February daily art project

February can often be a gloomy month. It’s been winter for so long and then suddenly it gets even colder! This didn’t get me down in quite the same way as it often does, even with a 3 week winter cold! I think the fact that I made art every day really made a difference to bring warmth and colour into the wintry days. Art is the new Vitamin C!

I had originally thought my daily art would be a sideline to my main art journaling projects, something that would take no more than a few minutes a day. Instead, I have found it to be the backbone of my recent art practice, a place to touch base with myself each day. It has also taken on a wonderful diaristic feel, recording how I’m feeling and the things that are going on in my life.

The start of the month was also the start of the Season of Kindness at Get Messy Art Journal. I found myself on the receiving end of some lovely acts of kindness when my dear friend and fellow Messian, Rosie, sent me some beautiful flowers to wish me better. On the same day, artist and soul sister, Henrietta, sent me some luscious healing aromatherapy oils with incredible names like Breathe and Immune Bomb. I felt grateful to my dear friends for their love and care. There is no greater magic.

Is it possible to have too much chicken soup? (Answer: No)

I recently completed the Spirits class with Roxanne Coble and loved the way she draws faces. So I continued playing around with this style of drawing portraits:

I started playing with patterns in my daily art journal, inspired by the wonderful patterns Jessica McMillan has been making in her daily art. Go check them out!

“Hey big heart, I know you’re in there!” I have found that the Season of Kindness has been having an effect on my heart. I feel like old dusty corners are getting their first rays of light and breaths of fresh air in a long while.

I have also found that keeping a daily journal has helped me notice small moments during the day, such as this moment when a friend and I reached across the table and created a spontaneous colour palette with our sleeves and a smoothie!

Art is an interesting sort of mirror. It often shows me things about myself that I haven’t yet noticed. I didn’t realise I was in a good mood until I saw these pages I had made!

During these last few days of February, I have been taking over the Get Messy Instagram as a member of the Creative Team for 2018. (Yes, I thought I’d just casually slip that in there. A post on this very subject is coming soon!) It has been great fun hanging out with the community and creating some fun prompts and tutorials for Instagram stories. Today, the last day of February, we have been googling for kindness inspiration. I chose the phrase: “Kindness is the best medicine”. Some brightly coloured gouache and a white gel pen later, this is the page that resulted:

It would seem that I have come full circle this month. Kindness really is the best medicine!

The daily art project is such a wonderful way to move through the year. Many of my fellow artists at Get Messy are taking part in this movement, too. Check out all the awesome art they are making each and every day on the #mydayarted hashtag.

Wishing you all a wonderful March!


Rituals Class – January and February

Rituals is a wonderful art journaling journey through the year led by Vanessa Oliver-Lloyd at Get Messy. Each month has its own theme that we are exploring in our art journals. There is a solar spread exploring the light, positive aspects of the theme and a lunar spread exploring the challenging, shadow side.

Before 2017 came to a close, we prepared the way by creating a wheel of the coming year, anchoring our intentions for each month. I drew a tarot card for each month and spent some time clarifying what each card represented to me. Then I wrote a single word in each section of the wheel. I drew a card for the whole year – The Empress. I couldnt think of another word to represent what this card means to me, so I just wrote it as it is beneath my wheel.

We also created a blank wheel so that we can fill in our experience of each month after it has happened. The word “Love” spontaneously appeared above the empty wheel which we will fill in during the course of the year.

It feels a little strange sharing my art from this wonderful course when the registration for the year is now closed! But I am happy to say there is a free class available online where Vanessa shows how you can make these two wheels for your year.

I also made a wheel celebrating 2017. It felt very good to look back over all the wonderful things that had happened during the year before moving on to the next.

The solar spread for January was all about what we wanted to invite into 2018 with us. This one ended up being a fiesta of rainbow colours. I guess I was excited about the coming year! Even though at the start of January I was feeling all wintry and hibernatory, it was good to connect with the joy of welcoming in the new. All over the spread I wrote “Come on in”, inviting in all the good qualities I wanted to include. What a beautiful way this was to start the year. Much better than new year’s resolutions!

The lunar spread was all about what we wanted to cast out. On the red heart I wrote all the things I wanted to leave behind so that I wouldn’t bring it with me as I began the new year. It felt very cleansing and also grounding to give some attention to the shadow side of things.

The hand on the right opens to reveal the heart beneath, and this gesture frees everything up so that it can be realeased.

I was surprised by the little eye that appeared in the centre of the heart. I put it there to cover some holes I had made that I didn’t like. But as soon as it was in place I felt it was the heart (within the heart!) of the page.

When January came to a close, it was time to write my word for the month. It was interesting looking at the word I had chosen beforehand and the word I chose afterwards. I felt that the word involvement included a sense of togetherness with others and at the same time a feeling of connection with myself to balance it.

It felt good to look back on the month before stepping into February. It helped with that feeling I often get of the calendar moving too fast!

The theme for February was love. The solar spread was about selfless love. I explored that feeling of having so much love to give and wanting to give it all. And how quickly this feels draining. I found it interesting that after a while the arms weren’t even connected to my body anymore!

The lunar spread was about self-love. One side has a self-portrait showing lack of self-love. This is the tired me with no energy or zest for life:

The other side of the page shows a self-portrait where self-love is present:

At first, the two sides seemed so different, I didn’t know how I might link them. I decided to spread the yellow colour and the hearts over to the lack of self-love side. It’s funny, once this was done, the tired, unloved portrait almost looked like she was smiling.

And now February has come to a close, it’s time to write in a word for how I actually experienced the month. My original word was celebration. At first glance, my month did not seem to be about celebration at all! I spent three weeks out of action with the winter bug that was going around. And yet, as I was getting better, there were family visits and celebrations that were really lovely and enjoyable.

So, I think this time round, the word I choose will serve to balance the one I have already chosen:

It has been so wonderful taking the time to greet each month in my art journal and also to reflect on it afterwards. A great antidote for that feeling I so often have that the year is moving by too quickly without any time to think about it. Big thanks to Vanessa for creating such a beautiful journey for us.

If you would like to take a class with Vanessa, I can heartily recommend the Totems class which is still available at Get Messy Art Journal. It was the first art journaling class I ever took and was the beginning of this whole incredible adventure.

Wishing you all a wonderful March!

Season of Kindness (part 1)

It’s the Season of Kindness over at Get Messy Art Journal. I usually do a big post at the end of each season, jam packed with all the pages I have worked on for the previous two months. This time round, I thought I’d try something different; I’m going to post my pages every week or two so that it’s less overwhelming at the end of the season and more of an enjoyable ride along the way. With that said, here are my pages from the first two weeks of the season!

The start of February found me in the midst of a rather pernicious strand of winter flu that ended up lasting three weeks or so. During that time, I felt I was very much on the receiving end of so much kindness and I wanted to reflect this in my daily art journal.

I felt very loved when a bouquet of flowers arrived at the door for me with a lovely note wishing me better from my dear and beautiful artist friend, @rosieraindrops. I was blown away by the kindness, love and care that brought these flowers from Rosie’s heart to my doorstep.

But that isn’t the end of the story! The very same day, I received not one but TWO beautiful aromatherapy love packages from my dear friend and artist soul sister, @angelwingshen! With little bottles that said things like ‘breathe’ and ‘immune bomb’. Oh my goodness.
I felt like the luckiest girl in the world to have such loving and thoughtful friends.

Each day I continued to watch Rosie’s flowers bud and bloom and inhaled the exquisite aromas from Henrietta’s beautiful oils. All this love and beauty was working its magic and I started to feel better. What a way to begin the season of kindness! I felt so grateful to my dear friends for their love and care. There is no greater magic.

I spent a few days at the start of the week working on my page for the Spirits class with Roxanne Coble. The page ended up being very much about the wanderers on the left, with the figure on the right a sort of guardian angel watching over them. The words surrounding the travellers say: “I am with you in your wanderings.” This felt like a very healing page to make while I wasn’t feeling well as I felt a bit disconnected from my plans and routines – a bit like a wanderer!

Meanwhile, after spending the WHOLE first week of the season deliberating whether or not to make a special journal for the Season of Kindness, I finally decided to take the plunge with Kiala Givehand’s dos-a-dos journal. We are so lucky to have Kiala as our guest artist this season. Her bookbinding tutorials are really inspiring and make me want to drop everything and just bind some books. This was the first time I had ever created a journal specially for a Get Messy season and the first time also that I have worked this small (A6). I felt excited to see what was going to happen!

The dos-a-dos journal opens from both sides. Above is the front cover and below is the cover as seen from the other side.

For the first page in my journal, I wanted to follow one of the prompts about defining kindness and discovering what it means to me. I was surprised to discover how hard I found it to say what kindness is. So I decided to hang out with this question for a while.

Sarah Rondon’s beautiful healing heart tutorial was the perfect thing to do on Valentine’s day. I had a little panic when I couldn’t figure out how my broken heart was meant to fit back together. Then a dear friend came over with her two girls and we drank tea and hugged and drew pictures. It was really wonderful.

When they left, I returned to my journal and the pieces immediately came back together! I added some gold paint along the cracks, thinking of the Japanese tradition of wabi-sabi — a notion of beauty that accepts imperfection and impermanence – and the art of kintsugi which uses gold along the cracks when piecing a broken object back together.

The words around the heart say: “You pieced me back together.”

This next page is a thank you letter to one of the kindest people I’ve ever known. Maureen was a real-life fairy godmother to me when I was a girl and I feel like she gave me enough love to last a lifetime.

I am enjoying this season at Get Messy so much and the theme of kindness feels like a warm and loving hug at a time of year which can so often be rather cold and dreary.

Sending out that warm and loving hug to you and wishing you all a lovely weekend!

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!

Season of Nature

The Season of Nature has just ended over at Get Messy Art Journal and what a nourishing and uplifting season it has been. It was also perfect timing as I was away on a winter beach holiday at the start of the season, surrounded by beautiful trees, flowers, and a warm and welcoming sea. My travel art supplies: a box of watercolours and a Hahnemühle watercolour journal. (And a couple of pens!) I hadn’t worked much with watercolours so far, and decided a vacation was the perfect time to try them out.

As with all my previous Get Messy season posts, this is a bit of a bonanza! Next season, I’m going to attempt to post my pages once a week. For now, sit back and enjoy the ride!

‘Most of the time I forget that I am nature’ – these circles reminded me of exotic fruits, planets, and the cells that make up our won bodies and all living things!

The first day of our beach holiday it poured with rain the entire day. It was the perfect opportunity to get painting! (Also a perfect opportunity to fall in love with my new watercolours…)

‘Lazin’ around’ — I only noticed after finishing this page that the clouds and hammock create a smiley face!

Note: I LOVED the Hahnemühle watercolour journal I brought with me. The paper seemed quite thin compared to other watercolour papers I have tried, and yet it took generous washes of watercolour incredibly well. One of the best things about the big landscape format is that I could work on two pages at once, leaving plenty of time for the watercolour to dry (good for impatient people!)

‘Late night rambling’ – this one felt a bit like a “jazz doodle”!

‘Dreaming of the sea’ — this page emerged from the Get Messy prompt to imagine yourself as a queen of nature. Being on a tropical beach holiday, it was easy to daydream about being queen of the sea. The magical hair was very much inspired by the beautiful portraits of Riet Poch and Katie Smith.

More watercolour doodles. I wasn’t sure what that hole was at the bottom right hand corner of the page… My doodle people weren’t sure either!

‘Walking on the beach’ – I was very happy I had brought a few pens along in my travel art kit. I loved the simplicity of some simple line drawings on top of this watercolour scene.

‘Pattern’ – inspired by a lesson from the watercolour book I brought with me in my suitcase: ‘Water Paper Paint’ by Heather Smith Jones.

“The cure for anything is salt water: sweat, tears, or the sea.” — Isak Dinesen.

‘Sunny Street’ – It was fun playing around with both black AND white lines on top of this watercolour background.

‘All sorts of birds are chirping…’ — I wasn’t sure what to paint one morning so I painted some words! It was so enjoyable painting words instead of writing them with a pen as I usually do. I might have to write my diary like this every morning!

‘Flower Lady’ was inspired by this beautiful nature woman by Eleanor McComb.

‘Welcome to the Flower Forest’ — this page was inspired by a wonderful tutorial with Riet Poch . My favourite flower is the daisy, representing innocence and new beginnings. Perfect for an approaching new year filled with adventures! Found poetry courtesy of a Barbados travel booklet.

‘Wave Dancer’ — this is my favourite kind of dancing in the whole wide world!

I wasn’t sure where to start one morning so, once again, I wrote with a paintbrush across the whole page. Not many of the words were still visible by the time I was finished! But at the top you can still see the words “I think I have fallen in love with watercolour…”

‘Turning my thoughts towards home’ — this page started as a love letter to Barbados, saying thank you for the wonderful and nourishing holiday we had. Creating this page helped me make the shift from sadness at leaving to an excitement at returning home. I was sad to bid farewell to the beautiful turquoise sea! But I also felt ready to return to our hearth and our garden and our friends!

I figured it was worth a shot asking the sun to come home with me. And as I write this on a bright sparkly winter’s morning in January, I can see that the sun did jump into my suitcase after all!

‘The Night Garden’ — this is what happened when Katie Smith got me doodling and playing around with zentangles in her wonderful tutorial! I used Sakura gelli roll pens on a watercolour background.

‘All the sparkly lights’ — enjoying rainbow watercolour drips in a wonderful tutorial with the Get Messy guest artist for the season, @agirlwithajournal .

‘Think like a tree’ — This page was created in Katie Smith’s ‘s wonderful ‘Connecting to Nature’ class in 21 Secrets: Tell your story . I had so much fun playing with so many different elements and techniques, including drawing a Katie-style girl! The central flap folds over to reveal a tree on the other side:

The title of this page and the awesome quote on the left come from this inspiring poem by Karen I. Shragg .

‘Think Like a Tree’

Soak up the sun
Affirm life’s magic
Be graceful in the wind
Stand tall after a storm
Feel refreshed after it rains
Grow strong without notice
Be prepared for each season
Provide shelter to strangers
Hang tough through a cold spell
Emerge renewed at the first signs of spring
Stay deeply rooted while reaching for the sky
Be still long enough to
hear your own leaves rustling.

I didn’t have a gelli plate so I used a ziploc bag to make the gelli prints for this tutorial. I enjoyed the process so much and found the prints worked well as stand alone pieces of art too:

I used one of the prints in my daily art project:

More on the exciting #mydayarted project is coming at the end of the month, when I will be posting all of my daily art pages from January!

These two women appeared during a Get Messy hangout last week. One of the things I LOVE about these wonderful hangouts is how, while you’re busy talking and listening to everyone, the weirdest stuff starts appearing on your page!

‘What am I going to do today?’ – (It’s good to ask such questions surrounded by huge flowers, I always say!) Once I had drawn on top of the watercolour background, I found the shapes  were not so easy to make out. So I painted around them with white gesso. I love the way the gesso covers but also reveals the watercolour layers underneath.

‘We may be on different planets, but we are from the same universe’

And on that note, I want to say thank you so much for journeying with me to the very end of this post!

Wishing you all a wonderful start to 2018!

Consulting the oracle

I think I may have discovered my most favourite thing ever: making my own oracle cards!

The inspiration for this project came from the Metamorph class with Erin Faith Allen. I loved her approach of not having any fixed ideas before or even during the process. Instead we went abstract, splattering paint and making marks, working on many cards simultaneously. Only once the image-making was complete did we explore what the cards might mean.

Oracle cards are meant to connect you with the richness of your subconscious and super-conscious. This is so much more powerful when the images have actually come from deep within you, bypassing your conscious mind.

The one thing I did decide, which came to me once I started playing with paint on the cards, is that I wanted there to be four sections, designated by colour: yellow for creativity and joy, green for nature and the body, blues for spirit and wisdom, and red for love and friendship.

First I splattered some ink on the cards, covered it with gesso, then smushed some acrylic paint around in the four colour categories. The resulting colours were too bright, so I covered the cards with white gesso once again which made it easier to see the shapes that were emerging.

I then traced the shapes that I saw with a black drawing pen. The images that came were surreal, dreamlike, and really felt like they came from the deeper reaches of my imagination.

I loved how many creatures and strange beings appeared!

Each one has its own atmosphere but, even now that the cards are finished, I don’t want to attribute any one specific meaning to them. They could mean all sorts of things depending on the context and situation. I haven’t yet decided, but I might give each one a cryptic title that points in a certain direction yet is still open.

I loved this process. It felt strengthening to connect to my own inner wisdom in this way. Now that I’m finished, I want to do it all over again! (Spoiler: I already have! This could become a habit!)

It felt so perfect to be connecting with my inner wisdom through this project during the Season of Connections at Get Messy. You can see more of my art from the season here.

You can see all 24 of the oracle cards here. Thank you for joining me on this journey!

The season of connections

The Season of Connections has been an interesting one for me. In some ways I found it hard to get into the subject matter. At the same time, it seemed to me that everything is about connections in one way or another! And looking back over the pages I have made over the last couple of months, I certainly get the sense of a deeper connection to myself, to others, and to the natural world around me.

There have been several side-projects this season, many already featured in their own posts. Rather than show all the same pages again, I will include links so that you can check out each project individually.

I began the season with a series of pages connecting to my inner world, What are you dreaming about?

You can see more of the pages and read about what inspired them, here.

‘We are connected’ — I really got in to the continuous line drawing from Sasha Zeen’s inspiring tutorial. Imagining female ancestors spiralling out of my hair, and their ancestors spiralling out of theirs, too:

This theme continued while chatting on the phone to a good friend. More ancestor goddesses emerged in my doodles:

I went on to colour in my doodles with Winsor and Newton ink. I am including both versions here as I find each one is quite different and I like both!

‘Feeling connected’ — In this page, the ‘roots’ theme of the Inner Space class with Erin Faith Allen met the Season of Connections:

‘Self portrait with owl and coffee cup’ — With this page I went on a wild and magical journey through the past, present and future together with Riet Poch in her wonderful self-portrait tutorial:

‘The woman in the forest’ – There’s a story that’s been hovering around me ever since I started art journaling back in January, waiting to be told. During this season, a page from that story appeared in my art journal:

I look forward to sharing more pages of this story as they appear in my art journal!

‘Nature on the outside, nature on the inside’ — this page was inspired by the theme of connection to nature and also the theme of ‘Who do I want to be?’ from the Metamorph class with Erin Faith Allen.

‘Monday’ — I created this page on a rather chaotic Monday! I intended to follow a Get Messy prompt to explore different materials on different pages. I ended up using loads of different materials on the same page: coloured pencils, heavy body acrylics, high flow acrylics, acrylic ink, drawing ink, letter stamps, and gel pens. And you know what? It was FUN!

My favourite project so far in the Metamorph class with Erin Faith Allen has been creating my own oracle cards. Oh my goodness! I was just in heaven with this project from start to finish. Here is a glimpse of the deck I created:

You can read more about the process of creating these dreamy cards and see more of the deck here.

‘Empress of Leaves’ — this page features real life leaves gathered from my local park and the torn up pages of a book! It was made during a wonderful arty evening with a circle of creative women. Magic!

Brandi Kincaid, guest artist for the Season of Connections, 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 for a week.

You can see all of the pages from ‘Autumn Days’ here.

My art this season has been strongly influenced by Initiation: into the sacred feminine, the year-long training I have been doing with Jewels Wingfield at EarthHeart UK. Goddesses, ancestors, a sisterhood of women and the beauty of the natural world are to be found on almost every page.

I recently returned from an exquisite few days at EarthHeart, completing the incredible year-long journey with our group of incredible soul sisters. It was no surprise then that this majestic woman appeared on the page when I followed Ashley Rodger’s lovely connecting the dots tutorial.

If you have made it to the end of this post, thank you so much for joining me on this journey through the Season of Connections! And thank you for all your kind comments, encouragement and support. They mean a lot to me!

What are you dreaming about? (part 2)

In What are your dreaming about? (part 1), I described some of the process of creating the final triptych-inspired pages of my first ever art journal. Here is a video flip-through of the whole thing. If you would like to have a longer look at any of the pages, feel free to pause the video or to browse through the images in a more leisurely fashion in the art journal section of the blog. Enjoy!

What are you dreaming about? from Divyam on Vimeo.

Books, historically, have been sacred. So it is by working in an intimate manner with a book that we develop a preciousness of self. There is a ritualistic aspect to opening  and closing a book: opening a book says I am here, I am ready to receive, and takes us into the world of unknowns where all sense of time disappears. Closing the book says I am ready to return to the known world.

– Juliana Coles, Institute for Extreme Journalism

I have loved working in this book so much. We have been on quite a journey together. I am sad to reach the end! A big thank you to my friends at Get Messy for being the most incredible bunch of artists I could ever hope to meet. Onwards to the next journal!

What are you dreaming about? (part 1)

The Season of Connections has just started this week over at Get Messy! This set of pages is about the connection to my inner world. It is also the last page in my first ever art journal. I thought it would take no time at all to complete just one more page but I should have known the last one would be the most involved!

Here is a short video, showing how the two sides of this spread open out to reveal four female figures on the page beneath:

When I saw the folder at the back of the Moleskine journal, I thought it was the perfect chance to create a flap, inspired by a wonderful tutorial from @diekleineriet . I’m also at the point in the Metamorph class with Erin Faith Allen where we are looking at ‘The Holy Within’. I immediately thought of medieval triptych art (which sent me off into a frenzy of gold ink!) Add to the mix the ‘Initiation into the sacred feminine’ year-long training I have been so enjoying at EarthHeart in The Forest of Dean, and I had a pretty powerful mix of influences going into the creation of this page. You can see a wonderful diagram of the cycles of the Wombdala on EarthHeart UK’s instagram page.

During the Initiation training, we have been looking at the cycle of the seasons, phases of the moon, and the phases of a woman’s life cycle. I had always heard of the three stages of a woman’s life – maiden, mother, crone. In this map, however, along with the four seasons, there are four stages of a woman’s life: maiden, creatress, high-priestess, and crone. I love it that the later phases of a woman’s life are given more space here. I wanted to reflect these stages of life in my triptych. I added an extra flap so that the traditional three panels could become four.

As I was working on these four female figures, I chose colours that reflected the mood and energy of each phase of life. I thought about what has been important to me along my journey through life so far, and imagined what might be important to me as I move forwards on my journey. I included a symbol at the centre of each figure to represent the dreams and longings of each chapter of life.

It was only afterwards that I realised I hadn’t written the word love anywhere. Surely this is something important! And then I realised that perhaps each of these qualities is a facet or expression of love.

I have loved working in this art journal. We have been on quite a journey together, I am sad to reach the end! A big thank you to my friends at Get Messy for being the most incredible bunch of artists I could ever hope to meet. Onwards to the next journal!

But before I move on, I’d love to show you the pages of my completed art journal. I hope you’ll join me for part 2 of this post where I will include a video flip-through of the whole thing!

The Season of Fairy Tales

If you go deep,
deep into the heart,
the heart of the forest,
you will find her.

I have loved The Season of Fairy Tales at Get Messy so much, I don’t want it to end. It is a subject very close to my heart and I feel that during the last two months I have only just begun exploring the realm of fairy tales in the pages of my art journal.

‘The Heart of the Forest’ – While some of my pages touched upon specific fairy tales, many of them drew upon the images that exist across many tales. I was particularly attracted by the image of the forest. I loved the idea of the heart of the forest as a place where all the juicy stuff happens in a fairy tale. It is an external setting and at the same time it is a place within us, a place where we can find something beautiful and essential if we are willing to make the journey.

‘Don’t prick your finger on the Wheel of Time’ — The messages attached to my ‘Women’s Energy’ tea bags reminded me of the blessings given to Sleeping Beauty at her christening. In the Grimms tale, the king invites ‘wise women’ to the party. (Perhaps Disney is responsible for turning them into fairies?) In my rewrite, these women are not divided into good and evil. Instead, they have a depth of beauty and power which they wield unapologetically.

As I was working on the page, I kept thinking about time. In the tale, it cannot be slowed or stopped; Beauty cannot be prevented from turning 13 and pricking her finger. Neither can it be made to go faster; the hundred years of sleep will certainly be a long, long time. I felt drawn to include a multitude of clocks. And it occurred to me that for us today the clock is a kind of spinning wheel. We prick our fingers many times a day and fall into all sorts of ‘slumbers’ because of our reactions to time.

And then I came full circle to the advice on my tea bags. We need these little blessings! Especially the one at the bottom of the page: ‘The purpose of life is to enjoy every moment.’

‘There once was a woman who fell in love with a star’ – When I painted this page, I didn’t realise that the Painting Galaxies class with Katie Smith was waiting for us round the corner! I loved creating a page that explored the beginning of a tale. It’s as if the whole story is contained within that beginning. Our imagination is drawn along that starry path into the rest of the tale. You can read more about my experience of the Painting Galaxies class here.

Come live with me
in my wintry realm.
You will never need
to feel again.

‘The Snow Queen’ – This page was inspired by a wonderful stencils tutorial with @sasha_zeen. Once again I found myself exploring the idea of a fairy tale setting as a place within us, that place where we just want to be numb and not feel any more.

‘Not a morning person’ — This strange bird was my first ever acrylic image transfer, made as part of the Transference class with Tiffany Julia. And the Season of Fairy Tales was the perfect time to explore image transfers because they are like magic! In this page, I was working with something that often happens in fairy tales: one of the characters is transformed into an animal, bewitched, put under a spell. This seems quite similar to the feeling I have when I wake up in the morning, hatching out of my shell, feeling not quite like myself. It usually takes a cup of tea or coffee to shake off the enchantment and come back to my usual shape and form!

I always had the feeling
this was not my place
but someone else’s
as if I needed permission
to walk these paths.
I will take my place
among the trees
that sing to me,
and call me my true name.

‘These are my woods now’ – This page was inspired by the story of ‘Little Red Riding Hood’, and every tale where female characters are made to fear walking into the woods, into the dark.

‘Gown of tatters’ – So often we imagine we cannot ‘go to the ball’ because there is something not right about us. In Cinderella, her fairy godmother procures her the most beautiful dresses. But what if she were to go to the ball just as she is, in her gown of tatters. What if she were seen in her own magnificence without the need for a make-over?

‘I have always been here’ – During this season, I’ve been rereading many old favourites about the merging of myth, fairy tale, psychology, and personal history. One such favourite is ‘The Heroine’s Journey Workbook’ by Maureen Murdock. Each day, I have been taking a morning pages approach to the writing exercises in this wonderful book. Writing in depth about my sense of myself at various intervals throughout my life so far, I’m struck by how much change has taken place. And at the same time I can sense the thing in me that is unchanged — some essence of who I am that I carry with me through all the adventures and transformations.

‘You the moon’ – This page was inspired by an exploration into rebirth as part of the Metamorph class with Erin Faith Allen. In this exploration, we cut up a picture we had already made, one that we had some degree of attachment to. We then brought it back together as something new and quite different. You can see the original image here.

‘The Duchess of the moon’ – My image transfer came out looking quite cloudy so I traced over it with white gel pen, which gave the woman’s face an ethereal look. I added planets which I made during the Painting Galaxies class. As I worked,The Duchess of the moon began to emerge. Once again, it seems the fairy tale character and the landscape through which she moves seem very much intertwined.

‘Revisiting the Snow Queen’ – It seems I’m not finished with this icy figure! There is something I find so fascinating about her: the icy stare, her chilling beauty, her stillness.

‘Looking for lost selves’ – This was another piece influenced by my work with The Heroine’s Journey Workbook. I used much more journaling on the page than usual. This stream-of-consciousness writing on the theme of identity became an integral part of the layering of the piece.

‘Babas at large’ –  Look out! Babas at large in the forest! They will sit you down by the fire, brew you tea which will turn your mind into a galaxy of stars, and tell your fortune deep into the night. If you should be lucky enough to cross their path, please say hi from me! The trees in the background are from a wonderful tutorial with Julia Cusowrth.

I had to end the season back in my favourite place – the forest! And it was great timing, too, because I was just about to travel to the forest in real life – the beautiful EarthHeart centre in the Forest of Dean. It was time for the next part of the Initiation yearlong journey into the sacred feminine. Time to write a new page of my story…

Thank you for coming along with me on this magical journey through the fairy tale realm of this past season! I can’t wait to see what the coming season at Get Messy will bring!

Dreaming of distant galaxies

During the Season of Fairy Tales at Get Messy, I had the pleasure of taking part in the Painting Galaxies class with Katie Smith. It was the perfect accompaniment to the season, with a magical atmosphere and a sense of entering another world.

One of the things I love about the techniques that Katie shares is that they are quite simple to do and yet create such a dazzling effect. It is also possible to use many different mediums. The galaxy above was created with acrylic paints, while the one below was made using watercolours.

I love the soft haziness of the watercolours. It reminds me of the clouds and nebulas of the galaxy. The word Breathe came to me as I was looking at the finished galaxy. I felt so calm looking at something so vast and peaceful, and had a sense of the whole universe breathing. Pretty cosmic stuff!

I spend my Sunday mornings out and about at a lovely cafe in West London. I have called it The Doodle Cafe because I always spend my time there writing and drawing. A minimal art kit is essential on these mornings, and so I was delighted when Katie shared a technique on Instagram using Tombow watersoluble markers. It was a great accompaniment to the class. I love the cloudy quality that comes in unexpected ways when you add water to the markers.

I loved this technique so much, it soon became one of my favourites! In this next galaxy I splashed even more water onto the markers and was delighted with the clouds that were created.

I stuck with a limited colour palette so that the clouds could be the main focus.

Back to acrylics, and this time, instead of using the white gel pen to outline the clouds of the galaxy, I used it to add a drawing of myself as an intergalactic princess!

The stars are drawing close to me now

with their whispers of magic and other worlds.

We will talk to each other

like we did when I was a girl,

singing songs

in strange and wonderful tunes.

The above galaxy was made during yet another Sunday at The Doodle Cafe. I used Tombow markers once again, this time really going for it with the vibrancy of the colours.

‘Dressed for the universal weather’ – This is a watercolour galaxy with added blobs of high flow acrylics for bursts of saturated colour. Wow! This added a wonderful vibrancy to the galaxy. I had been enjoying the galaxies in their own right up to this point, but decided to see what it was like using a galaxy as a background. It didn’t take much to complete the page, with a single figure and some writing along the top.

This time I added the high flow acrylic paints to a Tombow marker galaxy. I sprayed the high flow paints with water which again activated the markers underneath. This created a wonderful effect – both vibrant and hazy. I added a quote by Rabindranath Tagore, perfect for the beginning of autumn and the nights drawing in.

Shooting-star-like, blazing briefly,

fire the autumn dark within me.

– Rabindranath Tagore

I often find the time I spend in my art journal to be quite meditative. I found this effect was heightened while I was painting these galaxies. There is something about gazing into the vastness of space that helps to put everything into perspective. As if by magic, towards the end of the class, I noticed the tag on my teabag had a message for me that felt very fitting for the art of painting galaxies:

Open up to infinity

and become infinity.

These are my woods now

I always had the feeling
this was not my place
but someone else’s
as if I needed permission
to walk these paths.
I will take my place
among the trees
that sing to me,
and call me my true name.

Chronicle of a yoga retreat

Day 1

I have just got back from an intense and rewarding week on a wonderful yoga retreat with Alaric Newcombe at Le Tardoun in France. Inspired by Julia Cusworth, I took with me a passport-sized Muji notebook, a teensy watercolour set, and a single black pen. Each afternoon I created a watercolour background and each night I added a drawing of my experience of the day. The end result is a record of what turned out to be a rollercoaster ride, both emotionally and physically!

Day 2

As someone who is used to going to a weekly class or two, 7 hours a day of pranayama and asana very quickly took me well out of my comfort zone! I drew this self-portrait with eyes closed, which helped me express that feeling of being outside my familiar ways of doing things.

Day 3

Due to an ongoing nerve condition in my left foot which makes it difficult to stand for any length of time, it can be challenging to find ways to strongly move my whole body. One of the reasons I love Iyengar yoga is that I am able to explore the strength and energy of my body whilst working safely around my foot. On this day, we were working with backbends and I came out of the class feeling more energised and alive than I had done for a long time.

Day 4

This was a really tough day! It was so hot, I thought my eyeballs were going to pop out of my head.

Day 5

‘All this moving and breathing can make you feel so much more alive, but it can also make you feel vulnerable.’ This self portrait was drawn with eyes closed which helped to express the feeling of being a little dismantled, a little unfamiliar to myself.

Day 6

The calm after the storm. Coming back to a feeling of wholeness. This page was inspired by our early morning pranayama session: the cool air of the pine forest, the chirpings of the birds, the first rays of sunlight entering into the studio.

Day 7

It is strange to feel super energised and super tired both at the same time!

I wouldn’t normally have chosen browns for this page but I was feeling so grounded and in my body, I was drawn to these earthy tones.


I’m so grateful for this incredible experience. For my inspiring teacher Alaric Newcombe, for my beloved Keerti, for the wonderful group of friends who were so lovely and kind, for the mountainside beauty of Le Tardoun, and for the continual wonder that is Iyengar Yoga.

The Wheel of Time

‘Don’t prick your finger on the Wheel of Time’ – my first page for The Season of Fairy Tales, inspired by Sleeping Beauty.

I was so excited when I heard about this particular season at Get Messy Art Journal. I have always loved fairy tales and imagined I could easily spend a year diving into the treasure chest of these beloved stories. But when the day came, I found I didn’t know where to start. There is so much I want to explore and this made it even more challenging to begin.

Inspiration came to me while I was enjoying a cup of ‘Women’s Energy Tea’ with some friends. The messages attached to each tea bag reminded me of the blessings given to Sleeping Beauty at her christening:

In the Grimms tale, the king invites ‘wise women’ to the party. (Perhaps Disney is responsible for turning them into fairies?) In my rewrite, these women are not divided into good and evil. Instead, they have a depth of beauty and power which they wield unapologetically.

Magazine images are not usually my first point of call when I’m working on an art journal page. With a subject such as fairy tales, however, I suddenly realised how almost every magazine image draws upon our associations with these magical stories. The opulent gowns and jewels are straight out of Cinderella’s ball. The women are often portrayed archetypally as innocent maidens or sultry seductresses with magical powers.

As I was working on the page, I kept thinking about time. In the tale, time works as a kind of antagonist. It cannot be slowed or stopped; Beauty cannot be prevented from turning 13 and pricking her finger. Neither can it be made to go faster; the hundred years of sleep will certainly be a long, long time.

It occurred to me that for us today the clock is a kind of spinning wheel. We prick our fingers many times a day and fall into all sorts of ‘slumbers’ because of our reactions to time. So many of our struggles are ‘against the clock’, rushing to squeeze more hours into the day, or even more impossibly, trying to prevent our own aging processes (back to many of the adverts in magazines – “try this new product! It will work like magic and prevent you from getting old!”)

I came full circle to the advice on my tea bags. We need these little blessings! Especially the one at the bottom of the page:

I love how these little messages point to an inner experience and enjoyment of life – a realm in which the spinning wheel of time has no dominion. I might just go and brew a cup of ‘Women’s Energy Tea’ right now. I wonder what message is waiting for me today?

Wishing you all a lovely weekend!

My voice, the fire

The woman is tending my voice.
Night after night,
I see her,
strong and deeply connected
to the earth,
the open air.

I am unfamiliar with this language
but I can see
the golden heart she speaks of.

A moment billows,
comes towards me,
even now,
while the woman is shining
in the clear blue sky.

We sit and eat the fire.
We drink the heat.
We wake the morning.
The sun speaks on the inside.

I can only be here.
I can, at last, be here.

The Season of Colour

Last week saw the end of the amazing Season of Colour over at Get Messy Art Journal. Each week, there were wonderful prompts and tutorials exploring colour from all sorts of different angles. Here is my collection of colourful pages from the last six weeks.

I love working with colour, especially bright colour. So I was curious to see what a whole season devoted to this subject would unleash! I found myself going even further, giving myself permission to saturate the page.

After a short while, I felt I was floating in a universe of colour, much like the faces and figures in these pages:

It’s interesting how the figures in the last two pages are in exactly the same position. I had no idea of this until some time after the pages were complete.

After totally going for it with bright colour, I found I wanted to hang out in the cool and calm of a more muted spectrum.

This last page was especially cooling to make during the hot spell we were having!

I spent another few days at EarthHeart in the Forest of Dean, where I am participating in Initiation: Into the Sacred Feminine. The pieces I created when I returned from my time in the forest were filled with goddesses with amazing hair and women sprouting out of the ground like magical flowers.

Collage has always seemed a bit of a mysterious medium to me. This season I found I could get into it a little more, helped also by the Metamorph online art school classes I have been taking with Erin Faith Allen. Going over the top with colour somehow helped me to go over the top with collage, layering many pieces on top of each other, sanding then down, painting and scribbling over them.

This has been a season of many influences, and one of my favourite sources of inspiration has been the We Are All Artists – Creative Mindfulness Cards by Eleanor McComb. This is a wonderful deck of cards, each with a prompt for writing and art in the realms of mindfulness and creativity. The following pages were inspired by Card #6: Touch.

I have enjoyed this season tremendously and feel so lucky to have stumbled across the Get Messy art journaling community. It is truly wonderful to be a part of such a warm and welcoming community of fellow artists. The only consolation for the ending of this season is that there will be another one starting again next week! I wonder what it will be…?

A flip-thru of my art journal so far

So far, the pages of my art journal have appeared in this blog and elsewhere on the internet as single images. They look like standalone pieces when, in fact, they are all pages of a book. Each one follows on from the one before, forming a relationship, part of the same journey.

This is my first ever art journal and I’m excited to show it to you, even though it is not yet finished. I hope you will get a sense of the book-ness of it, how the art journal is simultaneously a question being asked, an answer being given, a journey, and a destination.

Books, historically, have been sacred. So it is by working in an intimate manner with a book that we develop a preciousness of self. There is a ritualistic aspect to opening  and closing a book: opening a book says I am here, I am ready to receive, and takes us into the world of unknowns where all sense of time disappears. Closing the book says I am ready to return to the known world.

Juliana Coles, Institute for Extreme Journalism

If you would like to have a longer look at any of the pages, feel free to pause the video or to browse through the images in a more leisurely fashion in the art journal section of the blog. Enjoy!

* * *

Music credits:
Deliberate Thought by Kevin MacLeod is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution license (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/)
Source: http://incompetech.com/music/royalty-free/?keywords=deliberate+thought
Artist: http://incompetech.com/

Metaphorical me

This piece is inspired by a prompt from the Initiation: Intro to Visual Journaling course with Juliana Coles. I’m definitely getting in the mood for the Season of Colour which has just begun at Get Messy Art Journal!

Anatomy of an art journaling page

Many of the art journaling spreads I have done so far have been inspired by prompts and tutorials from the various classes I have taken and from the wonderful creative team over at Get Messy. One of the suggestions in the Initiation art journaling class I am taking with Juliana Coles is to choose a piece by another artist and use it as inspiration to springboard into your own work.

I chose a wonderful piece by Ines Seidel which I found in A World of Artist Journal Pages by Dawn Devries Sokol. I am including a glimpse of it below to show some of the things that inspired me but also to show just how far my piece had travelled by the time it reached the end of the process.

An art journaling piece by Ines Seidel from A World of Art Journaling Pages by Dawn Devries Sokol.

I loved so many things about this page: the simplicity of the colour scheme, the white empty spaces, the way ordinary objects – such as the houses in the landscape – became surreal when placed on top of the woman’s head. I loved the way the scribbled writing was used as part of the landscape and also surrounding the woman, perhaps like a cloud of thoughts. And I loved the way the text was included sideways, like smoke coming out of the chimneys of the houses.

I wasn’t sure how I wanted to change the process to create my own page. I decided to choose one of the elements to start with and let that lead me onwards with my own sense of what should come next. I set about finding some phrases from Particles, Jottings, Sparks, my book of Rabindranath Tagore poetry, which I bought specially for use in this course. Once I had a bunch of phrases I liked, I rearranged a few of them to create a new poem:

This was the key that gave me a feel for creating my own spread. I decided I would echo Seidel’s use of the landscape but make the sky part much more prominent. It had to be BLUE! I made a simple pencil sketch of a figure walking (the unknown friend) over some rolling hills. Before I painted it blue, I felt drawn to add strips of all the blue washi tape that I have:

I painted the sky, blending together a few different shades of blue, and went over my pencil lines with a black Uniball pen:

I loved Seidel’s use of the scribbled writing and thought this would be the perfect cloud of “dust”, preventing the figure from seeing the blueness of the sky:

Even though I was drawn to Seidel’s use of white empty space, I found myself unable to leave all that white space in my own piece. The landscape felt too bare for me. So I stuck down bits of masking tape to create some texture and painted the area white. But it was STILL too bare for me. So I smudged in some grey paint as well. That felt much better!

Then the white bit in the middle (the rolling hills) started bugging me. So I wrote in pencil some of the words from the poem, adjusting the letters to fill each of the spaces. I smudged the pencil with my finger:

I had had the text ready and waiting to insert into the piece, but each time I wanted to put it in there, it seemed there was something else I needed to do first! (all the steps I just described). At last it was time to put the text into the piece. I placed some in the sky and some on the land. Ah… the piece felt complete!

This was SUCH a wonderful exercise. It showed me how each piece of art that I see can become a source of inspiration, something I can learn from. It also showed me that even if you include all sorts of things from another person’s page (and I included several!), if you follow your own impulses and sense of what you want to create in your own page, you aren’t going to end up with a copy of someone else’s work.

I’ve often looked through all sorts of amazing art in books and online and thought “Darn: how do they do that?” I feel excited that there is a way to be inspired, to try out different things, and to keep learning from all the wonderful artists there are in the world. Thank you for inspiring me, Ines Seidel! And thank you for your beautiful words, Rabindranath Tagore!

Taking in its hands
The flute of the Known,
The Unknown plays
Its manifold sounds.

– Rabindranath Tagore, ‘Sparks’


The Season of Contrast

The Season of Contrast at Get Messy Art Journal is drawing to a close. And what a wonderful season it has been!

Over the course of the last few weeks, I have had all sorts of things going on my life plus I was very much involved with the NaPoWriMo poetry writing challenge. As a result, the season’s theme seemed to be more of a background influence – so much so, that I wondered if I should go ahead and do a round-up post. But here it is! and I’m so glad I decided to review the season, because it has helped me see just how present the theme of contrast has been in my work these past few weeks.

One of the main ways in which contrast appeared in my art was through the portrayal of oppositional forces, such as the young woman facing a traditional man’s world:

‘Can you see my world?’

Continuing the oppositional theme, I also explored contrasts in size, inspired by a wonderful tutorial by Misty Granade:

‘The best warriors I know are on TV’

I had a lot of fun exploring what happens when very different characters come together to work on something:

‘Action Man and Space Woman build a house’

The following piece, exploring two different sides of ourselves, came out of an inspiring prompt by Sasha Zinevych:


I loved exploring the stark contrast of black and white. White lettering on a black background was a wonderful way to include text on the page:

‘My heart is a black-tie affair’

Vanessa Oliver Lloyd‘s tutorial on negative space, inspired my approach to creating a piece about inner experience. The invisible reality of the inner experience is rendered more visible as the gold shines out around the outline of my hand. Talking about it now, it sounds like I consciously intended this to happen! But these are not necessarily conscious choices. That’s one of the things I love so much about art journaling: I am presenting deeper, almost dream-like parts of myself to my conscious waking self:


In ‘Storm’, I’m still with the oppositional forces and the contrast in size. The storm is so big and the figure seems so small. And yet the contrasting materials give the simple black and white figure a clarity as she moves against the complex chaos of the storm, with its clouds of scribbled words and ink drips:


I loved the contrast of black and white so much, I returned to it later in the season, adding some colour into the mix. I felt the influence of Isabel Greenberg, one of my favourite cartoonists, in ‘Birth story’. Greenberg’s The One Hundred Nights of Hero and The Encyclopedia of Early Earth are both incredible works of visual storytelling and are well worth checking out!

‘Birth story’

I think one of the reasons I enjoyed the black and white images, is because it was easier for me to bring in my love of comics and cartoons:

‘Make the sounds’

One of the wonderful things about following artist friends on Instagram is that there are so many other takes on the theme of contrast. Witnessing all these different journeys alongside my own has made the whole experience so much richer.

Towards the end of the season, Misty Granade and I took a ride into the earthy tones of our paint palettes, and travelled back in time to the prehistoric world of cave paintings. I remember wondering at the time if this was somehow connected to the theme of contrast. I can see now that it most certainly is: the exploration of a whole range of colours that were outside, in contrast to the bright colours that were within my repertoire.

‘Dancing to the moon’

I have also discovered that the exploration of contrasting or oppositional forces can actually serve to bring things closer together. I went back to prehistoric times so that I can be here today with an understanding that is rooted in something deep and ancient. I used the earthy tones in my palette so that I can return to the bright colours with a new depth.

‘The ancient ones’

It’s interesting that the images from the end of the season were all ones of integration, a bringing together, as if all the different parts of myself were invited to the party. Time to celebrate!

It has been a truly wonderful season at Get Messy. I am amazed at how much exploration can happen in the space of a few weeks. There is a short break now between seasons, a welcome time for reflecting on all the ground we have covered in recent weeks, and also a chance to catch up on any of the tutorials and prompts we didn’t get to the first time round.

Soon a new season will be beginning. I wonder what the theme will be next time? I can’t wait to find out. Perhaps some of you will join me there?