't quite take it in yet ... although we have booked a holiday!!