This will be my last post for a few weeks as I am off to the sun in a few days - and very welcome it will be because its barely 2 degrees here and COLD. That might account for my choice of lovely warm colours below - my usual splodgy painted background. If you look closely at the top left you might just be able to see where I painted over something I didn't like. I hope that it encourages you to know that I do it all time - obviously I never show you my rubbish pages, but I assure you I do make them.
Then I dug out my collage file and dragged out bits and pieces which appealed to me. I love this part, its so instinctive and intuitive - you don't over-think it you just DO it. Then I try placing pieces here and there, and some of them get stuck down and some don't.
My usual next stage is to add black outlines and grey shadows - but I forgot the shadows this time. That was possibly because I was giggling at this lady I'd put together from various elements - I love her mad red eyes! Since the figure generally represents me, this prompted the train of thought about being a bit wild ... or liking to think I might be, or perhaps could be if I wanted!
And then as ever comes the doodly part where I just embellish the page until it looks "right". Don't ask me how I make that judgement, I just do!
I find as I age that my essential self doesn't change in the way my external appearance does, which means I am always surprised by the person the mirror shows me, as I don't seem to look how I FEEL! Never mind, can't do anything about that so I'm not going to let it worry me, and nor am I going to spend any money on "fixing" it in any way.
I'm off on holiday to warmer climes and can't wait, particularly since snow is forecast this week. Bring it on, and see you when I get back.
A friendship which is important to me has been in slightly choppy waters lately, but for me it is vital to weather this because it would be a shame for us to fall out over something relatively trivial. So I'm counting to 10, and letting something that has hurt me go. Because its right and the only thing to do.
But of course, what I always do when something is troubling me, is get it down in my journal. I started with my Neocolour II crayons, which haven't seen the light for a while. Do you find that your enthusiasm for some materials waxes and wanes, because these used to be my no.1 go-to and yet they've gathered some dust recently?
Anyway, made lots of swooshy shapes in bright shades of pink and purple - such fun doing this.
Then I took up my trusty Posca pen and outlined some of the shapes, and added some black and white stamps. I did think at this stage that I'd ruined it with the black lines ... and was tempted to gesso over it, but didn't.
Anyway, once I got the words off my heart and down on the page it kind of all began to make sense. Somewhere in here, perhaps at a subconscious level, the petal-like overlapping layers represent the complex layers of a shared history. Almost exactly a year ago one of my closest friends died. It was a shattering loss which made me promise myself that I would treasure the people I loved even more.
So I then just had fun doing all manner of dots and doodling, and if that makes the page look busy, a bit mad and kind of complex then that's OK, because our friendship is like that too.
And to be absolutely fair, I am no doubt whatsoever that I can be equally annoying or accidentally hurtful from time to time. Its not worth storing such things up, so I am letting them go because friendships based on human frailty will always have their ups and downs. Anyway, I love her, even when she's driving me batty.
This whole page started with the words on grey paper "I think I'll hang on" - I'd stamped them with the intention of using them on something else, but then I never did. When I found it again in my collage stash I challenged myself to use it, and this is what I did!
Because it was grey and black I thought I'd work in monochrome shades on a vivid background, in this case a luscious lime green. Just for starters I drew lines across one corner with my Posca Paint pens ....
And then it was out with the collage pieces - but I wanted to avoid doing what I often do, which is put a rectangular frame around the page. This was my attempt at framing with softer edges.
As you can see in the contrast between the above and below pictures, once you add outlines in black and a shadow, it all begins to form a whole instead of being random pieces. Down went my "mission statement" text, and I extended the woman's body so I could add to it.
The words about hanging on were important to me because a few months ago, in the face of a second diagnosis of auto-immune illness bringing even more pain and tiredness, I honestly wondered why I was still trying to live a meaningful purposeful life ... when it would be so much easier to give up and just watch daytime TV. A truly horrid prospect, but I guess it was a low point.
But, because I believe that EVERY life has meaning and purpose, it gradually became clear to me that mine does too - even if I can no longer do some things. What the heck, I'm trying (and not always succeeding) to look for the positive every day, to rejoice in small pleasures like the first snowdrops, and to believe that things can get better.
There are days when I struggle to hold onto these truths, but that's because I'm a normal human being and I get tired and discouraged sometimes. But better days ARE coming, there are still joyful things to look forward to (daughter's wedding in November) and there are already snowdrops are showing me that Spring is just around the corner. That's got to be enough for now, and it is.
My apologies for being completely flattened by a virus last week - I was reduced to lying on the sofa watching "Say Yes to the Dress" (our daughter is getting married), between extended naps. Not yet 100% and still resting a lot, but am getting back to something like normal. There do seem to be some nasty bugs around this winter, as well as the severe flu problems.
Anyway I made this before I got sick, in response to someone who was, um shall we say, being annoying. Or it could have been me being short-tempered, I admit it. Either way, I was trying to be very calm, sensible and grown-up while they weren't, leaving me struggling to "love my neighbour" as I should! As ever, such feelings found their way onto the pages of my journal.
You know by now how much I like Australian Aboriginal art, and I'd recently seen a painting done in blue dots on a deep blue background, so that was my starting point. One of my favourite Modigliani ladies got things started, but it didn't seem to need any more collage since I knew I wanted LOTS of dots.
Then, having chosen a black and white figure I wasn't sure I liked it, so cheered her up with red hair and began the dots process, as ever done with my trusty Posca Paint pens. I love this kind of work - it has a meditative aspect - and I like seeing the shapes grow under my hands.
That was when I wrote down what was on my mind. I'm not proud of it - my inner child was rather cross in fact - and wanting to tell somebody where to go ... but actually I managed to persuade her not to.
I had so much fun with the dotty patterns and the wavy lines. At some stage the dress got coloured yellow as well - it seemed to need it.
So with that off my chest I was able to continue behaving (if not feeling) like a grown up. I am reminded of the part of the Desiderata which says ... "avoid loud and contentious persons, they are vexatious to the spirit". Not just me then.
My other half brought me flowers the other day - yes he still does, after more years than I care to confess to. I know that makes me lucky, and I wanted to record that truth.
So I prepped a page with gesso followed by lilac acrylic, which I then rubbed off here and there with a wet wipe. Easiest way I know to start a page and get rid of the glaring intimidating white expanse!
Then, to give you an idea of how I work, I pulled out some bits and pieces of collage which just happened to appeal to me. Yes I know they are all blue or lilac - I seem to get stuck in the tone on tone mode where I use a palette of similar colours. I just got made that way. Not all of the pieces made it into the final page, but that's just my process - try things, keep some, discard some.
Sorry about the apparent colour change below - its the difference between natural and artificial light, the former being in short supply during these dark January days!
Having got some collage pasted down I was beginning to draw some hair around the face, then as usual I outlined the collage pieces with a black line followed by a shadow (done with a marker). I love how it always makes the pieces 'pop' off the page.
And finally the words and the inevitable doodling. As you probably already know that is pretty much my favourite part, and very few pages feel complete without at least a few dots!
It would be so frighteningly easy to take my Beloved and everything he does for me as carer, chief cook and bottlewasher, housekeeper, driver, etc etc, but I really REALLY don't want to do that. I so wish he hadn't had to take on caring for me, but he says he does it because he loves me. That's pretty special, and the feeling is entirely mutual. We are, as ever, best friends.
I didn't set out to make a New Year page, it just sort of happened because this is always a reflective look forward/look back period for me. It felt good and right to conclude that in all of the many ups and downs the past year has brought, there was so much that was good, lovely and true.
The page began with a soft blue acrylic paint, which I then dabbed off with a baby wipe. In reflective, nostalgic mood it was possibly inevitable that I went for a soft sepia vintage look in my collage materials. I used to love making collages with this old fashioned, timeworn look, but don't do so very often these days.
I was just building up layers from my store of bits and pieces, and this time my shadow line was done with a soft sepia (I normally use grey). Below you can see why I try to avoid shiny paper because of the reflection in the picture - and this wasn't even particularly glossy, but I was taking photographs in artificial light.
Decided I didn't like the centre of the frame so as you can see below I collaged over it until I was happy with the result. Not sure why the moon turned up, unless I was also thinking about New Moon? It made sense at the time. The writing arose from the place my mind had travelled to - sitting in that no mans land between Christmas and New Year, giving thanks for all that had been and looking forward in hope.
At that pointed I decided it needed more blue and think I ruined the effect of the sepia, but what the heck. The blue I added isn't actually quite as bright as it looks but is the effect of electric light again, so necessary in these often dark, short days.
I left it like this for a while but in the end the blue was really irritating me, so out with the marker pens and I toned it all down. The result isn't perfect but its better I think?
Once again, I share with you my own hopes for a new year - which are for more light, less pain and a great deal of love, which really is all any of us can ask for or need.
I'm not getting very many opportunities to journal right now - its a busy season - but eventually managed to fit some in by giving it priority. Its become something I can't NOT do, necessary to my well-being, because something in me shrinks if I don't.
Having carved out the space and time I sat down and painted my favourite colour combination on the page, not knowing where it would go.
And then I put Frida Kahlo down because she's such a role model for me, and suddenly the words I wanted just came ... pretty much from nowhere. Or maybe not. Sometimes I feel empty of anything to give, but in the end there is always this one thing.
As you can see I do very simple lettering, and then later go back and embellish it.
These bands also "just turned up" but after this I left it for a day because I got to a point where I wasn't feeling it and inspiration had gone AWOL, probably just because I was tired.
Then, as you can see below, the next day my enthusiasm and energy were renewed and I basically went mad with the dots and doodles! I love that part.
I do hope Christmas is a happy time for you and yours and that you will come into a new year rested and renewed. Thank you for being with me on the journey.
This page demonstrates that, even when you're very very tired, you can still make art out of it! I had a space of time and really wanted to work in my journal because it always brings me peace and healing. However, when I sat down I felt like my mind and body were so weary that I was completely out of ideas. So I turned that into a journal subject.
The first thing was to paint the page below my favourite intense lime green and then started to add grey/neutral pieces of collage from my stash. I harvest material from catalogues, magazines and wherever I can find it, but much prefer dull finish paper. The shiny stuff is a bit flimsy when using wet glue and then difficult to photograph without reflections. One way around this, when I find something lovely but shiny, is to paste it to a sheet of paper and then copy it - which gives me the option of black and white, a matte image, and one that I can reproduce. I make a lot of collage sheets this way, but be warned that you need to think about copyright issues if you plan to do the same.
Below you can see yet more collage, including the Modigliani lady who looks suitably glum/tired, and here I've also added the grey shadow and the black line which both unifies the elements and makes them stand out.
The process of journalling must have begun to lift my spirits because, without really meaning to include them, these red lines crept in. Then I added the wording, including the expression "bone tired" which unfortunately ended up a bit squashed against the collage.
In the final version below you can see that I addressed that problem by painting over it and then shortening the sentence by leaving out one word.
I'm not sure why I added the doodly red and orange lines, except perhaps that they look vaguely cellular, so maybe my subconscious was registering my tiredness at a deep physical level? I don't actually know, and that's not important enough for me to worry about.
This kind of physical exhaustion is something that goes with both of the auto-immune diseases which affect me, and is the cause of the greatest limitation on my daily life. I don't have the energy that most people take for granted, so can only give what there is to a few. These days just going down into the village for a cup of coffee with a friend is an exciting outing, but it teaches me to enjoy the small and simple pleasures life offers in a big way ...
You know how many of us experience a dissonance between the person we are (or would like to be) inside, and what actually happens in real life? Yeah, that. Anyway, you'd think in my six decades I've have got this sussed, and I have ... just not all the time. Anyway, that's where this page is coming from.
As ever, just an easy yellow painted background and then my (lazy) technique of doing a collaged border around the page. This is what I do when I can't think of anything else, or don't have the energy.
Then below you see the finished border with black lines and grey shadows added, which makes a huge difference. A bit more collage too - notably this Modigliani redhead. I love his portraits and can use them freely without infringement of copyright :)
Then as usual the writing - which starts as very simple lettering and then I go back and add fancy bits. Practice a bit on a piece of paper - I promise you its easy. I try never to write in straight lines and mix up capitals and lower case, then I don't have to worry about staying straight or whatever!
After that comes my favourite part - the doodling in the spaces! I just draw happily with my Posca Paint pens until it looks finished.
My feisty inner self is allowed to say what she thinks freely and clearly. In reality, as a Priest you have to be a peacemaker who is always pouring oil on troubled waters, trying not to take sides etc etc .... but inside you're often thinking "will you just shut up and go away"?
This becomes so ingrained that even now I'm retired its still hard to stand my ground, and say NO, or I can't go along with that. I am working on it but .... well its a work in progress, and so am I.
Not much to say today having just returned from a 400+ mile round trip to see daughters and grand-daughters. Pretty much done in, so have nothing to share ... but thought I would show you the journal I've just finished below .... which is no.13 ... see the shelf above!
And below is the new one I have just begun to work in - I'm amazed to find that it is my 14th. The first was begun in August 2010, so its been quite a journey. I don't date my pages but I do write a start and finish date in each book - I get through one journal in about 9 months as a rule. Once it was only six months, but it has been over a year at one stage. It brings me such joy that I can't imagine not doing it at all.
The shelf they sit on is right above my workspace and computer, and I often reach up and randomly take one down ... its fascinating to see how my style has changed and the things now past that I struggled with at the time. They are all spiral bound and I love to tie ribbons and little bits and pieces, charms and souvenirs, to the bindings. No.14 will get more decorations once its finished - too many at this stage would make it difficult to work in. My first 8 journals were A5 but since then I've been working in 8 x 8 square books which adds a surprising amount of usable space. I glue two pages together for strength, so they are all double sided, but I only rarely do double page spreads.
Sorry I don't have more energy for the blog right now, but the grand-daughters ate it. Normal service will be resumed eventually.