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This is the title of another of Juliana Coles‘ wonderful extreme journalism booklets on art journaling that I am currently working/playing with.   Her direction is to get to us to not necessarily produce works of art or even attractive pieces to view – it is about communication.  The approach appeals greatly to me as that is my aim, albeit not necessarily always conscious, when creating, journaling etc… thankfully I am past the ‘producing to please others’ phase for the most part although it still bites me on the bum at times.

For the first assignment the instruction was to take 30 minutes and doodle across both pages in as many media as fancied -oh yay, one of my most favourite things to do!  She says “you should be quite satisfied if this looks a complete mess when you are done” – what a great lesson in giving up control.    The next part of this was to look at it deeply – to find your inner portrait within this mess – to pull her out, allow her voice.  Can you see her?

The next exercise I found really interesting to do.  The first part was to write stream-of consciousness starting with “I think people think I’m…..”  The instruction was to write for 5 minutes, I went on until I had filled both sides of the spread.  The next part was to counter allowing ourselves to be defined by others.  To quote Juliana again, “When we allow that, we lose soul parts.”  Oh yes!   The writing was used as a background, the instruction being to create an image of self as the chosen one.  Now I wasn’t sure whether she meant in words or in imagery, so I went with my instinct remembering to preface the text each time with “I am…”:

The final exercise I have done so far started in a very familiar way, to cover both pages with scraps of text – aaah home ground, comfortable.  Um, not for long…practicing drawing was coming next!  The booklets come from workshops that Juliana holds, so given that, the instruction was to draw your partner – I was not in a workshop but at my own art table on my own, so used a mirror.  Time limit 5 minutes to draw – making a “good” drawing that looked like the person was not the point here (thankfully) – the looking was the point.  Next came drawing an item that could fit in the palm of your hand – I used an altered matchbox given to me by a friend – two different views of this were to be done.  Painting around the drawings was the next step followed by writing about what kind of artist I wished I could be….famous?…studio?….materials?  etc etc.  I was genuinely surprised and pleased with the results of this writing:

That’s it for now :).


I was invited to do a spread in a “newbies” altered book round robin on ANUK having acted as a mentor – not that the new members needed mentoring, nor from the results, would anyone think they were new to altered art – the spreads I have seen have all been really fabulous.   This spread is for Linda G.’s book, the theme of which was Yellow, sub-theme The Garden.   I started with a layer of textured paper which I then covered in gesso – I like the feel this gives to the page and also the fact that any paint layered on top can be worked in various ways.   Over this I then layered various bits and pieces, some cut out flowers and butterflies in thickish paper, some coloured strips of canvas and some real leaves.  I then put a layer of gesso over these as I did not like the design at all – perhaps one day I will learn to work things out first although I doubt it – I do tend to work spontaneously.  More paint over this layer of gesso over which I then did loads of leaf prints.   These were done by literally painting real leaves and using them to print with – there are many layers of these although the scan does not show the variance in colour very well.  I then applied several leaves which I had printed separately on paper and outlined, along with the butterfly.  Ta da:

Oh and the quote is by Van Gogh.

For this two page spread we were instructed to photocopy at least three of our journal spreads and pick out our favourite bits to re-use here.   I knew which bits I wanted to use in the main, but decided to use all of the photocopied pages.  I tore out the images I wanted to keep whole, the stencil figure, the face and the tree and glued them in place.  I then ripped up the rest into smallish pieces which I glued to the pages, sanded and then painted with a yellow wash which came out green – I did this a couple of times to get some depth to the colour.  I added the quote, which comes from a traditional women’s circle song, in between the washes.  I am happy with the finished effect.



In case you cannot see it the quote reads:

“Be careful what you lean on

It may not hold you up

Or lean freely

And be prepared to make an art of falling”

The next spread in the Soul Journal Journey was to create our house in a child like style – enjoyed that loads even though it falls off the bottom of the page.  The right hand side is of the flats on the other side of the green and behind the trees, which is the view from my window.  I am lucky to live where I do – almshouses which are listed buildings within a beautifully green oasis in the middle of the inner city.  A young friend visiting from Spain on her return home reported that,  “Jill lives in a park!”

We were then to collage making a pocket on the main body of the house.  As I am playing catch-up I could see what the next step was to be and this was to make paper dolls which represented our family – an interpretation of that was fine.   I am thinking to do family/relationships spreads later on perhaps – but I really didn’t want to do paper dolls.  Not meaning to offend anyone, each to their own and all that,  but it was just too cute for me – I cannot do cute.  So being who I am I did my house and surrounds but no folks.

My house actually does look like the sort a child would draw, a friend described it as looking like a fairytale house.  Here is my spread before and after collage:

Pages 3 and 4: squares

This spread is all about layering. We were given a list of 27 images to find and put on our pages in any order we chose, previously having coloured the pages with a dark paint.  Returning to this after pages 5 and 6 we were instructed to draw squares etc around pics of our choice and to spread on and wipe off a pale colour.  I did this and ended up with a basically pink page which I really didn’t like at all – hated in fact.  The pictures sank into the page and it just looked awful to my eyes.  I know the point of this is not to make pretty pages, but it is about getting to know ourselves – and I definitely did not like what I had achieved so I decided to go over it with, firstly oil pastels and then paints of various dark hues.  I am much happier with this now and will leave it alone until I decide to fiddle some more :).

Pages 5 and 6: “I forgot to tell you….”

The pages were gesso’d first of all to prep them.  Next the instruction was to write in a stream-of-consciousness style filling both pages, starting with the prompt: “I forgot to tell you…”.   Well, I was surprised at what came out of this for me, it was really quite cathartic, as is often the case when writing in this way.  It ended up as an almost letter to my mother who died earlier this year, many of the things I never got to say.  I knew the next step for this spread was going to be to cover the whole thing up and I really wrestled with this as I felt that what had come out in the writing was important for me and I did not want to suppress it again.  So I left it for a day or so until I came to a firm decision about what I wanted to do:  leave the writing totally uncovered as was my initial emotional response, or follow the instructions and see what happened.   As you can see I opted for the latter, however I did copy the text before doing so – so yeah it was a bit of a cop-out but I am happy with that.  Next it was tape, all sorts anywhere, then gesso, then sanding that lot, then paint.  I like the effect of this and am happy that I am getting to do the sort of backgrounds, many layered, that I have wanted to achieve.

Moving on from the last post I decided to use the same sort of techniques on fabric, replacing paper collage pieces with fabric scraps to make up the background – just for fun and experimentation.  This is the first section I have embellished with stitch – I have a sneaking suspicion that I shall return to work more on this piece.  I have ended up with 16 postcard size pieces ………. I may be gone a while ;).

This card was done for the journal project of a friend, Linda, on the Yahoo Group, Travelling Journals.  The remit was to make a prompt card on the theme of Myths, Legends, Fairy tales – these could be established or ones’ own creation.  I decided to try my hand at my own creation.  Whilst on one of those boring long bus rides I saw a coffee shop called Cottos – the name struck and Mr Cotto was born.

On the front is his image:

and on the reverse I have started the story:

This story starts as any good tale of this ilk does, with ‘Once upon a time……….’ there was a man named Mr. Cotto, a very ordinary little man who could be seen daily in the depths of the heart of the City of London.  On passing him you would pay no attention, such was his ordinariness.  If you were to look straight at him as you passed, moments later you would be hard pressed to describe the man you had just seen.  It has to be said though, that if you really looked at him there was ‘something’…..not anything that could be defined, but a sense of something more.

Now, if you come across Mr. Cotto whilst wandering through the streets of London, as you pass by squint, squint really hard, no! harder than that.  Really screw those eyes up tight ….. it is well worth the effort I assure you.  If you do this and you do this right you will see that this ordinary grey little man has the most wonderfully colourful, dancing shadow.

Mr. Cotto has a secret………………………”

Text reads: “She had a child to mother but she wasn’t sure she belonged”.

Media: Acrylics, gouache and watercolour.

Text reads: “her world a strange music of different ways, but she wasn’t going to spoil this”.

Media: Collage and acrylic

Number four in the series, this one was made specifically for a dear friend for her birthday.  The quote I know is a favourite of hers and reads: “Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail”.  This is very apt for her, she is definitely walking her own talk.  The colouration was also done with her likes in mind.

Number three in the series.  This one was inspired by the moon and my fondness for her, pure and simple.