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.


Visiting emotional triggers

2 years ago my son was in a road accident in South Korea – this week my daughter was poorly with asthma and flu and had to go to hospital. I am doing an initial counselling course and found it very difficult to do an empathy exercise with another student.

My irritable bowel has also been playing up, so all my emotional stuff is roiling around my stomach. I wanted to see if I could work through all the rubbish visually to see if that helped

I started off having flash backs after Face book reminded me that I was in Korea 2 years ago. My son was not really in any critical danger but he did fracture his skull in 3 places. So I went to Korea. It was a difficult time as you can imagine.

I came up with this image as a starting point after searching for flash backs in google images


Thinking about PTSD – which I don’t have, but being a visual animal and sensitive to being over stimulated – I thought it would be interesting to have a look at what images came up for PTSD

I love this one but it didn’t resonate with me at the time.


Here are some more I found interesting



I decided to start messing about digitally with a couple of these to see what I came up with – this is how I usually work. I liked the scribble and the spiral

Unfortunately when I worked in my journal I didn’t do a step by step, but after a series of layers this is what I came up with.

You can’t really see the resemblance to the original images. I started off with a spiral clock doodle and then added layers of pattern, text , and a big loose scribble. I tried adding a lady in the middle but it didn’t seem to convey what I was feeling. however I liked the phrase ‘in the eye of a storm’ so an eye seemed more appropriate.

After lunch I doodled while waiting in a cafe, for a friend. Typically I forgot paper, but I had a pen. A few companies produce nice weight paper advertising leaflets which were on display at the cafe, so I decided to appropriate a diary to work on.

It helped to situate the doodle in a time frame of Feb/ March to anchor my thoughts. I like the look of asemic writing – what I use is technically not that – I write on top of my words a couple of times to hide the meaning from the reader – so I write out all my feelings but you can’t read it.

Asemic writing is a wordless open semantic form of writing. The word asemic means “having no specific semantic content,” or “without the smallest unit of meaning.” With the non-specificity of asemic writing there comes a vacuum of meaning, which is left for the reader to fill in and interpret’ (Wikipedia)

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 ( https://theartshopskipton.co.uk/brusho-crystal-colour-assorted-packs-of-8-12-or-24) 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.

Autumnal Dance and a new exhibition

Since the summer I have been layering my mandalas in response to my dance sessions. Recently Katherine led a session about autumn and trees.


I enjoyed making the paper doll cutouts and wondered if the technique would work for trees

I am still working with orange and blue. I love how the colours lift each other and the depth you can achieve with the layering some of these must have 10 or 15 layers if you include the layering on the trees to.

More simple tree on a mandala background

The repetition and circles seem to have so many possibilities. In the dance we were invited to think about roots and the earth. It’s been fun making representations of delicate shapes that have such strength.

I bought several mandala stencils and these have added another layer of pattern. I tried to cut my own. I made my index finger completely numb and the results were very clunky I need to practice to get more control with a sharp knife ( lol)

Design using Dizzy Duck stencils


I have also been using vintage crochet diollies to add structure and pattern to backgrounds

The design above shows yellow paint applied with a sponge and pink ink with a spray bottle on top of a pen and ink mandala

I have my third exhibition up in my hairdressers’Trigg’ on Dundas St in 4 years. http://www.triggstudio.com/

Slightly bashed flyer

This time it feels like I am showing work that reflects a real part of me. I am more relaxed and confident about it than I have been before (we shall have to see if it sells as well!!!)

Grid of the work in my exhibition – I tried working a bit larger so there are some A3 pieces – I will have to get a workshop if I want to do any larger than that.

Final organisation for my exhibition

Exhibition up at Trigg

I have wanted to have a picture rail in my hall since we moved into our flat in Edinburgh . We finally got around to it. Though how I am going to cope with talking to people about my art every time they come to the house ….I enjoyed looking at it , but it feels very exposing and I am not entirely sure I am comfortable with so much of it up (to be honest – it’s a relief to have it down the road ….)

My new picture rail before the exhibition

Mandala teaching 

I had fun teaching some of the other people on the retreat how to draw mandalas. Everybody did very well. It was interesting seeing who wanted to follow my examples exactly and who felt confident enough to start innovating from the beginning 

I prepared a sheet which had examples of suggested shapes to use and how start building mandalas. I had a brain wave to do it on stickers so that everybody could take them away or stick them in their journals 

Here are the finished designs. This is only my second go at teaching my style so it was interesting seeing the other people’s designs develop. The first drawing is probably the nearest copy of the design I drew with them 

The design with the lavender on is my tutorial – I was very amused by how difficult it is to draw , teach and talk – my design looks very wonky 😂😂😂

More Movement Medicine dancers this time in Orange 

Over the past 6 months I have made so many different mandalas that sometimes I don’t know what to do with them. I had been wanting to work with my movement medicine dancing ladies some more. So yesterday I made loads of cut out dolls. 

I was very amused about 30 minutes in,  that I needed to make the images stand out more – the colours were too samey or the patterned mandalas meant that the dancers got lost on the similar coloured backgrounds. 

An orange frenzy ensued which was very therapeutic and got my creative juices going. I had thought I was a bit stuck because I hadn’t danced for a week. 

I made some smaller templates so that I can cut circles of joined dancers – the idea of them all being connected appeals. Catherine ( http://catherinewright.co.uk/workshops/) mentioned us all being joined by a gold thread last session – but I can’t quite get my head around how that would fit visually within this work  – there is so much colour and pattern going on- they feel more like a  ‘5 Rhythms’  Chaos session (https://www.5rhythms.com/). I think I must have had Matisse’a ‘The dance’ going on somewhere in my head too 


I love complimentary colours and the circles of dancers fit in with my mandalas – it’s all a bit bonkers colourwise – I enjoyed scrawling in blue oil pastel over the finished collages , but I think some of the more simple ones are very effective.

I produced some single dancers for some A5 pieces I had in my stash – I think maybe I should draw these figures individually. 

Doodling flowers 

I am regularly asked how I start my doodles so I decided to break down the process into small stages here 

I start with some sort of a circle 

Then I build up the design – breaking the circumference into small repetitive shapes. I use the same ones in lots of different combinations to make different designs 

Flowers petals are usually odd numbers but I don’t let that bother me at this stage 

I go round the circles making the designs more complicated – building up the layers of pattern 

I felt the the two on the left needed more in the middle so I went back to the centres 

Here are two flowers with external petals added 

I never do exactly the same design -but keep added more layers until I fill the page with my design. Here are two flowers similar to the pink and white designs above with extra layers added