Wednesday, 31 July 2013

'Just' a mother

I am a home-schooling mum and clergy wife. Whenever people ask me what I do, I find it difficult to answer because what they really mean is what do you do to earn money. The choice we made as a family was to have a smaller income and give time - really a very small sacrifice as children grow so quickly - until our daughter is grown. 

Sometimes I feel as if I am 'just' a mother. Especially in a room full of people who all have careers. Then I have to remind myself that being a mother is a blessing and a privilege. That's the first journal page above. 

But I wasn't done with the subject. The second page, with its gelli-printed papers for a background and graffiti style, followed on quickly as I remembered that there are many labels that you could use for what I do and what I am. 

And that I am more than a label.

I am still growing.

I am multi-faceted.

I am more than the sum of my parts.

I am never 'just' anything...

Monday, 29 July 2013

Journal Fodder 365 - Prompt #10

This prompt is personal tragedy. How do you respond when tragedy strikes? Whatever the tragedy, whether huge or just a minor inconvenience, it can change the flow of life, causing changes of direction or shaping us in new ways. Tragedy can cause ripples in your life leaving doubts or helping you to discover new strengths.

We all have times where things haven't turned out the way we expected or hoped. At the time it can feel like the world has ended, that we'll never get to do that thing we wanted to do, that we might as well just pack it all in. But when we look back on those times they are often the turning point that sent us off in a  new and interesting direction; the open door to a possibility we never knew existed.

When I did my A levels at 18 I didn't get exactly the grades that my first choice of university wanted from me (they were strict in what I got in each subject). Although I did well and passed all four that I took, they wouldn't take me. Then followed a harrowing few days while I waited to see if my second choice had space for me. They did, but not in the subject I had picked at first although they had space in a related subject that started out with the same foundation programme. 

I chose to go with my second choice and it changed my life. While I was there I came to faith and when I stayed in Sheffield after finishing my degree I met my husband at the church I had started to attend in my final year. I find it amazing when I look back that the person who led me to Christ wasn't doing her first choice either, and my husband ended up in Sheffield by accident because the project he was part of didn't work out and he went to stay with friends. 

What could have been a tragedy ended up with great blessing for me. 

It's not always as bad as it seems at the time. 

Thursday, 25 July 2013

Magilla the Police Gorilla

Meet Magilla the Police Gorilla. He came into being about eight years ago (I have since seen a character called Magilla, but I had no knowledge of that at the time. Our Magilla was part of bedtime stories made up by my husband.) Anyway, after the Albertina Tiger Jones book success, Magilla was next in line. Here you can see him with his change of clothes - police uniform and banana pyjamas - along with the flap that he lives in when he's not moving through the story. 

Here is the fold out block of flats where the rabbits live. There is a whole crowd of them in the bush that can be placed anywhere on the building as the stairs, balconies, and window-boxes are all on foam pads.

This is the computer screen where Magilla goes through fingerprint recognition. The white pieces at the side are pull-out tabs so the reader can  match the print and the species.

Like all good police officers, Magilla has crime-scene tape. The cobble-stones are made with felt-tip pens scribbled on to a block stamp.

Here are some of the buildings of Animal Town.

These are some of the things that Magilla carries. You can see his radio, evidence bags, an A to Z so he can find his way around the town. Of course, nowadays he would have his mobile phone and that would serve for everything :)

Here is an aerial view of the town.

I had such fun making these books for my daughter and she had such fun reading and re-reading them. I've made three other story books since then and each one has its own style. I love exploring the form - writing the story, making the book, and doing illustrations in different styles, and incorporating as many interactive and pop-up elements as possible. 

How do you push your creativity in new directions?

Wednesday, 24 July 2013

My first story book

Meet Albertina Tiger Jones, jungle vet. She was the first character I put into a storybook for my then six-year-old daughter. In our house there were always stories before bedtime. For a while they were read out at a ration of three picture books each night. For a while there I could recite The Very Hungry Caterpillar, and Farmer Duck word perfectly :)

Then we moved on to made up stories. Albertina Tiger Jones was made up by my husband. She had various adventures night after night, most of which we made no note of at the time. Then Christmas was approaching and I thought it would be fun to make a storybook of some of the stories with interactive elements. As you can see, I made an Albertina so that she could move through the story and you could make speech bubbles come out of her mouth. 

I illustrated each page with ink pads, stamping, drawing and stickers. Here you can see a bag of monkeys. Some of the leaves on the page are on foam pads so that the monkeys' paws can be hooked over and they can swing through the trees. 

This chameleon has wobbly eyes.

When lunch-time comes along, you can decide what Albertina has in her sandwiches - ham, Swiss cheese, tomato, lettuce. You can pop them on to the foam bread and flip the other piece over the top.

Here Albertina helps a snake that has managed to tie itself into a knot on a branch.

And this is the tapir that gives her a ride through the jungle.

Finally, this is Albertina's bag which you can open up and look inside.
What these photos don't show are the three wind-up monkey toys that are attached to the bottom of the book with string, the rubber chameleon that pokes its tongue out when you squeeze it, and the bag of plastic flies that the chameleon has for dinner. 

It was a lot of work, but the reaction on Christmas morning was worth it. She looked up with shining eyes and said, "Can you do a Magilla the Police Gorilla one for my birthday?"

You can meet Magilla in my next post...

Monday, 22 July 2013

Journal Fodder 365 - Prompt #9

Always a good subject - perfectionism is the next prompt to view my life through as I work my way through Eric Scott and David Modler's book.

They suggest thinking about things such as what sort of grip perfectionism has on your life, whether it matters what other people think, and why it is easy to see our faults but not our accomplishments.

The thoughts that came out were about how, when we strive for perfection, we focus on tiny details and lose sight of the big picture. We end up putting a lot of energy into something with very little reward. After all, if I make that circle perfect, it doesn't make the page look that much better compared with the time and anxiety expended. 

We start to doubt our abilities, compare ourselves with others, put ourselves under unnecessary pressure, find faults where no-one else can see them, and become harsh judges not just of ourselves, but also of others. Perfectionism leads to dissatisfaction and discontentment.

I don't think I've ever been a true perfectionist. I always want to do a good job, and I can easily see where I could have been better, but I don't get hooked up on it. I've learned to let things go and not beat myself up about it. Five minutes of bewailing the faults is my limit because what's the point? I need to learn from the mistakes and move on.  

I live an imperfect life because I am an imperfect human being. Personally, I'd rather be happy and mess up sometimes than strive for perfection that I will never be able to achieve on my own. That's where my faith allows grace and mercy in. Though sometimes we find it so much easier to extend it to others and fail to apply it to ourselves. 

Remember, the most anyone can ask of you - including yourself - is to do your best. 

Friday, 19 July 2013

Wandering and wondering

Just having some fun with bright colours and no agenda. A bit of collage, some gesso, and then acrylics scraped on with a plastic card. Then some tape and circles, a bit of moulding paste for the flowers. Some stamping, a tag, and even some embossing powder, which I haven't played with in an age.

But what about the journalling? The page sat for several days at different stages on my desk. 

Then I looked at the woman's face and for some reason it made me think of Alice in Wonderland. She looks slightly puzzled. As if things are not as she expected them to be. That sent me to 'wondering' and 'wandering'.

I thought about all the amazing things in this world that we miss; that we fail to wonder about or be in wonder about; that pass uncommented and unseen. In our house we have a telescope so we can gaze in wonder at the vastness of the heavens. We also have a microscope so we can look at the beauty found in the smallest of things - a dead beetle, a flower, a feather, a grain of sand. If you've ever looked at a pinch of sand under a microscope you'll know that it looks like a pile of jewels - a myriad of colours all shining like crystals. And we usually just walk on it.

There is a whole world of wonderful things out there. Pause a while and take the time to gaze at some of them today.

Tuesday, 16 July 2013

Summer of Colour Week 6

So, here we are in the last week of Summer of Colour. Already! If you've only just stumbled across this, check out all the rainbow of colours we've been playing with for the last six weeks by clicking on the Summer of Colour 3 button in the sidebar. 

And the final set of colours? Sage and sepia.

Well, they immediately brought to mind the word 'vintage'. Now, vintage is not normally my style, but I'm up for a challenge. Plus I received a whole passel of vintage papers in a recent mail swap organised by Artists in Blogland. 

Once again I made a little time-lapse video. I've learned a lot in the past six weeks about my process. For instance, I generally leave some time between layers to think about what comes next. Very rarely do I have an end in sight at the beginning. When I make a video which I can't pause, I have to have some idea of where I'm going or at least a selection of materials that I stick to. The limitations have been fun - forcing me to work in a different way, with colours that aren't the norm for me. The pages that have emerged have been a change from my usual style. And that's a good thing. So thank you for all the fun Kristin!

The main photo in this layout is a wedding photo from 1992 aged in iPhoto. The dictionary defines 'vintage' as the year or place in which wine, esp. of high quality, was produced. I like to think that our marriage is like that - of especially high quality and maturing nicely. 

A few close-ups.

Monday, 15 July 2013

Journal Fodder 365 - Prompt #8

'Routines' was the prompt for this week.

The nature of the questions asked within the prompt has led to this being a wordy page. They are along the lines of 'how do you keep up with the ordinary things in life that need to be done?' and 'how do you keep yourself organised?' 

They led me to think about the shape of my routines and the headings daily, weekly, annually immediately came to mind. But some of the questions were about hopes and dreams, so hopefully became my final heading. 

Being forced to actually think about what I generally do without thinking was quite fun. My day and week have a fairly structured shape with room for manoeuvre within that framework. There are some things that aren't negotiable - without them I don't function well. Those are also the things that will - hopefully - help me to accomplish my dreams. 

I'm not thrilled with this page, although I like the bright stars. They're post-it notes that I used as masks on my gelatine plate

Friday, 12 July 2013

Very hungry caterpillars

It's that time of year again where the caterpillars are all over the basil and spinach and artichokes. But what I want to know is, why is it that the very hungry caterpillars always eat the vegetables but leave the weeds alone?

It reminds me of the way that the good habits in our lives are easily broken or eaten away, whereas the bad ones seem to flourish, being incredibly difficult to break.

What are the very hungry caterpillars eating in your life?

Tuesday, 9 July 2013

Summer of Colour - Week 5

If you haven't joined in the Summer of Colour yet, there's still time! Just click on the button in the sidebar and find out what it's all about. 

The colours for this week are red and yellow. I decided to combine this week's colours with the Art Journal Journey prompt for July - architecture.

Thinking about how a city changes over time led me to the idea that just as the skyline of a city changes, so does our internal architecture. 

The old buildings that stay around are our core values and beliefs, the things that stand the test of time. For me that would be my faith. 

Then there are the new buildings that spring up. Sometimes they stay around and at others they are demolished when they prove to be unsound. A bit like friendships that sometimes spring up but only last for a season. 

As neighbourhoods go through regeneration, so we sometimes pick up an old hobby or an old habit and renew it. 

So how's your internal skyline?

Monday, 8 July 2013

Journal Fodder 365 - Prompt #7

Prompt #7 is Chaos and Order
Are you scheduled, ordered, messy, or chaotic? How do you deal with chaos and order? The unexpected?

Well, this was pretty easy for me - I like order and structure. I'm not a neat-freak, but I don't like chaos either. I have a structure to my week. Although each day is different, there are certain things I do on certain days - church, library visits, shopping etc. This way I can have order and fluidity. Doing the same thing every day would quickly bore me.

As for how I deal with the unexpected - well, my family know never to throw a surprise party for me! I don't like sudden social engagements. I can do them, but I don't cope very well. Give me plenty of notice :) Other unexpected things I'm better with. I can step up and help out with emergencies because I have a role to play. Give me something to do and I'm happy. I guess that's the order within the chaos of an emergency.

Friday, 5 July 2013

Don't be scared...

Who knows what trying will lead to? If you try and succeed you don't know which doors may open. There comes a point when not trying is scarier than failing. 

What will you try today?

I used gelli-print squares, gel medium resist, stamping, watercolours, and gesso.