Preparing a found book for art journalling

I like to use second hand books for journalling. There is a comic book range in Scotland called ‘the Broon’s’. They produce cook books and gardening books( Waverley Books) that look like old journals and are a nice weight of paper and size for art journalling.

The paper is a bit smooth so I like to prepare a few pages before I start journalling

Today I added gesso to a page with a credit card and then dabbed acrylic paint through a commercial stencil. By adding the paint first it means that you can rub the paint off the page with a baby wipe or damp cloth to get a more interesting result

I like commercially produced stencils but they can look a bit samey when lots of people use them.

So I use doilies that I find in second hand shops. Lace or crochet work well. If you do use them – make sure you dry them well in-between use or they rot and smell bad .

I covered the print below with a layer of watered down paint.

I always use acrylic for mixed media journalling because I make lots of layers that I don’t want to run into each other. I am dyslexic and have trouble with upside down and the wrong way round – I added the cover design on the back of the book so all the pages are upside down …….

I always try and make paint go as far as possible so I spread what was left of the blue onto some pages with a credit card and through another stencil.

The pages of the book are such fun I don’t often add a lot more before journalling.

The cover of the book is quite shiny so I scored it with a scalpel blade before I decoupaged it.

I used a selection of different papers – the back is upside down tooo. And then added details, texture and random text from magazines


Reflecting on my Soul Restoration process

I have been working on the ‘SoulRestoration’ course by Melody Ross since the 12th of January. I am enjoying the process of art making regularly in my journal. The art seems to get looser and looser.

I have always been messy. It has been great using my stress protector mandalas as back grounds and finding a more natural ‘Tess’ process.

I am still drawn to blues and am working through the stack of gelatos that I acquired in Korea. I love them ,but won’t be replacing in-kind because of all the plastic.

Debbie Howard introduced me to them when I complained that I didn’t like working with oil pastels in my art journal. They are water soluble, highly pigmented and deliciously squidgy, the consistency’s almost like lipstick or face paint.

It’s been interesting progressing through the stages that Melody has designed . Debbie is a mentor and sounding board after training as a facilitator with The Brave Girl University last year. I think it is important to feel supported through this process. I feel held

There is a lot of industry – internal processing and sitting with how you feel. My stomach is tightening just at the thought of ‘it’.

I journal and write notes as I watch the videos, text Debbie and use Instagram and Face book to show and tell. I wanted to do this because of the regular journalling. There is less built in art journalling than I thought there would be. I need to process the ideas and feelings through art making.

My group of friends in Oxfordshire are meeting once a fortnight to do the course with Debbie whilst I am in Edinburgh.

There is an isolation from the group but I am enjoying the space to create my own ideas and images. I did go back to bed one day and hide because I didn’t want to work through some hard issues. I felt much better after I plucked up the courage to just get on with it

My pages over the last few weeks

I added a mandala sticker by Emily Lagore a long term friend on Instagram

Fernand Léger- Brussels Expo at BOZAR

I enjoy the solid chunkyness of his human forms – and the really big works – I was mesmerised by a huge abstract with a rainbow in the foyer of the museum

Called ‘Beauty everywhere’ ( I think )

According to the visitors guide Léger was a leading figure in the modernist movement.

The exhibition called ‘Beauty is everywhere’ covers 5 decades. Leger produced art work for stage sets, cinema and also painted city walls. Outside the museum is a fab set of modern interpretations of his figures on some hoardings protecting a building site.

in Leger’s paintings I liked the juxtaposition of modelling for example on his metallic like bodies and clouds against areas that of flat colour and pattern

Leger wanted beauty to be everywhere without hierarchy and suggested that the arrangements of pots and pans in a kitchen were more beautiful than living rooms and museums. He wanted to make his modernism accessible to the general public

The posters and graphic design appeal to my art training as a designer. He plays with text/ image making abstract shapes which echo his enthusiasm for urban architecture, transport , newspapers and street imagery.

For example – a still life ABC 1927

I was particularly drawn to his work which looks at the circus and performing arts. He uses bodies for their visual value – ‘subtle , colourful and gravity free’

Composition aux deux perroquets, 1935-1939, Fernand Léger | PEINTRES : Fernand Léger | Pinterest | Fernand Léger

I also like the strength of line and colour that he employs – I am not sure of the symbolism of the parrots – he uses quite a few doves as well.

Most of the info apart from my opinions for this was taken from the visitors guide from the exhibition.

Textile Museum Tilburg

Today I visited the textile museum in Tilburg( Netherlands) which is about 1hr 30mins by car from Leuven. The museum is housed in an old Textile factory that was built in 1876. There is a modern glass atrium that has been added which houses a very nice cafe.


When we visited there were 4 different exhibitions to see and The Textile Lab. The lab has computer controlled machines that designers, students and artists have work carried out. There machines for the weaving, knitting, embroidery and a laser to cut patterns or burning fine layers into fabric.

I particularly like a pedal power weaving machine and a type writer operated pattern machine.

The factory has a display set up that shows how wool blankets were made between 1900- 1940.

I loved all the old machines. I was fascinated by how complicated they were and how long they must take to set up.

The final room that we went in to was an exhibition about Dutch Damask. This is a beautiful figured fabric often used for table cloths and napkins. My favourite design looked very similar to some mandalas ( 😂😂😂)

More weaving machines – for damask

Damask needs pattern plates so that the machines/ weavers know what to weave – I am not 100% sure how these work but I really liked how they were stored and labelled .

A Pattern plate with holes.

Random photos from the trip

Wool stores

Inside the cafe

Wall clock

Drawings of damask designs on graph paper

Sculpture outside

‘Tufting’ carpet making

Leuven 2018

I am back in Leuven for a few days whilst Jon attends the 2nd European Congress of Qualitative inquiry.

Last year I had to buy gloves with fingers because it was sooooo cold. I checked the outlook for the next few days in Belgium and it said simillar to Scotland. I refused to believe it was colder, I have been wearing fingerless gloves at home …… and I forgot my hat!!! New gloves and hat made.

We are staying in hotel Naamestraat this year because Jon is running a workshop at the conference. We are much more in the centre of town – it’s 5mins walk to the ‘Groot Mark’ rather than 20.

The view from the window is lots of modern architecture and part of an old church yard – which I think belongs to St Joesph’s church.

Trying to find the exact location of the Crypt I stumbled upon a ‘ Klein Stadspark’ which I think must mean small park. There were lots of interesting sculptures to attract wildlife and bird hides for children made of willow

There was also a very pollarded tree that caught my eye because it was so distorted and knobbly . It made a striking silhouette

I visited the tourist board to collect maps and information about museums and galleries. I picked up a leaflet about an art installation in a park where 20 artists had been asked to decorate electrical boxes. The information told me that the installation was in Stadspark which means – city park. It took me about 20mins on Google with Maps to work out which park. Initially I thought it was a 30min drive away. However the boxes are situated at ‘ Saint Donatuspark’. Which is only 5 mins from the hotel.

The paintings have been in the park for 3 years. Some are a bit small and covered in mud but I was pleased that I made the effort.

The first box has a poster to give you a bit more information about each artist.

There are two larger images painted on walls

The boxes are attached to brick walls around the park. An interesting array of the backs of houses can be seen over the walls. One artist painted a series of images on very small boxes. Some don’t exist any more so I haven’t got the whole set

Lace doilies as stencils

As you know if you have been following me for any length of time I am really into circles, drawing them, printing , stencils etc.

One of my favourite found items to use are crochet and lace doilies. I am fascinated by the intricacy and tiny stitches. Since arriving in Edinburgh I have been amazed at how cheap I can buy them in charity and thrift shops.

This week I found a bundle of lace ones in three different sizes

To use them as stencils with paint you need to cover them in a layer of acrylic and let them dry. Each time you use them they need to be allowed to dry thoroughly or they start to smell and rot.

Yesterday I was playing with a friend using Brusho powdered pigment ( and gesso. I wondered how the dollies would respond.

I am not sure I like the weight of the gesso on paper like this – the doilie covered in blue paint responded very well.

I added the gesso over one of my pink ink mandalas

It was taking ages to dry so I put it in my oven at 100degrees C – which is probably not very healthy because the kitchen stank of cooking gesso very quickly.

I wet the page with a thin layer of very dilute blue acrylic paint and sprinkled the crystal inks on top

The inks are very concentrated so I took a print from the sheet using another page with a red mandala on it. The paper I am using is recycled old printed letters so it is very thin

I also pulled gesso through a couple of mandala stencils

These were quite successful too , but I think I like the doily better because it is less recognisable as the commercially produced stencils.

If I use these in mixed media work. They will need sealing because the crystal inks are water soluble. Clear Gesso or Mat medium will do the trick dragged over once with a credit card. I think you should probably coat both sides of the paper.

Another application of this I think could be to make a printing block. If you pulled gesso through a doily onto a wooden / acrylic block it would be fun to print with paint – I am not sure how a commercial ink pad would work with the gesso.

Progress on my Osteopathy commission

I started working on my commission ideas this morning. I had a go at the origami shapes. I was a bit disappointed with the origami idea because the yellow pages is too fine to hold the shape and to get a section of backbone just looked odd

I also freaked out at using the originals. I seemed to have lost my confidence this week. I made a load of photocopies and went for it

I sliced up the photocopies and started playing with the text on a tea dipped and stencilled background

I photocopies one of the experiments and stencilled and doodled on top of that. I realised one of the reasons I was struggling a bit was because the colour scheme is not as bright as I usually play with. It needed more tonal contrast.

So I added more text and dancing ladies to different copies – the mojo returned

A few more layers

I added some more of the ‘yell colour printing check rainbows’ (they appear at the top of the proof page that they send you before you agree to publish your advert ) and gelato pastels because I remembered Glynis and I saying that we liked them in a meeting.