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 . 

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. 

http://catherinewright.co.uk/

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 

Self Doubt 

Wed 31 May

Over the last couple of years I have been meditating and working( art journalling )  with Tara Brach podcasts. My friend Deb instigates which podcast we listen to each week. Every time something shifts. Today  we listened to ‘Healing Self Doubt’ from 9th April 2016

 I regularly feel that I cannot be trusted , that I let people down, Not in a moral sense but ,because I make mistakes, struggle with boundaries, am dyslexic and  have migraines 

Notes from listening to Tara Brach’s podcast will appear in bold italic through out this post 

Self doubt, shadow side, who do you think you are? Final challenge of the Buddha. Universal problem. Do I have the capacity to be free? ‘Wee being’ with a badness at its core, definining feature of who I am. Identity can solidify become a cluster of repeating beliefs that catch us. Need to unpick, investigate, weaken hold, release thickness. Belief has power , identity is wrapped up in sticky beliefs , a vulnerable seperate self. Primaries , core identity, false self, 

I have been manically doodling this week – making zine fold books 


I like this format because you can see the inside and outside of the Zine  inbetween stage E and F above 


It’s necessary to shift doubt , find the authentic self and release the not good enough syndrome. There can be an endless hunger for affirmation, imposter syndrome. The ego doesn’t like itself for seeking affirmation. Ask your self – who are you really? What could happen if you let your negative belief go? Veil of belief . Take back your own listening. RAIN* . The beliefs might feel real. How has this squeezed your life? 

The podcast feels very relevant because it talks about unpicking self doubt  – ‘lifting the veil , looking at identity, releasing a thickness in oneself , and sticky beliefs’. I find listening to the podcast , making notes and then collaging a physical release. Cutting out images , layering ,waiting for things to dry , repetition, all help with healing (though this can be quite transient and momentarily) a sense of self . I am having tummy migraines, my head hurts and my  perception feels displaced. This art making feels embodied

Making my ‘Zine’ I have lots of layers – doodling , tea dipping , paint , black marker. It’s like exposing stratum or a map 

After working with Deb/ Tara and thinking about how my self doubt limits me.  I went to work. I am a receptionist and I have to check data. I went through a pile of papers 3 times and then devised  a different way of verifying  so that it got checked again – I didn’t trust my self …….. I needed to tell my manager that my findings were correct, That I could be trusted , the irony of the  repetitive checking today after working on self doubt this morning was not lost on me. 

What would it be like to live without that belief? Liberated, space, relax , trust enough . Not my will but my hearts will, real but not true. 

Thursday 1st of June 

This morning I felt ill, but wanted to keep working on my ‘Zine’  making the pretty patterns is  a relief in it self , but the finished resultsdon’t seem to  articulating any meaning. 

 Yesterday Deb reminded me of a technique we have used in the past caledl ‘veiling’ . This requires  dragging  white paint with a credit card over imagery to knock back or hide sections .This time we used a stencil to add texture 


I found this very powerful and added it over my patterns and text throughout my Zine ( for some reason I really dislike that term) 


I still needed more – more text , more images, more scrawl.  (I am back into my black mail typography at the moment. It feels cathartic to search for individual letters , cutting them out as I work and I don’t make so many spelling mistakes) 



I highlighted the eyes because I felt it was important  highlight the fact sea of looking inward, to be seen , ‘to investigate, to unpack my core identity ‘ ( Brach 2016) 

I am frustrated by fashion magazines lack of diversity of shape and age in the models they use. But I did find a picture of Vanessa Redgrave (who is still very thin) but has nice wrinkles. What is funny is that I still managed to obscure them.


 Using the Zine  layout is that it is possible ( by not making a cover) to confuse the reader. To not have a definite beginning or end, one can go round and round not stopping , revisiting the pages  ( which is what it can feel like when I worry things like the stack of data). 


There is also the possibility of turning it inside out so that all the painful navel gazing is on inside and  a bit less exposed. 

I do like art therapy journalling. 

*RAIN – http://www.tarabrach.com/books-cds/

R – Recognize what is happening

A – Allow life to be just as it is

I – Investigate inner experience with kindness

N – Non-Identification.

Collaborative collage conversations 

Collaborative collage conversations – I have been making collaborative letter journals for a while but most of them occur with people who are over seas, so even though they are great fun and interesting there is no sense of immediate interaction.  Like the give and take of a conversation.
I had a go working in this format at my recent training session with Jo – it didn’t really work as I expected because we were making two collages (  so that we each had one to take home) . 

I felt excited to work with Jo, we had a great conversation before the art session and bounced around lots of ideas about how to work with the participants.

When we had the collage conversation She was very strict and didn’t allow any talking throughout. I found it quite hard not to look at things to choose in advance of her input. I added text by using cut out words from magazines and circling them from the bodies of text.  I had included some of my mandalas in the bags of scraps for the main session, I found I wanted to add bits of those. Jo added a window/ hole over the top of my section excluding some of the green , it felt restricting and excluding so I added another piece further down the page . We both had soup for dinner and had talked about my obsession with circles which seemed to creep into the designs as well. 

Jo disrupted the surface in the bottom piece too by poking holes with a needle in to the red paper on the left. I am gluten free and supposedly dairy free in my diet so I reacted strongly to the ice cream being added by adding the signposted food, which just jumped out at me when I was flipping through a magazine. It was fun and interesting for me to be quiet. When Jo uses this technique with a client she said she watches body language and placement of the pieces. 


I wanted to do more. My friend Diana came around to play. We couldn’t keep quiet ( we hadn’t seen each other for about a month) we agreed not to discuss making the collage. We started of quiet tentatively 


The colour scheme was muted and the text playful ( we make each other laugh a lot) . As we worked the design  seemed to want to explode off the end. Interestingly as an aside I managed to introduce ‘dance’  to this collage and one of the first ones with Jo. ( dance had become quite large in my life at the moment at least 2hrs a week) 


The second one is much louder in comparison. Diana wanted to add the circle of rainbow watches so I added texture and colour to the background while she ‘fussily’ (technical term) cut it out the rainbow  circle. The making atmosphere was light hearted and jolly – it wasn’t as intense as working quietly. Then I found the red acrylic sheet. It was much more give and take working on one sheet

I need to do this again in silence  and just on one sheet. 
Today 

I realised , that the person I most needed to have a conversation is , with my self- I always have trouble with my irritable , migrainey bowel when I travel – but I seem incapable of staying focused and looking after it – I can see a series of conversations looming on the horizon ( lol) 

Number 1 : ‘why can’t you be kind to me?’ Some times I worry about talking to my self in the 3rd person – this time it is my stomach complaining. The waves represent the inexhaustible relentlessness of  eating – everybodies eating , it’s always about food. What can I get away with, what will not upset me today? I definitely have a disassociation with the communication between my mouth and my stomach.  W ords I added say ‘it’s all about today, excuses , bad,health, everyday, why, food, forget,snackisfaction ( because it was there ) irresistible, selective blindness, I want to be healthy. Punishment, relentless’ when I think about children been blown up by bombs it seems trivial and insignificant – but I am ground down by it everyday and up until now seem unable to be kind and break the cycle. I start and stop , but don’t get off the treadmill 

Inner Spaces with Erin at Glastonbury 

I just spent 3 days in Glastonbury on an art retreat. Glastonbury was something else – I don’t know what I was expecting. Anything goes, fairies, angels, goddess’s . The high street is a multicoloured eclectic  feast. 

One of the highlights of my visit was an hour spent in the Chalice Well Gardens, wandering with friends in the sunshine exploring and then lying on the grass in the warmth for a few moments. 


Erin’s workshops were a mixture of talking, short demos and lots of free styling. I felt quite liberated and my never NEED to draw a mandala again. 

I am extremely untidy by nature- drawing mandalas over the last three years has really honed my hand eye co-ordination, but lately it was an addiction and any bored moment that threatened was filled with detailed circles. 

Working with expressing my inner space through collage and paint was like breathing freely, after struggling up a steep hill with asthma on a cold morning. 


The first night I had terrible nightmares about screaming and a nasty beastie coming to get me. I worked on these along side my Inner Space work.

The first morning we got up early and walked up Glastonbury Tor, forgetting to check the visibility and weather before hand. It was cold and wild , the wind threatened to steal my phone out of my hands on a couple of occasions 


I love using bright colours , thinking about my inner space after the walk – had me painting in blue and orange, my blue seeping into the hard alien world and neutralising the noisy orange 


We tried different techniques mark making , sewing ( I forgot how much I love to sew) and burning our fears which was cathartic 


The resulting papers and fabric  were such fun I had to do a few more. 




They were glued and stitched onto my journal pages. I seem happy to let go of mandalas but circles are going to remain a recurring theme

We made patterned papers that were stitched and ripped to make great edges and loose fragile pieces to add texture and interest. I like the way sewing allows a freedom between the pieces which tends to get lost when you use glue 


Deb made a surreal pink rabbit stamped sheet to represent an outer world and after my initial laughter he became a motif on my pages- when I get back I am going to have to carve  mine own little monster to represent my nightmares.

The next few days we woke up to beautiful clear skies- Deb and Kath went back up the Tor to experience the sunrise. I wanted to add some colour to my moody grey photos so I overlaid my Tor with my orange / blue picture – it went through a prisma filter as well. 

We did a powerful group constellation therapy on the last evening and worked with how we can access strength and help within our selves by considering all those that donated their genes to create  us. I love group work and sitting and painting with these women all week and then the  doing the constellation was powerful. I have been fighting  putting my name down on the waiting lists for art studios in Edinburgh , that is going to happen now  and I am going to work exploring more abstract  messy pieces. 

The last morning we worked on how ‘yes’ and ‘no’ can be explored through our bodies and then into paint and collage 


I also worked on a ‘happy’ painting making  on some abstract circles – I only realised half way through that there were 12 of us in the room 

Two finished spreads  

Focused Spells 


What does the inside / outside feel like? 

Manipulating Edinburgh with my IPhone 

The last couple of weeks  manipulations in my iphone apps, I’ve been experimenting digitally with ideas for paintings- I haven’t worked like this before. Usually the digital images are a end product in them selves. 


Interesting window at my gym – Edinburgh , waste pipes , Georgian window , light through a room, shutters , trees out the other side ( it ticked lots of boxes …..) 

I always sell a few pictures in my exhibitions that are Edinburgh based, so I like to manipulate what ever I am working on in that direction for a few pieces – shameless marketing? It pays for the framing and nibbles at the private view 


Heisenberg filter applied – I could do a whole graphic novel just using that filter 


Add a bit of dramatic colour – to see if it could work over the top of one of my mandalas – Nope 

Well we could use the trees reflected in the door at the gym or some stairs on the way to the market? 


Below I image bleneded the Heisenberg steps with the coloured gym window – which is a bit more interesting , but can I be bothered to draw all those railings? It’s always a problem wether to draw or whether just to leave it as a photo. 


Earlier this week  Edinburgh chimneys worked really well 



They inspired me to add a sky and a silhouette to a canvas I keep adding layers to – but, wasn’t going anywhere. I like the blue against my red wall

Developing a style , A3 size part 1- step by step 

Frequently over the years, I have been asked to do bigger work. I bailing at it because I like working in my kitchen on several things at once. However, the still life style I have been producing would work well A3 ( 12″x16.5″)

Drawing a mandala that big was a bit tricky until I got the hang of it

Stage 1 – mandala  drawing using water soluble teal ink on 140lb watercolour paper and cartridge paper 

Stage 2- Spritzed with water x4 

The second one is drawn with thin sharpie just to see what happens ( my turquoise pen ran out) I always think as I do each stage – leave it here …..


I love the slight differences that you get doing a series 

Part3- adding texture and energy drawing loose spirals in a variety of different pencils , gelatos and pens 


I also added some Galeria  Matt varnish because the blokey in my local art shop said it would act as a resist …… we shall see 

Stage 4 – sprayed pink watersoluble pink ink through a crochet diolly 


I have decided that If I am doing teal and turquoise acrylic backgrounds on top and of these I need to add a bit more zing to the underneath layer. Disappointing there is no evidence of the varnish acting as a resist at this stage …..


But not too much 
Fluorescent pink and yellow is just a bit too much even for me …. ( above I spread it on with a credit card)