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 

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? 

This weeks materials – pens , acrylic and tea 

I have been playing with materials lately – particularly pens and pencils working out what works layering on top of things – I thought I had a lot of ‘stuff’ before …….

This moments ‘weapons of choice’ (it’s worrying me that I used a violent metaphor to describe my drawing equipment – I think it’s one of the things a parent must have said when I was growing up …..) 


Anyway from left to right 

A selection of permanent markers – for some reason cheap pens work better over layers of water resistant / plastic based stuff and my thin sharpie is much more forgiving than a thick one ….. 

I try and buy pens when they are on sale,or on offer and I am trying out fountain pens and things that can refill so that I cut down on my plastic recycling. 

Back to my list 

Signo pigment ink in bronze – because of the contrast this colour has with the turquoise / teal/ blue palette I am working with at the moment. 

Uniball eye permanent ink and water soluble – in turquoise and green – I like to mix up water soluble and permanent when tea dipping so that you get colours running.

Posca 3mm bullet pen in blue – I love these type of pens when they work but I do not like the flooding ….. 

Cheap Childs felt pen in blue – soluble ink 

Uni chalk marker light blue 1.5-2.5 bullet  – this is nice for highlights 

Pentel wet eraser chisel – contrasting shape to above 

Paint brush with resovoir – I haven’t tried this with waterproof ink yet – it’s an ink guzzler but fun l. 

Cheap Korean gelato – lovely – semi permanent effects 

White Stabillo pencil for glass , metal , paper and plastic  – it says it’s water proof but it’s not. 

Faber Castro Polychromos in Cobalt green permanent. 

Cheap biro – my favourite mixed media implement at the moment 

Distress Marker bought in the sale at Hobby Craft – with a damaged tip – I love the brush end – I wish it was permanent 

The type of thing I have been using them on 

This one is teadipped and has clear gesso drawn on in spirals at some stage …. 


This one uses biro, acrylic , powdered pigment , and several of the above swirled through before and after tea dipping. I say several because looking at the image I can’t remember what exactly ( lol) 


If I use termeric in the tea dipping – I get a nice dark colour but it leaves a residue that needs to be sealed before I can work on top , or it tends to ruin pens – which is not cost affective 


I have found a PVA at the local DIY shop that seems to work when applied with a credit card and it just adds a sheen to the paper. 

The above image was made using :

1)  a fabric diolly print in acrylic

2)  drawn swirls with distress pen , and chalk 

marker 

3) tea dipped 

4) PVA 

5) printed on with acrylic through a stencil 

6) doodle flower in permanent marker 

7) biro grid 

I have found if I cheat with the tea and add a squirt of  brown acrylic I can deepen the tones. However, I prefer the effect that you get when you dip the paper several times- printer paper is particularly nice but is very fragile.

Below shows three pieces with different shades of brown – the top one has been dipped once the back one 3 times   

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 


Doodle 

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 

Doodle 


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!

Reboot of my exhibition 

I had to cancel my exhibition in February when my son had a car accident in South Korea- everything went on hold.

However , he is well and has left for the US and his new wife. So I am having my exhibition this month. I decided I wanted to make a splash with the publicity. So I ordered new flyers, postcards and stickers from Vista Print -they arrived yesterday and I am delighted with how bright and colourful they are. This image is a link between my intuitive castles and trees and the work I have been doing recently -which includes  ripping up and layering my mandalas. 

I am excited because the owner of my venue ‘ has arranged for there to be live music – so it will be much more of an event. 

There will be examples of art journals to look at and  I will also be selling some materials for doing your own mixed media work.  

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