Paper dolls and miscarriage

I had 5 pregnancies and 2 live births 30 years ago. At the time I didn't really mourn my loss and I wonder if my anxiety and chronic migraines stem from the upheaval of hormones I experienced over 4 years.

Mostly I feel like have worked through my grief . However, I was knocked for six this week after reading an article in 'Therapy Today'

( Who Knew ? j.Gosney June 2017 vol 28 issue5) The article describes Gosney's work with grieving pregnancy loss. (I could have done with meeting her in the late 1980's). She talks about why there is 'such a silencing shame around miscarriage' I suspect it is because we don't want to upset or worry other newly pregnant parents.

I remember 'retreating from a world that had become a hostile environment peopled by babies, pregnant women and proud fathers' I moved my living room to the back of the house away from the twice a day school run of chatting happy Mums and buggies

I am not sure I experienced post traumatic stress but I definitely 'became vulnerable to anxieties….. and questioned my bodies ability to carry full term…. I realised I couldn't trust my body anymore.'

With my dyslexia and continuing migraines I still feel this phrase resonates strongly.

Most of my art doesn't look into this as a source of inspiration. however after the embodied reactions I keep getting to @gracemorgan's art on Instagram – I felt inspired to look at how I could explore this, using my paper doll technique.

My first go at womb mandala

Wombs with 8 week embryos( which is when the doctors thought things when things went wrong) I quite like the difference in the colours of the womb – photocopy , against the rawness of the real painted colour of the embryos

These feel a bit sanitised, I am shying away from blood. Which is ridiculous really. Though I am being a bit hypocritical because I dislike sanitary towel adverts on the TV

And another pretty one

http://www.bacp.co.uk/docs/pdf/16027_all%20editorial%20tt_jun17.pdf

Migraine mandalas

I get hemiplegic migraines ( which I am sure I must have mentioned in an earlier post) they are exacerbated by flashing lights and hormones. Most of the time they are under control with a very small dose of antidepressants. However, menopause and my irritable bowel has been fun!!! Sometimes, the migraines are brought on by flashing lights – sometimes food (if I am being sensitive). This latest episode was self inflicted really – reading a book and drawing mandalas in 4 hrs of flickering light on a car journey -was asking for trouble. 

I decided to have a go at working through my frustration and anger at my self , after several  reared their ugly heads , consecutive evenings. 

I am staying at my Dad’s house in the south of France with only my travel kit. I painted  loose ovals on lots of sheets of heavy duty cartridge paper with  very diluted acrylic. Then added swirls of neocolours, oil pastels and more paint- it’s warm and arrid here so everything dries very quickly. 


I wanted to continue working with my paper dolls. I tried a design where a female shape is curled up in painholding her head but it ended up looking like white splodges in some sort of fiery constellation. 

A head screaming (below) just looked weird( lol) and didn’t convey what I wanted to express- I like the colours , textures and patterns , so they became backgrounds. 


I needed some figures that worked in circles so I searched on line and came up with an ancient artifact from Mexico 


Practicing blind contour faces in pain ( really getting into the details 😂😂😂😂) 


The above design uses an African figurine as motif but even though it made a lovely mandala in the centre with its arms and legs I didn’t like the proportions of the head and neck. 


Nice uncomfortable screaming baby type figures are amusing me now my head is better and I like the nightmarish qualities – there is an other worldly feeling and out of body experience that I seem to have captured too , which sums up my aura stage quite nicely. Though if I think about it -I don’t experience all that colour 

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 


https://www.hermitagemuseum.org/wps/portal/hermitage/digital-collection/01.+Paintings/28411/?lng=


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. 

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 

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 

Large collage mandala -a training course – breaking free 

I attended a fab training course at SafeSpace in Dunfermline at the weekend – the course was mainly aimed at counsellors, but was very interesting and the more work I do in this area the more I want to know about it. 

http://www.safe-space.co.uk/

I have been feeling quite tight and restricted recently. My doodling has reflected this with my mandala type images getting more and more detailed and layered. 



This was particularly noticeable  during my visit to the US. You would think international travel would be an opening / stretching of consciousness type experience. I think this time since Joe’s accident has been one of  of huge anxiety for me – very inward looking and diminishing 

The course felt very liberating,  learning about how emotions are affected during child development. How empathy in counselling can liberate stuck patterns, was liberating 

Being with a group of people in an intense learning situation again was exhausting and fabulous all at the same time. 

Jon has been trying to push me towards working on a large scale again. Yesterday after work,coffee with a friend and a snooze this happened……


I have a couple of large canvases in my store room from last year- they were cheap and didn’t respond well to layers and layers of wet collage and paint. However, the size appealed to me. 

It’s funny in my head I had a pile of mandalas waiting to be used in a box somewhere – I forget they are under collages in my journals or ripped up and added to other art all the time. I think one of my favourite things to do so far in this process is to rip up my mandalas and work very quickly with great big brush strokes as I paint on the glue , lol.

I had 6 as a starting point about 6″x10″- in black and blue ink , mostly on the insides of security envelopes and a few photocopies 

Not enough to fill this – but I think that is quite a good thing – I will have something to work on over the next few weeks.

Writing this I am enjoying looking at the piece, drying. 

I like the fact that I work in my kitchen. It is a pain to be always surrounded by mess- but I like to be able to get on with house hold jobs in small spurts. 

I think the course was a bit of a break through, physically I feel as if I have been to see the osteopath and had a right bashing – I can feel clear tingling pathways through out my body. Something has definitely shifted – it’s a good job we have a couple of weeks before the next couple of sessions. So that I have time to digest and recover before the next bout. 

My mandala so far – that blue section in the middle needs disrupting a bit,  other wise I quite like what is happening 



I am not sure if I will cover up all the white or not – because I have used a couple of photocopies – the ink has run in several places ….