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!

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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!

Getting ready for the Season of Story

I’m always a little sad when a season comes to an end at Get Messy. This lasts for about five seconds, however, before the excitement of a new season kicks in! And the season that has begun today is all about my favourite thing in the whole world – story.

Each season this year we are working in special journals dedicated to that particular season. This time around, we are hand binding our own journals. I made my journal using the long stitch from the Basic Bookbinding class with Vanessa Oliver-Lloyd.

The cover is made from an Anthropologie bag (they do the best bags!). The handles make perfect book closings. And I strengthened the inside of the cover with more pieces from their wonderful bags.

I will probably add to the cover as the season progresses, but for now this evocative design feels like the perfect jumping off point for telling some of my stories.

My vision for this coming season is to tell my own personal story in as many different ways as possible. I know that the prompts and tutorials together with the inspiring art from the whole Get Messy community will help me to explore many different approaches to telling my story.

My creative life has been so enhanced and enriched by being a part of this incredible community. If you’re not already a member of Get Messy Art Journal, why not sign up for the coming season? Here’s a peek at some of the incredible things this season has to offer:

When you sign up for a Season Pass you get access to all the Get Messy Season of Story posts between June 1st – July 31st.  This includes a treasure chest full of inspiring tutorials, prompts, discussions, live webinars and more to keep you creating! As well as the Season of Story posts, you will have access to the Get Messy private facebook group, the Get Messy forums and the discounted member shop, where all classes are 30% off. You can read more about what the season has to offer here.

Note: When you purchase through my link I receive a commission, but you are not charged extra nor does this affect your purchase.

Season passes are on sale from today, June 1, until June 7. It would be wonderful to see you there!

Season of Play (part 2)

It has been a wild ride through a universe of colour and imagination this season in my “guide to the universe” altered book. The pages I have made over the last few weeks have all been so much fun to make:

The Paintbrush of Power – this page was created for the tutorial I gave on the Get Messy member’s site. It’s all about turning yourself into a superhero using techniques from comics and cartoons. I love how the space background was the perfect scene for Art Woman to find herself!

Note to self: Take a moment to play! – It was a month of unpacking from one trip and then packing for the next with just about enough time to do some laundry in between. It was starting to feel like forever since I had played in my art journal. And then I thought: why not do a super fast collage? I spent five minutes ripping papers from my stash and sticking them down with a pritt stick and I have to tell you: IT FELT SO GOOD! This was a great reminder that you don’t need loads of time to make art.

Come rain or shine,
mysterious trails of light
connect my heart to joy.

I really enjoyed making this piece. I thought it was going to be another 5 minute collage but once I got going I took my time with it. I noticed that I’m feeling more adventurous in the realm of collage since last month’s Rituals class with Vanessa Oliver-Lloyd.

The Monstr of the Melting World!! – It’s not a typo. I just ran out of room to fit in all the letters. This happens to me all the time, but I have to say I quite like the word “monstr“!
This page was inspired by my monster prompt on the Get Messy member’s site. The backgrounds in my universe altered book are the perfect settings for creatures such as these.

There are text boxes dotted throughout the book. I have been covering most of them up but it felt perfect to leave this one visible because it is describing my monstr’s melting world. I didn’t realise this guy was going to turn out looking so friendly. But don’t be fooled. This is not a good monster to cuddle. He’s VERY hot!!!!

It has been pretty busy in my life these past weeks and I did not get as much time to play in my journal as I would have liked. But the time I did spend in there was truly wonderful. And the upside of not having yet finished my journal is that there are still plenty of pages left in there, ready for me to dive in whenever I want to play!

100 days of story (week 8)

Even though I am already past the halfway point in the 100 day project, I felt that this week has been the true heart of the story. I’m not yet sure how, but the time The Silent Woman has spent with her grandmothers will be of crucial importance in her journey to retrieve her voice.

These pages were written around two consecutive weekends spent at EarthHeart UK with two different circles of wise and beautiful women. During our time together, we touched on the stories of our own grandmothers. My own journey and that of this story became very much intertwined and each inspired the other.

Thank you so much for following along with this story as it unfolds. Your presence around the fire means a lot to me and is both inspiring and encouraging me to keep telling my tale.

And now, without further ado, here are this weeks pages for you to enjoy!

100 days of story (week 7)

This week I find myself in the heart of the story. The Silent Woman is reunited with her mother and together they enter the Land of the Dead.

They come to a circle of ancient women — the Silent Woman’s grandmothers and great grandmothers going back for many generations.

These ancient women have kept appearing in my art over the past year. I am so happy to see them here, at the heart of the story. And I am not surprised, having just returned from a beautiful weekend with my circle of soul sisters at EarthHeart UK.

100 days of story (week 6)

This past week I was travelling for a family occasion plus I came down with a stomach bug so I’m thinking it’s pretty much a miracle that I’ve been able to keep up with my 100 day story! I’m not thrilled with all the drawings, but I guess this is the thing about a 100 day project or, in fact, any creative challenge: just keep going!

I’m enjoying the minimalism of the past couple of days this week. It’s a good reminder that less can be more when it comes to drawings. And that the empty space on the page can be a space in which a lot is happening.

You can catch up on the story so far here. If you’d like to follow along with the daily posts on Instagram you can do so here.

And now, without further ado, here are the pages from my 100 page story this past week. I hope you enjoy them!

100 days of story (week 5)

For most of this past week I was away at a yoga retreat in the beautiful Herefordshire countryside. We were up early in the morning for pranayama followed by a full day of yoga asana practice (plus walking, eating, chatting and napping!)

I was determined to continue my story each day but a little unsure if I could make this happen. I was also unsure I would be able to continue to post each day’s instalment on Instagram, as the internet situation was uncertain. I’m happy to say that both things were possible!

This week our heroine finds herself not only in the depths of the ocean but also in deeper and deeper trouble. If only the North Wind hadn’t taken her voice, she would be able to explain herself! But then she would never have set out on this journey at all and there would be no story to tell.

Without further ado, here is the last week’s story. Thanks so much for following along with me. Enjoy!

April daily art project

I had a lot of fun in my daily art journal this past month! I was very much influenced by the Season of Play over at Get Messy and found myself using my water soluble crayons on almost every page. Drawing and colouring with crayons is one of the quickest ways I know to get in touch with a childlike, playful quality. I also the love how vibrant the colours become when you add water to them. Magic!

Also interesting was that almost each page was completed as a double spread. This is partly because I was a little busier than usual this month and found it easier to work in my daily art journal every two days.

Here are my pages for April, filled with colour, adventure, expansion and, by the end, a little bit of burn-out too!

By the time I reached the end of the month, I realised that I had stretched my self a little too thin with so many different art projects going on. I decided to take a break from the daily art project. Here’s what I wrote about my decision on Instagram:

I’ve got a month of travel coming up and, while I think I can manage to keep up with my 100 day project while I’m on the go, I think its a bit of a tall order to try and keep up with my daily art project as well. I’m quite a slow worker so the idea of spending 5 minutes making a page has never worked so well with me. Plus I am very process oriented, so I like to take the time to get into whatever I am doing. And so, after much thought, I have decided to take a break from my daily art journal, at least for the month of May and perhaps for the duration of the 100 day project.

I could have disappeared from the project without announcing it, but I felt I wanted to say something about my choice to have a break. I often get caught up in the idea that everyone on Instagram is doing all the things all the time. So I wanted to give voice to the fact that sometimes it’s ok to do some of the things some of the time, especially if it means feeling less stressed and anxious about it all. I certainly feel lighter moving into the coming month, and my art is feeling less like a to do list and more like the joy I know it to be.

Thank you for following along with my daily art project so far! I hope to return to the pages of my Moleskine daily diary either at the end of this month of travel or at the end of my 100 day project. In the meantime, I plan to continue making art and sharing it with you.

Wishing you all a lovely May!

Divyam xxx

Rituals class – April

April in the Rituals Class with Vanessa Oliver-Lloyd at Get Messy was all about fertility, using the metaphor of seeds, plants and flowers. We explored the medium of collage to express these themes. Vanessa is a magician of collage and it was such a wonderful experience to learn from her on this subject. I often shy away from collage because I don’t really understand how to use it to express what I want to say. So this was an incredible opportunity to learn more about it.

The solar spread (above) was all about the theme of fertility and creativity in our lives. I found myself thinking of the mysterious way things grow. So much of that process is invisible to start with. It can seem like nothing is happening. Or that it’s not happening fast enough. In those moments I often dismiss the whole notion that something good is growing. This spread is a reminder to myself that a lot is going on even when it doesn’t feel like it!

When I started playing around with the images for this spread, I thought the woman was going to be central to the whole thing. Instead, the huge avocado seed took centre stage. This ended up being perfect for the theme of trusting the process, trusting that the seed contains everything it needs with which to grow and it will do so in its own time.

The lunar spread (below) was all about the weeds that get in the way of our creativity flourishing and growing. My page was inspired by the most pernicious weeds of all: destructive thought patterns and negativity. During the month of April, I was very much aware how negative thoughts can sour a potentially beautiful day. There have been many wonderful new things happening and yet it’s so easy for stress and overwhelm to stop me enjoying what’s happening.

In the background are images of rotting flowers and trash. The doors represent all the different sidetracks the mind can take you down where it’s easy to get lost and forget what’s important!

When I made my original wheel for the year, my word for April was adventure. April certainly was quite an adventurous month with travels, gatherings and new experiences. Reflecting back on the month, I also feel there has been a strong element of re-evaluating my day-to-day life and the choices that do and don’t work for me, particularly in the area of nutrition and self-care. The image of tending a garden and helping the seeds to grow into flowers has been a very powerful one.

I’m so grateful to be able to move through this year as part of the Rituals class. I feel like the link is strengthened between my art and my life in all its seasons. Thank you Vanessa, for creating such a beautiful journey for us!

Wishing you all a lovely May,

Divyam xxx