Simple colour/ emotion exercise (art journalling for self care)

I did a simple exercise today with a group today – it was surprisingly successful . There were some very powerful emotions evoked

so I thought I would share. There are no pictures I am afraid because it was so personal

Materials and kit

I provided packs of single coloured papers- filled with magazine pages, printed paper and coloured papers. Glue stick , scissors , words. Free publicity postcards

I invited the group to choose a colour and decoupage / cover a post card with different bits of paper as they wished, they could have scissors or rip the paper . It was attached with a glue stick.

As they worked I asked them to be mindful and think about what emotions were coming up for them.

I also provided of words used to describe emotions and a pack of words that describe emotions cut out from a novel.

After 20 mins , they had talk to the person sitting next to them about the process and then say something to the group.

Here are the words if any one wants to reproduce the exercise. (Taken from a hand written poster design on the wall where I was facilitating )


joyful excited sexy playful creative aware daring fascinating stimulating amused extravagant delightful

Powerful proud respected appreciated hopeful important faithful confident intelligent worthwhile valuable satisfied cheerful

Peaceful content thoughtful intimate loving trusting nurturing

Pensive relaxed responsive serene sentimental thankful

Sad guilty ashamed lonely bored sleepy bashful stupid miserable inadequate inferior apathetic

Mad angry hostile hurt jealous selfish frustrated rage hateful critical furious irritated skeptical

Scared rejected confused helpless submissive insecure anxious bewildered discouraged insignificant weak foolish embarrassed



In 2013 Jon and I were both writing about what ‘home’ meant to us after we moved up from Oxfordshire to Edinburgh after 25 years in the same house.

We merged our writing and added some photos because Jon had been asked to write an article

We are now going to deliver a paper at a conference …… I decided it would be interesting to look at what ‘Home’ meant now in 2018.

I have been enjoying making zine fold mini art journals and thought it would be fun to make a ‘Home now’ series

I am very influenced by the Georgian architecture of Edinburgh’s New town where we have a lower ground and basement flat.

This is the view out of my kitchen window – through white pained windows, the railings onto the street opposite

As you know I draw mandalas all the time so I decided to use these as a basis for my ideas. They have become a part of my daily practice on Edinburgh. At the moment I am still using water soluble ink and sprays to release the inks afterwards

The other day I made a series of notes to print out and use as text about what ‘home’ means at this present time.

‘Feeling torn watching the common wealth games – wanting Scotland to win

Diagonal crossing at junctions as a pedestrian

Walking up Dundas st to George st

Looking at the world from my lower ground and basement

The weather

Edinburgh airport

The grey sofa

The sound of a bus

Variety of independent coffee shops

Smell of coffee’

I have also been playing with layering handwriting, asemic writing

And street maps

I also made a couple of carved rubber stamps of Georgian doors ( they are not fine enough to be used on their own but are ok as another layer)

I had fun cutting out the doors so that they opened and then I made a whole street

My latest few are a bit more abstract and reflect the light and the frames of the windows/ railings l. I used a geometric stencil and white paint

A few more designs with Maps and text

I need to get cutting and folding these ……

Group work training

I ran an art journalling session for group workers that I belong to. The members attended my initial session which introduced art journalling for self care back in May.

I started the session with a selection of journals that I have worked on collaboratively with friends from Instagram and FB. After talking to the group work facilitator she and I felt that collaborative work would be a key part of our art work with clients.

I introduced the idea of collaboration by getting the group to work on an A4 sheet of circular stickers – it got them looking at all the different materials and was a safe way of collaborating by not working on top of other people’s art making if they chose not to

I showed the group how to make a couple of journals using different folding techniques – a Zine format and a concertina fold. The concertina fold proved problematic for some. So I might not use it in a class where I didn’t know the clients very well. We noticed that the folding and handling the paper was relaxing in its self. Below are a couple examples of the two different folds that I demonstrated

The concertina uses a series of preliminary origami shapes glued together with the folds all going in the same direction

We decided that we wouldn’t work further with the concertina folding because it was quite problematic learning the folds ( I do a lot of origami….)

I asked the group to work in pairs and come up with ways that they could use the Zine journals in a group work


We chose to look at making a sample journal that the participants could use as a teaching tool . We initially decided to explore how colour could be interpreted.

I provided a range of materials and equipment



Colouring pencils

Paint / brushes

Glue sticks



Washi tape

Paper sample bag – printed matter/Photos/ coloured paper/

As we worked the group decided that they wanted to keep working on this aspect during the rest of the time allocated. We discussed the work in progress in pairs and as a whole group

I am new group work so to I tried to let the group work in a self directed way as much possible. I am not sure how successful I was. I tried to make my comments related to art techniques and encouraging members to stick to the task we had agreed upon …….

‘Synesthesia’ workshop on music and poetry

CCRI (sea cry)university of Edinburgh is running some workshops under the name ‘Synesthesia’ they are using different modalities to inspire writing. There are five in all unfortunately I can only attend 2. Yesterday was all about using Music to write poems.

We listened to a variety of pieces including some Bach and a Gaelic song.

The workshop was led by Lindy Barbour a lecturer and poet. We were encouraged to write about the music in three ways – free writing whilst listening to the music, then to make ‘cluster’ images which are very similar to mind maps. Lastly to write continuously for 5mins. After we had repeated this exercise several times and discussed our thoughts. Lindy asked us to choose some writing to use as the basis of a poem. We had to produce 5 couplets.

The first piece of music was for a string orchestra written by Bach in A minor. I was immediately taken back to my childhood. My sister and I used to attend a music school where we went to Saturday morning lessons for choir, and quartet practice – I played the viola and she plays the violin. Then Wednesday after school we had orchestra practise-in a gym.

This is my free writing to the music seasons I haven’t edited anything rain pouring hitting leaves, waves,dancing, fabric twirling, dancing , harmony

beats underneath, layers, repetition, winding up like a spool, stomach tightening, Saint Seans- children playing, wind blowing, piped music , garden centres.

Continual writing -I am taken back, to childhood string orchestras and violin lessons. Sitting in a gym playing my viola. The beats and harmonies whilst the violins twirl and dance above us, the cellos below. My sister playing, sight reading, fluently, jealousy at her fluidity. The wind blows dancing leaves and the rain batters the window.

Still she plays the tension winding me up like a spool. A minor key. Her fingers fly, my beat plods. With hindsight it’s a necessary layer holding and giving space to the fluidity that soars above. At the time not good enough, not skilled enough pounds in my head.

Taken back to childhood jealousy’s to Jon and her singing at the weekend, my tantrum as I refuse to play along with their harmonies.

The fabrics are twirling on the dance floor, the bows and fingers, feet in time, out of time. Dipping in and out of emotion. Winding that bobbin up and then throwing it out into the wind. The thread loose to catch on twigs and leaves in a park

And then my 5 couplets

Sitting in a sun lit gym playing harmonies

Whilst violins trill and float above me

My sister sight reads with a fluency

The wind catches leaves, the rain batters the window

And still she plays

Strings wound tightly

My beat a necessary layer, holding the ground

So her fingers can dance

Stretched thin by emotion

In time, out of time, in a minor key.

Image blender

I haven’t been making digital images as much recently. I woke up this morning with a series of images in my head that illustrated a poem I have written about playing my viola as a child.

I had a image of playing in an orchestra practice in a school gym

Wind and rain through a window

Violin playing

Very annoyingly I forgot to keep track of what I searched for to find image references – if you know please tag me

And an orchestra of children

I layered these in the Images in the blender App trying to evoke the feeling of my poem:

‘Sitting in a sun lit gym playing harmonies

Whilst violins trill and float above me

My sister sight reads with a fluency

The wind catches leaves, the rain batters the window

Andstill she plays

Strings wound tightly

My beat a necessary layer, holding the ground

So her fingers can dance

Stretched thin by emotion

In time, out of time, in a minor key’

In the Blender App you choose 2 images and then filter them choosing a filter and the % of images on a sliding scale. When you Save you can choose to flatten the image and then layer this image with another – building up translucent overlays.

First go- with an orchestra added

Violin added

I messed about with the colour balance and filters and added the hand with vibrato

Final image cropped to add a more abstract feel

Happy mail envelopes

One of the things I love about all the mail art swaps I do is receiving the mail. Jon complained at the start about all the lovely envelopes that kept coming through the door!

My letter journal group are particularly inspiring

Here are a few of my recent sets

Mandalas and stencils …..

I decided that I needed some orange and pink this morning

And then my friend Jade posted some of hers on FB with women on and I was inspired to add some to mine

I tried biro, sharpie and uniball eye – they looked ok – but needed the messy indigo shading to stand out

I think Uniball Eye pens are my favourite – I just wish they would do a refillable one to cut down on the plastic …….. Pilot do one, but the ink is not quite the same. In the interests of the environment that is what I am swapping over to as my stash runs out.

Rubber stamp carving

I have always liked Lino cutting and really enjoy the feeling of cutting into butter that you can get when carving rubbers. I use Lino and wood cutting tools. Last year ‘The ‘Flying Tiger’ stores sold kits. which were very reasonably priced.

I have been wanting to add to my Edinburgh building collection – I have a stamp of the Scott Monument that I have used regularly in my art over the past couple of years

I wanted to do an Edinburgh Castle. I found a view without too many crenellations. I always draw designs on the rubber with biro- it’s easily removed if you make a mistake and is a good sized line to cut.

The problem with making stamps is that they have to be a reflection of what you want printed …. the Scott Monument is symmetrical …..

I now have a fab back to front stamp of the Castle. I decided to leave the back ground in the stamp and to carve at an angle so that it looks like rain …..

I look out for rubbers in office supply shops and Paperchase sales have been a great source they reduce their’s in different shapes and sizes down to 50p regularly.

I was so fed up with my back to front Castle, that I had a go at doing a variety of smaller stamps

I wanted to try a mandala – this is quite tricky because you have to decide what you want black/ white/ line etc – instead of just solid shapes. I am not naturally neat enough to do very neat complicated designs, when cutting.

I was pleased with this one so I did another. Remembering to take some prints when it was just an out line, so that I could do two colour printing

I also really liked the bird design so I added it to a pen and ink mandala

The bird worked so well I decided to carve a larger design with 6 birds

This uses the Flying Tiger rubber blocks – which look like liquorice Allsorts from the side – they are layers of colour so that you can see how deep you need to carve. Which is very handy.

The blocks come in black and white or blue and pink ( when you can get them ….)

Below is a selection of prints. I used acrylic paint applied with a paint brush ……..

Below is a collage of some art journalling pages I added the stamps to