Saturday, 18 November 2017

JOURNALS AND MORE JOURNALS ...

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.

Saturday, 11 November 2017

DON'T GIVE UP ...

 
I don't really have to explain what this page is about, do I?  Yes, it was one of those days when it all seems pointless, why are you even bothering, etc etc.  So what else would I do to talk myself out of that place but make a journal page!  I'd already tried crying my eyes out, but it gave me a headache.

I often say that my backgrounds are just simple, and here is a picture to prove this - just a scribbly mess of two shades of blue acrylic paint.
Then I added some border pieces of collage and drew the poor soul peeping out at the bottom.  Yes she is me - it was, after all, a Bad Day. 
Lots more collage below - I love that process, just rummaging through my stash for bits and pieces that seem to fit.  If you look at the bottom right I've begun to add the black outline which (oddly enough) always seems to unify the whole from a random assortment of stuff into a fully thought-out page.
As you can see below I continued to add the black outlines and also a grey shadow, which really makes a big difference.  The positive affirmations are obvious really - just the ones that spoke to me at the time ... and perhaps also speak to you if you too are stumbling around in the darkness?  I hope so anyway.  This is a page for any day any of us feel like giving up.
And it worked, it pretty much always does, losing myself in the creative process never fails to lift my spirits.  Possibly I was just being a wimp?  Never mind, wimps are people too right?  The light DOES still shine in the darkness but I need to remind myself sometimes ....

Tuesday, 31 October 2017

DO WHAT YOU CAN ....

This page arose out of somebody telling me that I inspired them.  I was incredulous at first, I feel like I do so very little, but later began to feel awed and grateful.  As a full-time priest it was almost never given to me to know when or if I'd made a difference, but we often justify ourselves through our busy-ness.  In my present limited life where I can DO very little, I often feel more like a taker than a giver. 

I do try to do what I can, however little that is, and I began to see that that is enough, and not to feel guilty because I cannot do more.  The realities of my life mean that it will have to be enough, but nonetheless it helped me remember that what I can give - which is time and a listening ear - is of real value.

The background is yellow but looks greeny in some lights ... and as you can see below the light was very different when I began work to when I was finishing the page.  The grey collage I laid on top of the paint looks blue below, but that was in artificial light.
The following morning (in full daylight) I added some more collage pieces - the word Inspire was the prompt for the whole page.  As you can see I've just added random text and textures, and  I've also added a grey shadow around each piece, using a marker.
The picture of Frieda Kahlo found its place because she is one of my heroines - she lived in terrible pain from spinal injuries sustained in a car accident, and yet managed to be an icon for many women through her painting.

The words below are simply making a record of what I'd learned through this particular encounter - that doing what you can is actually enough.  Very often I forget that.
Its astonishing how much peace this has brought me - I suppose I've felt guilty for a long time that I couldn't do more, forgetting that sometimes presence and quietness can be a contribution in itself.
Love
Rosie X

PS Lest I sound pious and self-satisfied ... you only have to look at my other pages to know how often I kick against my limitations, and hate the days when pain makes me cranky and horrible.  Peace is hard to come by and all the more valuable because of that.

Sunday, 22 October 2017

DEMONS ....

On a drawing page somewhere (probably Pinterest, I can waste hours on there) I came across the idea of these little critters with chubby bodies and a kind of oval cut out for a face.  When I tried to draw one he started out smiling and benign, but turned out to be a grumpy demon in the end!

Below the background I made with Neocolour II crayons in yellows and blues, onto which I've begun to collage various shapes.  This is my go-to technique when I don't have any brighter ideas.
For some reason I decided to give the collage elements a black spiky edge, suggesting to me that they weren't "friendly".  Its just the way my mind works, sorry.  I drew the little creature in the middle and made him look worried - well you would with these spiky amoeba things coming to get you!
More spiky edges followed - I love how the Posca paint pen gives an opaque finish over almost all surfaces, even the very slightly waxy finish of these crayons.  I was keeping to the edge because I knew I'd want to write on the other areas - something to look out for because you can get so carried away creating that you forget to leave space!
Then it turned out that the creature wasn't me at all, and wasn't friendly either - he was actually another demon (I have lots of those), setting out as usual to torment me in my low moments.  You may be familiar with the kind that tell you you're selfish and lazy, that you're no use to anybody (particularly difficult area for us disabled types), that you are in fact a waste of space.  And that's before the historical ones/sins of the past come out to get you ...
But that's the genius of journalling - because I drew the demons and made them look silly, and not scary at all.  Anyway by drawing and working on the page I sort of hid until it was safe to come out.

Trying out a new diet at the moment - well a complete change of my eating habits really - in the hopes that it might bring some improvement.  There seems to be strong (proper medical) evidence that it can, so I can only hope it works for me.  Nothing lost by trying ... except that, as predicted, you feel rotten for the first week or two.  Yep.  It must be working!!
Rosie X

Sunday, 8 October 2017

CHOOSE TO BECOME ....

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

SMELL THE ROSES ....

 
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.
Blessings
Rosie

Monday, 11 September 2017

SPECIAL .....

 
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

SUITCASE ....

 
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.


SUITCASE

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 HOW MY STORY ENDS ....

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.