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)


Making ‘zine’ formats

I can’t remember if I have written about these before. I like working in a ‘zine’ format because of the 3d element. My friend @dar63 on Instagram started making some recently and I loved her lush layers and jewelled colours do I asked her if she fancied doing some collaborations. We have worked together in the past.

You can tell which pages are mine because of the black ink doodles 😂😂

I have been experimenting with using water soluble pens and spraying my mandalas so I used some of these as a base layer.

I added designs to the front and the back and added gesso to surface to seal it and add texture

I added a variety of things to the surface

Strips of typed text, large text, more gesso, stitching, white pen , spray ink and magazine images.

I like drawing of the inside of the zine. So that when they are standing up you get an interesting juxtaposition of the two sides

The bottom design in the above pic includes a zine designed by a friend Fran that is based with me in Edinburgh.

I hand stitched the edges in this case

Reflecting on my Soul Restoration process

I have been working on the ‘SoulRestoration’ course by Melody Ross since the 12th of January. I am enjoying the process of art making regularly in my journal. The art seems to get looser and looser.

I have always been messy. It has been great using my stress protector mandalas as back grounds and finding a more natural ‘Tess’ process.

I am still drawn to blues and am working through the stack of gelatos that I acquired in Korea. I love them ,but won’t be replacing in-kind because of all the plastic.

Debbie Howard introduced me to them when I complained that I didn’t like working with oil pastels in my art journal. They are water soluble, highly pigmented and deliciously squidgy, the consistency’s almost like lipstick or face paint.

It’s been interesting progressing through the stages that Melody has designed . Debbie is a mentor and sounding board after training as a facilitator with The Brave Girl University last year. I think it is important to feel supported through this process. I feel held

There is a lot of industry – internal processing and sitting with how you feel. My stomach is tightening just at the thought of ‘it’.

I journal and write notes as I watch the videos, text Debbie and use Instagram and Face book to show and tell. I wanted to do this because of the regular journalling. There is less built in art journalling than I thought there would be. I need to process the ideas and feelings through art making.

My group of friends in Oxfordshire are meeting once a fortnight to do the course with Debbie whilst I am in Edinburgh.

There is an isolation from the group but I am enjoying the space to create my own ideas and images. I did go back to bed one day and hide because I didn’t want to work through some hard issues. I felt much better after I plucked up the courage to just get on with it

My pages over the last few weeks

I added a mandala sticker by Emily Lagore a long term friend on Instagram


Progress on my Osteopathy commission

I started working on my commission ideas this morning. I had a go at the origami shapes. I was a bit disappointed with the origami idea because the yellow pages is too fine to hold the shape and to get a section of backbone just looked odd

I also freaked out at using the originals. I seemed to have lost my confidence this week. I made a load of photocopies and went for it

I sliced up the photocopies and started playing with the text on a tea dipped and stencilled background

I photocopies one of the experiments and stencilled and doodled on top of that. I realised one of the reasons I was struggling a bit was because the colour scheme is not as bright as I usually play with. It needed more tonal contrast.

So I added more text and dancing ladies to different copies – the mojo returned

A few more layers

I added some more of the ‘yell colour printing check rainbows’ (they appear at the top of the proof page that they send you before you agree to publish your advert ) and gelato pastels because I remembered Glynis and I saying that we liked them in a meeting.


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. 

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 


30 day journal 16 –

Day 16 – if you are going through hell  

Day 17 – When sparks fly  

Day 18 – Don’t give up – play 



19- Use what ever you’ve got 


Day 20 – What’s right with you  

Day 21- Finding your higher purpose 
Day 22-love the moment,  right now 

Day 23 – Accessing your genius 

Day 24-Is your life shrinking or expanding 

Day 25- dare to be powerful 

Day 26 – passion is energy 


Day 27- Make your own mantra