Friday, 25 August 2017


The idea of having suitcase (or sometimes a rucksack) full of things than weigh me down has been part of my inner life for many years. So many in fact that I'm surprised this theme has not so far made it into one of my journals ...  I wrote a poem about it many years ago, which I'll include later.

When I began I already had the leather suitcase images - in my imagination it was something small and battered, a bit like the one Paddington kept his sandwiches in.  The strong orange colours of the leather really needed a neutral background to put them against.

The image below probably doesn't look like much but its an interesting technique - you paint the page and then wipe or blot some of it off with a baby wipe.  A quick and easy way to get texture into what would otherwise be a flat page. This picture was taken in natural light.
So then, now working in artificial light (see the colour difference?), down went the suitcases and the beginnings of what I wanted to say.
The rest quickly followed, as did the corner piece of very Aboriginal influenced pattern.  The white was really necessary to help things stand out from the beige, and the other colours pick up the shades of the leather.  I tend to work tone on tone, using shades of the same colour, and its quite hard to persuade me to use more than one.  This is a failing I must try to overcome.
And then ... I just drew on it (the doodling is my favourite part). Starting with strong black outlines, I added texture using circles, dots and lines.  These are all Aboriginal artists ever use, painted with a stick, and I have learned to be amazed by just how much you can do with such simple shapes.
Again the white dots or bubbles seemed necessary to lift the piece from the background.  I just sort of follow my heart when I get to this point, and see what turns up!

And in case what I've said here doesn't entirely make sense to you - the workings of my mind often being mysterious, even to my nearest and dearest - here as promised is the original poem, written in 2001.


Like Paddington Bear I have this suitcase,
Brown-battered leather, hand luggage only,
Yet large enough to contain
All the fears, failings and foolishness
Which I think I may hide from myself,
Or my God.
The true extent of its contents
Remains unfathomable, although
Tardis-like, there is room enough
For a lifetime of secrets.

Now and then He catches me
Tiptoeing down the landing to hide the suitcase
Somewhere I may deny its existence or ownership.
Discovered and guilty, I must reveal All that it contains;
Accumulated pain of years, yet known and familiar
So kept close, strangely comforting.

When the case is empty I feel foolish,
But forgiven and free, lighter,
And I can leave without the baggage I have carried
For too long.

Alas Lord, sooner or later
I get myself another suitcase
And start to fill it again.
Will you meet me on the landing one more time,
Before it gets too heavy to carry?

Rosie Radcliffe  2001

PS Thank you for your good wishes, and yes I am feeling better :) 

Sunday, 13 August 2017


Not very well this week, so just going to post this quickly and am sure you can follow the progression of how I made it.

Done too much, overwhelmed by life the universe and everything.  Normal service will hopefully be restored next week.

Sunday, 6 August 2017


I actually made this page some time ago, and its taken this long for me to feel OK about sharing it.  We retired 18 months ago, and himself had to have major surgery, but its at least a year since he's been (to our huge joy and gladness) well and strong again.

However, we had (like you do) talked and dreamed about all the things we would do with the time once free of the demands of a 24/7 job.  My ambitions were modest - make arty stuff during my frequent and regular periods of enforced resting - and go for the occasional happy outing with himself.  He hasn't done any of the things on his list - like join a choir, bike over to the bird sanctuary, go for regular walks, maybe volunteer somewhere ... and I haven't been on his case because he needs time to adjust, right?

But it FEELS like he is always waiting for me to come up with a plan - and I have to be the one going "let's do this, let's go there". He never makes suggestions - 'shall we pop down the town for a coffee and people watch', or 'do you fancy a run out to' (insert name here).  Nor does he "do his own thing" - see above, which leaves me feeling that I have to come up with ideas for outings or keep him company in case he is bored.  I know retirement is a big adjustment, but .... well its proving a bit difficult.

So I made a page about it because that's what I do when I've got something nagging away at me.  Started with orange paint and dropped water onto it (on purpose) when it was dry.  Not quite the exciting effect I was hoping for - it works better on watercolour and this was acrylic.
Then I started to collage around the edges and draw wobbly black lines.  I always draw wobbly lines because they are so forgiving.  If I set out to draw straight lines I'd probably mess it up, so I give myself permission to wobble across the paper in any way I choose. Try it some time - its very freeing because there's no way to get it wrong!
And then I added something to represent me - in this case I altered a Modigliani lady a bit.  She's thinner than me, but that's definitely not a problem.  I then I wrote down what was really on my mind.
As you can see below I doodled and drew some more but I'd got down essentially what I needed to acknowledge to myself.
It isn't up to me to provide entertainment/happiness for him - he has to find things he enjoys for himself. Anyway he's always been resistant to suggestions!  Once I accepted that he had to find his own path, and I needn't feel guilty for not doing it for him, or worry about him too much, I felt lighter.

But I do have one purely selfish request - which is the cry of many people whose partners have retired and are "under the feet".  Please PLEASE beloved, could you find something that takes you out for just one evening a week so I can watch the TV programmes I like without you moaning?  I've got endless episodes of One Born Every Minute and the whole of The Handmaid's Tale lined up just waiting for the day .....