Meanewhile, at the art journal hideaway

Have you ever wondered where those art journals disappear to when you just can’t find them anywhere? Why, they are drinking tea and telling stories at the art-journal hideaway! I’ve heard the tea there is pretty good actually. I’m trying to get my art journal to give up the location but so far, no luck. I’ll keep trying. If I find out the secret, I’ll be sure to let you know!

This cartoon was inspired by my artist friend and fellow Messian, Riet Poch, whose Season of Nature journal seems to have gone walkabout. Whilst a comic is no consolation for a missing art journal, I do hope it goes a little way towards lightening the situation. And I hope it turns up soon!

In case any of you would like to use this cartoon as a bookplate for your Season of Nature journals, I have created a pdf which you can download and print. There are two versions: one with a black background, as pictured above, and one without (in case you fancy colouring it in!)



January daily art project

This year, I have decided to join the daily art movement! This is essentially a 365 day project of making art every day. I read about this idea in Julia Cusworth‘s inspiring article in Brush Magazine and knew I had to give it a go. I chose a Moleskine daily planner as my journal – perfect for the job because it has a page already designated for each day. Not so perfect because the paper is really thin and not meant to have paint, glue and markers thrown at it.

I imagined that the art I made in here would be relatively quick and simple and some days it was. But, more often than not, I spent as long on the day’s page as I would do on any in my “proper” art journal. As the month went on, I really enjoyed the diary aspect of the project and I found myself spending more time with comics and cartoons than I have done for some time. And it also became a great place to practice working with different supplies and techniques.

Here are my pages from the first month of this project!

From the get go, I came up against the thinness of the paper and some of the materials showing through. I added a bit of collage on day 3 to cover up the markers that had bled through. I imagine that over the course of a year too much collage will bulk the book out too much. So I will use it sparingly!

There was a little bit of New Year’s anxiety coming through in days 7 and 8.

Days 11 and 12 were very much influenced by Katie Smith‘s “Connected to Nature” tutorial in the 21 Secrets: Tell Your Story class. The fern on the right is a gelli print I made for the tutorial.

Days 13 & 14 featured drawings made with my eyes closed (and then coloured in with my eyes open!)

I pretty soon got into the pattern of using the same materials or approach on both sides of the page. I found it funny how the two days end up playing off of each other. Monday’s brain ache ends up looking like it’s coming from the intensity of Tuesday’s patterns!

Days 17 to 20 were inspired by a wonderful book called Imagine a Forest by Dinara Mirtalipova.

Up to this point I had been using the same materials on both sides of the page. Days 23 & 24 seemed to have broken the pattern. Crayon on the left and drawing pens on the right. I love this art woman who appeared. Her arms seem to be incredibly long…

My colourful self-portrait for the week’s Get Messy mini-challenge appeared on day 25 (At 10:46 pm!) At this point, I was thinking Tombow dual brush pens to be my favourite art supply for this project. The colours are incredible and yet they don’t bleed through to the other side of the paper. Magic!

I’m imagining that veterans of the daily art movement will be all too familiar with the highs and lows of discovering what materials this Moleskine paper can (and can’t) handle. The Crayola felt tips from Friday bled through completely into Saturday. And then, on Sunday, I discovered how wonderfully gouache works on this paper. Oh joy!

I was inspired to try gouache paints after seeing how perfect they are for painting folk art in Dinara Mirtalipova’s book. I joined the Oh My Gouache class with Mary Ann Moss and started mixing my own gouache palette. After discovering how well the gouache works on this paper, I expect I’ll be using a lot more of it in this project!

Thank goodness for art journaling when you’ve been stuck at home with flu!
On the last day of the month, I played around with gouache on a dark acrylic background. Topped with some enthusiastic gelli roll pen marks.

I enjoyed this first month so much. I found that the daily art project ended up being far more than a quick side project. During quite a busy month, it encouraged me to learn, practice, and make art every day when I otherwise might not have done.

I look forward to sharing next month’s pages with you. In the meantime, check out the #mydayarted hashtag to see all the wonderful art people around the world are making as part of the daily art movement.

Wishing you all a good February!

The Adventures of Galaxy Girl

When it was time for the Christmas card exchange at Get Messy this year, I was so excited to discover that I was going to be sending a card to Katie Smith. She has been such an inspiration to me this year. I enjoyed her Painting Galaxies class so much, I have discovered a new lifelong passion for cosmic art!

I decided this Christmas card would take the form of a comic. I always think of Katie as a space traveller and the character of Galaxy Girl began to form in my mind. I made an accordion book with pieces of 4″ x 6″ watercolour paper stuck together with washi tape. On the front pages I drew the panels of the comic and on the back I painted the longest galaxy in the universe!

Wishing you all a Happy Chanukah, a Merry Christmas, and a nourishing Winter Solstice. May your new year be filled with wonder and adventure and all your dreams come true!

And now, without further ado, I present to you The Adventures of Galaxy Girl!

Autumn Days

Brandi Kincaid, guest artist for the Season of Connection at Get Messy, gave us an inspiring tutorial on creating small books to record our everyday moments. And so I decided to make my own little book and document something each day this past week.

I was eager to experiment with the task of keeping a daily art diary after reading Julia Cusworth‘s article, ‘How I started an art diary and why you should too’, in the wonderful new Brush Magazine. And I’ve been itching to make a mini-sized art journal ever since coming across Torrie Lynn’s incredible series of tiny art journals.

From the first day, I found myself relying heavily on my Tombow dual brush pens. They are so quick and easy to use and create amazing results. I came cross these pens during Julia Cusworth’s Pen + Ink class, and discovered yet more of their amazing capabilities while Painting Galaxies with Katie Smith. I’m certain that if I join the #mydayarted daily art movement for 2018 (and I plan to!) I will be using these pens A LOT.

And now, without further ado, here’s a glimpse into the last 7 days:

It was wonderful to celebrate each day by bringing some moment from my experience into my little book. And what a sense of accomplishment to complete an art journal in the space of a week!

How to brew the best cup of tea whilst having an existential crisis

This comic was inspired by the fictional self-help book titles of Johan Deckmann.

A big thank you to all my friends at Get Messy for yesterday’s hilarious discussion about the book titles we would create. The two I cooked up became the subject of today’s comic!

Action Man and Space Woman Build a House!

This piece* is influenced by the Season of Contrast that’s taking place at Get Messy right now. What happens when two seemingly opposite characters get together to work on something? Can each see and value the other’s qualities?

*Is this a visual poem? A comic or a comics poem? An art journaling spread? A movie poster? No one can say for sure!!!

What about all the other moments?


I went a little wild today layering paints on top of each other. The result is a bit chaotic! I really enjoyed playing around with comics on the page and exploring the relationship between the panels and the surrounding space.

When I started art journaling a few short weeks ago, I felt a little anxious that starting something new would mean leaving comics behind. I’m so excited to discover that the opposite is true: the realm of comics is expanding!


Is your world borrowed
From the man in your life?
The force inside
And joy
Comes out of the blue.

* * *

This page began with a wonderful gouache tutorial from Vanessa Oliver-Lloyd as part of the Season of Art 101 over at Get Messy. I didn’t have any gouache on hand so I used acrylics instead. I discovered how immensely enjoyable it is to paint an entire page with black gesso. I also enjoyed writing with a white pencil on a black background – the effect is like chalk on a blackboard.

I had imagined that these women’s faces would look cheerful and upbeat. Instead, when I had finished, I found that they looked serious, like they had something important to say. As they looked directly out at me from the page, they reminded me of a chorus of women in a Greek Tragedy. I looked through several plays but couldn’t find anything that touched on what I wanted to say.

Then I had the idea to use a cut-up poem technique. It’s a very simple technique, often with surprising and powerful results. I found all sorts of interesting words in an old Vogue magazine. I didn’t have a fixed idea of what I was looking for, I just cut out whichever words appealed to me. When I was done, I laid all the words and phrases out on the table and began to group them together until a theme emerged.

It seemed natural to me that the women of the chorus should speak in cartoon dialogue bubbles. I love to bring together the different things that I do and it felt really satisfying to bring both poetry and comics into this art journaling page!

Take me with you

It’s one of those moments: I’m really enjoying the Totems class over at Get Messy and I’m loving this taste of the wild and wonderful world of art journaling. 

Yet whenever I start exploring something new, I can end up feeling like a creative harlot. I get anxious that I’m abandoning the things I’ve been caring about and working on — in this case, comics! 

What better way to explore this than in an art journal spread that is also a comic!

You can check out some of the things I’ve been getting up to in the Totems class here and here

Ways in to colour


After spending almost all of 2016 working in black and white, I decided it was time to play around with some colour. So I set off on my winter holiday with my little Koi Sakura sketch box of 12 watercolours, determined to give it a go. But the task was not so simple. I realised that while I associated the world of black and white with clarity and simplicity, the world of colour seemed to present an almost dizzying array of choices. Where to start?


In Picture This, Lynda Barry gave me the perfect way in:

Can you color a picture if you have only one color? It’s a good thing to find out. The only color we have for this picture is brown. we start with a pale layer, let it dry and then add darker layers one by one.


This technique was a wonderful way to experiment with colour without getting overwhelmed by choices. I could focus on areas of light and dark, greater and lesser intensity. It was like working with black and white except more… colourful! And it was a great way to really dive into the qualities of each colour: the bright sunlight in yellow, the cool moonlight in blue, the heat in orangey-red, the lush of the trees in green.


I love holiday photos and usually take way too many. But these paintings capture the feeling on the inside in a way that my photos don’t seem to be able to do.


When I began using this technique, I had the idea that the addition of colour to a piece would bring chaos and lack of focus. Instead, I found that it can bring a new kind of focus. By the time I came home, I found I could experiment with several colours at a time without things becoming too chaotic. Now I feel like Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz, leaving the black and white of Kansas for a whole new world of technicolour!

If you are at all daunted by the thought of using colour in your work, this is a great way in. One colour at a time, one layer at a time. Give it a go!

You can see more images from my holiday sketchbook here.

It’s time to live!

Today’s comic is one of my favourites from early 2016. Nearly a year later, ‘How To Be An Insurance Salesman’ still cracks me up. And it reminds me that calculating risks is no match for an adventurous spirit and an open heart. This is a great thing to keep in mind as we begin the new year: It’s time to live!

Thank you so much for joining me this year on all sorts of creative explorations. I really appreciate all your visits to Follow The Brush and all your lovely and supportive comments.

Wishing you all a happy and healthy new year. May 2017 be filled with creativity and joy!

Slowing down 


In December, everything seems to speed up in as if time is running out. Then, after Christmas, there is a pause. It can seem as though there’s no movement – the stillpoint of winter. 

All sorts of things can happen in a space where not much seems to be happening. All you need to do is retune your dial…

Seer in the Dark

The Drawing Mind by Deborah Putnoi is filled with drawing exercises that access an intuitive approach to creativity. So far, I have tried drawing with my eyes closed, with my left hand, even with my feet!

My favourite exercise from the book so far is drawing to slow music. It’s not surprising that this, in turn, slows down the speed at which you draw. Not knowing what comes next. Just following the pen as it moves across the page, a bit like following a dance partner as they lead you round the dance floor. 

One of the lovely things about this way of drawing is the feeling that you have all the time in the world. This expansive sense of time allows you to dive into the experience of drawing. 


The piece of music I chose for this exercise is 17minutes of 7hours by Don Li from the album, Orbital Garden. It is a beautiful piece that invites a meditative state of mind. And I found 17 minutes is a great length of time for a slow drawing. If you need longer you can always press repeat!

Hitting the dance floor

Writers live twice. They go along with their regular life…But there’s another part of them that they have been training. The one that lives everything a second time. That sits down and sees their life again and goes over it. Looks at the texture and details.

Natalie GoldbergWriting Down the Bones

I’m thinking the same must be true of cartoonists. I certainly enjoy the moments in my day all over again when I draw them as cartoons. This effect is enhanced when the moment I am capturing is already a celebration. 

I used to love dancing but a nerve injury in my foot has caused my dancing shoes to gather a considerable amount of dust. Then, last night, I went to a beautiful wedding and my husband and I danced together for the first time in years.

I have recently been experimenting with a new form of rehab which is allowing all sorts of things to become possible again. The band was playing and the lights beckoned. I thought why not give it a go? I was surprised to find my feet moving to the beat and that wonderful energy moving me around the dance floor. 

Today, drawing this cartoon, I get to enjoy that moment all over again and to celebrate new possibilities. 

If you don’t do your dance, who will?

Gabrielle Roth 

The Queen of the Underworld cooks dinner

One of my favourites from Lynda Barry’s Syllabus is the suggestion to draw yourself going about your day as Batman. I had a go at this some time ago and the cartoons still crack me up each time I look at them!

Then I wondered: what other characters could be going about my day? The Queen of the Underworld immediately popped into my mind and it turns out she was the perfect fit.


The Queen of the Underworld has brunch with her BFF

One of the things I love about this exercise is that even if you try to remain faithful to the ordinary activities and moments that occur during the day, they can’t help but become extraordinary (and just a little bit hilarious)!


The Queen of the Underworld brushes her teeth

This is a perfect thing to try on those days that seem unremarkable and uneventful. Eating porridge might seem uninteresting but what if you were an astronaut? A movie director? A shaman? A mermaid? Why not give it a go?


The Queen of the Underworld visits the spa

Where I’m From

where-im-from-1 where-im-from-2 where-im-from-3 where-im-from-4 where-im-from-5 where-im-from-6 where-im-from-7 where-im-from-8 where-im-from-9 where-im-from-10

This is something I’ve been thinking about for a long time now and it feels like the beginnings of a much bigger piece!