Group work and art journalling

I ran an art journalling session for group workers. They 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 we felt that collaborative work would be a key part of our art work with clients.

As a safe way of working collaboratively I got the group to work on sheets of A4 circular stickers so that they could explore the materials provided

I showed the group how to make a couple of journals using different folding techniques – a Zine format and a concertina fold. We noticed that the folding and handling the paper was relaxing in its self.

http://www.rookiemag.com/2012/05/how-to-make-a-zine/

The concertina journal is made using the preliminary origami fold and glueing together 4 shapes with the top single points all facing the same way ( I do quite a lot of origami and wouldn’t recommend trying this unless you know the group quite well)

We decided that we wouldn’t work further with the concertina folding because it was quite problematic. I asked the group to work in pairs and come up with ways that they could use the Zine journals in a group work

Situation.

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

Magazines

Ink blocks

Pastels

Colouring pencils

Paint / brushes

Glue sticks

PVA

Scissors

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

As we worked the group decided that they wanted to keep working on this aspect during most 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 attempted to make my comments related to art techniques and encouraging members to stick to the task we had agreed upon …….

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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 😂😂😂

Palhais Portugal

We have been visiting Portugal this week at the Omissam Guest house. Jon booked us in for a yoga retreat. I was quite anxious because I haven’t done any yoga for years. However, Lia and her team are very adaptable and doing yoga once a day was an acceptable practice. 

The retreat is situated in the small village of Palhais. There is a lot of new buildings but the centre still has a lot of  charm. There are lots of blue and white painted houses and a few examples of patterned ceramic tiles.

The pavements and roads are made of cobbles that are cut into little cubes of various sizes


More examples of tiles – the chicken design was inside a cafe. The majority of designs that I saw are blue and white. 


The tiles are either set in panelled designs making a feature on a wall or a patterned area typically around the main door. 

Every roof is tiled in brown ceramic tiles – there don’t seem to be any guttering and several roofs have pretty ridge tiles and a ‘Moorish’ feel to them 


Because it is early July there are lots of flowers. Agapanthus seems to be used everywhere on rounderbouts, decorating roadside pots and gardens. 

 


Thistles , succulents and morning glory are in abundance too 

Trapped 

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 . 

Kilcraggen

We decided to go away for a few days after Easter. Jon found an Airbnb with a ‘view’ over the Clyde Estuary, a couple of hours from Edinburgh.

Kilcraggen  flourished with the building of its pier in 1848 . The area was developed as part of   the industrial expansion of Glasgow, with  villas and castles built as summer residences for well to do business men who then commuted by ferry and train back into the smoke and the grime. ( West Rosneath peninsula heritage trail A.Bray ) 


When we arrived yesterday it was a beautiful sunny day, warm enough to sit outside near the pier  and eat ice cream. 

The Airbnb is set back from the estuary on a road that runs parallel to the waters edge. The house is built on a steep rise with panoramic views. The changing light was so beautiful we decided not to close the curtains that evening

The house is owned by an artist. The walls are covered in paintings. The rooms are filled with plants and an eclectic range of objects. It felt as if the sun was streaming in from 3 sides.  I became visually overloaded so I laid down on a sofa. 

Jon had opened the windows so I listened to a variety of bird song as the sun warmed my feet.  I couldn’t remember the last time I had lain indoors and had that happen. It’s four years since we moved to Scotland in July. Jon and I decided that it must have been at one of our family homes, because the sofas had not been in the correct position in Abingdon. 

The flat in Edinburgh is a lower ground and basement as I am sure that I have written somewhere before. The light streams into the flat between March and October , but it can be a long dark weight during the winter. 

I wrote and drew in the visitors book because there is equipment provided. 


‘The sun is shining so strongly I am not used to it flooding a into a room from lots of angles. I am in love with the view from the sofa looking across to Bute and Arran. Jon is sitting in the garden which is unheard of in April in Edinburgh , marking some papers. I have become unused to the tranquility and birdsong. I love my flat,  but the day is constantly  punctuated by the sound of buses and cars driving past the window. The ceilings creak 

with visitors to the CAB but it’s quiet at night and the weekends. Here it is so still’ 

This morning I walked around the gareden collecting photos of spring flowers and I could hear the waves on the shore. 



Now,  Jon has lit a fire and the room smells softly of wood smoke. 

Developing a style – ‘Still life’ 

Since I started being an artist full time 3 years ago, I have been trying to find a style or way of working that is my own. The layering of mandalas and tea dipping is very therapeutic, but the wanted to work towards something more concrete. I want to incorporate these images within other pieces. 

I love flowers and enjoy creating 3D designs that you can achieve with  a ‘still life’. My hubby and I are both a bit allergic to flowers and pollen so I have bought a range of different artificial examples. 


I have a couple of white jugs and a favourite over decorated piece that belonged to my step grandma. I thought it would also be fun to use jars and bottles which are currently in fashion as vases. I also visited the National Museum of Scotland looking for different shaped vessels 



When I start a project – I do lots of preparation and thinking , but then procrastinate about actually starting the work….. 


these are my first efforts – I have prepared lots of mandalas on cartridge paper and printer paper. The printer paper is too thin and buckles and creases too much but is good to practice layouts and composition. 

I used some water soluble powdered pigment  ink in some of the mandalas and this seems to leak into the acrylic, causing the circular effects you can see in the last picture above. 

I like the way the negative shapes of the flowers work well with the flat background. I thought The fowers and vase need to be drawn simpley  to contrast with the mandalas. I have been playing with different tones of blue and thicknesses of pen. I think each mandala needs me to be more intuiative with the back grounds rather than mixing up a vat of colour like I did yesterday 


I hav been trying to draw as realistically as possible and have been posting  on Instagram to see what reaction I get from my friends.  I was surprised when I posted the picture below asking for feed back – I was unsure about the white and felt that the jar was a bit clumsy – it received more positive feed back than some of the more neatly drawn careful designs 

I have tried different colours in the back ground and I am particularly fond of the shapes created by my artificial seed pods 


When I posted the image of the step by step below I was also interested in how people appreciated the contrast  of orange and mandala top left and the thin layer of orange bottom right- when I had been striving to achieve a flat opaque finish 


Larger fleshy flowers are not as effective – because there is not enough negative shape to play with and the thicker line looses definition 

This background is too simillar to the flower- not sure what it is supposed to be really….. the stems and flowers appear to be a climber but the rigid stem is a bit incongruous 


My real cycleman didn’t really work either – I think the flowers and the petals are too close together and the pen line too thick


I will keep at it …. 

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