Tuesday, 29 December 2015

Word for 2016

For the last few years I have picked a 'word for the year'. The word for this last year has been flourish and I have enjoyed contemplating what it really means to flourish. This contemplation has led to thoughts about resilience, knowing myself, tending to the roots, storing up for the lean days, and rising above circumstances. It has been enlightening.

In previous years I've had the words grow, stretch, then flourish. So what comes after flourish? I thought about this over Christmas. Several words popped up, but none of them seemed to encompass what I was feeling. Words like persist, remain, abide. They all held aspects of the word that was on the tip of my brain, but they just weren't it.

Then continue came along. And it sits well. It holds aspects of remaining and abiding by persisting and persevering. It also includes journey and movement and growth, along with starting up again with something that was interrupted.

If faith is 'a long obedience in the same direction' (Eugene Peterson) then continue seems like a good word to sit with for a year.

Tuesday, 22 December 2015

Peppers - Neocolor II

With the busyness of the season and the heat we're experiencing here at the moment, a quick addition to the pepper series in the last post was the ideal bit of creativity to fit in. This one is done in Neocolor IIs washed over with a little water.

Now, what shall I use next...

Sunday, 20 December 2015


One of the great things about having a clear-out is that you find things you'd forgotten about. These renditions of a red pepper - or capsicum as they call it here - are ten years old. I wanted to look at the difference using a different medium made to the same subject. So above we have coloured pencil.

This one is oil pastels.

And this last one is collage.

Nowadays I have a lot of other media I could try out as well. Maybe I'll add to my little series.

Do you render the same subject in different media sometimes?

Thursday, 17 December 2015

Silly degrees

Well, it's silly degrees here at the moment - over 40C for four days in a row, which is a December record, apparently - and the paint dries on the brush. So this page is a very quick and simple one. I stuck down a gelli-print I had already done, along with some pieces of printed greaseproof paper. A round sticker and some dribbled paint - Golden fluid acrylic used straight from the tube - and a tiny bit of doodling to make a flower, and this page was ready for the journalling.

Think I need a lie-down in a cool room, now...

Monday, 14 December 2015

Giving and receiving

At this time of the year there is much giving and receiving. It is a joy to give - especially when you find that perfect gift that you just know they are going to love, that gift you tracked down and finally secured, or made with your own hands and lots of love. 

It is a blessing to be able to give a gift without any expectation of receiving something in return. But admit it - when you receive something from someone you haven't made or bought a gift for, you feel a little bit guilty, as if maybe you should rush out and get something for them. As if this giving and receiving of gifts has to somehow be balanced at the end of the day. 

Receiving without reciprocating can be difficult, especially if you are in no position to give something back. But we have to learn to receive graciously. If you believe that God will provide for you, you have to be ready for Him to do it through other people, even if that embarrasses you. That's one of the wonderful things about God - He could miraculously provide for us with a suddenly full cupboard, but instead, He often chooses to use someone else to do it. I've been in both positions, and it is a blessing to be on either end. 

If it is more blessed to give than to receive, then we need to let others be the blessing to us as well. 

Sunday, 13 December 2015

Flourishing in winter

Although it is summer here, I am thinking about winter, because for me, Christmas happens in winter. My northern hemisphere upbringing has imprinted a cold, dark season on me for this time of year.  So when I came across this photo in an old calendar it made me think about winter and how to flourish in  that season.

When the weather is cold, the ground is hard, and there's not much food around, how do you flourish? What does flourishing even look like in winter? It is hard to tell, with deciduous trees, whether they are surviving or not. It isn't really until the spring that you can see whether they are still alive.

One way to stack the odds to keep yourself going through a cold, hard winter is to squirrel stuff away when it is plentiful. Journalling is one way to store up the things you can live off when times are lean. Remembering how you made it through a previous hard time, looking at the promises for the future, and staying rooted in the Word even when it is hard and you feel wrapped in silence .

Thursday, 10 December 2015

Brown paper and a brayer

There's something very therapeutic about brayering paint on to a large piece of paper. I had eight sheets of brown paper that I wanted to turn into a journal. As you can see from the sheets at the bottom in the photo below, I started out with a gelli-plate and stencils, patterning the paper in a delicate (sort of!) way.

After three sheets, I decided to just squirt the paint directly on to the paper and have fun with the brayer and some large arm movements. I put three colours on the sheet at the same time and just brayered through them, mixing directly on the paper.

Once they were dry, I cut the large sheets into 4 x A3 pieces. Because the paper isn't particularly thick, I'll fold each piece and bind them at the cut ends, so each folded piece becomes one page. I like the way that the pages will blend because they came from larger pieces.

Tuesday, 8 December 2015


This page just seemed to be crying out for the column stamp I carved a while ago. Once the columns were on there, it set my mind to thinking about building.

Lots of ruins are still around from Rome, but they aren't fit for purpose any more. If you're going to build, you need to invest in something that lasts. Moths eat through things, rust destroys, thieves steal (Matthew 6:19). The best thing to build up and invest in is people.

Who will you invest in in the new year? Who will be given your time, encouragement, financial investment?

Sunday, 6 December 2015

New toy!

What do you get when you take a bunch of envelopes that won't stick down anymore, a gelli-plate, some paint and stencils, and a brand new Zutter binding machine?

Five colourful, long, thin journals!

In the process of purging my studio, I unearthed a big stack of old envelopes. Of course, I could have just recycled them by putting them in the recycling bin, but I chose a more creative recycling option.  I tell myself that this way I have used up useless envelopes AND some paint. Purging of a sort as I have made both into something useful :) Plus, I got to try out my new Zutter binding machine, which was easy and fun to use.

Thursday, 3 December 2015

Stencil play

I've been having fun playing with stencils on some larger canvases and pieces of card that have been lying around my studio. Each of these three makes use of the technique of removing paint through a stencil using a baby-wipe.

The piece above was fun to do as the cardboard looked smooth on this side. However, when I applied paint with a plastic card, the underlying corrugations started to show through. This made for some interesting unexpected texture.

The silhouette was actually a leftover. When I used a mask cut from a magazine and sprayed it with black ink, I used the ink left on the mask to make a print on greaseproof paper. That's why the colour isn't perfectly smooth.

This canvas is quite large - 30 x 20in - and I've been enjoying adding bits and pieces over time, building up the different colours bit by bit. The canvas has been gessoed over and I removed some of the gesso layer through a hand-cut grid stencil. I then used the same stencil to spray through, print with, and remove paint through. For the moment it is sitting in the studio and I'm deciding whether it's done or not. There are some close-ups at the bottom of this post.

This third one uses mostly the paint removal technique, although there are a couple of pieces of greaseproof paper gelli-print there, too. Not sure if it's finished, yet. 

Tuesday, 1 December 2015

The season of waiting

Advent is the season of waiting, but there are different ways to wait.

We can wait with bad grace, letting frustration build. We pace, but don't actually go anywhere, spending energy to no purpose. Or we sit passively and get nowhere. We get impatient. We try to move things along in our own way, thinking we know best, rather than waiting for them to unfold in due time. We are eager only for the end result.

There's a better way to wait.

When we wait with grace, we see the waiting as a time of preparation, a time of learning. I like to think of this as active waiting. It is not time that is wasted, but time that is spent preparing for the next step, gathering resources, and being ready. It is waiting with expectation rather than frustration. It is understanding that the waiting is necessary, even when it feels like it's never going to end.

During this Advent season, wait with anticipation, with expectation, with patience. Then you'll be ready when the time comes.