The joy of inchie art

At the very start of the Season of Seasons, I took part in the #oneinchwonders2018 challenge hosted by Debbie Bamberger – 14 days of creating art no bigger than an inch! I was late to join because, for several days, I watched all these incredible tiny masterpieces appearing on instagram in utter disbelief that I could make art that small myself. Eventually, I couldnt resist the urge to dive in and discover whether my fears were based in reality. (Spoiler alert: they weren’t!)

Here are all 14 of the one inch wonders I created for this challenge!

Several days in to the challenge, I discovered the great joy that is one-inch poetry. I enjoyed making these little poems so much, several of my “inchies” ended up being poems.

The last few days of the challenge were very much influenced by the time I spent at the Wild Woman Summer Camp at EarthHeart UK – out in nature, sitting by the fire, under the stars and the big beautiful moon…

I’m not sure why I decided I could never make art this small. Where do these ideas come from that tell us what we can and can’t do? I’m so glad I decided to join in and test out these limiting beliefs. Taking part in this challenge opened up a whole new range of creative possibilities.

I look forward to returning to working small, especially to writing more tiny poems! In the meantime, check out the incredible inchie art created by my friends and fellow artists under the hashtag #oneinchwonders2018.

Rituals class – August

Last month, in the Rituals class with Vanessa Oliver-Lloyd, we got downright witchy with a magical botanical dyeing process! Underneath the rock in the picture below, my bundle of plants and papers is bubbling away…

I could not believe my eyes when I removed the papers from the bundle. The plants had left incredible imprints and images on the pages. This first one became the basis for the Harvest Queen in my solar spread:

I couldn’t take my eyes off these papers. Each time I looked, I saw new images emerging from the configuration of plants, flowers and turmeric stains. At first I didn’t want to alter them at all. They reminded me of parchment, they felt ancient, and seemed to carry so much depth within them. I think I could get addicted to this whole process!

The theme of the month was harvest and this lady in my solar spread is the Harvest Queen:

She is holding an apple which is symbolic of the Jewish New Year and also looks a bit like a heart. I’m not sure who all those other ladies are. I just saw them amongst the botanical prints so I drew them in. Maybe I will realise who they are later.

The turmeric left a golden colour on large areas of these papers, so I added some golden gesso to bring this out and also to help bring some focus to the Harvest Queen at the centre.

My lunar page for August was on the theme of what happens when there is no harvest:

My starting point for this page was the figure I could see enclosed by two long leaves. She looked so separate and shut off from life. This felt like it very much fitted with the feeling of no harvest.

I was drawn to separate out all the elements on the page, like they were specimens in a museum or something. It made me think of the approach I can sometimes have to life where it’s like a to-do list. That way, even if the things are good and nourishing, everything is separated out and I don’t feel the flow and joy of life.

I enjoyed this month tremendously. It wasn’t without its challenges, though! There is a lot of waiting involved in this process: waiting for the mordant to brew, collecting all the different elements needed for the bundle, waiting for the papers to soak and brew and dry. Quite a challenge for impatient types! But so worth it. In a way these papers were like an artistic harvest.

Wishing you all a happy September and an enjoyable start to the season of Autumn,

Divyam xxx

Diary of a yoga retreat

I have just returned from a beautiful yoga retreat up a mountain in France with Alaric Newcombe. I took with me a Muji passport-sized art journal, a mini watercolour set, a water brush, and a couple of black pens. I didn’t have a lot of time to art journal during the retreat so each day I would create a quick watercolour background and leave it to dry. Then I would return to it later and add a drawing of something that struck me from the day. Some days I made two or three pages using this method.

Note: the paper in these Muji passport notebooks is quite thin so I prepped all the pages with gesso before leaving home. This meant that the watercolour didn’t leak through to the other side of the page. It also meant that the paint took longer to dry and made quite different effects than if I was painting straight onto unprimed paper.

This story begins with a journey…

I often worry before a yoga retreat that I won’t be able to join in fully or “keep up”. This next page captures the joy of getting stuck in there and doing my best. Feeling like I can do it!

@antarkeerti and I shared a cosy room tucked away beneath the beautiful wooden dojo. I think I was in a bit of a hurry to dry the paint on this next one, so I blotted the page with a tissue. I like the effect it created!

Our group was so warm and friendly. Each night after dinner we’d be chatting away as the sky grew darker and the stars came out. Many nights we saw the moon rising over the treetops. It was magical:

One of the things I loved the most about this retreat was waking early and being in silence until the end of our morning pranayama session. It is a rare thing to be in silence together with a group of people. Noticing the sounds of the birds chirping and the rush of the river flowing nearby:

The yoga practitioners on this retreat were pretty amazing. While I was able to join in with many of the postures we were practicing, there were also moments when I simply had to stand by and be amazed!

It was pretty hot when the sun was out. But there were several afternoons when it rained. One afternoon, it poured with rain while we were practicing in the dojo. The studio is open on two sides, and the sound and smell of the rain permeated our practice. It was a beautiful experience:

My back is not as bendy in real life as it is in this next picture. But this picture definitely captures what it feels like!

Being up a mountain on a retreat can be a great moment to reflect on the things that are going on in everyday life. I always like to travel with a mini set of cards just in case!

I used to be really self-conscious about showing my legs. (Memories of awful school uniform sports gear!) But when it’s really hot outside, there’s nothing better than having bare legs. Hurrah for yoga shorts!

There are beautiful plum trees along the little hill outside the dojo. They were full of sweet ripe plums that we ate every day. One afternoon, I sat here having a heart to heart with a good friend:

They say the soul moves at the speed of a camel and that we begin the journey well before our physical bodies actually make the move towards home. On the second to last morning I found my thoughts were already beginning to travel!

Before we learned that our flight was actually cancelled, we had several hours waiting in the airport. Time for a few handstands and downward facing dogs outside Starbucks! During this time at the airport, I discovered Socca, the exquisite Niçoise pancake made from chickpea flour. One of the most delicious foods I’ve ever tasted! I have since discovered a recipe for it here. I can’t wait to try it out!

I must admit: one of the things I dreamt about during the week was having a good soak in a hot bath when I got home. Note: I don’t actually have a cat but I felt there needed to be one in this picture!

All in all, the yoga retreat was a thoroughly wonderful experience. While I have several great photos from last week’s retreat, I feel that these art journaling pages capture the journey best of all.

You can see the pages from last year’s yoga retreat here. It’s interesting to note that I used almost exactly the same materials and yet the result is quite different!

Thanks so much for coming along on this journey with me.

Divyam xxx

The Tale of the Silent Woman

This story was written and illustrated over the 100 days and nights of the 100dayproject 2018. I began on day 1 with no idea what the story would be about. Each day I turned up and imagined what happened next. Before long, the story had a life of its own and I did my best to keep up with it!

Many of you followed the story each week as I posted about it here on the blog and I can’t thank you enough for all your support and encouragement. In many moments I had the feeling I was sitting round the fire sharing this story with you all under a sky of sparkling stars.

Now you can follow the whole of The Silent Woman’s journey as she sets off to retrieve her voice which has been stolen by the North Wind. Her journey takes her up into the mountains, down into the depths of the sea and even into the Land of the Dead. On her way, she encounters the Owl Woman, the Queen of the Sea, her female ancestors, and a monk who has been guarding the Stone of Silence for over a thousand years.

In this video I am telling the story as I turn the pages of the little handmade book I made especially for this project. I hope you enjoy it as much as I enjoyed making it. Special thanks to Misty Granade for encouraging me right through the project and for requesting I make this video! Misty, this one’s for you!

This story is for you and for all of us who are finding and using our true voices.

Create your own story cards

One of the things I most enjoyed during the Season of Story at Get Messy, was the project where we made our own story cards during the week I took over the Get Messy instagram account. It is such a simple method and yet the results can be stunning. So I thought I would share the process with you here in case you’d like to give it a go.

These cards can be a great source of inspiration for your art journal pages and a wonderful way to create stories with children (and with anyone who loves stories!)

Click here to view the complete process on the Get Messy instagram page. (The story is currently saved in the “highlights” section.) I will also detail the step by step process below.

All you need to get started is a sheet or two of thick paper and your choice of art materials. I used 300 gsm smooth watercolour paper. I made 16 cards out of one sheet of A3. You can always use two sheets if you’d like more cards.

Step one

To start, write one of your favourite fairytales across one side of the paper. Don’t worry about getting it right. Just start writing and carry on until you reach the end of the page. You can make it up, if you like! Just be sure to go right to the edges as this will be the back of our story cards. You can change your pens and the size and font of your writing to create some variation. I used permanent pens but some of my Messy artist friends used water-soluble pens and sprayed the page with some water at the end to create wonderful blurry effects.

Step two

Turn the page over and cover it with colour. I used fluid acrylics but you could also use regular acrylics or watercolour. Go for whichever colour palette connects you with the world of story. I went for all the bright colours! Then add lots of different marks all over the page to add detail.

Step three

Once the page is dry, if you like,  you can turn it over and splatter the writing side with some of your leftover paint!

Step four

Cut the paper into cards of equal size. You can measure up with a ruler or use a paper cutter.

Step five

Now make a list of all the different story images you can think of. It can be helpful to create separate lists for different categories such as characters, settings, happenings and objects.

Step six

Spend some time looking at each card. Perhaps the colours and marks already suggest a certain story image? If so, you can bring this out with a simple doodle and then add a title and border for each card. If no story image suggests itself, just choose one from your list.

I made four cards in each of the four categories.





Once your cards are complete, shuffle the deck and pull a few cards. What story do they suggest to you?

Fun ways to use your cards:

  • Pull one card from each category to create a story.
  • Play a storytelling game where one person pulls a card and starts a story inspired by the card. The next person pulls a new card and continues the story. Keep going until the story is complete!
  • Pull one or more cards to inspire an art journaling spread. Pull two cards and make a spread showing the meeting of these two different energies.
  • Use the cards as an oracle deck to reflect what is happening in your life right now.

Have fun making your story cards! Do let me know how it goes, I’d love to see!

Season of Story round up

Today I completed the last couple of pages in my Season of Story art journal. It is a very satisfying feeling to complete a journal!

“What is going on?” – It can be hard to tell your story when you’re in the thick of it. Sometimes you need a little perspective in order to even know what just happened. Only then can you say what the story was.

This is my story – the final page in my Season of Story journal says the same thing as the first. And yet a whole journey has happened in between. That’s how it often is in stories; we arrive back at the same place but we ourselves are not the same.

Here’s a peek back at the first page, painted with the same materials – Liquitex muted collection inks.

Another satisfying thing about completing an art journal is being able to make a flip-thru video. When each image is viewed separately, you can lose the sense of it being part of a whole.I love these little videos because they give a sense of the “book-ness” of the art journal. Here is a flip-thru of my art journal for the Season of Story:

While I have enjoyed each new season at Get Messy, I think this has been my favourite season yet. (With Season of Fairytales coming a close second!)

Wishing you all a lovely weekend, whatever you are doing,

Divyam xxx

Rituals class – July

‘The magical forest’ — my solar spread for the July Rituals class with Vanessa Oliver-Lloyd. The theme for this month with was ‘Spirit’. When I am in the forest, I feel connected to nature, to myself, to magic, and to a bigger sense of the universe. When I am surrounded by the trees, I feel included in this big something, as if I am being hugged by it and brought closer to the heart of things.

The thin gold trees reminded me of Gustav Klimt, especially as I had just seen Rosie Rain‘s lovely posts about the Klimt class she is taking. This inspired me to continue with all the circles and triangles.

I used Liquitex gold ink for my gold. It’s an interesting ink because it can look quite flat, like a yellow ochre, but then when you shine the light on it: wow! A bit like the trees in the forest, when the sunlight catches them at a certain angle and they come to life in a whole new way.

‘Illumined by stars’ – my lunar spread for July. I loved this part of the class so much. As a teenager I was obsessed with medieval art and literature, particularly the Arthurian legends. To make a self portrait in the style of medieval icons was like a dream come true. I love how this ended up combining with a cartoony style. Old and new together! (I used Winsor and Newton gold ink for my gold).

I googled Medieval fonts. I drew letters inspired by the ‘Mael’ font and love how it adds to the medieval manuscript atmosphere. I meant to write the word “illuminated” but then ran out of room (as I often do). Fortunately “illumined” is a word!

The pages from both this month and last month feel like they are very much connected. I revisited the same places  – the forest and the starry sky – but from a slightly different angle.

The Rituals class is such a beautiful way to move through the calendar year. Each month there is a chance to reflect whilst also learning new techniques and trying out new materials. I am enjoying it tremendously!

Wishing you all a beautiful August!

Season of Story (part 4)

The Season of Story at Get Messy Art Journal is drawing to a close. So I figured it was time to add a title to my art journal. Sometimes you just gotta have big bold letters! Here are the front and back covers, constructed out of an Anthropologie shopping bag. Initially I was using the handles of the bag to tie the book closed but they began to unravel! So I cut them off and sealed the edges with washi tape.

In this page, the influence of the Minimalist Art Journal 2.0 class with Caylee Grey was coming through. I hardly ever leave so much white space on the page but, as I’ve been taking this class, I’ve been getting more and more comfortable with it. Everything can breathe a little! (Note: I didn’t draw these lovely flowers. I cut them out of some gift wrapping paper.)

I made this page on my birthday, feeling grateful to my mum for bringing me into the world. Again, I left a lot of empty space and it seemed to me that this gave room to the feeling aspect of the page.

Back to my usual maximalism here! I got totally carried away with this page and ended up combining the wonderful tutorials from TC Larson on archetypes and Elly Mack on word windows. It’s rare for me to use photos of myself in my pages but the word windows mean the photos can be uncovered and then covered again!

Here’s a peek at the photos beneath the word windows for The Magical Child and The Rebel:

And here’s a peek at the photos beneath the word windows for The Seeker and Rebirth:

I have loved this season so much. It may well be my favourite season so far (with the Season of Fairytales coming a close second!) But it’s not quite over yet. I have 2 pages left in my art journal and I’d like to make a video flip-through of the whole journal. Stay tuned for another post in the next few days!

Season of Story (part 3)

I recently had the pleasure of spending a couple of hours making art at the British Library with the lovely Tammy Hanna. Our table was looking clearer and calmer than usual. Maybe a response to the summer heatwave we’ve been having in the UK recently?

‘Places’ – these are some of the significant places from my childhood. I was already a teen when I went to Paris but I couldn’t resist throwing in the Eiffel Tower!

‘The outcome is unknown’ — decisions are an important part of the story. The choices we make send us down one road rather than another. We cannot know where it will all lead, which road is the right one, and yet still there are times when we must decide.

This page was made using some wonderful handmade watercolours sent to me by the lovely Vanessa Oliver-Lloyd. The red and the blues were made by Vanessa. I added some yellow to this from my Winsor and Newton sketch box. These beautiful paints were such a joy to use. It’s so inspiring to know that it’s possible to make your own watercolour paints! The blue of the door has a beautiful metallic sheen to it, perfect for a magical portal into the unknown future.

Celebration – This page was created at the Sunday morning at the doodle cafe. When I started the page I wasn’t in the best of moods and had no idea what I wanted to do. Writing out my thoughts in watercolour helped me arrive. Next, the overlapping circles of colour lifted my mood. By the time the dancing ladies arrived I was in quite a different space to when I had started. The transformational power of art journaling!

Looking back over the last couple of weeks, I can see a definite watercolour theme! There is something very refreshing about using watery washes of paint when it’s so hot outside.

Thanks so much for joining me for this look at the latest from my Season of Story journal!

100 days of story (final week!)

I have been postponing posting the last few days of the story because basically I can’t quite believe it’s over! It has been such a wonderful process from beginning to end, made all the more joyful by knowing that so many of you have been following along and enjoying the story.

Thank you so much for listening to the story of Silent Woman — now Story Woman! — I have felt so heartened by you cheering me on and leaving such lovely and encouraging comments. This gave me so much energy to continue the story. I couldn’t have done it with out your lovely presence round the fire!

Of course ‘The End’ is never quite the end. For I have heard it told that there are stories waiting in the mountains…

Coming soon: a video of me reading the story while turning the pages of the book and a print copy of the story which will be available in my etsy shop. In the meantime, you can read the whole story from start to finish over on instagram using the hashtag #divyams100daysofstory and also on my flickr page.

And now, without further ado, I present to you the the final instalment of the story. Enjoy!

Rituals class – June

The theme for June in the Rituals class with Vanessa Oliver-Lloyd was ‘Nourish’. It felt so good to focus on the elements that are nourishing us, especially at a time when everything can feel very expansive and outward going. We were focusing on water-soluble media which also felt perfect for summer. Using watercolours and inks felt very light and cooling, like taking a dip in a cool swimming pool!

I am nourished by the earth – My solar spread for this month’s Rituals class. I don’t have much earth myself. There’s almost none in my astrology chart. I’m mostly all water and fire. But earth is the thing I need to nourish me. Over the last couple of years I have spent more time in nature and it feels so life-giving and calming to my whole system. I need to connect with the earth in order to expand and grow.

From the technical side: this is probably the most fiddly bit of collage I’ve ever cut out! But it was very calming and meditative slowly cutting round all the branches and leaves.

My lunar spread is to do with the element of air but I think it also borders on the fifth element, which is space or spirit or the universe:

I am nourished by the stars and the sense of being part of the universe. While the earth in my solar spread is energising, the universe nourishes me more on the inside and takes me into a quiet space.

The quote in the background is from the writer, Ben Okri:

In every moment, we are part of the infinite stories that the universe is telling us and that we are telling the universe.

(The Mystery Feast, 2015)

I found these blues to be really calming and cooling… We’re having a bit of a heatwave in England at the moment so I’m a little bit obsessed with anything that can cool me down!

It felt really nourishing making these pages for the Rituals class this month. I wish you all a beautiful July!

100 days of story (week 13)

The time has come for a showdown between The Silent Woman and The North Wind!

I am posting the latest instalment of the story each day over on instagram using the hashtag #divyams100daysofstory. You can also read weekly posts right here on the blog.

Without further ado, here are the latest pages of the story. Enjoy!

Season of Story (part 2)

It has been a wonderful couple of weeks of The Season of Story at Get Messy. It’s been a while since I was able to spend so much time making art in my art journal. I’m taking the theme quite loosely, allowing my pages to take me where they will.

Then and now – I created this page because it can be easy sometimes to look back at younger versions of myself with a certain amount of nostalgia and longing. And yet, I have a sense that if my younger self could look into the future, she would be so proud of the journey I have been on and the woman I have become. It feels important to remember this! I painted two self-portraits, each facing the other, looking both backwards and forwards in time.

I created this page while I was on a Get Messy hangout one Saturday afternoon. While I was busy chatting away with my wonderful Messy Artist friends, I found myself making a series of shapes without thinking too much about what I was doing. Later on, I filled in the shapes with the story of my day. I was inspired by Suzanne Earley’s ‘fragments of a good day’ page with all its small lovely moments.

Watching @sasha_zeen showing us how to paint loose watercolour flowers was balm for my soul. You can watch her wonderful tutorial on the Get Messy open blog, even if you aren’t a member. Perfect for these long summer days we’ve been having (in the northern hemisphere at least!)

Another page made from Sasha’s wonderful tutorial. My left foot was feeling sore so I wanted to give both my feet a carpet of soft leaves and flowers. Ah…. much better!

There was an incredible 24 hour Get Messy hangout this weekend. It was so much fun, with different artists hosting every couple of hours, offering new prompts, techniques and inspiration. While I was hosting, I gave a tutorial on creating pages that tell the story of a particular colour.

The first page – The story of blue – employs a “throw everything you’ve got at the page” approach! Here are the steps we followed:

• Choose a colour
• Gather all the materials you have in that colour
• Paint a shape or blob on the page
• Write some associations you have with that colour using watercolour (or pen/pencil) starting at the shape you just made and moving in whatever direction you want.
• Stick a piece of collage somewhere else on the page.
• Make marks moving outward from the collage. Don’t be afraid to overlap with what you have already done.
• Add some scribbles across the page
• Write the name of your colour in big bold letters
• Add washi tape
• Add more small shapes and marks.
• Cut words from magazines that feel like they belong to your colour and stick them on the page.

I made the blue page during the hangout. The red page, following the same approach, was made in preparation for the hangout.

The second part of the tutorial took more orderly and minimal approach, giving us a chance to calm down after the chaos of the first one we did! As you can see, it looks completely different!

• Choose a colour and gather your materials as before.
• Give each material its own space on the page. Make small patches of colour and leave space around each one.
• Write a word near or on some of the shapes that belong to that colour (or cut words out of magazines as before)
I haven’t yet got round to adding the words to my yellow page. I’m enjoying hoe cool and clear it all looks – quite an unusual style for me!

The page below was made using the wonderful monoprint technoque Debbie Bamberger taught us during the hangout. This is a fabulous technique and one which I will keep practicing until I get the hang of it!

Thanks for joining me on this journey through my Season of Story journal from the last couple of weeks. Wishing all of you in the Northern Hemisphere a lovely summer. I hope you’re keeping cool in the hot weather! (And lots of love to my friends in the Southern Hemisphere too!)

Divyam xxx

100 days of story (week 12)

The Silent Woman has travelled far and wide, undergoing great hardship and receiving many gifts. She is no longer the same woman who set out on her journey of transformation. It is time for her to face The North Wind. She is ready!

I am posting the latest instalment of the story each day over on instagram using the hashtag #divyams100daysofstory. You can also read weekly posts right here on the blog.

And now, without further ado, I present to you the latest pages of the story. Enjoy!

100 days of story (week 11)

There was a carefree quality to starting out on this adventure. Each day I had the sense that anything could happen. I cast my net and pulled in all sorts of characters and happenings from the far reaches of my imagination.

There is something potent about this stage of the story. The tapestry is now rich with threads. Instead of anything happening, I have a sense of what must happen. It might sound a little sombre, but I now feel a sense of responsibility to the story. Even though things are moving each day towards a completion, all meetings and partings need to be given their right time and space. I feel that I am learning something about completions. There is perhaps less action, and yet these moments are potent with all that has come before.

Now that The Silent Woman had been given The Stone of Silence, I turned up for my daily story session ready for her to carry on with her journey towards The North Wind. I immediately felt that I could not move on without the characters paying their respects to the monk who had silently and patiently guarded the stone for 1000 years!

There is one more thing she must do before facing The North Wind: she must seek out The Owl Woman and deliver the message given to her by The Queen of the Sea…

I am posting the latest instalment of the story each day over on instagram using the hashtag #divyams100daysofstory. You can also read weekly posts right here on the blog.

And now, without further ado, I present to you the latest pages of the story. Enjoy!

Season of Story (part 1)

The Season of Story has begun! And it’s already taking me by surprise. I thought I would be telling specific stories but instead I find I am attempting to express something about story itself.

This first page was created during a wonderful Get Messy hangout.

‘How did I get here?’

This page was inspired by Alicia Schultz‘s wonderful abstract art tutorial over on the Get Messy Art Journal member’s website.

It got me thinking about story in a whole new way. Especially the stories I haven’t yet put into words, even in my own mind.

‘This is why we tell our stories deep into the night.’ — I continued the abstract approach with this page. Here’s some of the writing in the background:

The story is a creature, a beast.

You have to give it acres of land

to prowl and dance.

You have to feed it with longing

so that, one dark moon night,

it will perform its magic.

“Is this me?” you will ask.

“This woman, this girl,

this seeker, this shapeshifter?”

What a relief

to be the one you always knew,

to be the stranger.

This is why we tell our stories deep into the night.

‘The girl, the woman, the seeker, the shapeshifter’ — this page came out of the writing I did on the previous page.

I felt a bit naughty for trying out some acryla gouache paints when I haven’t really learned much about regular gouache yet. But I couldn’t resist! And they are sooooo lovely. I really like the fact that they are non water soluble when dry.

I also enjoyed using some of the frames from a book of frame designs I picked up at the charity shop. I expect there will be more frames popping up in my pages this season!

I am continuing to feel the inspiration of the work I did last year in Initiation: Into the sacred feminine at EarthHeart UK. The sense of the seasons or life stages of woman. (Check out ‘What are you dreaming about?’ for another take on this.)

I’m really enjoying this season so far which is no surprise really, as stories and storytelling are a big love of mine. I’m looking forward to seeing what’s going to appear in my art journal as the season progresses!

Divyam xxx

100 days of story (week 10)

Even though The Silent Woman has not been able to speak for most of the story so far, this week things get really silent. There’s a monk who has been patiently and silently guarding The Stone of Silence for 1000 years. And it’s pretty much impossible for our heroine and her friend, Lam, to do anything other than sit in meditation when they arrive at the cave where the Stone is kept.

Somehow, even though events are not that different to a meditation retreat, things manage to stay dramatic. (Okay, it would be hard to find a meditation retreat quite like this, but you catch my drift, right?)

I am posting the latest instalment of the story each day over on instagram using the hashtag #divyams100daysofstory. You can also read weekly posts right here on the blog.

Without further ado, I present to you the latest pages of the story. Enjoy!

The Ancient Ones

There are some images that appear on the page, whether it is a page of writing or of visual art, that keep coming back in different forms over time. For me, one image that keeps returning is that of The Ancient Ones.

Years ago, when I was doing my MA in creative writing at Middlesex University, I was working on a fantasy novel that drew heavily on Russian folklore and mythology. As I was researching the figure of Koschei the Deathless, I came across his twelve sisters and immediately fell in love with them. They were keepers of wisdom, the magical aunts and grandmothers we have always longed for, overflowing with rich delicacies, long-forgotten secrets, and a hearty dose of love. (Note: As I write this post, I can’t seem to find any mention of them on the internet! Did I imagine it all?)

The twelve ladies arrived just as the last of the day’s visitors were leaving. They had palest skin with blushing red cheeks and were all rather tall. A few of them walked with sticks and they shared between them an enormous array of scarves, umbrellas, coats and jackets, handbags and women’s magazines. They wheeled along a red wooden cabinet, painted with green leaves and small yellow flowers. As they removed their coats and entered the house, the smell of pine cones and chocolate cake wafted around them.

A few years later, they reappeared during NaPoWriMo (National Poetry Writing Month) in the form of the Last Storytellers of Cremone. You can read the full poem here.

… They promise to tell one story
for each round of fabric
that is unwound from their heads.
And as they talk, all that they have carried
falls onto the floor:
painted tea-pots, silver thimbles and spoons,
wedding dresses, candlesticks,
waistcoats and blankets sewn by hand.
We sit on the floor and laugh.
They strip the night from my eye.
They tell the story of the king of the wind.
They voice the jewels of my own wonder …

Then, last year, while I was taking part in Initiation: Into the sacred feminine at EarthHeart UK, I had an image of The Ancient Ones, sitting in a circle beneath a sky of stars.

Since that time, they have continued to appear in my art. I find myself doodling their faces while talking on the phone:

And since I introduced them into my art journal, they keep popping up everywhere!

After completing the Initiation training at EarthHeart, I went on to participate in the Cauldron of Pearls feminine leadership training. I knew The Ancient Ones had to take centre stage on the cover of my notebook!

Their latest appearance is as The Grandmothers in my 100 day project, in which I am telling a story in words and illustrations, one page each day for 100 days.

I am posting the latest instalment of the story each day over on instagram using the hashtag #divyams100daysofstory. You can also read weekly posts right here on the blog.

If you’d like to have a go drawing faces in the style of these women, check out my one-minute video – part of the Ask an Artist series over at the Get Messy Art Journal.

What form will they take next? I will have to wait and see. In the meantime, I can only say that my life is richer since they appeared on the scene.

100 days of story (week 9)

I can’t believe we have already reached day 63 in the 100 day project. Time seems to be moving very fast all of a sudden! And, while there is still plenty of road to travel, I am very much aware of the need to move towards an end to the story.

This knowledge is affecting my choices as I move along. For example, this week the Queen of the Sea reveals that she is the Owl Woman’s sister. They have taken different paths in life and so have not seen each other for many years. It’s clear to me that the explanation for this could be a whole other story — one that I won’t be able to do justice to here. I can see a side story coming along in my future!

I also felt it was time to include a more active male character in a story populated by such strong female characters. And so the guard has stepped up to help The Silent Woman in her quest. He is also the first character in the story to receive a name. I didn’t want to keep calling him “the guard”, especially as he’s no longer in that role.

This week I also had a wonderful Messy Conversation with one of my favourite Messy Artists, Misty Granade. We are talking about my creative story, and my approach to the creative process, including this 100 day project. You can watch the replay here.

And now, without further ado, here are the pages from this week’s story:

A Messy Conversation

Today I had the great pleasure of being interviewed for Get Messy Art Journal by one of my favourite Messy Artists, the fabulous Misty Granade.

We talked about my creative story so far, the things that inspire me to create, how there’s no such thing as a beginner, and a whole lot more.

Here is the replay of the interview for you to enjoy!