Tuesday 20 January 2015

Arty Breadcrumbs


Are we happy it's not Monday? Hell, yeah. Now that I have weekends free to art, sleep and cuddle the Colonel (my cat) I understand that coutdown to Friday that everyone's been going on about for years! I used to work 7 days a week (retail - it makes ya grumpy) so resented the weekends JUST as much as any other day, but NOW......aaaah....... Friday........

Aaaaanyway...In this post I'm going to delve a little into how journaling helps to balance my mind and counteracts the negative effects that brainy-grot has on my life. It's just ONE reason that I journal, but it seems pertinent, and might be helpful to some readers, somewhere along the line. It's about finding a positive path.

Last week was a jumpy week, with a total of three full-on, clutch at the chest panic attacks. SUCH fun! I tend to get them in the evenings now when things are quiet and my mind has a chance to churn over the events of the day/week, real or imagined, but I managed a daytime one in there as well...they always seem worse, not sure why! They usually bring about a few nights of insomnia, and last week was no different in that regard, which THRILLS the Colonel, who, in his twisted kitty mind thinks that it's another DAY which means more 'nummy nippits' (our way of referring to his biscuit cat food). In order to distract him from nippit overdose I have to play chase with his favourite cat toys but in the midst of a panic attack that's just not an option, which means I can add clawed legs to the mix. Thank you, Colonel.

I was pleasantly surprised when. once I'd stopped gasping for breath and being gnawed on by my cat, my first port of call for salvation was my art desk and my journal. For once, I wasn't focussed on writing out my spiraling thoughts but instead grabbed pencils and pens and started to draw. Usually, if I'm using my art as a catharsis or a distraction it's a conscious direction, whereas this...just happened. And that's good, I think! I'm happy with it.

When my head spins, I generally retain very little cognitive memory...more a jumble of slightly surreal snapshots. I'm left physically drained but mentally separated from the cause so I feel quite disembodied and not in the greatest place, emotionally. This time round, the process of creating art - almost mindlessly - has left me with a 'trail of breadcrumbs' through the days, which means that, rather than feeling disconnected and slightly lost, I actually feel like I'm climbing out of a journey through a dark valley. It feels....better. Like I have a direction. Like I've achieved something. Survival. I know it sounds a little melodramatic, but that's how things are when brains go a bit squiffy. Anyone who's bi polar, suffered from depression or anxiety or any related issues will understand that melodrama is integral to these disorders. This time, rather than feeling like I'm sunk into quicksand, or am floating with no control in a vacuum I feel that my feet, though wobbly, are actually on firm ground and I'm not so lost or powerless.

This feeling normally comes after a significant amount of cognitive control has been exercised so it's noteworthy that this has happened mindlessly, without encouragement, sans pressure.

So why? Well.... I suspect strongly that the main reason is that I've journaled regularly, incorporating art, for a significant period of time now so it's acted as a kind of auto response....Stress therefore art journal. What's especially interesting is looking at the art I've made. Some of it's a snapshot of whatever my subconscious was struggling with. This is what I mean by 'breadcrumbs'. These things usually just go straight into the bin, but for what it's worth, I've decided to share some of the results with you. I hope you find them interesting.

I had that song 'Don't You Make My Brown Eyes Blue' running through my head like an earworm. I think that's what might have provoked this girl. Have fun with the pop-psychology here.....

I do have a memory of painting her. I think I used Gelatos and soluble pencils. Here are some close-ups -

So later that day....well, closer to the morning hours....

I think I got through that night quite well. Ok, so there are still rocks, and a crevass and bloody big bird of prey, but usually if I'm painting water it's because my mood's changing, or I'm dealing with some emotional crap. And it's sunny. Blue skies. Like I say, gooooooooooooo psychology! ha.

Going abstract. This was also gelatos and inktense pencils with wax and white acrylic paint. It's what's in the pots directly in front of my art spot. It's on packing paper, so thin and crinkly. I quite like it. Some close-ups -

And also on packing paper with crumples -

Not sure what I'll do with it, but here are close ups-

Concentric circles are a common one when my head's spinning. I like the colours though!

And in my journal? Well. I like to draw long scratchy doodles with my special scratchy nib pen. They draw my focus and eventually my brain goes blessedly blank. The subject matter is entirely intuitive. It just happens. Apparently, this time around, my head disappeared off into a fantasy world! Everyone seems quite happy though! Go figure!

 SO there we go.... A weird collection there... But looking at them allows me to connect a linking path through the last ten days and other useful snippits of memory cling to that, a stronger chain than I'm used to. I'm always surprised by the colours. If I relied on my memory clippings I'd remember blackness, but my art shows the underlying optimism that the grot can't quite squish.

Not everyone journals or uses art as a conscious catharsis, or therapy, and that's fine. This blog's about me and my work, and why I do what I do. I'm asked a LOT why I journal and what I get from it so I thought I'd address just one reason and subsequent benefit right now. I'm not saying that it's a cure-all for mental or emotional problems, but I hope it's useful or at least vaguely interesting as a point for consideration. I promised myself that this year I would take a step into trusting, so I'm sharing a little more that I otherwise might - I hope you don't mind or take any offense. And maybe I can encourage you to use your art to help you focus, to create your own links and strengthen the chain that you forge in your life.

Thank you as always for your time - I know you're busy so I REALLY appreciate it when you pop by. If you get a chance, you can leave me a comment to say hello and I'm interested in what you think - and if there's anything you want to ask me. You're all awesome! I'll be back soon with a fun arty exercise to help us loosen the grip on our inner perfectionist! See you soon -Shroo :) xxx

The Colonel is watching you....


  1. I do not journal - I have tried so many times - the blank journals, with all of their fresh pages, are in a pile somewhere in this house. I decided the reason I do not is because I was a writer for my "day job" for over 20 years - and I truly hated 90% of each moment! I think it is because "I had to do it", you know? But as a child/teenager, I recorded everything, and took such pleasure in each entry - not matter what hit the paper. I have been retired from my "day job" for 5 years now...I tried last year "one more time" to keep a diary of sorts..sadly, I never finished the first entry, and that book hit the trash can.

    I very much relate to insomnia, due to my overworked brain that just WILL NOT SHUT OFF, always at night when I want to sleep. I am a worrier - through and through. I worry that I worry too much - a vicious cycle. I have worked very hard to see that the glass is half empty, instead of bone dry. It's a constant struggle.

    Your art amazes me - beautiful!

    1. Hi Patti -

      Thank you SO much for your comment - it's appreciated and very helpful. I had a friend a few years ago who worked as a copywriter and who completely avoided writing anything for herself at home because her work mindset took over and she felt that she couldn't switch off the professional impersonal writer. She said that everything came out reading like a job for her employer and so gave up her personal writing.

      The thing is that we used to correspong by letter. Every week she'd write to me about her work, her relationships, her travels, and even mundane things like what she'd had for tea, a good bottle of wine she'd enjoyed, a book review or her frustration at a particular tv plot twist. I wrote back to her - every week - with the same sort of thing. I wasn't really journaling at the time...my life was hectic and I wasn't in the best of health, and my memories of that period inmy life are jumbled and few. However - I still have ALL of her letters, tied in bundles all stored in a big box at my mum's house. I was overjoyed to find them last year when I was clearing one of the rooms there and I confess I lost almost a week of time re-reading them. It didn't matter that I only had one side of the correspondance as she referred to my letters and the contents. These letters not only successfully, honestly and beautifully journal part of HER life, but also nearly three years of MINE. I have them as a record of our friendship and of a period of time which was almost lost to me. The letters are often silly, funny, a little bit crazy, sometimes sad, and mostly just ......lovely. This is why I wanted to offer up the idea of letter writing as a means of journaling and finding personal self-expression.

      I'd love to also tell you that your comment here beautifully records your thoughts - a perfect journal entry.... I think you're honest, gifted and brave and I hope your half-full glass keeps filling up so that you can drink in your life and find happiness, fulfilment and peace. Sending big hugs - Shroo :) xx

  2. I have been so artistically blocked due to emotional garbage over the last few months, and it's driving me crazy! It's like mental constipation. Today I took a deep breath and said "ENOUGH" and am going to make some art, starting in a journal and hopefully moving onto a canvas by the time my kids go to bed. Fingers crossed. It's such a cathartic thing when I can manage to plunge through the apathy and actually work on something. It's very cool to look at your work and walk through the psychology of it! That girl is wonderful - the scratchy lines and the fierce colors... absolutely wonderful. I'll say wonderful one more time. WONDERFUL!

    Your ink work is blowing my mind!! I love everything about it.

    1. Thank you for your wonderful comments of wonderful wonderfulness! You have a spectacular blog and I LOVE your weird-ass cool art which completely has me hooked. I'm now a fangirl.

      I'm really glad you visited and that you enjoyed my mental brain-foof artwork ! I hope you've had a good journaly day? Have you created something awesome? I suspect that your friend will be swirling bright and beautiful universal chaos your way - it'll come out of your fingers as arty magic, and she'll be right there along with it.

      You're awesome. Your art is awesome. Keep being epic! Hugs from Shroo:)xx

  3. On the one hand I want to spread dribble and drool all over this post. On the other I feel kind of bad for loving it so much when you went through such a crappy time to do it. Firstly - do you have friends close to home for when you have these attacks? I hope you know you can always email me, but someone close to hand is always nice too.

    I'm grateful for your sharing of these posts. Very grateful. I have had, I believe, depression though I never went to a Dr about it and I believe I owe a lot to Virginia and her Rocking Fridays in retraining my mind set. Those black days are very few and far between these days as I tend to look for the positive. I've been lucky enough to never have had a panic attack but have had silly thoughts (easier to just call them silly) I can usually spot the signs now and if I don't then the Mister usually does.

    I love how you can analyse your art work, I love that you went to it when you needed to.

    The crinkled up paper with the gold, that is SO gorgeous. As is your inky work - the cross hatching just mesmerises me.

    What you said to Patti about the letter writing - I used to do that with my old school friend. Now we have one or two line chats through FB. I miss the letter writing. If you ever want a new penpal - you know where I am ;)

    Take care of yourself - and tell The Colonel I'll be round with a nail file if he isn't more gentle ;) x x x

    1. You drool away! Better done in your own private space or they'll lock you away for being a werdo. This I have learned the hard way! ahaha!

      Depression and any brainy wonkfest isn't handled well here in the UK. It seems we're all still made to feel a bit embarrassed about it and the help available is, frankly, crap. I hope - very much - that sharing my own wibblyness and the ways I deal with it MIGHT just help anyone who reads it. I reckon it has to be talked about so that no one feels alone. Silly thoughts knock the stuffing out of ya...but being able to spot the signs is a hell of a good step in the right direction. I told you that you're awesome.

      If you're wanting to do letter writing then please feel free - I'll email you my current address. I can inflict doodles upon you! Maybe it'll get you starting that journal? I'll send you crinkly paper - gawd alone knows what you'll do with it but it's yours if ya wants it!

      The Colonel, incidentally, had slightly misunderstood your offer of the nail filing, and has asked also for a full caticure (manicure, obviously) and a delightful delicate peach shellac finish as he intends to wow the locals with his divine awesomeness. He has already invested in a tiara and taffeta ballgown and is currently training his army of shrooz to draw his diamante carriage through the ville with prancing gusto, . I'm not ENTIRELY certain, but I suspect his reality may be more skewed even than my own!

      From the wibbly world of moi, big hugs, and from the fanciful world of the Colonel, some slightly sucked cucumber sandwiches. xxxx