Category Archives: Art Journal – A Time in my Life



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


Who Am I???


I’m not happy.  I have all sorts of phone issues at the moment and sorting them out is a NIGHTMARE. After 2 hours & 28 minutes on ONE SINGLE call, waiting on hold being ferried from department to department – I actually got cut off – they hung up on ME!  This problem has been ongoing & this is about my third attempt to fix it……as I was getting over my incredulity of being cut off after waiting all of that time on the phone – an ad came on for one of the competition service providers.  It was the prompt I needed to investigate changing providers……..anyways – I went through an interim process with them over the phone & when asked my occupation – I had nothing to say – because I am not working outside the home at the moment.  The ***>@?@#>R$ operator THEN said, how old are your dependants, (assuming that if I wasn’t working, I would be home looking after children – does anyone still do that??)………no, I am a Nonna, I assured him – I don’t have dependants – SO – he concluded – YOU JUST DO NOTHING THEN – you are a housekeeper!!!  I have VERY BAD WORDS to say about phone companies today!  OF course I have managed to take out my frustration on my journal!!!!  This is not my ‘soul’ journal – it is my ‘A Time In My Life’ journal, as I thought this page was more appropriate here.Whoamiweb I have cut out silhoettes from all types of paper that is relevant to the occupation of the person & used heads of magazine people….so the chef is cut out of a recipe book page, the builder from some plans, our singer from music, the accountant from a ready reckoner, etc.

Unwrapping Time


Unwrapping_time_merge_web This was another of my previously prepared backgrounds……I painted the whole page with ferrous paint & then puddled rusting solution on the page.  I have done some other stuff using this technique that I have been really happy with, however I wasn’t too keen on the ‘rivers’ it made because it didn’t look very realistic for the types of crystaline formation that rust typically makes.  I stamped over the background using the gorgeous new stamps from Green Pepper Press called Juliet (a sheet of flourishes) – in Indian Ink.  You don’t see them very well in the scan, but they add a nice dimension to the actual page.  They are lightly stamped in & over the black & rusted sections.  Gradually I worked up the imagery with Lumier’s H2O’s, oil pastels, waxes & paints, I was pretty happy with how it was coming together.  THEN I decided to do some text on acetate & attach it with Ultra Glue.  Usually on a coloured page, this doesn’t show up, but on the black & rust, it is really prominent.  This was a bit of a disappointing finish……



Roman_antiquities_web Today, I worked in my ‘A Time in My Life’ Journal…….. & worked on 2 pages.  The scan is a bit dodgy because it is rather textural & it hasn’t come up too well, you particularly don’t get a clear indication of the ‘gel transfer’ icons which are done over book binding gause & look like little mosaics.  These pages have literally been 6 months in the making.  About that long ago, going through a bit of a ‘flat spot’ in my creativity cycle I thought that I’d work up some backgrounds for future use.  I did about 4 double fold pages, using various methods, colours & papers.  What I have found on reflection is that it is hard for me to work from a background forward.  I have recognized that my original inspiration to create a piece of work comes from some visual inspiration &that I work from an image back.  It sounds silly, because you can’t ‘ground’ an image as well if you stick it on to a blank piece of paper/card first, and then try to work it in – and I don’t…… some degree my art ALWAYS evolves as it goes along…..(usually to cover up something that I muck up!) …….but I need to at least have a perception of the end from the beginning. 

So here I am 2/3rds of the way through this Journal project, with these 4 backgrounds – STILL waiting for inspiration: in the middle of the book!!  This background had been painted with Raw Sienna, Rich Gold wax with the aforementioned gause integrated in the painted surface.  A few months ago, I added one of Mary’s Antique maps to start with & some tear aways of Brunelleschi’s drawings of Florence’s famous Bascilica di Santa Maria del Fiore (The Church of St Maria of the Flowers), but wasn’t sure what to do with it next………….before I went interstate, I added iconic gel transfers, but it still wasn’t ‘tied together enough’……….THEN a great parcel arrived in the mail while I was sick from my new art friend in Italy……Paola……………SHE sent me the perfect imagary in the form of some mosaics that were perfect to finish off the page.  I have used crayons, inks & wax to work it in together.  Though it has been a long time coming,  I am happy enough with the finished result.  I will post the next one tomorrow.

Caravaggio Colour Wheel


Carravaggio_colour_wheel_web This is really NOTHING like a work from Caravaggio, however, I have called it this because it has that deep dark background & shadowing of vibrant colours that he was so famous for.  It is quite a layered piece incorporating acrylic paints, oil pastels, sprayed gold webbing & soft chalks.  My original idea was to do the colour wheel in the centre & do pears around it, however I didn’t find that worked with this shape of page very well.  This is in my big ‘Time of my Life’ journal so it is 22” across (11′ each page) x 9′ high.  First I laid down the acrylic paints to give the colour a good body.  Then I worked the pears up by dry brushing more acrylic colour on, & filling it & blending in oil pastels.  I use Sennelier oil pastels I am in love with them………..what more can I say????? LOL!!!  I only found out recently that apparently they were originally developed in collaboration with Picasso in the 1940’s. There are 2 types a small ‘crayon’ size & a 4" long x 1" round ‘stick’ of oil – they are just delicious, they have fabulous colours, rich pigments, cover well & they say they have good lightfastness (I haven’t been using them long enough to judge that). Once you are working it in, it can be thinned with turpentine and worked with a brush (if you are that clever, I much prefer to use my fingers, although they are really starting to show gorey signs of this regular abuse!). They are acid-free and can be applied to any surface: paper, canvas, wood or metal.  NO, this not an ad……….it’s just that often you see materials in art shops & don’t know what they’ll be like…….and I don’t know about you, but 1 of ANYTHING that has a colour range just doesn’t work for me………so then it costs a bit just to ‘try’ something. I did use cheaper ones earlier, however they are like night & day between those & the Sennelier ones.  I have been using these for about a year now & they are FIRMLY established in my ‘mixed media’ tool box. 

To Adorn Her


WELLLLLLLLL……..I have the new scanner & what a disappointment……..I don’t care that I saved $150, I want my money back!!!  It will be returning from whence it came…….THIS MORNING!  Here is an INCREDIBLY bad scan (I almost miss my luminous line!) of my latest art journal page.  This is my big journal (pages are 11" wide x 10" high…….so spread is 22" wide)……..NOTE TO SELF: make sure the NEXT journal you make fits on an A4 scanner bed!!To_adorn_her_web_merge

Enough WHINGING YOU SAY!!! RIGHT HO!……….this spread is titled ‘To Adorn Her’………the text on the page reads……..’he travelled far & wide to adorn her’…………As it To_adorn_her_merge_hpis bigger than A4 you have missed some of the edges……….& alot of the detail………but that’s it for today, I will have to see what else I can come up with. 

POST SCRIPT:now that I have my new scanner, I have gone back & rescanned the pages….the top (magenta looking page) is from a Brother all in one machine………the bottom one (grey & black) is from a HP, my new, new scanner & all in one ………the HP scan is true to colour & shows the nuances of the colours of stamping & inks I used much better than the Brother did. The graphic is also much clearer & the faces collaged in as well.  These were scanned on exactly the same settings. I am not going to do before’s & afters of all of them, I will just replace the pics from the last couple of weeks as my old HP all in one machine died leaving me a yellow luminous streak over teveything that I scanned.

The pages were made on a base of acrylics & pearl paints & have layers of stamping in various inks & paint, gel transfers & found imagery.  The ‘seagrass’ is a donation from Lynne that I moushed in the paints I was using.  I have to acknowledge a couple of inspirations…………Marta Harvey’s beautiful pen & ink trees  AND the exceptionally talented Judy from Sydney & her amazing book on Elephants she completed recently.  Elephants is not a subject that would have appealed to me before, there was just something about this pic that appealled to me………it is from an old national geographic from the ’70’s.  I use them alot, I pick them up at op (thrift) shops & garage (yard) sales.

Byzantine Dream


Iconic_dream_web I have been working in my ‘Time in my Life’ Art Journal over the weekend and this spread is the result.  It has taken all weekend & was a lengthy process of layering over & over.  I have created a whole heap of ATC backgrounds from all of the scraps & bit’s left over which I will work on during the week, but for now, I am beat.  I need sleep.

THE MORNING AFTER…….rest after creating is good……I was SO tired by the time I finally posted this last night.  Friday night was the sleep of the ‘artistically disturbed’ (some might say diranged, but I am not volunteering that myself!) as I had pasted down all of the background papers (there are 9 of them) & selected stamps that I thought I’d like to use, but wasn’t sure how I was going to go forward with it – SO, I laid awake, thinking, thinking, how did I want the finished product to turn out?  I decided on ecclesiastical looking, but not religious, I wanted some modern & cryptic elements, but still traditional looking……round & round it went… yup, not alot of sleeping Friday night!

By Saturday night, I had laid down all the stamping, pearl paints & worked on the ‘resist’ paper (thanks Wendy) that shows the gold pattern underneath (blue & pink), I had lots of images that were potential inclusions & I spent a lot of time Saturday afternoon moving them around on the two pages. I finally decided that I was just going to stick them down anyway, then I went to bed. Then I spent Sat. night tossing & turning, cogitating over my placement & selection…right place?, linear enough for iconic art?…too modern? Too obscure to convey meaning?, colours ok? The questions went on & on & I couldn’t turn them off, so I just got up at 3.30am & got right back to it.  I AM SURE there MUST be pills to take for this obscessive need I have to create!!! LOL!!!

THEN yesterday, (Mother’s Day) while all of the family was over, I kept sneaking off into my studio to ‘add a bit of this ‘n’ that’ or lay down some paint to dry, a bit of gold leaf, etc, etc,….& finally I finished up late into the night.

LAST night, I slept the sleep of the utterly exhausted..this piece took a lot of energy..but what a great time I had creating this work (it is pretty big – 2 x 11in wide x 9 in high pages)..AND (pant, pant) I feel ready to start another one!!! LOL!!! (I probably won’t really, during the week things get hectic at work, I have the legacy of ATC’s to keep me company through the week)

Gallipoli Finished

Here is my finished Gallipoli page, it is such a tragic story in Australian War History (one my Grandfather played a part in) that I wanted to record it in my art. For the sake of my overseas visitors, in 1915 Australian soldiers were landed on a beach in Gallipoli, Turkey, & were outnumbered & out gunned by the Turkish. It resulted in the wiping out of a generation of young men from outback & country towns & it had a huge impact on Australian life. (PLEASE………..any war buffs, please don’t be offended, this is not meant to be trite in anyway, just a very simplified description) My son has a copper looking ‘slouch’ hat pin from last Anzac Day, (25th April) which would have been perfect for this page, however he wouldn’t SHARE!!!!!……………..oh well, it may still get some additions down the track. Everything that I make is subject to change! For anyone who is interested in the story the long version (blow by blow) is here:   a more suscinct, narative style version is here:

The Beginnings of Gallipoli


It has taken a couple of days to get the new swaps blog sorted & we have a new look here. I quite liked the other header, however the formating was rather limiting, so here we have a new look, so that both blogs are in sync. I am working on a page in my ‘A Time in my Life’ art journal at the moment as a record of my work in Mary’s journal…… is all about ANZAC’s. I have some of my Grandfather’s original records & have used photocopies of these on the page. It is still emerging and feels a little ‘raw’ right now. I have the key imagery in place, but it needs some ‘depth’ and I haven’t quite decided how I am going to do that yet. I have used my fav. Paper Loft paper as the backdrop to the page, and the imagery is a combination of bits ‘n’ pieces, I have collected. Stamps are Collections…….those numbers work so well……..
rub ons are 7 Gypsies……….one of my other loves! Have a great day…………big day at work then off to see The Devil wears Prada………….should be a fun night.
ps the scan is a bit dodgy, but don’t have time to do it thoroughly this morning……… to WURK (sob)

Somewhere between


Somewhere_between_merge_web I suppose that on my birthday it is appropriate that I post something a little (perhaps alot) self disclosing.  Firstly, the woman in the bikini….that’s about me right now!  Phheh!  Who cares about bikini’s when you are fair skinned & have strawberry blonde hair, burn in the winter sun & have freckles that come out to greet the spring sunshine?  I’d prefer to make art!  This page is a ‘sort of’ life story & the first page of my ‘A Time in my Life’ Journal.  The text reads:

Somewhere between sense & sensibility I found friendship
(logical side of me didn’t want to marry young, I was introduced to my (now) DH by a friend)

between Friendship & Flowers I found love
(he used to bring me flowers EVERYDAY……….. I do still get them every now & then, but not that often)

between Love & Life, I found God
(I became a born again Christian just before we were married in 1980)

between God & My human frailty, I found motherhood
(having come from an abusive & violent home of origin, I didn’t want to have children of my own, however, through the AMAZING GRACE of God, I have 3 beautiful children & now a precious little grand daughter & another littlie to bless our lives at Christmas time)

between Motherhood & Study I found work
(I completed 2 degrees as an adult, moving back into the workforce after 12 years at home with the kids)

between Work & Pleasure I found Florence
(through work experiences, I discovered Florence, & Italy & my world has never been the same!)

between Florence & Rome I found Art
(I have always been creative in some way or another, sewing, stamping, quilting, designing homes & clothes, but it was my first trip to Italy & reading about Michelangelo & the Medici that made me for the first time want to spend more time developing my artwork & investing time into it)

between Art & History I found TIme
(as the children left home one by one, I found that I started to have some time to myself, preparing meals & alot of the household things that used to take up heaps of time, weren’t as pressing, no one needing a school uniform or sports shirt etc.  I found this VERY liberating)

between Time & Middle Age I found dancing…….I love to dance

Like no one is watching

(there is a WHOLE story here……….but in short…) when our son announced he was getting married, DH & I decided that we wanted to be able to dance at the wedding.  It was something that we had wanted to do for years & just hadn’t gotten around to it.  So we took ourselves off to the local dance hall.  Paid a fortune for a year of dance lessons & could hardly dance a step by the end of it.  I DO love to dance, but ONLY when no one is watching!  (I am a bit unco!)