Art journaling – around migraines

I have written before about my migraines. I had another stinker over the last couple of days that left me feeling disoriented and with my eyes feeling very odd. I listened to a Shelley Klammer art journaling webinar called ‘Diving Deep’ I haven’t even finished listening to Shelleys course and I was inspired.

I used the soft eye techniques flipping through magazines and collecting images and text. I wanted to work with something around eyes and glasses because of the disorientation. I am always touching my glasses – to make sure that I am seeing as accurately as I can.

The words just jumped out at me.

I added a bit more text in the distorted clocks because time seems to stand still, when I am in the full episode.

I wanted to represent the feelings of too much going on in my head. I added pen scribble and white paint to add more texture and oddness to the composition.

I made the collage in a book that I had worked in before. The page on the left had a hole in it – I was very pleased that serendipity played a part – when I closed the page one of the eyes was exactly in the aperture. The framed eye has a lot more impact that when seen within the composition.

Self Compassion dolls

Tess and Monika decided to run a session on compassion after the workshop attendees reacted to Tess’s doll silouhettes.

Monika and I are working with an art journaling for self care group in Edinburgh.

We wanted to do something on self- compassion. Last week we worked on emotions and sensations within the body. I felt that the group reacted quite strongly to the body shapes I produced. I chose an imperfect slightly rounded body shape to work. 

Because of the groups reactions, we thought it would be great to work on self compassion- being kind to their inner critic. I found a few resources on line that were really helpful

https://www.bjclearn.org/resiliency/PDFs/002104.pdf

https://self-compassion.org/

https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/pdf/10.1080/08322473.2018.1454687

The last link is an article by Patricia Rose Williams for the Canadian Art Therapy association journsl . Within the article is table of exercises and ideas for art projects.

‘For example, creating a simple wrapped doll with a variety of textiles and embellishments can become a powerful symbol of the self.’

I wanted to adapt this and make a doll that could be added to an art journal.

ACTIVITY: Practicing Self-Compassion

The purpose of this activity is to introduce the concept of self-compassion. It will allow participants to assess how they currently practice self-compassion and to begin thinking of ways they could become more self- compassionate.

Background

Self-compassion is defined as being kind and understanding to one’s self in times of suffering, failure, or when we feel inadequate. Self-compassion contributes to increased resiliency. People who practice self-compassion can take responsibility for negative experiences but don’t get overwhelmed by bad feelings.

Self-compassion researcher Kristen Neff identifies three components of self-compassion:

1) Self-kindness: being kind and understanding to one’s self in times of suffering, failure, or when we feel inadequate.

2) Shared humanity: Suffering and being imperfect are part of the shared human experience. Everyone suffers and everyone feels inadequate sometimes.

3) Mindfulness: Observing our negative thoughts and emotions openly and without judgment, but realising they are just thoughts and emotions. They are not facts.

• Ask the group what they think self-compassion is. After they respond, share the definition .

• Ask the group for their thoughts and feedback on the exercise.

• Does anyone feel they are already very good at self-compassion? Does anyone feel this is

something they need to work on?

• Why do we tend to be so critical of ourselves?

• What are some other ways we could practice self-compassion

1) Think about a time when a friend or family member was going through a hard time or felt bad about themselves. What did you do in that situation (how did you act, what did you say, what tone did you use)?

2) Now think about a time when you were struggling or feeling bad. What did you do in that situation (how did you act, what did you say to yourself about the situation, were you self- critical or kind)?

3) Is there a difference between how you treat a friend who is suffering and how you treat yourself? If so, why?

4)How could you treat yourself more like you would treat a loved one the next time you are suffering or feel “not good enough”?

For more information on self-compassion, visit Dr. Kristen Heff’s website:

About the Book

The writing activity above was adapted from “How Would You Treat a Friend?” at: the

http://self-compassion.org/category/exercises/#exercises

Sources/ More Information

On a paper doll I wrote down things that I don’t find easy about my self

I wanted to use paper to wrap the doll in, but wanted it to be more like fabric, so I scrunched it up to create texture, I wrapped a section of the doll in th paper and attached it using washi tape, so that it looked like a blanket, then I attached the doll to the page using comments about self compassion.

The above doll comes out of the red wrap so that I can use it for a teaching aid. I decided that I wanted to make another doll today – I get really bad migraines and after suffering for a few days I decided I wanted to make my own doll

I scrunched and coloured the paper with water soluble pastels and hand wrote out the statements, it felt more mindful and I had more control. I made a nest of paper scraps, wrapped the doll in ripped out coloured paper with the colours up against her body and stuck her in the nest. As an exercise this was a lot more satisfying for me. I like how messy it is ….. the top one is a bit toooo clinical

Shame monsters – Picasso, Shelley Klammer and Joseph Arthur

I am working with Monika on an 8 week course – ‘ Art journaling for selfcare’ . We are looking at running a session about shame and guilt. I have been searching for images that we could use as inspiration on line and I found Joseph Arthur. An artist who paints, writes poems and songs. He also paints as he sings ……

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=XZBj7bNltbM

I found Arthur looking up ‘images of shame’ on google – a link took me to a poem using some of his paintings as illustrations https://steemit.com/poetry/@ezravan/to-shame-the-loneliness-original-poem-accompanying-paintings-by-joseph-arthurstemmit.com

Watching lots of videos of Arthur painting faces reminded me of Picasso’s crying women

Shelley Klammer is an art therapist that I admire and use regularly for inspiration. She suggested doing an intuitive painting about shame and then ripping it up and seeing if one wants to rip it up or comfort the picture …..

https://intuitivecreativity.typepad.com/expressiveartinspirations/2015/09/healing-the-shadow-with-spontaneous-creativity.html

I loved the idea of a shame monster to attack ( not sure what that says about me …..) but, was struggling how to present it to our group without scaring them – by making them draw – I had fun having a go at making a portrait using cut out features I prepared, also using magazine faces and felt pens.

Next to add some text

I like this quote from Arthur

‘You never have been young

You never have been sane

And if you say that you don’t care,

In your eyes I see the shame

Looking through the window of your mind

I see your lonely shadow running out of time’

Joseph Arthur Termite song 2002

I worked on her a bit more And then screwed her up.

And then had a go at ripping into her

I needed to stick her back together again ….. she isn’t half so scary now

Working collaboratively on some mixed media pages

A friend wanted to produce some mixed media pages about her experience of living as an immigrant in the UK over the past few years.

We discussed colour, themes, and what she wanted to convey.

The pieces are to be used as part of a presentation of an academic paper on a slide show loop. We felt that it was important to use a colour theme- we chose a turquoise back ground and spread acrylic paint onto cartridge paper with credit cards.

We did some research on google looking at fear. And found a few images to look at as a starting point.

https://www.alamy.com/the-hands-of-a-child-pressed-up-against-the-frosted-glass-of-a-door-image4635144.html

http://www.paintedpath.org/2011/02/on-being-vulnerable.html?m=1

We found a load of other images but these were two that seemed to talk to my friend the most – built up layers of paint , found images and newspaper collage

We fancied a bit more layering so added baking sheet

We made a copy on my printer – the paper was too big to be copied whole, but we decided we liked the image cropped very much – it conveys the feeling of being trapped much more effectively

The second piece felt much more easier to do.

We added ripped bits of paper onto the back ground and then swirled acrylic paint in a loose circle on top. The figure is a found image from a magazine. We wrote words that my friend wanted on news paper and then added torn red pieces and swirled on top of everything with gelatoes

I have been feeling a lot of pent up anxiety and emotion about Brexit and Trump recently and this was very releasing – even though it wasn’t my emotions being targeted- using art in this way always amazes me.

Stitching, a reflection of my mood

I have been art journaling for self care for about 5 years now. I have become used to how intuitive art can express my unconscious and my emotions. Until a few days ago I didn’t realise how much this would also be reflected in my stitching.

I made a really calming piece last night whilst watching Tom Ford’s film ‘Nocturnal Animals’.

If you haven’t seen it it’s quite dark and violent. When I am drawing mandalas in front of a thriller my shapes get very small and tight.

Looking at the above piece now makes me feel calm- I made four with the same pattern of stitches. Normally I get bored doing the same pattern over 4 patches and need to mix the texture and colour up.

I can’t remember what I was watching when I made this one

But I remember being engaged with the plot and finding it stress full. I think I detached from the Ford film because I had to make my self feel remote and mindful to stay with the film. There was a lot of time spent lingering on Amy Adams face…….

I am working on my 5th quilt at the moment and am making small patches and then attaching them individually in a search for ways not to prick my fingers so regularly. I like working like this, the contained space and with my sense of design being restricted. However, I am also having to have another piece on had when it makes me feel too constricted. At the moment this is an apron with big loose circles.

Quilt number 5 – it taxing my design skills. In the last few quilts I have had an overal idea in mind and I just needed to step back from those every so often to check how my ‘vision’ was coming along.

Number 5 is different. I keep having to think about the balance of colour and texture- I can’t just do 5 patches without placing them next to those already attached and thinking about how I need to do the next 5. I am quite pleased with the results. Though some patches have had to have extra bits attached because they were too plain or I didn’t like one patch next to its neighbor.

This was just blue crosses but it was tooo plain and just jumped out at me……

Number 5 so far

I am laughing at my self – I just did some reading around Fords film – I recognised how beautiful it was and that some of the scenes were amazingly framed – with stunning art in – I hadn’t realised that they were originals …..

https://www.google.co.uk/amp/s/www.vice.com/amp/en_us/article/jpvydk/nocturnal-animals-art-tom-ford-shane-valentino

A denim bag panel and reflecting on my boroinspired quilt

Over the last five years I have been art journalling or working on ‘A’ sized paper. I have been working intuitively but thinking in rectangles. When I started sewing I loved the newness of the method and the feel of the material (though my fingers and hands are rebelling at the repetition and the skin on the top of my right thumb is rough and pitted where I clip it with the needles) .

I really enjoyed starting my big quilt. It is a rectangle, but I am struggling with being intuitive on such a large scale.

I sewed a bag panel and then started an A4 sampler. I realised I might kid my self that I work intuitively but I am always assessing the design….

I saw a couple of denim bags on social media and wanted to have a go at a boroinspired panel.

I found a denim bag in a shop sale which was decorated on the top 3rd – some of the design was heavily machine stitched – so I covered that section of the panel with patches and stitching. It needed more.

Boro is the Japanese term for mended cloth with sashiko stitching -I read that it was built up with layers over years. To make cloth stronger and warmer.Maybe working so fast over a couple of days means that the fabrics don’t have time to bed down or build up any sense of history.

Anyway, I didn’t like my panel as it was. When I am art journalling- or working in other pieces I have found my self in the mind set – that if it doesn’t look like it is working, I set it aside for a bit or add another layer…..

I looked back at the bags that I liked on social media – a stripy design appealed. So I added another layer to my panel

This ability to assess a design – look at the balance of texture/ pattern / shape is lost for me on my quilt. I am enjoying working on such a large piece and can see that there will be a huge sense of satisfaction when it’s finished, but the assessing, control freak is not a happy bunny. 😂😂😂

Boroinspired quilting

I have always wanted to have a go at making a quilt. I was given a small blue one when the children were small that I always loved.

I have never been able to imagine cutting out the fabric neatly with 90 degree corners and straight lines. Doing some research around my teabag quilts after some one said they looked a bit like sashiko- I discovered the fabulous world of Japanese stitching and boro inspired patching.

There are lots of sources on Pinterest and blogs about the history of /methods online

https://www.architecturaldigest.com/gallery/an-experts-favorite-japanese-textiles#9

Above is an early 19th Century bed cover.

Back to my quilt. I was offered a bag of fabric scraps by a friend if mine. I decided to have a go at making a quilt using an old single duvet as a base.

As a child I remember saying when I grow up I am never going to darn socks – after watching my mother sew little hard circles of stitches into jumpers and socks. So I am amused that the technique mum taught me is now being used to top stitch a whole quilt!!!

My aversion to the effort required to cut neat shapes means that the design will be quite organic and the top stitching will hide a multitude of sins ….

I had a bright cotton skirt that was too busy. It would make a good choice to base all my other fabric colour choices on.

I started at the edges because I thought the hem of the skirt would add strength to the final piece.

I practiced boroinspired stitching on some of the pieces

Then started adding my friends fabric scraps. She has some experience with quilting so a lot of the pieces were cut into rectangles or squares ….

I wasn’t really sure about the yellow but it does lift the blue.

I have been a bit obsessive and made my hands and back ache. So I decided to stop pinning new fabric and sewing it onto the base and concentrate on a bit of top stitching.

Jon and I are enjoying this because me adding fabric pieces is very very messy 😂with needles pins, fabric and thread all over the kitchen.

This is as far as I have got with my design. I am thinking of just adding blue pieces to the middle bit in a nod to the Japanese

history. I am using second hand pieces of fabric or clothes in an attempt to be frugal.