The weight of others

I have been struggling to find a way of sealing photocopies of my doodles – I have spent an arm and a leg on expensive varnishes and spray sealant only to find by accident that gesso does the trick!

The document journal prompt this week was ( work over the top of something good – I have been obsessed with doodling on security envelopes and had made a couple of mandala. I fancied having a go at Lorraine Bells approach of painting a face over the top of something (

So I took my photocopy -that I had printed for something else and covered it with cheap white gesso


I drew a face shape and painted it with white acrylic and then drew on top of that in a Stabillo water soluble crayon
The hair was too thin so I added water and dripped the pencil down the page


I borrowed the inspiration for my face from ‘Swoon’ I like the energetic way she draws and want to sort out a way of drawing faces that is mine and not too cute – but that I can reproduce for journaling


I wanted a slightly bashed face to represent the words ‘ The stuff of others carries often an enormous weight I think which we only recognise as such once it’s passed.’ A friend said this to me this week



Asthma , art journalling and me

I started using an inhaler when I first went to London to do an art degree when I was 19yrs- before that I had hay fever, sneezing fits that lasted so long I bruised my stomach.

When the asthma arrived , the hay fever stopped – I don’t remember when it happened exactly but I don’t sneeze any more I just wheeze

All sorts of things set me off – animals with fur and feathers , damp, mould, strong smells – passive smoking

I control it with antihistamine and preventative drugs

I am struggling at the moment because we had a flood in our bedroom – there is a bath in my bed room itself ( why? It was there when we moved in) the pipes between the bath and the taps leaked over a period of time and then flooded – we woke in the night to the sound of rushing water behind the wall …….

Anyway it hasn’t dried out properly and when we had a carpenter and a plumber in there was black mould all behind a cupboard and under the floor boards – this has been treated but I can’t sleep in our bed with out having a reaction

So I think my levels of allergic reaction are a bit high and my chest is a bit tight – it is easy for me to forget to breathe

I occasionally ( well a lot actually) hold onto my breath and clamp down on my stomach when I am stressed or in an emotional situation – which as I have intimated before is ongoing at the moment

I am surprised at how powerful I have reacted physically to the art journalling
– Deb has said that it is the same for her – I suppose it is not so surprising as we are visually orientated – but it is a bit of a shock. The idea that drawing windows and doors . Playing with the concept of standing on a threshold and then shutting the door metaphorically could impact on me quite so strongly

I feel things visually and experience embodied reactions

Yesterday I went around the National art gallery in Edinburgh and looked at the latest Scottish art society exhibition with a friend . We stopped at a vibrantly coloured huge abstract work. My friend said she loved it – my first reaction to the clashing colours and vibrant paint was that I hated it- then I stopped and I had an embodied reaction to it which I liked – I sighed – she laughed – I said well maybe I don’t hate it after all .

Sometimes I feel over stimulated . By lights, advertising , window displays –
I had a breakdown of sorts when my children were small – I couldn’t bear going shopping because the shelves of packaging , text , photos and colours were over whelming –

These are all examples of how I respond to the visual so may be I shouldn’t feel so surprised after all – I said to Jon this morning – what has he brought me up to Scotland to do? Lots of good work he replied ……….

Don’t forget to Breathe

I am feeling very stuck with my IBS – I seem to have shut everything down – my chest is tight , stomach bloated and I feel distant from everything

I had a thought that this visual journalling is a powerful tool for me so maybe I locked everything behind my windows and doors – lol!

I started concentrating on my breathing – checking in with what I was doing with my tummy – not letting it move – my lungs – not letting them expand – I realised that I had shut everything down. (It was even more powerful saying it out loud to my hubby )

The family stuff that I am not talking about here can be overwhelming sometimes- it hangs in the air, not being talked about- then talked about too much

a friend said to me

‘The stuff of others carries often an enormous weight I think which we only recognise as such once it’s passed.’ ( Dagmar 2015)
I haven’t added this to my breathing pages yet – but it is going in there somewhere

I have asthma and take preventative drugs morning and evening – we have had to move out of our bedroom because we had a flood that hasn’t dried out yet and keeps setting me off with a coughing fit – (I think that is another journal page for later)

I was so ebullient about the fact that I had realised I wasn’t breathing properly that I made 3 pages




Collaborative art

Wednesday 11th Feb

One of the things I have enjoyed the last 18 months is collaborating on art projects ‘jams’ in Instagram parlance . Where 3 or 4 people work on one or a series of pieces – normally ATCs or postcards. These travel and then one comes back to you when they are all finished.

I received an ATC back from a friend today – I was the jam – I.e I worked on the second layer and then she finished the card. One of the things I like is that you never know what is going to come back!


Dagmar and I decided that we would like to work on some collaborative art together. A conversation with her a couple of weeks ago sparked all my soul searching journalling . So I was excited that we would be communicating in a

Dagmar brought some MDF boards to my house to work on . We decided to work in layers swapping the boards after random amount time had passed and we felt it was appropriate to swap.

Dagmar mentioned that she liked to work in a monochromatic way with acrylic. I have been working quite graphically recently but was happy to try anything

We added a surface of white Gesso to seal the boards with a credit card – below I have written down the techniques we used , they are not necessarily in the correct order. I have labelled the boards A and B .

When I worked I was thinking about texture, the surface , the words I was thinking about whilst working – assemblage and other.

We talked about the process, our daughters, their respective job hunting , made tea, talked about our day so far , a conference in Manchester – what we liked about the work , how we enjoyed the experience of working together . We are friends already but it was a new experience

A- torn pieces of security envelopes applied and glued with Modge Podge
Then another layer of white gesso

B – scumbled white acrylic

A- white acrylic /pencil

B – large magazine letters and some torn security envelopes – white gesso

A- credit card gesso – pencil – small magazine layers – gesso

B- White blue black acrylic – scumbled credit card / scraped / drawn into

A- pink and orange music paper – blue and white acrylic pencil

B pink and orange music paper , blue black White acrylic pencil scraping and washing back

Looking at the pieces after 3hrs – we decided to work on them another session- there are no rules, nothing on the boards is sacred and can be worked over

Monday 16th Feb
I have been completely obsessed with drawing my particle physics circle patterns – the boards have been put away in my kitchen between some art equipment in the dark – it felt like they were whispering and chatting to each other – I had an itch to draw my pattern all over them.

As she left on Wednesday Dagmar had suggested that I could work on the boards Inbetween out sessions if I liked – initially I said no – but the itch to doodle all over them would not go away

Below are the stages of the boards we produced on Wednesday as with all good intentions we don’t seem to have produced the same amount of photos for each piece- below that is a grid of close ups of parts of the work




This is what they look like now



Playing with wave particle designs in my journal

I cannot stop drawing overlapping series of circles. I started drawing flowers as decorations for journal pages when I realised that the pen was causing all sorts of visual distortion. It was a bit masochistic because looking at Bridget Riley and other OP art stuff is a bit like looking at my migraine Auras.

I tried the circle doodle on top of the security envelope and I am going to have to search out a source for this design – it’s fab , the circles make Moire type patterns – very pleased with my self

There will be all sorts of applications for illustrating post i structuralist writing lol!

Windows and more Thresholds

I decided that I was not quite up to the effort required to totally get better with my IBS- I feel that journalling is helping me explore all sorts of stuff that has been simmering away under the surface- I needed to stand back and take stock – so I added some windows over the top of my IBS pictures, I am looking in


I had such fun drawing the windows – I did some more as stickers and then layered Washi tape and ink over the top


I woke up this morning singing Dusty Springfield’s version of ‘the windmills of my mind’ – though I was singing. ‘The windows of my mind’ I found another song by Beth Hart called ‘Thru the windows of my mind’ but it was the Dusty version that ‘jangled in my head’ and the ‘fragment ‘ went round and round refusing to be put down . ( Alan Berman and Martha Berman Lyrics 1968)

I also liked line ‘the ripples from a pebble someone tossed in a steam’ which is apt because of my particle wave doodles I keep adding to doodles at the moment

Back to the window drawings
I drew 9 designs and photocopied them reducing the size each time.

I cut one design out , making the windows open like a door – with a smaller version inside 4 times and stuck them on top of the Windmill lyrics.

I am enjoying working in 3D


I am trying to work on a coloured design – I need to draw and colour in on the back of the window flaps for it to really work. Here is WIP that I have used in my documented life journal for Feb 2015


Irritable bowel syndrome

I have had IBS for about 7 yrs now – it all started with a summer of tummy migraines that only children, not 46yr olds are supposed to get. I don’t know what started it off – stress? Loosing my mum the previous year?

I haven’t always had a problem with food – my family has a round shape on the female side, too much food and not enough exercise?

Las year my daughter persuaded me to get tested for food intolerance so I try and be gluten and dairy free- I am fine as long as I don’t get emotionally upset or get exposed to too many allergens- which set of excema and asthma.

I think the most annoying aspect is the lethargy which has improved with cutting out gluten – I have a sweet tooth and am constantly bashed by packaged gluten free alternatives which are packed with chemicals – that I can’t seem to stay away from

I have a love hate time with it. I tried to do two images today in my journal- one which showed a healthy gut filled with all the foods i can’t eat and decorated with flowers ( trying to represent the love side) , the other page an unhealthy looking gut and my latest favourite doodling – the wave pattern – which I have used to represent migraines,thresholds and several other concepts lately.



I was frustrated by the layouts – the documented life journal prompt this week is ‘more is more’ so I stuck some of my ubiquitous magazine letters on top of the drawings



I was not happy with after I tried to outline the letters with ink – to add impact

So I covered the page in gesso – dried it and added more letters – it is very messy and complicated but is a good representation of how I feel about food and my stomach


Talking to my 23yr old self

I have a self portrait that I drew when I was 23 that I am using a lot at the moment in my journalling. It was not quite accurate at the time – my eyes are too close together and a they stare rather alarmingly .

I am vain enough not to want to use my 53yr old one – and there is something about that image that I like.

My daughter is 23yrs at the moment – the parallels between our lives are different and similar – we are/ were both setting out after university in our first jobs – I can remember being 23yrs old quite clearly , it seems strange thinking that this is where she is at.

There are more parallels with my life then and now

Then – I had just moved up to Newcastle upon Tyne – which is a northern city with lots of beaches near by.

Now I am North in Scotland , in Edinburgh a city which has lots of beaches near by

I had to get used to new people, make new friends , get used to a new accent

Jon and I went to the Tyneside cinema and watched lots of films in French about french detectives

Jon and I are watching Spiral the TV series

I was doing lots of art

I hadn’t had babies, or got married , or been ill, but I felt strong and confident in my skills.


Hemiplegic Migraines

Ever since I hit puberty I have had migraines. Flashing lights, numbness, disorientation and occasionally but not always blinding headaches.

My Mum had them When she was alive , and my sister has them – my daughter had a couple at puberty .

I found that I couldn’t teach full time with out getting them. I had three miscarriages after my son was born before we managed to have my daughter. After which I had a series of really bad episodes. Migraines seemed to run into each other and I had to give up work more than once – I don’t know if these episodes were hormonal , stress , sleep deprived ( my daughter used to wake up 4 or 5 times a night until she was 2) .

I tried everything – acupuncture, reflexology , drugs, nothing seemed to work. I found through trial and error that Osteopothy , yoga , meditation and art , do help as does working part time.

The migraines always seem to come back – they mutate and the symptoms move. The last 10 years it has been much stomach related. I have found that being gluten and dairy free has almost stopped them – but stress is a big factor and lack of exercise.

I am taking a small dose of antidepressants everyday – this seems to knock the worse symptoms and the prolonged attacks on the head .

I had some food allergy tests carried out . The results mean that I should follow a very restrictive diet – which I can stick to at home, but as soon as I travel I get into trouble . Mass produced gluten free and dairy free foods have too many additives and chemicals in them .

It’s not all bad – I have lost weight living in Edinburgh – I decided that I was going to walk for 30-40mins a day, you can’t not walk up hills- so my heart rate soars and I find I love getting to the top.

I have journaled a page about my migraines using the self portrait I did of my self at 23yrs old.

I am finding looking into my health a lot less stressful than working on family issues- it is what I can do at the moment


Doodling around thresholds

After last week’s journalling and thinking about my family I was exhausted – I haven’t felt like doing any more emotionally draining stuff. I felt like I was a bit numb and standing back and looking at that ‘me’


I didn’t really feel comfortable working in my journal at all. Then Jon turned on the TV and it was live football so I did a spread looking at the different surnames I was associated with as a child- i don’t feel happy posting the whole spread so here is a sneak peak
I used a loud background and found bits like washi tape, my magazine letters and a print that I made when carving a figure stamp.


I liked the idea that I am standing at a threshold- wanting to make art but not wanting to delve too deeply . So I played it safe and doodled doors at work on Thursday and windows today
I love architectural motifs and so this was easy play for me. Image making around the topic – cartoon windows and doors



I printed my doors , scored and cut them so that they opened and then stuck them in my journal – more doodling and thinking about what is going on behind the doors