Wednesday, 30 May 2018

Rest and connect

Trees often remind me of the need to rest. Sitting under a tree is a great picture of just resting and taking in the scenery. But what about all those red tendrils? They kept reminding me of blood vessels, life, connection. In a new place resting and connecting are just the things to do. Resting because it takes time, and connecting because you have to be deliberate in settling in to new ground.

Friday, 25 May 2018


Often there is a lot going on under the surface before fruit appears.

Mushrooms and toadstools seem to pop up overnight. One day there's nothing there and the next there's a little clump of fully-formed mushrooms. But, like with most things, there is a lot going on behind the scenes. Or rather, under the earth in this case. Mushrooms are the fruiting bodies of fungi. They are produced by a network of threads or strands called hyphae that grow beneath the ground. We only see the fruit for a very short season - maybe only a couple of days - but the underground growth is there all year round.

When we want to see fruit, we must be prepared to put in all the unseen work for a short season of glory that may not even be noticed. Any fruit worth working for must be worth it for its own sake, not for what is noticed by others.

Wednesday, 23 May 2018

Out there again

It's always a vulnerable time when you put yourself out there. I've done it enough times now that I seem to have learned - this time - not to take failure personally. Some things improve with age :)

Monday, 21 May 2018

Step by step

It takes a year to get to know a garden. 

This is a photo-heavy post as I thought it would be fun to record the different layers that made up this page. I don't always think about the way my pages come together, so it is good to look at my process from time to time. I had no idea in mind when I started out - as is usually the case with me - so there was no end product in mind. 

I'm working in a black journal at the moment but I started out the same way I often do - with some collage elements. This was a plate from a book about the work of  Piero della Francesca. I ripped it into three and placed the pieces, gluing them down with gel medium.

Next I applied some white gesso to push the collage elements back a bit and obscure some of the details.

Picking out colours from the images, I added some red acrylic paint (Golden cadmium red mixed with a little Golden high flow transparent yellow oxide) applied with a colour shaper

and some olive applied with a brush.

Using the pattern on the hat of the figure for inspiration, next I added some cream paint, just using the shape of the brush to add marks. I thought at first that it would be an arc across the top of the figure's head, but it ended up being a spiral. Also some stripes at the top right as in the background behind the second figure.

More paint - burnt sienna swipes and stripes.

I got a little caught up, then, adding a few elements before remembering to take a photo. Some spotty washi tape, white stripes, and some leaves have grown from the hand (done with a black Copic ciao).

I'm really enjoying adding loose lines of neocolor II to my pages recently. Here I used light olive in a couple of places. Also some black lines on the leaves and to outline the spiral.

I don't usually use a stencil so late in the process, but felt the urge to push the spiral back a little as it felt very dominant. This is a hand-cut stencil and I used the black Copic ciao to outline the shapes and add some stalks.
A few white spots and the page was finished.

I stepped back to think about the journalling. It made me think about how I am seeing new things popping up in our garden almost daily. You have to live with a new garden for a year before you really know what is there. A few bushes of 'lifeless' twigs have turned out to be currant bushes. Strawberry plants are popping up all over the place. I'm getting to know where the ground is waterlogged even after a week of dry weather. It's the same with new people and places. You learn about them over time.

And here are some close-ups:

Friday, 18 May 2018

Moonlight dreamers

For a while now I've been really intrigued by Roxanne Coble's journal pages and how she uses black to give such depth to them. I've had this black paper journal around for a while but wasn't quite sure what to do with it. What better way to explore using darker colours than to start with a dark background? It forces me to include black in a way I wouldn't usually.

'Copying' someone else's style can be really informative. While I haven't copied a particular page or even the content of Roxanne's pages - our styles are very different - I've tried to bring in more depth by use of colour and placing of elements, while still keeping to my own style and content. It's a great way to learn and to push yourself.

And I love the way this page worked out!

The journalling reads: A dreamer is one who can only find his way by moonlight. Oscar Wilde.
I suppose a dreamer is always partially in the dark because the dream is something not-quite-yet, and therefore not fully in the light; not fully seen and realised yet.

Have you ever used black pages for journalling? What did you do with them?

Wednesday, 16 May 2018

Start with love

This was one of those pages that just got out of hand. Everything I put on it just made it worse. It turned into a headache-inducing hot mess.

What do you do when your page is a mess? Block some of it out.

So I took out the white paint and a silhouette mask cut out of a magazine, and calmed it down a bit. All it called for after that was a heart and some stamping.

Simplifying the page made it so much better. Simplifying our reaction to others can do the same. The longer I live a life of faith the more I come back to "love God, love one another" as being the best place to start. It's simple and hard at the same time, but well worth the effort.

Monday, 14 May 2018


Halfway through this page it made me think of the sea. I wasn't sure where it was going. Then it called for a sweep of pink and I really had no idea at that point. I left it for a while, occasionally glancing at it as it sat on my easel.

I couldn't shake the idea that the pink sweep was about flight, about leaping. Then it hit me: I have just taken a leap in booking some space to run a couple of workshops. I feel like I'm in the air, but don't quite know if I've caught the thermal yet. It's that exhilarating point where you don't know if you'll take off and fly or fall flat on your face. Only time will tell, but I'm glad to have taken the leap.

Oswald Sanders said, "A great deal more failure is the result of an excess of caution than of bold experimentation with new ideas."

So, if you're in the Liverpool area on 2nd June, join me for Art Journalling 101 - a taster course for those who want to try out visual journalling. Or on 4th August for Engaging Creatively with Psalm 23. (email or comment for details) It's time to let go of the excess of caution and hope to catch a thermal.

Friday, 11 May 2018

New landscapes

Whenever you move house you take on a new landscape. Not only physically, geographically, but also on the inside.

There are new people to integrate into your daily life. New routes to take in new surroundings. New opportunities and new ways of thinking because everything is different.

When I told my daughter that this page reminded me of a landscape, she pointed out that these are very Australian colours. She's right. It takes time to assimilate all the new stuff in one's life. Sometimes longer than we think. I am surrounded by greenery in our new home, but my mind is obviously lagging a little. Well, they say it takes a year to recover from the reverse culture shock, so let's not hurry things.