I was flipping through my Instagram feed this morning at 4.45am ( I keep waking up early ) when I was arrested by a piece by ‘gracemorganart’.  Which showed a photograph of some gloves. These had been stitched , the fingers joined together with  many tiny stitches. White on a red background. To me the fingers looked trapped. 
I am still floored by my emotional response. Which has stayed with me and which I can’t quite place. 

An image of my free exuberant paper dancer popped into my head, with her arms and legs chopped off and bound to her body like an Egyptian mummy, cocoon or a butterfly that died emerging from its chrysalis.

 Below is an exploration of the idea – it’s not quite grim enough 

Yesterday I visited a butterfly world near Dalkeith and I was fascinated by the chrysalids hanging from bamboo canes and some pinned to a wall. Most were empty, but a few had died and dead bodies lay on the floor. I felt a great sadness disproportionately to the event. 1 in 4 don’t make it ( according to the attendant ) 

The trapped feeling is focused on my neck and shoulders and stomach. A tingling embodied response. 

I have a strong need to write I MUST SAY NO TODAY. 

The thought of not being able to move my fingers freely is terrifying- to be caught in that web. I feel trapped, but what binds me? 

The need to say ‘No’ to my self , relates to a trance like state that I can get into where I am not in control and feel in free fall. ( Tara Brach talks about it being the state you are in before you become mindful) 

gracemorganart posted that she had to make the stitches to keep sane.’little bitty stitches on little bitty gloves, these little stitches kept me sane today’  I was in a trance state this week making too many flower stickers. I feel trapped in my mandalas and doodling sometimes – sitting on the sofa not moving enough. My hands hurt with all the small details. 

Then Yesterday I had great fun splodging paint on top of my neat outlines like some kind of rebellion against ‘neat and tidy stuck me ‘ ( lol) 


Below is another version of trapped – it reminds me a bit of ‘Aliens’ when they are waiting to explode out of bodies ……

Below A moth chrysalis up close and a butterfly that didn’t make it . I don’t like the drawing pins . 

Movement medicine inspired artmaking 

Over the weekend I participated at a movement medicine workshop. It was called ‘This being human’ and was facilitated by Catherine Wright.

During a meditation about the tree of life I had this really clear image in my head of a human figure as a tree trunk with a black heart or hole where the heart should be. I have had a tight chest recently and palpitations as menopausal symptoms. I danced the feeling out. I am aware of being in touch with my head and my stomach – but there is a numbness where my heart is. 

During the workshop we worked with a poem by  Rumi called ‘ The Guest House’ 

This being human is a guest house.

Every morning a new arrival.

A joy, a depression, a meanness, 

some momentary awareness comes 

as an unexpected visitor. 

Welcome and entertain them all! 

Even if they’re a crowd of sorrows, 

who violently sweep your house 

empty of its furniture, 

still, treat each guest honourably. 

He may be clearing you out 

for some new delight. 

The dark thought, the shame, the malice, 

meet them at the door laughing, 

and invite them in. 

Be grateful for whoever comes, 

because each has been sent 

as a guide from beyond.

We did an exercise on Saturday where we welcomed a ‘guest’  and worked with a partner – talking, witnessing and using dance. I chose the idea of ‘disappointment’.  As I danced I became aware that I was relieving ‘something’  but it wasn’t disappointment. So I chose to revisit my confusion on Sunday. 

I am still unable to verbalise what is exactly present but I realised with relief that the hole is not black or vacant but a conduit that is not to be frightened or scared of. 

I needed to revisit this experience today through art making. 

Sketches for  ‘a black heart’ – I wrote in my journal ‘ figure rooted but with a hole where the heart should be’ 

 As I was dancing , holding my heart or the feeling of my hands up to my chest was important – drawing hands that don’t look like claws or sausages is always a stretch of my ability – I also needed the tree/body to be a real rounded shaped woman  

Conduit / portal heart sketch – there was such a sense of relief at the realisation that what was going on felt like a portal. As I was at a dance session it was important that I tried to convey movement. 

Black heart – in my head the tree trunk / body was red – the background is newspaper that I used as  protection paper. It is advertising a film and it has amused me that my figure could also look a bit like an ‘Oscar’ there is no way I would offer to be the mouldy for any figurine 😂😂😂😂 

Conduit/portal heart 

My mandalas seem to need to be in everything I do at the moment. The conduit doesn’t feel draining and the energy feels like it is not restricted by time and space. 

During the dance workshop we did a session where working in groups of 3 we witnessed , danced and or meditated , wrote or drew. During my first role as ‘meditator’ I doodled , the portal was very strong in my head and I produced this 

Collaborative letter journaling 

I do some collaborative work with a face book Letter journals are small books that are made with 4 pages of light weight paper and a cover 8″x8″stitched down the middle.  When it is folded in half the journal fits in a business envelope. Most of the time I send the journals to Australia or America , because this is where most of the work that is similar to mine is produced. One of the aims of these journals is to have fun and keep the weight down so that they don’t break the bank when posting them internationally – the maximum weight is 50gms – so your journal will need to weigh 20gms or less at the beginning of the swap 

It’s fun to keep the cost down by using lots of cheap easily found art equipment. 

I use different light weight paper to make my pages for example security envelopes , old books , music scores and I recycle things like boarding passes 

Equipment : Colouring pencils, pencils , cheap acrylic paint , postage stamps, stamps, biros, thin black writing pens , sharpies, washi tape, stickers, madgazine and newspaper images, letter and image stencils 

When I send out my journals I go through and add stuff to every page 

Stage 1 

Examples :

Smear  some paint with credit card – add dots of paint 

This image is from a journal worked on with Brenda Lin, Joanne Hughes and Kerry Coleman
Scribble with a colouring pencil or a felt pen

The above image is from a journal with Michelle Hood, Jade Herriman and Natasha Kirby 

Use pages with patterns or textures- e.g old music paper , book pages 

Add images from news papers and magazines 

Add strips of colour or texture from news papers and magazines 

Add children’s stickers 

Colour in or doodle on plain  stickers 

Add stripes with different types of pen- sharpie , biro, pencil , thin black liner 


Cut out words from magazines and newspapers 

Stamp images using commercial stamps

From a page finished by Michelle Hood 

I send my journal off at this stage – usually you finish a double page spread in each journal and sign it. I like to do my final spread at the end, when I receive my journal back. 

Stage 2 

Things that I do to other people’s journals when I receive them 


Top left from a journal worked in with Paula Jeffery 

Add paint using stencils 

Add magazine images and text 

Other things to do – 

Colour in doodles 

From a journal worked in by Kathy Moulton , Darlene Winter and Sue Maher 

Add outlines and layers to people’s images 

Add more collage 

From a journal page finished by Joanne Hughes 

Washi tape – I tend to add washi tape at this stage because it is hard to doodle over the top of with my fine liners – even the permanent ink ones 

Work from a journal worked in by Michelle Hood, Jade Herriman and Natasha Kirby 

Stage 3 

Some finished pages – if everyone had a good go you get back 8 or 9 pages of mixed media fun 

From a couple  of journals worked in by Tess Wyatt ,Michelle Hood, Jade Herriman , Natasha Kirby l,Brenda Lin, Joanne Hughes and Kerry Coleman 

The FB group I work with is run by Jade Herriman 

Loving Letter Journals!

Travel journal Spring / summer 2016 

When I travel I make smash journals adding ephemera and doodles from my journey- we have been very busy since May travelling to Dublin, Plymouth , London and France. 

I didn’t bring any magazines with me on holiday to France to collage with – after about 5 days I was irritated – I realise that I missed that type of switching off from the now – the soft eye choosing , the folding , ripping and cropping – I like the rhythm , the collecting the sorting , then the choosing what will go with what , what will go where in my journal pages. 

 I missed the balancing of colour, texture and space. It doesn’t matter that on a lot of pages I with attach a photograph – I have played , relaxed and chosen what goes on underneath – it is a record of where I was , what was going on around me , art exhibitions visited , maps , tickets , time of day , environment , colour.

 I have been brave in this time and removed fly stickers that appealed from walls and hoardings (of past events of course) to add a another element. They feel different to magazines and leaflets, the paper has aged in the weather , picking up a crusty layer and is brittle to fold and rip.

When I doodle mandalas and rip those up it is similar , I am add texture , another record of my time , but the patterns and and lines don’t tell you where and when , the memories are forgotten , but they are there woven in as I listened to the news, the voices in a coffee shop or Jon’s voice reading to me out loud 

At the moment I am working in a journal made by an Instagram acquaintance Lisa Stockell , she stitched vintage ephemera into the pages with red thread – I have enjoyed working around her pieces. The thread has added a different texture , the vintage text , fabric and layers add a her time , her collecting , sorting , placing on the page . I like the fact that we have both worked in it . I have added tickets and ephemera that are not fixed with glue into her pockets and sleeves.Lisa has been with me this year in Edinburgh, London , Plymouth and France.
Here are some sample  pages 

90 days of Collages for self discovery with Shelley Klammer 

Back in February I started doing the above collage exercise with Shelley Klammer – there are no prompts- but if you tag Shelley and sign up for her newsletter she will send you related stuff , which I have enjoyed reading. I wanted to explore art as therapy in a more controlled way and doing this with her 100 days of arttherapy Journalling has been an interesting exercise. 
This was the first time that I had signed up to do anything with such a long commitment. I always have stacks of magazines and materials so it was an easy task to do. You scan through magazines with ‘soft eyes’ and pick out images that interest you – to be assembled as collages- pick a title and then post on Instagram. 

I really liked the discipline of working with a focus everyday. However life always gets in the way – Shelley encourages you to work as continuously  as possible within the 90 days- so when I knew I was busy- at the weekends -I did a few in advance or took small kits with me. 

I have worked in a few different ways during the 90 days. I have included my doodles- images from Happinez magazine


Produced very simple ripped designs – images from Flow magazine


Sometimes I have spent ages cutting out images and producing complicated layered stuff images from Happinez magazine as before 

‘Love is us….’ 

I have really enjoyed working in this way and it has added more skills to my arsenal. I am not sure I would commit to working over such a long period of time again , though I am pleased with my journal when I flip through it and I do feel a sense of achievement. 

The course is called ‘collage for self discovery’ I am not sure I have any concrete feeling of self exploration that I can put my finger on – I have enjoyed looking at everyone else’s collages and being influenced by different styles – particularly the simplicity of Uma – ( IG name  textilleria) who uses very simple ripped pages to good effect. The 100 days of prompts has been much more thought provoking and demanding and I am only half way through -even though I started them both at a similar time. 

Here are some more of my examples over the 90 days – images from magazines mentioned before unless otherwise stated 

‘Kites that give it to the wind’ 

‘Colour therapy’ 

‘Fragile’ – images from Psychologie magazine  

‘Split’ images from ‘Psychologies’

‘Joy’ images from Psychology today and women’s magazines 

‘Life in a fish bowl’ 

Weeping  woman 

  My journal prompt today was to do an expressive self portrait. I have always liked Picasso’s weeping  woman.

  I love the way the hands and the face are shown behind the handkerchief and the strong colours 


I wanted to do something that used elements of this but made it my own – I am still sad inside about my mum dying 10 years ago and more recently about my son moving to America. 

I drew a line drawing and used blue tones and  added a flat  layer of colour. I quite like the energy but it was too derivative   

      I added pieces of faces from magazines – ideas about burning bridges, travel – the mouth feels a bit like a heart in my hand  
I added the saddest face I could find – which could represent my daughter or a younger version of my self and then scribbled some more details to accentuate features and add more layers   
I had wanted to add white hair so that it looked more like mine but I couldn’t find any in my magazines. I may paint it 

I decided that I needed to manipulate it in my iPhone apps instead  

Layered with Picasso’s original in the Diana App 

Layered and manipulated in Image blender 

More Diana App – I like how these turned out more than my original – the more manipulation a and layers added seem to make it grimmer and more unhappy 


30 day journal 16 –

Day 16 – if you are going through hell  

Day 17 – When sparks fly  

Day 18 – Don’t give up – play 



19- Use what ever you’ve got 


Day 20 – What’s right with you  

Day 21- Finding your higher purpose 
Day 22-love the moment,  right now 

Day 23 – Accessing your genius 

Day 24-Is your life shrinking or expanding 

Day 25- dare to be powerful 

Day 26 – passion is energy 


Day 27- Make your own mantra