Sunday, 28 February 2016


This was a really heartfelt page, from a deep place inside me - much of my journal work is like that, but on this occasion it felt pretty much life-saving!  As you can see below, it began with a very simple painted background - the hint of print was an experiment with text transfer from an old book which didn't really work!  Not important in the end.
Then I began to draw wiggly lines with paint pens and fine black pens - the beauty of setting out to draw crooked lines is that it doesn't matter if your hand wobbles!  I just like to hold the pen loosely and see where it takes me.  The black line came first and then the greeny one, and the rest just followed.
Now there is sort of a stage missing between the above and below pictures - when I added the collage faces and the words "finding strength".  I didn't and I don't FEEL strong, but people keep telling me I am or that I'm brave.  It isn't how I feel, but I just keep putting one foot in front of the other because its not like there's a choice.  And that's when these other words came out of the deep place, (after I'd cried a river of tears).  Yesterday was the first day in two months when I haven't cried at all, but actually I'm OK with that, its important to let the negative feelings out.  I dump them all on God and then I can go on.  Making this page will help me to remember that, on my worst days, I only have to take one more step, just one.
And after that there was nothing more to be said, so I simply did my usual doodling and filling up the space!  I added a couple of collage panels, which I doodled and drew on to make them my own, and lots more pen work, but for once I didn't find it necessary to fill every inch.
I debated whether or not to share this page, but in the end it felt right because the message is quite general and might apply to all kinds of situations.  I hope it might help someone else who is in that place where they feel like they just CAN'T take another step.

And if that all sounds very negative, don't panic!  Himself continues to do well, although progress is a tiny bit at a time.  I made this page on a very bad day that's all.  We don't know yet whether the lymph nodes were involved, and whether more chemotherapy lies ahead, but  that's all in God's hands, and for now we're just getting him over the massive surgery.  What I may lack in bravery I make up for in persistence!

Sunday, 21 February 2016


This is me being experimental .... I may have mentioned before that I've been studying Australian Aboriginal Art, where everything is done with dots.  I came across one work that had been done with lighter colours on a dark background, and that gave me the idea to paint the page burgundy and work on top with pale shades.

You can see below my first efforts - the plant motif is a classic one used throughout Aboriginal art, I think it probably represents a native species since these shapes are ubiquitous in the art form. Anyway, making outlines just using dots (with my Posca paint pens) was a very interesting and kind of meditative way of working.
Then I began to add leaf shapes, this time out of my own head, although I guess every continent must have a plant with a generic leaf like this?  What I loved about working with the dots was that you could give the impression of images behind and in front very easily, so although I'd put the white plants on first I could later add the leaves "behind".
I added a few more leaves, a face and the statement about unfamiliar territory.  Now that he's home from hospital there is no road map for how to proceed, we just stumble along day to day trying to work out what to do.  Its uncomfortable a lot of the time - adults aren't used to feeling so out of their depth and unsure what to do next - quite apart from the fact that the cared for (me) has had to become the caregiver.  Very hard for someone with extremely limited energy, but we have managed somehow.
This is the finished page with my usual doodles and embellishments, but it does at least feel like I pushed myself to work in a new way and extended my boundaries in the process.  The black lettering didn't stand out very well, so I outlined it in white - I'm not convinced that it was an improvement but there you go.  I wonder now if I should have just done white lettering?  Whatever, it is what it is.
Perhaps I should have put in two faces hiding in the undergrowth, because here the two of us are, feeling each step of the unfamiliar way .... but its OK because we also feel ourselves held and protected in the hand of God.  I could not have come through the challenges of the past 10 days in particular without that knowledge.  And today he made his first outing, just 21 days after massive surgery, so we are getting there, one small step at a time!!

Sunday, 14 February 2016


I actually made this page just before Himself's surgery, but looking at it today I feel exactly the same now that he's home and we are learning to cope on our own.  Daughters have had to return to their own lives so its up to us now.

The beginnings of the page were, as usual, nothing fancy - just splodges of pink and orange craft acrylic paint.  I was looking for something bold and bright, that said "you can't scare me" even if that was exactly how I felt/feel!
There has to be a face or something human on every page for me, so I adapted this face stamp to give her a more neutral expression (she normally looks a bit sinister).  I added some petals as a sort of headdress, and a couple of pieces of collage.
What I needed to say came out of the word more - I looked at it and asked myself "more what"?  The answer was more strength, because I didn't feel up to what was being asked of me.  The serene face framed by flowers made me think of my (female) God ... and how I can never fall out of her hand, and I began to draw the flowing locks that I always include in images of her.
Then I just kept on drawing, finding it relaxing and peaceful, which helped me focus on promises like "I will not leave you" "I am always with you", until I felt wrapped around by her presence.  I added the words that were on my heart and placed them in trust into her hands.  I know very well that I can't do this on my own, but her strength can be sufficient for me.
Himself is doing very well and taking it easy at home to build up his strength.  The problems lie in the fact that he is normally my carer, and now he can't do anything either!  Our daughters have been here and helped out magnificently, particularly when it came to getting their non-driving mother to the hospital 20 odd miles away!!

Now I have to remember how to cook (a long time since I did), pace myself carefully so that I can keep the laundry going around, and so many other things that he made easy for me - how DOES someone who can't lift anything deal with changing the cat litter tray?  Suggestions welcome!!

But we are safe in God's hands and holding on to the hope that he might even now be cancer free - test results on the lymph nodes in about six weeks.

Saturday, 6 February 2016

I CAN'T SEE ....

Himself has been in hospital all this week and my brain has been absolutely scrambled.  However, I stole some time to make art because I really needed the peace and refreshment I get from it, and this is the result.

If you've been with me some time, skip this bit because you've heard it before.  The background is done with Caran d'ache Neocolour II crayons - which go on looking like wax crayon, but when you add a wet paintbrush just EXPLODE into brilliant colour.  The yellow areas have been wetted but the others haven't and you can really see the difference!
And then below you can see how the whole page looks once water has been added.  These shapes weren't meant to mean anything, I was just playing with absolutely no idea where I was going!  I love that.
And then I got out my Posca paint markers and played some more ... still operating on instinct and content to let it turn out however it wanted to.  For some time now I've been exploring Aboriginal art, and the powerful images which can result from just dots (or even dashes), and this has been influencing my work for some time.  These shapes aren't dots but the idea of simple motifs is there.
At this point I decided the page needed SOMEBODY, and it ended up with this stamped face plus a pair of glasses.  I'd intended to add eyes inside the glasses until I realised that it expressed how I was feeling - unsure of the way ahead, unable to see far, and kind of groping by instinct every day since Himself's surgery.  Then of course that led to the writing, and the expression of a deep feeling that although I don't know how things are going to work out ... God does, and I can trust that.
I'm a bit dissatisfied with this - I think the colours aren't quite right, they're too much in the same tonal range without sufficient contrast perhaps?  Still, it is what it is.

Sorry this is a short post - hospital visiting when its a 40 mile round trip and you sometimes have to queue 30 minutes just to get on the disabled car park takes all my energy, and the rest of my time is mainly spent just trying to keep things together.  I have the help of my wonderful daughters who are here in relays to support.  We must have done something right because they are all amazing women.

Anyway, himself came through the surgery brilliantly, has amazed everyone with his progress after such major surgery, and is bored and longing to come home after just six days!  He might even make it after a few more days ....