Tuesday, 21 March 2017

WALK THE WAYS ...

 
This page came from somewhere deep inside me, and I'm not really sure why or even how!  If you've ever written poetry you will know how a phrase will rise up and haunt you, a fragment that wants to be part of a whole you can't quite imagine.  It was something of that kind which happened here ....

I was just playing with paint after cruising Pinterest looking for inspiration - I'm always trying to challenge myself, to stretch my wings farther than I ever thought they could go.  I'd seen a yellow and white page that made me think I hadn't used this colour enough, and another page which had a lot of scribbles which appealed to me.
So this was the yellow and white page I made - all acrylic paint - to which I kept adding more and more layers.  Then I tried scribbling around the shapes I'd made - which didn't come naturally as you might be able to tell!  The wormhole doodle is more my kind of thing - quite neat and controlled.
Anyway I made myself do lots more scribbling and began to rather enjoy it.  More wormholes too, just so it didn't feel too wild and free.  Then that phrase I mentioned started running through my head "I will walk the ways at sunset" and I had no idea where it was coming from (its not a quote, I checked if it was some half remembered poetic fragment).  Maybe the white circle on the right kind of made me think of a sunset?  A distant winter sun glimpsed through trees ...

Then I got to thinking - but at sunset these "ways" (which in my mind involved paths through trees) would be getting a bit dark and threatening ... and I didn't feel brave about doing that.  When you're disabled you tend to live cautiously, fearfully, and you probably don't take many risks.  A voice in my head was SHOUTING at this point that I might as well go home then if I was prepared to risk nothing ... which is when I added the words "and I will not be afraid".  It seem to me that, if this was my path to walk, then for good or ill I should set my feet upon it.
It was late afternoon when I was doing this - not a time I usually work because I'm often too tired by then - so I surprised myself by this surge of creativity and the sense of journeying into the unknown.  The pictures are a little bit darker than the actual page because the light was poor by then.

I added more tree branches, a face and a few more winding wormholes, and the thing seemed complete without all the dots and doodles I often love to use.  Some grey shadows made it look more complete.
Strange as it sounds, I feel as if this page was "given" to me rather than something I purposely made.  I'm still looking at it in wonder and stretching for the deeper meaning I think it may contain ... I've always said that journalling is writing messages to yourself, or receiving messages from your subconscious.  This one definitely is!
Its also the first page which has made me think that I might reproduce it on a larger board or canvas, as a finished artwork rather than an experimental piece.

Sunday, 12 March 2017

LOVE AND LIGHT ...

My apologies that I've let two weeks go by without a post - I've been less than well and haven't worked very much in my journal lately.  

I don't feel that this page is one of my best, but then again I'm often surprised by what I like against what other people prefer, so I offer it simply as the authentic product of where I am in life ....it does the job of saying what I wanted without necessarily being my most creative or original effort.

It began with my digging out my Neocolour II crayons - I have fads on various materials and haven't used these for a while.  I love what happens to them when you add water - sheer alchemy!
I was reflecting on all the death and darkness I've experienced lately, and have been wondering if I could somehow put this to positive use.  Then I realised that I already have - it has made me look again at my life and the people in it, so often taken for granted.  It probably sounds cliched to say that I realise now how very blessed I am ... but that's how it feels.

I got so caught up in trying to capture that thought that I forgot to take any pictures until it reached this stage.  However you can probably guess that to the background above I added the circles, and then the writing, followed by the white doodling.
Like I said, it isn't one of my favourite pages, but I'm struggling with my energy levels at the moment - probably in reaction to all that has been happening.  Yet another reason to think about my many joys and blessings rather than dwell too much on loss ...
But I have made myself one promise - to do my very best to live the life I've been given as fully as is physically and mentally possible.  My friend didn't get to do that, so I feel honour bound to do it for her, for both of us.

So I will be cherishing my friends, my family, and the lovely life I have more than ever, giving thanks for 37 years of friendship, and realising as never before that there really is no time to waste ....

Tuesday, 28 February 2017

BRAVE ... NOT REALLY

This page is another one about losing a very dear friend.  Tomorrow will be her funeral and I don't know how I'm going to get through it.  But then again, for the sake of my friend's daughters and husband, I will find a way but only with God's help.

It was just a simple background using two colours of green acrylic paint, and I started to collage the edges with monochrome because it felt right for a mourning piece.
And here it is with the collaged edges complete.  This is the simplest way I know to begin a page - to put a frame around it - and I wasn't feeling up to anything fancy.
Below you can see how I then joined all the elements together with a black outline and a little bit of doodling - it makes such a difference and kind of unifies the result.  The image of Frida Kahlo is there because she was a brave woman, and a heroine of mine who lived through a lot of pain ... so her face is to remind me that I can do it too.  Notice how some colour creeps in - it seems I can't help it.
The writing just says how I was feeling - dreading the day and yet wanting to testify to the great love I felt for my friend.
The red flowers were not only to fill up space but to symbolise strength and my wish to celebrate a life well lived, even if it was shorter than any of us hoped.  So these are brave flowers to remind me to give thanks that she was in my life for 35 years ...
I'm so sorry if my posts have been relentlessly negative recently - there has been a lot of difficult stuff to get through.  Its part of the journey of everyone's life and journalling about mine is my therapy. I share it in the hope it might touch your life too.

Sunday, 19 February 2017

PAIN BEARER ...

 
When I made this page I took even more photographs than usual, to give a real step by step sense of how it built up.  I've been contacted recently by a number of people who are just starting out on the art journal journey, and who really want to understand the genesis of a page. So here goes!

Onto a very simple painted background - just two shades of light blue, ordinary craft acrylic paint - I cut out some simple collage shapes.  I use PVA glue from a very fine nozzle bottle to stick everything down - never glue stick because in a year or two the glue will have gone and the pieces are likely to fall off!  These pieces are nothing fancy, just bits and bobs culled from magazines and free catalogues etc.  I prefer dull finish paper but have also been known to use the shiny kind.
Now look below at what happens when I add a black line done with Posca paint pen 0.7 and a grey shadow using a marker pen -  Copic but you could use any.  See what a difference it makes, and how the elements now stand out from the background in a way they didn't before?
I knew I wanted to write about a Mother God figure, so I drew a face on a separate sheet of paper and painted it.  That way if you don't like the result you can begin again ... whereas if you work directly onto the page (and I usually do) it can be hard to fix your mistakes.  Here I am giving her the beginnings of flowing locks, drawing them out first with black pen.
Then I continued to add more and more flowing tresses, and forgot about using the black lines at all - but they can be added later.  What I was trying to do here was introduce the green shades.
And again, just see what a difference the black outline makes to the result ... and also in places a fine white line, just to add texture.
I had deliberately left quite a bit of space because I wanted to add some lines from a prayer I'd found, which had really touched the place of deep grief I was in.

So once again the fine black paint pen came into play - my lettering is self- taught over a number of years.  I use simple outlines and then embellish with thin and thick elements, not to mention curly ends to letters and so on.  Study lettering wherever you find it, notice elements you like, use changes of size or capital letters, and most of all PRACTICE until it becomes second nature.
And below is the finished page.  I sort of regret the green jagged parts on the lower page - I was trying to introduce more of the green but am not sure that it worked.  However, I'm not planning to change it now.
One of my very closest friends died this week, and this page grew from not knowing how to contain all that I feel.  I found myself looking at a version of the Lord's Prayer from the New Zealand prayer book, and it just really "hit the spot" as they say, especially the "pain bearer" part.

Here is how it begins ....

Eternal Spirit
Earth-maker, pain-bearer, life-giver,
Source of all that is and that shall be,
Father and Mother of us all,
Loving God, in whom is heaven ...

There's more, but this was the part I needed for that day.  Making this page and these words got me through a storm of grief.

Thursday, 9 February 2017

MANY TEARS ...

I've reached an age where year on year I am saying goodbye to friends - breast cancer claimed one, an unexpected heart attack another.  Now two women who have been a huge influence on and a blessed part of my life over many years are slipping away from me.

I really wanted to make a page to celebrate them both but ended up in tears over my journal, so this is what happened.  I made a simple paint background in pink and blue, intending to say something about the blessings friendship brings ... but then I drew a black line on it.
 And out came the real feelings ... the tears I've shed for each when (more than once) it has looked like it was the end.  I also had to acknowledge that really the tears were for myself, and the great loss their passing will be, and the big hole it will leave in my life. I've prayed very very hard, and surrendered each of them into the hands of God, and so what will be will be, according to Her will and purpose.
But everyone knows that its very hard to lose friends - the people who are the family we choose for ourselves - and tears seem normal and right in the face of so great a loss.  Its also much much better to shed those tears, than to bottle up anger and sadness.
And in the end they are both such faithful servants of their God I have no doubt whatsoever that they will be received in heaven with much rejoicing.  So why am I crying?  Because I'll still be here, without them.    
And that's sad.

Tuesday, 31 January 2017

NIGHT REFLECTIONS

 
This page was mainly worked on in the middle of the night - insomniacs R us.  A few days earlier, faced with a blank journal page, I'd challenged myself NOT to paint the background a single colour and to lay down blocks of random mixed up shades.  Below is the result.

I liked it but it sure as heck didn't feel like me.  Anyway, a challenge is a challenge so then I added some strong marks against the background.  Still wasn't sure where it was going .... but I enjoy the journey anyway.
Then, unable to sleep, I got up and did this (that's why the colours look different under the electric light).  The words had been swirling around my head and I'd got up only intending to write them down, but decided I might as well write them on the page.
The other challenge was to use my own handwriting for a change, which would have worked better if I hadn't been writing with a Posca paint pen, which was a bit thick.

However, the result was THIS!  More related to my usual style of working and yet without the coherence that I usually aim for.  But that became the whole point of the piece - sometimes all you can see in your life is light and shade, random colours, some darkness. Yet, if you look for them there are patterns and brightness, so that you can feel part of a greater whole and purpose, even if you can't quite see it.
So out of sleeplessness and night thoughts, comes a wisdom I need to hold onto when life feels random and chaotic, and in particular the Grace at the heart of all things...

Tuesday, 17 January 2017

I JUST CAN'T

  
Sorry about the darkness of this picture of the finished page ... the weather was grey and grim at the time!

You can see below the simple background, done with Neocolour II watercolour crayons.  I love these, and how they react when touched with water.  You can still see where I've rubbed different shades on the page, like the slightly turquoise rivulet going from top to bottom ...
Its fun to work WITH that sometimes, so my next step was to outline that shape with black Posca paint pen, and enhance that sense of movement.  You could use other black pens, but I find this gives me the deepest black of all, and I love the contrast it gives. You need the finest point Posca pen for this, which is 0.7mm.
Then as you can see I added some collage in circular shapes, which felt right with the sinuous lines.  I was thinking about a journey here, so these kind of became potential blockages or threats?  My memory problems are such that I don't always remember what I was thinking afterwards, but that doesn't seem to matter.
Then it became more cellular and almost medical looking, with little clusters and connections, and pink almost dangerous cells in places.  This page sprang from my beloved's failure to understand (or remember) exactly how the illness I have affects me. These words are something of a cry from my heart ....
Himself gets a bit frustrated with me sometimes, like when I ask him to make a phone call for me because I can't do it.  There are days when the cognitive symptoms I experience are overwhelming, and the thought of having to ring someone and explain something is more than my brain can deal with.  However, because I CAN do it much of the time, he clearly didn't want to do something for me that I can usually do for myself.

This made me incredibly sad, as yet another example of how my being ill both comes between us and yet makes me dependent.  The page and its words could also mean a lot of other things, and maybe it says something different for you that speaks into your life?  If that's true then I hope it helps, as getting this down on paper helps me.

Tuesday, 3 January 2017

NEW YEAR ...

  
We've had a very quiet Christmas and New Year, which gave me time to make this page in my brand new journal ... its not often that I begin a new one (this is number 13) right as the year turns.  It feels sort of auspicious somehow?  OK just me then.

I had a very broad idea of what I wanted to do - a central figure, a statement about new year, and some general observations on how I feel about it ... given the general climate of gloom etc etc.  I painted the simple outline of a figure first, then added the red background around it.
Then the "opening statement" and some work on the figure followed.  Apologies for the fact that some of these pictures were taken in daylight and some in artificial lighting - which makes the red look pinker.
I wanted to do something like New Year fireworks on the page, with the figure outlined against them.  This began by using a curly stamp on yellow paper, which I then cut out and stuck down.  I also added some reflections on the aforesaid atmosphere of gloom ... feeling that this is being somewhat overstated by the world's media. At least I hope so.
So more curly bits and pieces and more writing - I don't do resolutions exactly, so this is more of a statement of hopeful intent. I plan to remain optimistic and hopeful about the essential goodness of the human race, even if not about those currently in charge of running many countries.
And then the final stage was to add the dots that turn the curly squiggles into fireworks - at least I see them that way!  I'd always intended to do zentangle type patterns on the body of the figure, but left that to the last minute in case I thought it would look too busy.
Our seasonal celebrations were small and very quiet, and of course I missed seeing my children, but I spent some high quality time with my Beloved and that can only be a Good Thing.  Happy 2017 to you all ...

Friday, 23 December 2016

IN FESTIVE MODE ...?

I don't often do pages specific to a season or festival - like most people I tend to be busy at such times anyway!  This however ended up being a necessary reflection and something I needed to work on.

For the first time in 37 years, none of our children will be with us at Christmas, and we aren't free to travel to them because we have to stay here for my mum in law.  I've been telling myself that its OK and I don't mind, but actually I DO, and haven't really been looking forward to Christmas at all.  Usually I'm a crazy over the top Christmas person, so feeling like this is not usual ....


I knew I needed to work it out through my journal so I began boldly, painting the page a nice festive RED.  But then in crept the sadness and all the collage I added was tones of grey.  Grey was how I was feeling.  This page shows how I don't necessarily paint to the edge because I know I'm going to cover that part.
You can see the difference below when I used a black Posca paint pen to join up the collage elements into a more unified whole.  I added the "me" figure (a Modigliani lady), and she turned out to be grey as well, not to mention looking rather sad!
So I finally began to look into my heart, and talk some sense to myself, trying to remember that Christmas will be what I CHOOSE to make it, regardless of who is, or isn't, here.

So then I jollied up the page a bit with bright holly and a Christmas tree, and its interesting to see how those colours jump off the page, and its almost like looking through a window.
What I wrote on the page was the truth of how I was feeling, that it was all a bit pointless, and having acknowledged that sadness it enabled me to gradually lay it down.  Not quickly or easily, but I made a positive choice to enjoy everything that the season offers and to give thanks for it all, however simple.

I hope your Christmas is peaceful and blessed, whether its noisy and wonderfully crazy, or quiet as ours will be.  See you in 2017, where I have this new journal to begin.

Sunday, 11 December 2016

LIGHT IN THE DARKNESS ...

 
This page was one of the few where I knew from the beginning what I wanted/needed to write about - light in the darkness.  This came out of seeing a new pain specialist recently and, for the first time in many years, feeling heard and understood.  He can't do very much for me but has some creative ideas so, while I'm not dancing with joy since any changes will be small and subtle,  there is a spark of hope kindled within me that sees a possibility of something improving.

So I did something I only do occasionally, and painted the page black.  Its fun actually, because colours work differently on the dark background, but you need materials that will be opaque over the black - in this case Posca paint pens.

The bird represents me - on the ground, my wings clipped, but looking up hopefully at a spark of light.
And when the words below were finished I could almost have left it like that, because that was all I needed to say.  But of course it was a bit too bare for me, and I started to doodle ...
I wasn't really liking the page very much because the writing didn't seem to look right - but once I put the outlines around it suddenly it WORKED!
And now I DO like it - because it says what I wanted.  But also I realised that I had drawn a lot of beauty around the bird, even grounded.  That helps because even if the new specialist's ideas don't come to anything, it will remind me to look for the loveliness around me, rather than longing for the unattainable ...