Monday 23 September 2013

Just Another Manic Monday

Happy Monday!

Is that a contradiction in terms? As befits a typical Monday, nothing's gone according to plan so far and I can feel frustration building up to a level where I either punch the wall or open a VERY early bottle of wine...both SEEM like an AWESOME idea right now, but I suspect that the penalties for
either of those 'solutions' will be further degrees of grot.

Now, that may seem like a grim beginning to a post, and I suppose it is kinda, but it sort of leads me in a weird way to the subject, so I figure I'll go with the flow.

I know I've said before that art and art journaling can be an extremely useful exercise in catharsis, (as well as being WAY cheaper and less annoying than a therapist!), but I'd like to expand on that if I may? Well - I'm gonna, so go make a cup of tea, grab the biscuits and settle in as I promise many colourful pictures to break up the rambling and a picture of a kitty -

All hail Pinterest! If you're not signed up to Pinterest, get your behind on over there and find awesomeness aplenty - Hazar!  Did that cheer us all up? Bloody marvellous! Let's crack on then, shall we?

So this post [technically] begins at the end of August with an art prompt from the inexhaustible supportive and inspiring team over at Artists in Blogland. Their journal prompt for September was:

"There are no shortcuts to any place worth going."

Food for thought, eh? Hmmm.... Now, I have a tendency to overthink things. Well - everything. I'm not sure it's the failing that other people think it is.... for me it's a way to understand my often-glitchy brain and find ways to control the mind-babble, or alternatively, clear the path so that I can go with the flow. Nothing's simple for me - no spur-of-the-moment snap decisions, no easy choices.... everything's a debate, a discussion, a weighing-up of options (hello, and welcome to my psyche!) and I know that it can sometimes lead me down a negative mental dead-end, but life and experience have taught me that with perseverance and determination I can clear the weeds, or jump a fence ('Hot Fuzz' stylee) and clear that virtual cul-de-sac, finding open fields beyond which lead me inevitably to a clearer viewpoint, a place where I can breathe and feel confident with myself and where I am in life. That's just how I function, and EVERYthing is visual for me - colours, shapes, landscapes inside my mind - which, I suppose, explains why art journaling appeals SO much, and why I'm heavy on the visualism and imagery and a bit foofy on the wordage....

To summarise - everything for me is a journey and every destination is just a pit-stop on a longer voyage. Are we seeing a connection with that quote yet? Yuh-huh. Journey ... no shortcuts .... destinations .....

Here - have another kitty:

Oh you know you love it. In fact, if my brain was a cat, I think this would be its passport portrait!

So, 'Elasticat' brain got to thinkin' about this whole "life-journey/destination" thing, and I picked up a recently made junk journal, "crafted" (if that's whatcha wanna call it!) from junk mail and a painty, grubby sheet of DCWV paper for the cover (I can decorate it later...). It's a little over A5 in size and quite scrappy - which is how I like 'em, especially for single projects or a short term therapy for any angst. I also like to pick different overall themes and challenges for a new journal - no matter how small or junky. I decided - this is where you'll need the tea and bikkies...or possibly a swift glass of gin - to (brace yourself) cut up and use some of my hitherto hoarded PRECIOUS lovely, gorgeous, I-love-it-more-than-humans Graphic 45 12"x12" paper!! *Gasp!*  (quick - the gin, the GIN!). To hold the current theme - if I were a kitty with my G45 paper, this would be me:

...yep. I also wanted to restrict my media, so on all pages I used a combination of the following (admittedly my favourites because I am weak and they call to me with an arty siren song that cannot be denied!): 
  • *Faber Castell Pitt Pens
  • *Caran D'Ache Neocolor II soluble wax pastels
  • *Cosmic Shimmer inks and shimmer acrylics
  • *Uni Ball Gel Impact pens - black & white
  • *Treasure Gold 'classic' gold gilding wax paste
  • *Claudine Hellmuth multi-medium (matte)
  • *Chestnut satin acrylic laquer spray
  • *End-rolls of washi tape (just so the darn thing don't fall apart!)
  • *Odds and ends of tatty tisue paper and rub-ons remnants from t'bits box

Only real exception was acrylic paint to cover the pages as a background before I began. I also decided to make this a linear journal - you know, starting at the beginning and working through methodically for once.  Challenges in place, then, scissors at the ready, large glass of wine to hand aaaaaaaaaaaaaand begin. 

But - I didn't know what I wanted to do. So, as is commonplace for me, I started with a comfort zone, something that always makes me happy - the sea:

 There's a cheat on this page 'cos I had some already-painty modeling paste (the kind with micro glass beads in it) on a dish leftover from another project, which would have gone to waste (THE HORROR!) so - 

 Phwoar!!! Get that sexy texture, baby! So, still labouring under a degree of "Um?" I turned the page and my subconscious carried on the journey for me...

Scrumpled tissue paper and neocolor II pastels make quite the lovely combination when you add a strategic drop of water...

I love how the colour pools and catches here and there - it creates some unique texture and depth. Ooooo.  Anyhoo - by this point, this was very much feeling like there was a journey goin' on, and as my own life is full of challenges at present, it began to feel quite personal. I hauled out more of those G45 papers and with some delight (really? yep,) began snipping away at their vintage images, choosing ones that really fit the bill for me. I added the sign and fish, courtesy of the Tropical Travelogue designs, and the footprints.  Leaving my comfort zone ...

At this point I have to hark back to what I said about my use of imagery and symbolism. This journal's taken me four weeks, nearly, on and off,  and has been a bit of a surprise if I'm honest. I've included aspects of my life which may be hard to explain to someone else, and reflections of my stumbles in life, as well as aspirations and achievements. It ended up being pretty personal, but I was always aware that I'd share every page with you. There's not much text, but looking at the pages brings an instant burst of memory and all the comes with it. I'll mention a few things which I'm comfortable to blog, but I'd like you, if you will, to look at the pictures and see what YOU find within them. (I've added a challenge to the end of this post and would love to hear from you if you choose to accept!)

 This page spread reflects my childhood. I have always been most comfortable with my own company as my hobbies - reading, writing, poetry, art & craft - lent themselves to solitude, which I genuinely enjoy. I am an only child and found it hard to connect with the wider world... moving into it was like a leap of faith.  I wanted to reflect that in this collage.  Then -

Imagination, literature, t.v. and movies provided an exciting escape for me and still do. When the world is too real, or full of friction and confusion, I still allow myself to be absorbed into this fictional world. While it is a bolt-hole in times of stress or upset, it also releases my mind and emotions and allows me to find a guided order through the turmoil. Welcome to my safe place!

Growing up was an adventure - a challenge. I choose to see myself then as a warrior, finding my voice and my confidence as I grew older. I developed a passion for mythology, ancient culture and society and looked for my roots through the pages of time:

Paper elements are a mixture of G45 paper images (see below for details) and a pinterest image of Ra's chariot, altered to combine mythologies and favourite stories from ancient cultures. I added the idea of the 'Emerald City' on these pages with the 'crystal' structure (bottom right) as I wanted to capture the idea of Dorothy's confusing and fantastical journey in Oz. I wanted to add another element of continuity to the 'journey'.

Becoming an adult was full of the same busy confusion and distracting variety of life as it is for anyone. This is by far the busiest page and it holds elements that record my family and their lives as well as my own, which would be weird if I detailed everything, but there are a couple of mentions:

...I added a couple of bits and pieces here that aren't on that list above.... A handwritten list that my uncle made in preparation for his journey to New Zealand, where he lived and worked for a number of years. He was an avid traveller, which I envy greatly as I would love to travel, but remain a home-body. I added postage stamps from some of the many countries he visited. The image of 'Glinda' on the plane I chose to represent me at this point in my life - naive and wanting to take the plunge into this busy whirl of excitement but still feeling like I'm hovering just beyond that fringe. The map is part of one that my uncle brought back from Australia....'Oz'.....get it?

I added other collage images to represent my grandparents and my lineage and yes, I added a little text because the phrase kept repeating in my brain and would only shut up if I included it!

Joining the world was surreal, confusing and I made some rough choices. I chose to add them to the journal, unusually, as they're part of my life and gave me challenges which, in the end, made me stronger and more capable:

Life with new experiences is a whirl - a circus - full of colour and light and I danced like the Red Shoes compelled me. 

A couple more years and some significant life choices later, and it's time to join the throng for real, in at the deep end, and make a splash in the chosen career pool...

The addition of these circular pages made this a really fun experiment. Playing around with the shape of the pages can influence and challenge us as artists with positive and creative results. Some more text here - and for the next few pages.... I think that's because the stages of life that I wanted to journal here were - and are - closer and less abstract. I didn't really think about that 'til I'd finished and looked back. I find it interesting what conclusions can be drawn once a journal or work of art is complete. 

Throughout my life, the support and love of my family was always a comfort and inspiration. Losing them has been the hardest thing to handle, and I don't believe we ever let go of those we love and who are no longer here, but I think that's ok as long as we can remember them in a positive way, allowing their lives to continue to inspire us and warm us. Coming to terms with loss can break you but working through that, finding a way to navigate that pain can leave us stronger, with a whole new perspective. It can make us braver, more able to focus on our dreams and pursue them. They lead us to new horizons and an appreciation of the time we're given.

Being older and having perspective gave me the chance to return home - not to a place, as such, but to who I AM, who I USED to be. I think we get windows of opportunity to grab onto the things that lie deep at the core of us and bring them into the light, things that life buries deep within, that we forget about, that always made us happy in simpler times. These things can adapt and become a part of who we are now, grounding us and bringing a knowledge of self and a sense of peace, which we need to hold on to when things get rough again, as they always will. We can miss these windows or choose to pass them if we're distracted or blocked, but if you see one, and you can reach it, I'd recommend taking a walk through the beauty and simplicity that you may have forgotten. If other people don't understand and support you, that's their problem...not ours. Time flies - find that window and drink in the view!

And so to the end of my journey - 'there's no place like home'. No matter how much I have to deal with now, I feel I am closer to who I should be that I have been for a looooong time. The path ahead is a mystery - who knows where it will take me? But the point is that I want to enjoy the journey and learn as much as I can.

As I said earlier, I consider my journey to be ongoing and each destination just a pit-stop. I chose to reflect this in the final page, by adding the 'beach' sign, the traveling fish and the girl in the bathing costume as a series of references to pages right at the beginning of the journal. Back out to sea, with its turmoil, its calm, its variety of life and routes to everywhere, even unexplored territories!

"There are no shortcuts to any place worth going."

SO - told you there'd be rambling and lots of piccies! It's part of my life journey to have the courage to share part of myself - my life - with you, and I hope it's been interesting and in some way helpful. Thank you for reading (if you've managed to stay the course!) and looking at my art. It's always awesome to hear from you so leave a comment or send me your questions or art to and I'll get back to you asap. 

It would be awesome if you'd visit Artists in Blogland and give them your support. Click the pic below or at the side of the blog to go directly to their site:

In the meantime have some love and hugs from me and my cat and a hello from my mum who likes to join in!  Below is a list of the G45 paper collections used in this journal .....and......the CHALLENGE!!!! MWAH! - Shroo:)xxx

Graphic 45 paper collections used in this journal:
  • *Tropical Travelogue
  • *The Magic Of Oz
  • *Halloween In Wonderland
  • *Le Cirque
  • *Communique
  • *Curtain Call
  • *Steampunk Debutante
  • *ABC Primer
  • *On The Boardwalk
  • *Transatlantique
Many of these lovely papers are now out of print, but new releases are always there to tempt us. Check out their site and blog by clicking the button:

*** CHALLENGE! ***

Marvel comics, some years ago, challenged their writers to script a story in sequential panels with NO text. None at all. It was called " 'Nuff Said". The artists had the hardest job, translating the script and plot into the artistic equivalent of mime. It was a fascinating experiment - some disasters, and some quite epic successes. I have loved the idea ever since.

If you've not attempted this I'd very much encourage you to challenge yourself to create either a journal page or short sequential sequence of illustrations which tell a story and evoke emotion - totally text free. Use a quote as inspiration, maybe, but use your art to express yourself and a signifiant moment in your life without anchoring it with text. Be brave and ask close friends or family to tell you what they see and feel when they look at your art. It's a splendid experiment! Have fun - Shroo:) xxx

WOO! Remember - you are AWESOME! xxx


  1. What a delightful post! The cat pix are hilarious. But I really enjoyed not only peeking in your journal but hearing the back stories as well. A wonderful journey indeed.

  2. Great progression..... getting brighter and crazier all the time. Love it!

  3. Such beautiful eye candy!
    This is the first time I've looked at your blog and it's over the top with creativity and color. I think you are really having a lot of fun with your art and your kitty cat pictures. I love it!