Tuesday, 28 February 2017


This page is another one about losing a very dear friend.  Tomorrow will be her funeral and I don't know how I'm going to get through it.  But then again, for the sake of my friend's daughters and husband, I will find a way but only with God's help.

It was just a simple background using two colours of green acrylic paint, and I started to collage the edges with monochrome because it felt right for a mourning piece.
And here it is with the collaged edges complete.  This is the simplest way I know to begin a page - to put a frame around it - and I wasn't feeling up to anything fancy.
Below you can see how I then joined all the elements together with a black outline and a little bit of doodling - it makes such a difference and kind of unifies the result.  The image of Frida Kahlo is there because she was a brave woman, and a heroine of mine who lived through a lot of pain ... so her face is to remind me that I can do it too.  Notice how some colour creeps in - it seems I can't help it.
The writing just says how I was feeling - dreading the day and yet wanting to testify to the great love I felt for my friend.
The red flowers were not only to fill up space but to symbolise strength and my wish to celebrate a life well lived, even if it was shorter than any of us hoped.  So these are brave flowers to remind me to give thanks that she was in my life for 35 years ...
I'm so sorry if my posts have been relentlessly negative recently - there has been a lot of difficult stuff to get through.  Its part of the journey of everyone's life and journalling about mine is my therapy. I share it in the hope it might touch your life too.

Sunday, 19 February 2017


When I made this page I took even more photographs than usual, to give a real step by step sense of how it built up.  I've been contacted recently by a number of people who are just starting out on the art journal journey, and who really want to understand the genesis of a page. So here goes!

Onto a very simple painted background - just two shades of light blue, ordinary craft acrylic paint - I cut out some simple collage shapes.  I use PVA glue from a very fine nozzle bottle to stick everything down - never glue stick because in a year or two the glue will have gone and the pieces are likely to fall off!  These pieces are nothing fancy, just bits and bobs culled from magazines and free catalogues etc.  I prefer dull finish paper but have also been known to use the shiny kind.
Now look below at what happens when I add a black line done with Posca paint pen 0.7 and a grey shadow using a marker pen -  Copic but you could use any.  See what a difference it makes, and how the elements now stand out from the background in a way they didn't before?
I knew I wanted to write about a Mother God figure, so I drew a face on a separate sheet of paper and painted it.  That way if you don't like the result you can begin again ... whereas if you work directly onto the page (and I usually do) it can be hard to fix your mistakes.  Here I am giving her the beginnings of flowing locks, drawing them out first with black pen.
Then I continued to add more and more flowing tresses, and forgot about using the black lines at all - but they can be added later.  What I was trying to do here was introduce the green shades.
And again, just see what a difference the black outline makes to the result ... and also in places a fine white line, just to add texture.
I had deliberately left quite a bit of space because I wanted to add some lines from a prayer I'd found, which had really touched the place of deep grief I was in.

So once again the fine black paint pen came into play - my lettering is self- taught over a number of years.  I use simple outlines and then embellish with thin and thick elements, not to mention curly ends to letters and so on.  Study lettering wherever you find it, notice elements you like, use changes of size or capital letters, and most of all PRACTICE until it becomes second nature.
And below is the finished page.  I sort of regret the green jagged parts on the lower page - I was trying to introduce more of the green but am not sure that it worked.  However, I'm not planning to change it now.
One of my very closest friends died this week, and this page grew from not knowing how to contain all that I feel.  I found myself looking at a version of the Lord's Prayer from the New Zealand prayer book, and it just really "hit the spot" as they say, especially the "pain bearer" part.

Here is how it begins ....

Eternal Spirit
Earth-maker, pain-bearer, life-giver,
Source of all that is and that shall be,
Father and Mother of us all,
Loving God, in whom is heaven ...

There's more, but this was the part I needed for that day.  Making this page and these words got me through a storm of grief.

Thursday, 9 February 2017


I've reached an age where year on year I am saying goodbye to friends - breast cancer claimed one, an unexpected heart attack another.  Now two women who have been a huge influence on and a blessed part of my life over many years are slipping away from me.

I really wanted to make a page to celebrate them both but ended up in tears over my journal, so this is what happened.  I made a simple paint background in pink and blue, intending to say something about the blessings friendship brings ... but then I drew a black line on it.
 And out came the real feelings ... the tears I've shed for each when (more than once) it has looked like it was the end.  I also had to acknowledge that really the tears were for myself, and the great loss their passing will be, and the big hole it will leave in my life. I've prayed very very hard, and surrendered each of them into the hands of God, and so what will be will be, according to Her will and purpose.
But everyone knows that its very hard to lose friends - the people who are the family we choose for ourselves - and tears seem normal and right in the face of so great a loss.  Its also much much better to shed those tears, than to bottle up anger and sadness.
And in the end they are both such faithful servants of their God I have no doubt whatsoever that they will be received in heaven with much rejoicing.  So why am I crying?  Because I'll still be here, without them.    
And that's sad.