Cherry blossom and a mask

I have been doing Noom for 8 weeks and decided to take up a 30 day challenge from my coach. I am going to art journal.

Day one

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I started off with a home made journal. Previously I covered the pages in white acrylic and added patterned papers from my stash.

Flipping through a magazine an advert for a herbal supplement that offers to balance your life, jumped out at me. The picture had a very slim girl doing a tree pose.

I have been drawing semi blind contour portraits of my self recently and I thought I might use these as a motif for the challenge.

I carefully cut out the girl and replaced her head with my portrait- it feels like she is wearing a mask of me. A slim girl hiding behind a Tess mask….I talk to Jon about the concept   he says it’s not Tess wearing a slim girl mask – she could be  wanting to appear as if she is me – a mark of fandom or honour – something in me for her to aspire to. I like this , I had been  thinking it might be something fake, I am not a slim girl , I never had those model like proportions.

I stenciled a white mandala on to my page and added the girl in the mask. Then the title ‘finding balance’ . I can never hold the tree pose for long so I searched for lots more arms, this could represent lots of figures behind the girl  dancing, trying to balance or the Hindi goddess Durga, though my figure doesn’t have any weapons ……. well not any that you can see.

I flipped through another magazine looking for more inspiration and found a picture of cherry blossom. This time in lock down has been punctuated by walks around a near deserted Edinburgh New Town and the water of Leith. The fruit trees have been heavy with blossom. This anchors the page in time for me. I decided not to cut out the flowers but to draw my own and place them in a circle around the girl. Echoing the mandala , circles of life. Etc. Last year at this time I was in Sheffield attending the funeral of my cousin, this year it was my aunt.

The page needed anchoring so I added some more text at th bottom, create, expand, grow. Normally I like a page when it’s finished. There is something unsettling me about this one. In my gut I really don’t like that mask.

Art journal session with Zoom

March 16th

Intro

Monika and I did our first art journaling session via Zoom tonight. I am awake on the 17th at 4am. The meanings and ideas that we’re thrown up for me going round and round my head. I got up to write them down.

Monika and I decided that we would to art journal too this evening because there were only a few participants. And it would feel weird just watching the whole time via a screen.

Making process

As I flipped through the magazine looking for images and text about how I felt – living during the time of Corona. I was amazed at how many words caught my attention (in retrospect this doesn’t really surprise me because everything I am doing in my art practice at the moments is working with text). I have been using these particular magazines for my personal work over the last month and I thought I knew them very well. Shifting my focus to how I was feeling opened up the text and images for me again.

I have been particularly loving a double page spread about trees, waiting to use it in a collage. I have also read all the quotes. (normally I wouldn’t encourage people to stop and read in their flip through the pages).

The text I collected was: ‘mother love’, ‘the end of the world’, ‘farewell my friend’, ‘the gift of time’, ‘I feel trapped’, ‘home’, ‘life is for living’, ‘all change’, ‘ I’ve connected with my self on a deeper level.’

This quote by Jeanette Winterson

‘ Earth is ancient now, but all knowledge is stored up in her. She keeps a record of everything. Of time before time, she says little. Of time to come, she says much ,but who listens’.

As I cut out the words that had jumped out to me and looked at the images in more detail. I realised that if I turned the tree spread upside down it looked like lungs. I stuck the whole page onto a patterned piece of paper.

I had a scary conversation with my daughter about her night asthma (that’s where ‘mother love fitted in) and my chest has felt tighter than usual since a bug I caught last month. The tree branches went off the page and looked like they were held or truncated by the rectangle.I felt trapped just looking at them. It feels like being contained in a bad way just writing about it. Echoing my feelings and worries about the respiratory effects of the virus.

I also found an image of a women emerging from a bird cage. The lid was open and she was rising up on a chair. At that moment this was too much like an escape, so I drew a bubble around her. She became shielded and isolated from the tree. These were the only two images that I wanted to use.

I added my text and then started writing into the collage, changing the meanings slightly in black biro.

The end of the world as we know it

The gift of time socially isolated and shielded

Mother love, not being able to hug or cuddle my children or friends.

Farewell, my friend – who will I loose?

Life is for living, who chooses who lives and who dies?

I placed ‘ I feel trapped’ above the cage and cut up ‘ in my’ from other text I had discarded, and finished the statement with ‘ home’.

I had chosen ‘home’ initially because of what was happening between my husband and I. We are separating and he has moved out of our flat. He complained today that his new space is ‘ not home’ ( it’s rented accommodation, next door, so that we can still socially isolate, but have more space for our selves).

I found my self circling the printed text with a black biro which has the effect of making the black on white backgrounds seem to hover or float, accentuating the the words and the woman caged.They hover in bubbles in front of the tree. It is as if I photographed it capturing a moment in time. In our debrief, Monika picked up that ‘time’ was a theme coming up for me.

I worked very fast so, I free wrote around the edges of the tree page. I realise now that this also accentuates the containing of the ‘lungs’

‘ the tree represented life and lungs, breathing, ventilators, my Covid19 collage, who chooses who lives and who dies, it all seems so random, men, BAME,people old, a 107 year old lady was released the other day. Who has underlying conditions?’

We had planned to do another collage session after our group check in. I had used up all my collage collection but still had another page from my tree. With the first collage, I had waited to stick down all my pieces until I had cut out everything. This time I was more intuitive. The text on the second tree page would be upside down if I turned the tree into lungs again. I hadn’t wanted this one to be the correct way up either, but I knew I wanted it to be less constricting. I carefully cut the text and replaced it the right way up.

‘Trees exhale for us so we can inhale them to stay alive… let us love trees with every breath we take.’ Munia Kahn

My new selection of text was: viewpoint, uplifting, inspiring, engaging, ‘the earth is like a child that knows poems’ Rainer Maria Rilke, holding boundaries, new beginnings, facing the reality of change, you can’t numb difficult feelings, with out numbing other emotions, such as joy, happiness and gratitude.

I also made a found poem : feeling lonely, regrettable life, pent up misery, liberated, healthier decisions.

I couldn’t believe it when I was leafing through the pages I found three more images of people sitting talking to each other in bubbles. ( the magazine was therapy today…..) I stuck everything down and as I was tidying up I saw the mad hatter from Alice in Wonderland, and he represented time again for me and the feeling of having fallen down a rabbit hole.

Reflecting on the session Monika I talked about how well the Zoom technology managed to hold the group. I had been worried that we all would feel isolated. In other Zoom sessions over the last month this has been the case. However,the session was inclusive. The themes we explored were echoed in each other’s work and it felt possible to recreate the relational through and in spite of the technology.

This art journalling technique was inspired by Shelley Klammer

Step by step sunflower

So I decided show a step by step of one of my sunflowers

Materials : fabric bag dyed navy blue 41*41cm

.Aunt Lydia’s crotchet thread : Mexicana. Second hand poly cotton for the centre of the flower (14cm circle cut two.)

Red linen for petals (cut 18)

Yellow fabric for details.

Red variageted  thread (I used second hand, but anchor do a similar one called Coton Pearle),

Yellow thread for accents and to attach yellow fabric. Purple variegated thread to add depth to the petals.

Quilting pins to initially attach everything to the bag

I have been sewing mandalas using Aunt Lydia’s Crotchet thread. I use 2 layers of fabric and source dense patterns on second hand fabric – I start in the middle and work outwards sewing in a variety of different stitches. I don’t use the same stitches on any of the mandalas.

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I cut out 18 red petals making them the same height as the centre diameter- though a section is tucked under the centre.  Secure in place using running stitch around the edges, including the centre.

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I added yellow accents in scraps of yellow fabric and stitched that in place with running stitch

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Add running stitch close together in variegated red thread to add tone and texture to each petal

I decided to add some variegated purple to the petals to add depth. I also decided to add some anthers in yellow with purple outlines. These details haven’t been added all the way round the centre.

 

MontJaux 2019

We don’t usually visit the French house in September. This year it was just Jon and I  for a few days, then Dad joined us.

Jon wanted to visit some where new . We have been visiting this area for over 30yrs.

When we drive  up the A75 from Beziers we pass sign posts for the Cirque de Navacelles which is the remains of a large oxbow lake. I wasn’t prepared for the depth or the scale of it.

img_20190905_120753 We drove down to the centre and the village for lunch.

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The doors were decorated with cardabelles – the flower of the region and for the first time I also saw shoes.

My Dad is always renovating bits of the house. This year he and my brother organised a new terrace door. Which has become my new favourite view.

 

 

Embroidery flowers

 

I have been absent on my blog for a bit. Everything goes in phases……. Recently I have been making large colourful embroidered flowers. The centres have evolved into brightly coloured mandalas – the petals are attached with running stitch. I have been collecting second hand fabric bags to decorate.

This week I decided to go back to blue

Curating my Instagram feed

The daughter is working for an agency that looks after Instagram influencers and she has been encouraging me to look at my feed and think about how I post.

I have been watching free webinars too. This inspired me to begin keeping a bank of hashtags,

H suggested that I think about posting images in themes. It all seemed a bit much, but I found after deciding to choose a bank of white images. I was more aware walking around Edinburgh and I enjoyed thinking within the restrictions. It helps that the sun has been shining and its spring. I decided to think about 6-9 images.

Jon was given a white rose to raise his awareness in ovarian cancer

It also helps that the New Town in Edinburgh is stunning architecturally – I am not 100% happy with how I have placed the letting on my zines though ………

Day 2

Monika and I were working in Dunfermline today at the Carnegie Library which won awards when it was built in 2017 https://www.onfife.com/venues/dunfermline-carnegie-library-galleries

I had a few minutes after our session ended to take photos. The spring sunshine and the views inspired today’s Instagram posts of slices of images through windows.

The Abbey and gardens look great anyway but framing them adds a slightly surreal feel. Particularly in the stair wells .

I took a load more shots too I couldn’t help my self. Always a sucker for a bit of award winning architectural detail

Art journaling – around migraines

I have written before about my migraines. I had another stinker over the last couple of days that left me feeling disoriented and with my eyes feeling very odd. I listened to a Shelley Klammer art journaling webinar called ‘Diving Deep’ I haven’t even finished listening to Shelleys course and I was inspired.

I used the soft eye techniques flipping through magazines and collecting images and text. I wanted to work with something around eyes and glasses because of the disorientation. I am always touching my glasses – to make sure that I am seeing as accurately as I can.

The words just jumped out at me.

I added a bit more text in the distorted clocks because time seems to stand still, when I am in the full episode.

I wanted to represent the feelings of too much going on in my head. I added pen scribble and white paint to add more texture and oddness to the composition.

I made the collage in a book that I had worked in before. The page on the left had a hole in it – I was very pleased that serendipity played a part – when I closed the page one of the eyes was exactly in the aperture. The framed eye has a lot more impact that when seen within the composition.

Self Compassion dolls

Tess and Monika decided to run a session on compassion after the workshop attendees reacted to Tess’s doll silouhettes.

Monika and I are working with an art journaling for self care group in Edinburgh.

We wanted to do something on self- compassion. Last week we worked on emotions and sensations within the body. I felt that the group reacted quite strongly to the body shapes I produced. I chose an imperfect slightly rounded body shape to work. 

Because of the groups reactions, we thought it would be great to work on self compassion- being kind to their inner critic. I found a few resources on line that were really helpful

https://www.bjclearn.org/resiliency/PDFs/002104.pdf

https://self-compassion.org/

https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/pdf/10.1080/08322473.2018.1454687

The last link is an article by Patricia Rose Williams for the Canadian Art Therapy association journsl . Within the article is table of exercises and ideas for art projects.

‘For example, creating a simple wrapped doll with a variety of textiles and embellishments can become a powerful symbol of the self.’

I wanted to adapt this and make a doll that could be added to an art journal.

ACTIVITY: Practicing Self-Compassion

The purpose of this activity is to introduce the concept of self-compassion. It will allow participants to assess how they currently practice self-compassion and to begin thinking of ways they could become more self- compassionate.

Background

Self-compassion is defined as being kind and understanding to one’s self in times of suffering, failure, or when we feel inadequate. Self-compassion contributes to increased resiliency. People who practice self-compassion can take responsibility for negative experiences but don’t get overwhelmed by bad feelings.

Self-compassion researcher Kristen Neff identifies three components of self-compassion:

1) Self-kindness: being kind and understanding to one’s self in times of suffering, failure, or when we feel inadequate.

2) Shared humanity: Suffering and being imperfect are part of the shared human experience. Everyone suffers and everyone feels inadequate sometimes.

3) Mindfulness: Observing our negative thoughts and emotions openly and without judgment, but realising they are just thoughts and emotions. They are not facts.

• Ask the group what they think self-compassion is. After they respond, share the definition .

• Ask the group for their thoughts and feedback on the exercise.

• Does anyone feel they are already very good at self-compassion? Does anyone feel this is

something they need to work on?

• Why do we tend to be so critical of ourselves?

• What are some other ways we could practice self-compassion

1) Think about a time when a friend or family member was going through a hard time or felt bad about themselves. What did you do in that situation (how did you act, what did you say, what tone did you use)?

2) Now think about a time when you were struggling or feeling bad. What did you do in that situation (how did you act, what did you say to yourself about the situation, were you self- critical or kind)?

3) Is there a difference between how you treat a friend who is suffering and how you treat yourself? If so, why?

4)How could you treat yourself more like you would treat a loved one the next time you are suffering or feel “not good enough”?

For more information on self-compassion, visit Dr. Kristen Heff’s website:

About the Book

The writing activity above was adapted from “How Would You Treat a Friend?” at: the

http://self-compassion.org/category/exercises/#exercises

Sources/ More Information

On a paper doll I wrote down things that I don’t find easy about my self

I wanted to use paper to wrap the doll in, but wanted it to be more like fabric, so I scrunched it up to create texture, I wrapped a section of the doll in th paper and attached it using washi tape, so that it looked like a blanket, then I attached the doll to the page using comments about self compassion.

The above doll comes out of the red wrap so that I can use it for a teaching aid. I decided that I wanted to make another doll today – I get really bad migraines and after suffering for a few days I decided I wanted to make my own doll

I scrunched and coloured the paper with water soluble pastels and hand wrote out the statements, it felt more mindful and I had more control. I made a nest of paper scraps, wrapped the doll in ripped out coloured paper with the colours up against her body and stuck her in the nest. As an exercise this was a lot more satisfying for me. I like how messy it is ….. the top one is a bit toooo clinical

#appmashing

Who knew that was a hashtag! The cherry blossoms are still beautiful in Edinburgh. I try and get down to the Meadows when they are in bloom.

I wanted to celebrate where I am and what I have been doing so I decided to have a go blending some images.

There was a fab art panel on a wall near Middle Meadow walk so I tried layering that with some of my blossom picks

But my photos were to busy

Then I had a go at mixing with my stitching

But I handn’t fiddled with it enough – I love the way the sky shows through though.

I used layout and my iPhone camera phone app to copy , rotate and reflect the image to get a pattern. I used to use an app called Reflection to do this, but it started crashing all the time…….

Using up my grey scraps

I found a padded fabric bag when I was second hand shopping the other week. I always like sewing onto padded fabric – you can get really neat stitches ….

I decided to cover the bag in the grey scraps of denim fabric that were left over from my cushion cover.

It’s always tricky covering 3D objects in fabric but it’s got much easier since I started using quilting pins.

The grey/ blue design was working but I felt that the red zip stood out a bit too much – so I went back over my stitching again with variegated orange thread and red making circles.

I am quite pleased with how it turned out- some of my tension has puckered the fabric in places ….. below is the finished bag showing the inside fabric too