Season of Kindness (part 2)

Of all the seasons I have experienced so far at Get Messy, the Season of Kindness seems to be having the biggest impact on the state of my heart. So many of the prompts and tutorials have had a healing or meditative focus. As a result, the time spent in my art journal has felt even more nourishing than usual.

The page above was created in response to a prompt on the subject of forgiving ourselves as an act of kindness. There’s something so powerful about making art as a vehicle that can move you from one way of feeling about a situation to another. I had intended the two faces to be me looking at the people I feel I have wronged in the past and who I now wish well. By the time I finished the page, I also felt I was looking at myself, wishing myself well too.

I was inspired by fellow Mess Maker Clare Davis Etherdige to play around with sumi ink. This in turn reminded me of my favourite quote from the Tao te Ching:

The simplest pattern is the clearest.
Content with an ordinary life,
you can show all people
the way back to their own true nature.

Simplicity and ordinariness seem to me to be qualities related to kindness. I set out intending this page to be very simple but simple isn’t my strong suit! Plus, I’m sort of obsessed by all these marks I learned in the Spirits class with Roxanne Coble.

Clare’s mandala tutorial was balm for my soul. I combined this mandala with a prompt about receiving kind words. Sometimes it’s hard to really receive kind words and take them to heart. The meditative process of making the mandala gave me the space to let the words sink in.

I painted a background as part of Clare’s instagram challenge, where we were taking one step each day towards creating a page. The trouble was, I liked this background so much, I didn’t want to cover it with anything. So I’ve left it as it is (for now!)

The page below is the one I ended up with at the end of the challenge. It’s called “Life’s adventure”. It was so much fun diving into each day’s task without knowing where it was all going.

A message from The Grandmothers:

This past week, it was my turn to take over the Get Messy Instagram account. I posted some quick and easy tutorials such as the kindness equation page below. Remember math equations on the blackboard at school? A + B = C ? I was wondering: what if we could write our own kindness equations? For example, I know that when I add some yummy cake and some warm tea and share it amongst friends, the result is love and kindness.

I also googled for inspiration around the theme of kindness. You know how when you start to type a phrase or question into Google and it completes it with a variety of suggested endings? I googled Kindness is like and Kindness is the new and some wonderful suggestions emerged. Each one was a great starting point for a page. The phrase “kindness is the best medicine” became the perfect prompt for this page in my daily art project:

I also made a kindness poem from newspapers and magazines.

Out of the blue
Your kindness feels
Like the worlds most sweet aromatic magic.
It is rock and roll
For my soul.

If you head over to the Get Messy Instagram account, you can still find these quick and easy tutorials in the story highlights at the top of the page. Check them out for some kindness inspiration!

“Is it time to let go?” — It felt very healing, making this spread from Tiffany Julia’s ‘s beautiful tutorial. I realised there are things I am ready to let go of and there are some things I am not yet ready to forgive and accept. Thank you, Tiffany, for leading us through such a wonderful process!

I mentioned in my first post on the Season of Kindness that this is the first time I have ever created a journal especially for a particular season. I am loving the way this little book is turning into a beautiful meditation on the theme of kindness with its own gentle and heartful energy. I’m not sure this would happen in the same way if I was including all sorts of other themes within the same book.

Thanks for joining me on this adventure. To borrow the words of The Grandmothers: Be kind to yourself!

Until next time,

Divyam xxx


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!

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!)


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!

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!

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.

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’



She is up there on the hill,
clearing a path through the wild summer grass,
making a nest for the little bird.

She would like to meet herself
one morning.
She has sent an invitation.

In winter, she removes her own skin,
makes broth from her bones,
dances naked by the fire.

She will be the death
and the birth
of me.

* * *

Today’s poem was inspired by a wonderful prompt from Sasha Zeen as part of the Season of Contrast over at Get Messy. I used a background I had already prepared for NaPoWriMo from the inspirational Messy Pages class with Tanyalee Kahler.


Today I sat down to work on a poem and this happened instead. I can’t claim it’s a poem but I can’t claim that it’s not, either! This poem/art journaling journey is taking on a life of its own.