Category Archives: Art Journal – A Gypsy’s Journey



I know that heading is a little alarming – but it needs to be.  I help to moderate the fabulous mixed media yahoo group called Paper Traders & every year since our inception, we have had a Round Robin Journal Project & I have hosted the project for the last 3 years.  For the uninitiated, basically – 12 people (our limit) make a journal, decide on a topic, then send their journal of on a travelling adventure around the world.  The journals rotate monthly, and each artist makes a page in everyone's journal until they finally recieve their own back.  Each time we have done it, there have been glitches along the way & sadly, we have people who have not honoured their commitments and literally just not sent journals back to their owners – but what happened this last month has taken the cake!  This month it appears that a international, priority paid, tracked & insured parcel has been very carefully opened (SO CAREFULLY – I can't see how it's been done) and looked through the 3 journals & the other contents of the box – and decided to keep one of the journals and the extra bits & bobs sent to me by the previous artist – and carefully seal the IMG_0002_resizebox back up. 

The box left USA weighing 5lbs 8.5oz and arrived to me in Oz weighing barely 4lb.  Despite there being no signs what so ever of tampering, the box was crushed down one side where the journal and other things 'had been' and now the two remaining journals moved around in the box.  That's where the fun began – despite having all of the safeguards in place, no one could tell us (person who sent parcel, me as recipient or the missing journals' owner) at what point the weight of the parcel changed.  A claim has been put in for insurance, which is SOMETHING at least for the trouble, but I am sure that we'd all just prefer to be able to post our art and know it's safe.  I have to say, I have posted things all around the continent & the world for years, and for the most part, I haven't had a problem.  THIS ONE takes the cake though!   I would caution anyone reading this to think carefully about what you write as the 'contents' of a parcel sent.  You need to use words that are 'honest' for security reasons – but not descriptive enough to raise the interest of any 'would-be' thief.  Perhaps words like: book, paperwork, printed matter, if anyone has any others, it'd be good to hear them.

As host, I felt just terrible about this happening – especially as the pics I had seen of the original journal showed that it was fabulous (no wonder 'peeping thomas/thomasina' decided to steal it!).  The subject was 'The White Rabbit' and being a big Alice fan, I had things on hand that I thought I would be able to use to restore the journal.  It's not perfect, but it is better than getting nothing back.  So here's some pics of the a couple of pages & the cover of the new journal, including a couple of litho etchings I did as my own contribution to the journal.

IMG_0001_resize The Red Queen's Birthday Party IMG_0004_resize IMG_0003_resizeIMG_0021_resize IMG_0009_resizeIMG_0022_resize


Covers for a Journey


Front_cover_webBack_cover_web                                                                I have had these covers for my Gypsy Journey Journal on my studio table for the last two weeks. Anticipating the pages from other participants to be arriving soon, I want to have a ‘home’ ready for them (along with the duplicates I made of my pages.)  I already know as I post these that 1. they are NOT my best work (I always say that not every piece is a Mona Lisa AND that you never know when you start a piece whether it will become a Mona Lisa!)  AND 2. that these are incomplete.  I have worked & worked them…….in fact I think that I have perhaps over worked them a little in oil, I have lost my background papers almost altogether. (which included some lovely old maps from Mary Green) I wanted to have ‘GYPSY’ written in black letters on the front, & despite several different ways I attempted this, it just didn’t work out too well.  I will probably add it later under the dictionary definition………I think I have had enough of deep colours or something for this week…….I wanted something worn, weathered & used looking, a bit ecclectic & junkie (as much as a left brained artist can make it junky!) I am not sure that I am there yet…..I am moving on to something with a different feel for a day or two………

A Charming Afternoon


Charming_afternoonI have had great fun this afternoon playing with my op-shop & garage sale ‘finds’ bringing all sorts of ecclectic bits together to make charms for the Artistic Journey’s Gyspy Journal Swap (18 of them) AND for Paper Trader’s Gothic Arch (6 of them). I have also integrated some of my jewellery making findings & beads to bring them together.  I have used lots of turquoise, russett & metal bits for the gypsie pieces, they are quite random & each one is unique. The Gothic ones are still in formation, as I signed up for the swap about 3 months ago, there has been plenty of time for my ritual of ‘hunting & gathering’…….so anything that looked remotely Gothic I have Charming_afternoon_2snaffled it up & put it in my ‘project box’……………..Speaking of project boxes… do others ‘collect’ for a project????  I know that some artists only sign up for a swap AFTER they have completed pieces to send…….WHOA…….I could never do that…….FIRST I commit…….then I hunt & gather…..then I mull over what I have collected & look at what else I might need….I find it incredibly hard to get started on a project if I don’t have materials that I feel I can produce something with & that inspire me……I have tried just painting backgrounds in journals when I am having a museless day…….BUT I have found I can never finish them, they remain background pages


& don’t ever get filled, because I just dont’ get inspired by that.  I have recognised the ‘Hunting & Gathering’ phase as a key part of my creating a piece or a project………….oh, but then I hate myself & think that I really can’t do this, & why did I even sign up for it…..I go through all of the hate & self loathing & self deprecation……then I start creating, working with what I have gathered………then the adrenaline kicks in & I become obsessive…….& I don’t want to sleep or work……..just art……..usually through the process, I grow to hate, like & love various pieces…..usually it is the addition of a single element, or a change of colour, or some minor change that helps me to like it more & it all comes together in the end……& I am usually happy enough with the outcome.   I have found great liberty in recognizing my process……….because as I am going through it (and it is usually a variation of what I have described above) I will some times get stuck & not even want to LOOK at what I am working on… is then that I move on to something else, I look at my lovely books or go shopping for some inspiration (good visual merchandising ALWAYS inspires me).  Being able to recognise where I am in my creative process enables me to know there is light at the end of the tunnel – I just have to ‘sit with’ being stuck & not get too agitated sitting there!  I know the things that can move me on from there……..I just have to facilitate them.

The Beginning of the End


TimebackgroundsmwebNow that I have finished all of my pages for the Gypsy journal swap, I am up to the the ‘not as pleasant’ task of creating backs for them………as with all ‘deco’ or tip in swaps that are going to be bound, you can see the backs of the pages, so as a minimum, you need to paint them or cover them with paper to ‘tidy’ them up after ‘studio’ work.

I have created this piece digitally using Adobe Photoshop for the back the page shown on my previous post – The Millionaire.  The ‘clock’ in the background is my own photograph of a clock that belongs to one of our clients.  It is a magnificent specimen, that was begging to be photographed to be turned into something beautiful.   The rest is done with a series of sillohetted images & PS brushes………I did have some great ‘finds’ today that will be good charms for decorating the covers & creating ‘dangly’ bits………I still, now need to create 18 charms (9 x min. 2 different ones)

The Millionaire


The_millionaire_webAgainst all the odds, memory lives….we call it Time.  Artefacts & monuments that preserve a connection to the past defy decay & validate our experiences & the passage of our life…….. Time is my enemy and my friend…….. it gifts me with the pleasure of seeing my children & grandchildren’s lives unfolding before me, all the while insidiously stealing my vitality, decaying my body, robbing my memory of it’s treasure……. it’s the passage of my lifetime & all that it encompasses….. all that I have to create my eternity…… is immortal…….. irreplaceable…….. & therefore it makes sense that ‘an unhurried sense of time is in itself a form of wealth’  Here is the last of my Gypsy series….The Millionaire, who lives without the construct of schedules & timetables…… a work in Golden Acrylics & Senellier Oil Pastels.  The stamped time pieces in the background are from Oxford Impressions.

Art Shared with Friends – In the Shadows


In_the_shadows_webYesterday I enjoyed a delicious art day with my dear friends Abby, Jenene, Lynne & Nadine joined us for the first time.  When we get together we all work on different things, which means that the tables (ONE 8 foot long table is not enough!) are full of all kinds of treasuresArt_day_aug.  Here is Jenene working on a masterpiece she is creating in leaf colours with actual leaf skeletons on raised ‘blocks’  The backgrounds she painted for each block were so special they could have been the art themselves……Abby (who you only see a bit off down the end) was working on a purple splendour……..a gorgeous purple dragon in her ‘colour’ journal.  When that journal is finished it will need to be locked away ‘cos I’ll be mighty temped to steal it!!!  Lynne is still beavering away on her ‘Le Petit Jardin’ (The Small Garden) book & did a sumptious little page on Autumn.  It is only about 2 inches square so the spread is really tiny.  Scale is a challenge for everything that goes in the book, but it is just superb.  Nadine was working on a ‘house’ project.  Her little Art_day_aug_2_3 house started out with a gold roof with Burnt Umber as a base & shingles penned over the top………although progress was a little slow, it is coming along nicely & I can’t wait to see how it turns out.  I don’t have alot to show for the day…….although I accomplished a fair bit………I painted some more Gypsy backgrounds & worked them up with oil pastels.  I worked up 3 each of 2 images………they all look a bit different, as I worked & emphasised different colours in each of them.  This one is called ‘In the Shadows’………..I have seen people like this as I have travelled, they are at home on the fringe, in a doorway, in the shadows……….

The Matriarch


The_matriarch_web So all of this working with Gypsy images has prompted me to do a bit of research on them to understand my subject matter a bit better.  It appears that they first appeared in Western Europe in the early 15th century.  I am sure that there is big picture reasons for this, however I am not conversant enough with my European history to think what was going on at the time that would have caused this group of people to all of a sudden exist, when they didn’t before.  There appears to have been migrations from the Indian subcontinent, & evidence of origins in Constantinople.  This seems to tie in with their initial presence in Europe.  Some tribes settled into a migratory pattern others headed west to Europe proper.  In partiarchal Europe, the gypsy men assimilated more quickly into the general population where as the women tended to stay around their own camps.  The gypsy women held onto their traditional style of dress well into the 17th century which included shawls, & loose fitting tops & skirts.

Gypsy Page No 4 is a very surly looking woman that I thought made a fabulous ‘Matriarch’……….aparently, the Matriarchial woman used to teach the children (who did not often attend formal schooling) to read & write.  I have used one of my painted backgrounds (using Golden heavy bodied acrylics) then stamped with a gorgeous paisley design from Beth at Stamper’s Annoymous.  I embossed it with some clear UTEE & then rubbed over it with wax.  I printed the pics out on photopaper, which made them a bit more delicate to work with, & I had a couple of blotches………so I have coloured up her shawl with H2O’s & it has a nice sheen on it.

A Question of Gender


A_question_of_gender_webGypsy No. 3………A Question of Gender……the question many a pregnant woman wants the answer to.  Although Gypsies were maligned & marginalized, many a woman would resort to her wisdom & skills when in need.  The main image is taken from a recycled greeting card (my fav. cos I like working on the thick card).  The dangly bit is an orphan earring (one I have lost the pair to) that has been recyled into something useful.

Soot & Painty Hands


Background_1_web I was busy tonight creating backgrounds for an new tip in journal with my Artistic Journey group with a Gypsy theme. Yes……my hands are VERY painty….because I JUST can’t help myself, I HAVE to get my hands in that paint…… the blue dye from earlier this week is JUST starting to fade & now I have stains of the lucious Golden Paints Quinacridone/Nickel Azo Gold (almost lumincent brick orange) I haven’t done anything of the Gypsy genre before, so I am looking forward to it.  To me…. a Gypsy world is an eclectic, mixed up world which is a little whimsical & unpredictable.  I thought to use this as inspiration for my backgrounds and tried to make them quite random, both in colour combinations and placement.  I used a variety of tools to apply paints including brush, palette knife, credit card, baby wipe, brayered with paper towel AND best of all – MY FINGERS for a bit of blending & mixing!  Other than paints, I used other bits in it as well like verdigris wax, gold pigment powder, stamping ink pads (block straight on to colour) & pearl paint.  I need to make 9 pieces 8in high x 6in wide, so I just tore long strips 8" high & started painting.  This way each finished one, whilst similar tones, will be different.  THIS is not the finished product…….once I start working adding imagery, I will still work in some other textures & colours, but this is it for now. 

Also, I promised earlier in the week to share with you the techinque of ‘soot’ stamping.  This is NOT my idea it’s one I go from someone else & you are welcome to copy it…….. I am sharing it so that you can have a go as well…….

FIRSTLY prepare a clear area 1. to work in THEN 2. where you can place your ‘sooted’ piece to stamp on. Cut a piece of gloss photo paper about 1" all around bigger than what you want your finished piece.  Light a candle that has the wick protruding above the top & quickly pass the paper back & forth through the flame with glossy side facing down.  Move quickly in & out of the flame & keep the card moving. DON’T touch the card with the wick or the wax.  When you are happy with how much soot is on the card, very CAREFULLY place the card down, soot side upward.  Stamp into the soot with a dry, clean stamp. Use a clear fixative to prevent the soot from smearing.    I used Helmar fixative which left tiny white spots, I believe that Krylon is better, but not readily available in Oz.Background_2_web