Sunday, 8 October 2017


As you know I don't generally use quotes in my journals, but here's another one I came across which just happened to speak into where I am right now. 
This is another very simply made page - a painted background to which I began to add a border of collage bits and pieces.
 And here it is with the border finished ... at which point those flowers from last week showed up again ... which can only be a good thing, right?
One of my Modigliani ladies also made her way onto this page, complete with a crown from my (much too large) rubber stamp collection.  I was bowled over when I came across this Jung quote - I suppose its to do with a change of attitude from victim with no power or choices, to something much more positive and powerful, even though you are basically in the same place?  This is something I remember from CBT, that you can't change what has happened, but you can choose how you react to it.  Lately events have had me down in the darkness, but (with God's help) I am clawing my way back out of that dark hole ....
So here I am, broken and wonky, but with a (mostly) undefeated spirit, ready willing and able to make what difference I can in the world.  I know that inevitably I'll visit that dark place again before I'm done, because I'm only human, and anyway sometimes you have to shed the tears before you are ready to rise again.  I think the word "undefeated" might have come from the Invictus Games, which were on at the time.  And for now, I am!
Nearly finished this purple journal I've been working in since last December, so have been preparing the next (number 14!) and will be starting out fresh in a few days.  Hope that's another metaphor for my down but undefeated state?

Tuesday, 3 October 2017


A message to myself, as you have no doubt guessed!  I was trying to break out of a low mood so I began by painting the page pink - a positive step from where I'm sitting!

Having looked in my collage file of faces etc I couldn't find anything which felt right, so decided to draw my own.  I used white, black and pink Posca paint pens, which as you can see are very opaque even over the acrylic background (though the white needed two coats).
I wanted her to look like somebody who was doing her best to be positive, so I gave her some flowers and colours to look at.
After which the flowers sort of proliferated madly ... and once I got the rose in her hair I knew where I was going - where I needed to go.  I suppose its about remembering that there is always beauty of some kind if you look for it.  All these flowers etc came from my stash of bits and pieces culled from magazines etc - I look out for the non shiny papers because they work best.
And so, talking to myself as usual, the words became obvious. This page makes me smile whenever I look at it, so pink and flower-filled its hard not to feel cheered by it. 
Then my Beloved appeared with a bunch of pink roses - how did he know?  That meant I could smell the real thing, and they were/are lovely (even though they've "gone over" a little bit now). 

Sometimes I worry that everything I make will come across as very self-absorbed, and I wish it wasn't, but pain makes you selfish and doesn't allow much mental space for anything else ... except maybe roses?

Monday, 25 September 2017

NAME IT ....

I came across this quote somewhere but can't remember right now who said it.  I don't usually use other people's words, but these struck a chord.  Perhaps its like with alcoholics - in order to recover you first have to name the problem, admit its your own, and until you do it will always have power over you, instead of the other way around?

Maybe my struggle to accept the new diagnosis is part of the same pattern?  In order to integrate this new reality I must first admit and accept its existence ... and only then can I get down to learning to live with it.  Anyway, that's why I wanted to record this, because it seems to be a truth that could apply to a great many things in life, and a useful lesson to keep close to my heart.

I began by drawing these layers, not least because my life is getting complicated to say the least, and I wanted the page to reflect that. Looking at it again maybe these are actually storm tossed waves? They can be whatever I like!
Next I added a wash of dilute acrylic paint, going back to deepen the colour in places.  I'd used a rather soft pencil by mistake which smudged when I put water on it, but I'm not worried by that - it seems to add something?
Next I wrote the words in a strong black - which I rather like against the yellow.  The photos don't do justice to the colours - its been rather wet and gloomy lately, not the best light for taking pictures.
After that I began to draw around the layers and segments in fine black Posca paint pen, and to decorate each one.  The use of earth tones is deliberate; I was thinking of the layers of the earth as the layers we build up against things which hurt us.  You can become so prickly with defences that you have to allow yourself to be vulnerable and take off the armour!
The eye is the human element I always like to include, and everything else owes much to my current obsession with Australian aboriginal art and the dots and lines they use.
As ever, the journalling process was cathartic - which is mainly why I do it, although I love splashing about with paint anyway. What is written here is quite true - at least for me, because once I was able to say out loud "I have Fibromyalgia and now I have Psoriatic Arthritis as well", it helped me to accept this new reality and to feel less overwhelmed by it all.

Having half the energy I had before means I am a lot less productive at the moment, which is why there was a long gap since my last post as I had nothing to share.  I TRY to post weekly but can't always manage it.

Monday, 11 September 2017


It was one of those days when I feel like I contribute nothing, just sit here in my wheelchair, etc etc, at a time when to be disabled means that you are no longer a worthwhile person.  Then I remembered how, when my daughters were small, I used to tell them how special they were and how there was no-one in the whole world quite like them. This got me wondering why I wasn't feeling that way, until I realised I needed someone to remind me ... and since there was nobody else I looked in the mirror and said "you're special, Rosie, you are a unique person who has work to do".

And that got me thinking about the fact that everyone has days when they feel this way, and everyone needs someone to remind them how special they are.  So I made this page for me, but also for YOU - special people with SO much to give to the world around you, no matter on how small a scale you have to operate.

I painted a central panel on the page a nice cheerful yellow - I know it looks a bit greeny but it IS yellow - and used the baby wipe technique to blot it off and make interesting marks in the paint.
As you can see, I left a white space around the edge because I knew I was going to make a border.  As usual I just pulled out pieces of collage gleaned from magazines and other places and cut out sections to edge and overlap.
When I added a grey shadow edge (Promarker) and a strong black line (Posca paint pen) it started to look less random and more of a unified whole.
The face came next - following my policy of always using something human to ground the page - and then I think the rest is self explanatory?  Its a page to look at on one of "those" days when you feel useless and pointless, a page for us all to remember that actually we ARE special, and each of us makes a difference in our own unique way.
Then finally came my favourite part - the doodling and drawing. Not sure that the white squiggles show up as much as I wanted them to, but what the heck ... its my page and it isn't perfect, any more than I am.

I now have an additional (presumptive for now) diagnosis of Psoriatic Arthritis, and that has rather stopped me in my tracks for a while.  I did some crying and complaining, and a bit of itsnotfairing, but now I'm just getting on with it as best I can.  Some days are better than others.  My Beloved said (with perfect truth) ... "never mind love, you were sitting down anyway".

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 .....  

Saturday, 29 July 2017


I wasn't sure whether to share this page because its a bit of a moan-fest.  However, since that is authentically how I was feeling I suppose you dear reader have to take the rough with the smooth?

I didn't set out to make a miserable journal entry.  I'd seen these colours together in a piece of aboriginal art and thought how nice they were.  So below you can see how I basically copied the basics onto the page and then set out to make it my own.
At this point it was all acrylic paint, but when I got to the dots (also on the original inspiration piece) I changed over to Posca paint pens.
And it was then that the first signs of gloom and despondency appeared on the warm glowing shades against the black.  The little figure is a stamp and once I'd put it down, without thinking about it,  I drew a grey cloud over her/my head ... and began to know where it was going.  Adding quite jolly bits of collage and pattern didn't get me off the negative track either ...
So I went with it and the writing spilled out ... but as ever it seemed to help and lighten the load a bit.  It did at least make me acknowledge to myself that I was feeling a mixture of anger and hopelessness.  For some reason I'd had this idea that, having been crippled by one difficult to treat illness meant I wouldn't be visited by anything else.  I was wrong about that.
What's been making me feel so low is being diagnosed with yet another painful and wearying illness alongside the Fibromyalgia.  Yep, I really needed that like a hole in the head.  For a while I just couldn't integrate and accept what I was being told about the unusual form of arthritis I've now developed, but I'm working on it.  I'll get there.   Writing down positive affirmations seems to help just as much as getting out negative feelings, and now I've found a quote which helps and which might well form the basis of my next page...

Sunday, 23 July 2017


Another simple background, made with standard craft acrylics.  I painted the paler blue first then added the darker blue using a baby wipe, which allows you to smear and smudge to get the effect you want.  A quick easy technique to borrow?
I sometimes make backgrounds ahead of time, especially on days when I can't really manage anything more complicated.  When I decide on a background to use, the next thing that comes out is usually the shallow tray of collage pieces.  I'm always collecting these - magazines and free leaflets etc are a good source - and I file them by colour.  I know its terribly predictable, but I can't help it, so when I've made a blue background I get out the blues-purples tray.  I just got made that way ....  Anyway I LIKE tone on tone pages.
And you can see below what I did with the contents - I just cut out shapes to create some kind of frame around the page.  Then I outline the shapes with grey marker to create shadows, and a black outline.  The bird cut out from a magazine gave me the idea for what I wanted to say.
Then the next stage is to include something human to represent myself on the page, and very often the writing comes after that. These stages aren't a prescription for how to journal, but its a tried and tested way of working on days when I'm not full of genius inspiration (which is mostly)!
And then I just doodle around and have fun with whatever parts of the page are left.  On this occasion I managed to leave quite a bit of space, not least because that's the subject of the page!

Mental space has been a little hard to find in recent days - so this is a reminder to myself that its something I really NEED and actually can't live without.

Saturday, 15 July 2017


This is another page where (as usual) I'm talking to myself - I have to remember often that even a limited life spent sitting down a lot can be full of beauty.  Its just that you have to look outside your own problems in order to see it ...

So I wanted to make something beautiful, and not yet another page grumbling about how difficult my life is etc etc.  Its good to get that stuff off my chest, but its not the whole of life, is it?  Below is a background I'd already made on a day when I wasn't up to much else.  Sometimes when I look through these in my journal one of them will just shout "me, me!" and this one did.
I am a huge fan of black and white line drawing - and amazed by the power of what a single black line can convey.  I have a Pinterest board full of line drawings and patterns which inspire me.  I've been drawing "vines" or whatever they are like the one below for years, just as a free movement thing.  I can get lost in drawing this way ...
And if you've been with me some time you'll know how much I like what pattern can do too - how something as simple as dots and squiggles can add shading and interest.  Here I'm trying to use elements in the painted background by drawing around and on top of certain shapes.  This isn't meant to be a realistic plant, its more about what it represents ... which is nature in all its glory, with wonderful tiny details the closer you look.
At the above point, having added the writing in the space I'd left for it, I did wonder if the page was finished.  Journal pages can be simple, right?  Apparently not mine.  So, I got out the white Posca pen and drew OVER and around what I'd already done.
I quite like the result, and the effect of looking through leaves and branches, although I slightly regret the loss of simplicity when it ended up so busy.  Actually that sounds like the story of my life, so maybe it was meant to be that way?

It would be frighteningly easy to sit here in my studio, day after day, and feel sorry for myself, or become stuck in introspection.  But outside my window is a tree where the bird feeders hang, and a jay with a wonderful blue streak on his wings has been coming recently.  Plus the hydrangeas are out and they are palest pink.  I love those even when the heads fade and die - in decay they have an additional beauty.  Then there's a creeper joyfully romping up the black trellis which is supposed to hide the bins and the garage wall .... there's so MUCH out there.  I just have to remember to look and appreciate it.  And I did.