Large collage mandala -a training course – breaking free 

I attended a fab training course at SafeSpace in Dunfermline at the weekend – the course was mainly aimed at counsellors, but was very interesting and the more work I do in this area the more I want to know about it.

I have been feeling quite tight and restricted recently. My doodling has reflected this with my mandala type images getting more and more detailed and layered. 

This was particularly noticeable  during my visit to the US. You would think international travel would be an opening / stretching of consciousness type experience. I think this time since Joe’s accident has been one of  of huge anxiety for me – very inward looking and diminishing 

The course felt very liberating,  learning about how emotions are affected during child development. How empathy in counselling can liberate stuck patterns, was liberating 

Being with a group of people in an intense learning situation again was exhausting and fabulous all at the same time. 

Jon has been trying to push me towards working on a large scale again. Yesterday after work,coffee with a friend and a snooze this happened……

I have a couple of large canvases in my store room from last year- they were cheap and didn’t respond well to layers and layers of wet collage and paint. However, the size appealed to me. 

It’s funny in my head I had a pile of mandalas waiting to be used in a box somewhere – I forget they are under collages in my journals or ripped up and added to other art all the time. I think one of my favourite things to do so far in this process is to rip up my mandalas and work very quickly with great big brush strokes as I paint on the glue , lol.

I had 6 as a starting point about 6″x10″- in black and blue ink , mostly on the insides of security envelopes and a few photocopies 

Not enough to fill this – but I think that is quite a good thing – I will have something to work on over the next few weeks.

Writing this I am enjoying looking at the piece, drying. 

I like the fact that I work in my kitchen. It is a pain to be always surrounded by mess- but I like to be able to get on with house hold jobs in small spurts. 

I think the course was a bit of a break through, physically I feel as if I have been to see the osteopath and had a right bashing – I can feel clear tingling pathways through out my body. Something has definitely shifted – it’s a good job we have a couple of weeks before the next couple of sessions. So that I have time to digest and recover before the next bout. 

My mandala so far – that blue section in the middle needs disrupting a bit,  other wise I quite like what is happening 

I am not sure if I will cover up all the white or not – because I have used a couple of photocopies – the ink has run in several places ….

Doodles, text and acrylic layers 

I have been doodling and trying to work neatly since I moved up to Edinburgh. I am very messy naturally and my hand eye co- ordination was dreadful until I did my graphic design course. 

 During the 30 day journal project organised by  Lisa Sonora I have been pushing boundaries with my techniques. I have enjoyed finger painting with acrlyics but I would like to devise a technique that uses the doodling and ‘kidnappers ‘ text that I love too. 

I had a go today , building up layers sanding and using all three techniques. However I forgot to do stages photos and I wasn’t sure I could replicate it.  This is about 5 layers. And is Day 20 – “Always remember you are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.”― A. A. Milne

 I started again , I wanted to do something about living in Edinburgh – I struggle emotionally being here and I wanted to explore some of that 

 I have started doing a crossword everyday to keep connected with Jon and Deb ( we share answering clues ) I cut up articles and pictures from  newspapers and added blue patterned bits  that came off the first design when I sanded and ripped the pages. My doodle reminds me of the big wheel that goes up in Princes Gardens during the Fringe and Christmas Market. I glued and gessoed a print of my doodle to seal it.

 I added a thin layer of turquoise acrylic and another layer of gesso. I wanted to make sure the doodles were well protected.

I wanted to build up the layers slowly , I finger painted  4 different blue based paints onto the edges of the image and wiped of some of it with a damp cloth. 

I started added text using words that I associate with Edinburgh like rain, Fringe, home etc. 

This is normally where I would leave a spread. I want to add depth and more interest with shape and tone so I layerd more paint around the edges. This has the effect of levelling the design elements 

I felt that I had added too much paint so I used another technique – removing paint with a damp cloth through a stencil – this works because of the layers of gesso protecting the images. 


The work was very flat and Matt so I painted a layer of self levelling gel – this means that’s he surface is prepared for me to draw over the  top. I let it dry over night so that all the layers dried out. 

I sanded the surface lightly and then drew out a shilouette of the Edinburgh Castle. I wasn’t sure if I wanted it a dark colour or not – it looms over Princes St quite grey and gloomy but I fancied teal … 


I wanted the castle to stand out a bit more so I added a thin veil of white to the background as if it was sky . 


Mixed media teaching session 

I am teaching next week . I borrowed a page from Debbie Howard’s ‘soulsseedsessions’  workshop that I do every Wednesday .  Below is my version of ‘Make time to sit in nature’ 

 Here is a list of instructions and some images which show my process

 1) Cover page in gesso allow to dry in the version below I used a book page. 

2) Add pale sky turquoise to the top half of the paper 
3) Smoosh down the page with a baby wipe past the horizon getting lighter down the page 
4) add a blue grey with a baby wipe smoosh in bands down towards the horizon
5) Add white with a baby wipe up towards the top 1/3 of the page blend so that the sky is lighter at the horizon 
6) Paint muddy brown green across bottom 1/3 of page ( Orange and Green mix) 
7) before it dries place stencil on top and rub with a baby wipe, keep moving and removing paint until desired affect is achieved 
8) Smoosh the brown/ green up to the horizon and around the edges of the page 
9) Allow to dry thoroughly 
10) if you have tree stamps you could stamp trees/ bushes on the back ground – using larger trees as you come towards the bottom half of the page to create depth – or draw trees in with pen 
11) add a fence on the horizon 
12) Glue  cut out sofa/ chair in the middle ground / add shadow ( I stuck the sofa on the wrong picture (WAAGH) with a graphite block and around the outline to make it pop- you could use  water soluble colouring pencil or crayon 
13) Add some of brown/ Green to tree trunks  with a brush 
14  ) Add leaves to tree using stamps/ sponge make the leaves in the foreground darker than on the trees in the background to emphasise the 3D effects 


I over worked the chair a bit and because it was a photocopy the image ran  and I  think I need to knock the trees in the back ground backwith gesso


Hmmm still not happy with it and it wasn’t mixed media enough so I started again adding  some mad doodling stuff and redid the sofa in printed papers 


Equipment  and materials 

PVA, glue stick , scissors , 0.5 permanent pen, hole punch , medium hole punch , paint brush, white sharpie paint pen,selection of  preprinted papers, circular stencil , turquoise, green, orange, white acrylic paint , gesso, credit card, baby wipes