The A – Z of Artful Journaling: S is for Sprays Part III

Of all the ways I use colour sprays in my journal, I think this method is my favourite. I love to squirt the tops of the pages and let the colours run down and mingle together on the page.

(Take a look at Sprays I and Sprays II for other techniques.)

For this you will need:

  • your journal
  • a craft mat or cleanable surface
  • spray colours
  • something to lean your journal on
  • a hairdryer or heat tool
  • paper towel or rags for blotting
  • baby wipes or rags for cleaning up

Take your journal and prop it up at a steep angle. This will encourage the colours to run down the page. Spray on your first colour in a few places across the top of the page.

 

 

While the first colour is still wet, spray on your second colour – enough so that it runs down to the bottom too.

 

 

As the colour travels down the page, the top may become too faint for your liking. If this is the case, turn your journal upside down to allow the colours to run back up. This can also create some nice blending effects.

 

When you’re happy with your page, go ahead and dry it with a heat tool or hairdryer. You may need to blot the bottom of the page if the colours are pooling there.

 

 

If you like to doodle on your backgrounds, these shapes lend themselves really well to drawing on. You could turn the dribbly bits into strings or stems and the blobby bits at the top into balloons or flowers. You could even turn them into fairy wands with sparkly stars at the top. The only limit is your imagination!

How about you? Have you tried any dribbly colour in your journal? What tools do you use to achieve it?

Thanks for reading! Catch you later. xxx

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The A – Z of Artful Journaling: S is for Sprays Part II

Following on from my first S is for Sprays Part I post, I’m going to show you how I used a combination of shop-bought and homemade sprays to create this bolder background.

You will need:

  • your journal
  • a wipeable craft mat or cleanable surface
  • an intense spray colour such as Tim Holtz Distress Spray Stain in Picked Raspberry
  • a less intense spray colour
  • a hairdryer or heat tool
  • baby wipes or rags for cleaning up

Firstly, I sprayed my journal page with water so that the more intense Tim Holtz Distress Spray Stain would have something to move around in. You don’t need to do this. You could spray the stain straight onto the paper. This would give a very bold colour! (Click on any of the images below for a closer look.)

Secondly, I gave the page one squirt with the Distress Spray Stain. You really don’t need much at all!

 

 

Another way to apply such intense stains is to use the end of the spray tube to drag the colour across the page. You can also add a small amount of stain to water and use them like a watercolour paint – i.e. with a brush.

 

To get the colour to move more, I sprayed it with extra water.

 

 

If you add enough water, you can make the colour run about on the page. Just tilt it this way and that.

 

 

You can even close the book and squish the colour between the pages. This will transfer the stain from one page to another like when you were a kid and wanted to make a butterfly print! This works best with the more intense colours. Be careful though: if you press too hard for too long, you might get bleed-through on thinner papers.

As I did in my previous post, you can spray on other colours while the first is still wet – this gives a blended appearance – but you can also spray other colours on after the first one is dry – this gives a more layered appearance. If this is the look you’re going for, it’s best to dry each application of colour with a heat tool.

Here, I dried the pink before spraying on the blue. Click on the images below to see the lovely splatter and layering you get when you dry the page between adding each spray.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And that’s it! How about you? Have you tried any branded sprays in your journal? Which ones work best for you?

Thanks for reading! Catch you later. xxx

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A Year of Habit Tracking: Mental Health Edition

In this video I show you the habit tracking I have been doing over the last year in my bullet journals. It spans from January 2017, when I was seriously ill with depression and anxiety and spent nearly six weeks in hospital, to January 2018, where I am now in my recovery journey. I hope you find something helpful here. Thanks for watching!

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Art Supply Overwhelm and One Way to Overcome It

Do you ever look at all your arts and crafts supplies and not know which media to use? Do you ever sit down among your gear, and not know which technique to try? Do you ever feel guilty that you’re not using all your stuff as often as you think you should? Yes? Well, the bad news is: you’re probably suffering from Art Supply Overwhelm, but the good news is: you’re not alone, and it’s curable!

For me, one of the pleasures of arting and crafting is trying out new media, tools and techniques. Every time I see something cool on Instagram or Youtube, I’m tempted to surf straight to Amazon to see how much it costs and how soon I can have it in my hot little hands. Maybe, like me, this has resulted in you having a few products that are pretty similar to each other: Gelatos, watercolour pastels, Scribble Sticks and Neocolor IIs for example. These are all water-soluble pigments in stick form, some harder than others, some creamier than others, some waxy, some non-waxy, some blendable with baby wipes, some not so much. You could argue that I don’t really need all of these products, and you’d probably be right – I’ll address that particular issue in another post – but in this post, I want to tell you about a way I’ve found that is enabling me to use everything I have, and to use it in innovative ways, no matter how similar the products I have may be.

It started when I visited Rae Missigan’s website and came across three sets of inspiring prompts. Each set contained 30 words or phrases to get the creative juices flowing, words like petal-like, chevron and hidden. I don’t know about you, but sometimes I get a bit stuck in my art and keep using the same things – marks and colours for example – over and over again. The 90 prompts I found at Rae’s site unlocked something in me, and I started broadening my mark-making horizons by trying out different things. Rather than work through the marks in order, though, I decided to write them in my bullet journal and number them 1 – 90. I then downloaded a random number generator app onto my phone, and now, when I sit down to create, I generate a few random numbers and use the corresponding prompts to inform my mark-making. It’s actually very exciting – I have no idea what combination of prompts I’m going to get!

After a few days of this, it occurred to me that I could do the same thing with more than just mark-making; I could do it with all my media, tools and techniques. So, I sat down in my studio with my bullet journal, and went through all my trays, boxes, draws and shelves and wrote down all the ways I had of laying down colour and assigned each one a number. It turns out I have 60! I then did the same with all the tools I have and all the techniques I know. I have 80 of those!

Over the last few days, I’ve been using my random number generator to give me three or four things from each of my lists (Mark Making, Colour, and Tools and Techniques) and trying out all sorts of things I’d never have tried otherwise. Today I found myself scraping watercolour down a page with a pallet knife, making blurred bubbles with 3D Pearl Effects, and pulling a scrap of paper out of my rubbish bin then writing the word ‘Tuesday’ on it! And all because I’d randomly chosen the prompts: scattered, numerous, blurred, Winsor & Newton watercolours, 3D Pearl Effects, transparent, old scraps, and pallet knife.

 

 

 

 

Of course, I’m not going to use random prompts every time I sit down to create something, but I will use them often because it’s exciting and liberating – exciting because I don’t know what media, tools or techniques I’ll be prompted to use, and liberating because, eventually, I’ll get to play with all my media in all sorts of new combinations and ways. Gone will be my guilt about having stuff I don’t use and about not being creative enough with it. Who knows, maybe one day, my random number generator will tell me to use Scribble Sticks and NeoColor IIs in the same project and the tools, techniques and marks it picks will give me ideas on how to use them differently and creatively. How exciting is that!?

How about you? Do you suffer from Art Supply Overwhelm? What do you do to overcome it? Let me know in the comments.

Thanks for reading! Catch you soon!

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Mental Health Monday: The Stress Bucket

This is a page from the bullet journal I used for the first half of 2017. When I made this page, I’d not long come out of hospital and had just started writing up the notes I’d made during the workshops I’d attended there. (See The Nine Pillars of a Balanced Life for more information.)

I can’t remember the title of this particular workshop, but I’ve not forgotten the things I learned in it. The stress bucket, in particular, has stuck with me; in fact, just the other week, I sat down with my twelve year old and drew her a stress bucket to help her manage her school-related stress levels. It seemed to help.

The theory is simple. The water flowing into the bucket from tap at the top represents the demands placed on you and the things that cause you stress. The tap at the bottom of the bucket represents your coping techniques, the things you might do to mitigate the effects of demands and stressors, as well as the things you do to relax and refresh yourself. The bucket itself represents your inner strength and resilience, your inherent ability to thrive and survive whatever life throws at you – your beliefs, your values, your gifts and talents, your goals, your hopes and dreams, your identity.

Imagine that the tap at the top is fully open and water is pouring into the bucket. What is going to stop the bucket from overflowing, or worse, from breaking? Well if it’s well-made of strong stuff, the bucket will be able to hold a lot of water without breaking, and if the tap at the bottom is fully open, it won’t overflow either. It’s the same with us. If we are strong in ourselves and if we have good coping abilities, we should be able to deal with the stresses that come our way. But we’re not always strong in ourselves. All sorts of things can weaken us: physical illness, mental illness, abuse, neglect, addictions. And our coping abilities aren’t always up to snuff. Through no fault of our own, we might not have time to relax; we might not have the money for avocados and a gym membership; we might not even know what is good for us and what isn’t.

Before I became ill, toward the end of 2016, I’d been dealing with some major stressors for a long time, but I’d not been taking care of myself properly, and I was busy doing things I didn’t really feel called to do, so when yet another stressor came along it tipped the balance, and I ended up with anxiety, depression and a five-week stay in hospital. But since then, over the course of my recovery, I’ve adopted a number of coping techniques and resilience-building habits that are helping me manage stress. These techniques and habits include planning using the bullet journal system, habit and mood tracking, getting out of bed between 7am and 7.30am everyday, being in bed by 11pm every night, drinking at least five drinks a day, meditating everyday using the Headspace app, praying everyday using the Pray as You Go app, creating something arty and crafty everyday, writing in and decorating my artful journal, doing Progressive Muscle Relaxation before bed, using lavender oil as a soothing scent, leaving the house once a day if possible, walking in the fresh air, cutting down on junk food, regularly reviewing my life and setting small goals. I’ve also let go of the idea that I have to say ‘yes’ to everything, and I am learning to pace myself and rest when I need to, as well as only investing my time and energy into the things I really believe in. This last one, in particular, has given me a renewed sense of purpose and direction, which in turn is giving me something to focus on during times when I do feel low or anxious.

None of this has happened overnight – it’s taken a year to get here, and what I’ve learned over the last twelve months is that I need to take things slow, to change each area of my life one at a time, gently, mindfully, non-judgmentally and with self-compassion. Discovering the idea of a Stress Bucket and The Nine Pillars of a Balanced Life was the start of this journey, a journey I’ll be on until the day I die! In the past, I’ve tried to get into good habits, but have often got bored with them and let them fall by the wayside. I can’t afford to do that this time. I’ve seen the positive changes that these habits have had on my life, and I know that I need to keep doing them and not stop even when things are going well. If these habits stay in place, they’ll be there when I need them most. I won’t have to try to remember what to do – it’ll come as naturally as breathing.

If you’ve made it this far, thank you for persevering with this rather long post. I hope I haven’t rambled too much and that this has been helpful. Feel free to say ‘hi’ in the comments. Have you come across the stress bucket idea before? What helps you cope with the demands and stresses of life?

See you soon! xxx

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Speed Art: Zentangling [01]

Just a few minutes of fun!

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The A – Z of Artful Journaling: S is for Sprays Part I

A fun way of creating delicate backgrounds in your journal is to use spray colours. You can buy ready-made sprays such as Tim Holtz Distress Spray Stain, or you can make your own using water plus ink or paint. The advantage of making your own is that it’s usually cheaper and you can formulate your own colours.  I created this background using sprays I’d made from India Inks and water. I keep them in travel bottle sprays bought for 50p each at Wilkos. Another advantage of homemade sprays is that you can make up the colours in the strengths that you prefer. I like soft washes, so I make my sprays fairly dilute.

To create a watercolour spray background you will need:

  • your journal
  • a wipeable craft mat or cleanable surface
  • spray colours
  • a hairdryer or heat tool
  • paper towel or rags for blotting
  • baby wipes or rags for cleaning up

First, spray you journal page with one colour. Add as little or as much as you like. If you spray a small amount onto the page, it will dry fairly quickly and won’t blend as easily with other colours you spray on. If that’s the effect you’re after, then go for it! If you spray a lot onto the page, it will blend nicely with the other colours you add. Together they will swim about and create a flowy background.

Next, spray other colours onto the page. To prevent muddying, use colours that are close to each other on the colour wheel (analogous colours) rather than colours that are opposite each other (complementary colours). For this spread, I used pink, red and violet.

 

Using a paper towel or clean rag, blot areas that are too wet for your liking.

 

 

Dry the spread with a hairdryer or heat tool to prevent bleed-through. As the colour dries at different rates you will see nice ‘ring’ effects around the areas where the paint pooled.

 

There you go: it’s as simple as that. Over the next week, I’ll post some more examples of how to use sprays when creating backgrounds for your journals, but until then … how about you? How have you used spray colours in your journaling?

Thanks for reading! See you soon. xxx

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Free Printable: Hope

As a ‘thank you’ to everyone who has been supporting me on social media lately, I’ve made these free printables. Each image is approximately 2.5 x 4 inches which makes them great little journal cards. They are available as jpegs for you to individually download and print off at home. Simply left click on the image to view the large version, right click on this larger image, then select ‘Save Image As.’

If you use these images in any of your creations, please feel free to share your work on social media and tag me, so I can see it and say ‘Hi!’

Wishing you every blessing!

 

 

 

 

 

 

These images are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.
Creative Commons License

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The A – Z of Artful Journaling: C is for Covers

Whatever kind of notebook you journal in, whether shop-bought or homemade, you can decorate its cover in all sorts of ways. Below are photographs of some of my artful journals plus a few notes on how I created each one. (Click on the images for a closer look.) At the very bottom, there is also video to watch, in which I decorate the cover of volume five. I hope this  gives you some ideas for your journal covers.

Last year when I was mentally ill, I took a long break from journaling because I had started to find it unhelpful to write my thoughts down – I was just reinforcing anxious thinking habits – but as I recovered, I started journaling again and now it’s become a joy once more. This is the first journal I wrote in after my reboot. It’s just a cheap sketchbook from The Range. I decorated the front and back covers with a couple of pieces of watercolour paper that I’d previously painted and not done anything with. I stuck them on with glue and the rainbow washi tape you can see around the outside. After that, I wrote on the title and drew on a scribbly frame. Simple as that!

Volume two has a mixed media cover in the style of Ali Brown. I collaged this sketchbook cover with a vintage sewing pattern, applied a light layer of gesso to give it some tooth and then painted on the cat and number 2 with acrylic. The lace down the right hand side is made of self-adhesive paper. I added some washi tape and made marks with various pens and pencils. This was a lot of fun to do. I like to experiment with different people’s styles just to see if I can pull it off!

 

 

I created the cover for volume three is a similar way, but this time I used vintage book paper to collage the cover. I then drew on the face with watercolour pencils and blended the lines with a wet paintbrush. I also used some pen for the eyes and the writing. The black label, I made using a Motex Emoticon Embossing Label Maker.

 

 

 

This volume has a Christmas theme as it lasted me from the 1st to the 14th of December. I clearly had a lot to write about! (I talk about that more in the video.) For this cover, I collaged a napkin onto the black card, applied some gesso, and, once that was dry, I scraped some acrylic paint across it using a pallet knife. I chose colours that went well with the napkin. The candles are made from strips of washi tape. The flames are 3D Pearl Effects. I then foiled on some stars at the top. I think this is my favourite cover as it is so Christmassy.

 

 

This last cover is very simple. I collaged some scraps of Christmas gift wrap onto the cover, leaving some gaps so that the black card would show through. After that, I covered the whole thing in a single sheet of thin white tissue to give it a frosted appearance and to marry all the different pieces of paper together. I then edged it in gold star washi tape and finally wrote ‘Vol. five’ on the front in gold foil. You can see how this came together in the video below.

 

 

So how about you? How do you decorate your journal covers?

Thanks for stopping by! See you soon. xxx

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Mental Health Monday: The Nine Pillars of a Balanced Life

For a while now, I’ve been wanting to share more of what I learned about mental illness recovery from the workshops I attended in hospital, and from the Recovery College courses I’ve been on since I left. The other day, as I was flicking through my bullet journal from the start of 2017, I remembered that the first notes I wrote up after leaving hospital were about The Nine Pillars of a Balanced Life.

It’s almost a year since I attended this workshop, but the message I received there still rings true: I need to regularly review my life in order to make sure I don’t neglect any areas of it, and to make sure I don’t put too much time and energy into any other areas of it either. I need balance. I need all-round nourishment. I need to look after the whole me.

The theory goes something like this: think of your life as a ceiling that is held up by nine pillars. If one or two of those pillars are a neglected and fall down, the ceiling should stay up, but if more than a few pillars are neglected, then the ceiling will come crashing down, or at least be at risk of it. I think this is one of the reasons I became as mentally ill as I did: there were pillars on which I spent very little time and energy, and pillars on which I spent too much, and it made me vulnerable.

So what are these nine pillars?

  1. Contribution e.g. volunteering
  2. Hobbies and leisure
  3. Physical exercise
  4. Family time
  5. Time by myself/me time
  6. Personal growth
  7. Work
  8. Significant relationship
  9. Friends

I don’t think that this list is the list to end all lists, but breaking my life down in this way gave me defined areas to assess and work on. How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time! I discovered I’d been putting a lot of time and energy into volunteer work that I no longer found fulfilling, and I’d been putting very effort into my personal growth and leisure. The time I did spend on leisure was in front of the TV. Work was also a problem pillar. As a full-time mum, I’d reached the point where my kids didn’t need me to be as hands-on as I had been, and I’d yet to find a new sense of purpose or direction. I couldn’t write fiction any more either – I’d lost my creativity. Basically, I now realise that I had low-level depression for quite some time before anxiety took hold. Because my life was unbalanced, I was mentally fragile, and it didn’t a particularly big last straw to break this camel’s back.

Sitting in this workshop, I had one of those light-bulb moments. I could see how unbalanced my life was and that I needed to rebalance it. The nine pillars gave me a framework to do that. When I’d first become really ill, I’d laid down all my volunteering responsibilities, so I decided to go through the list and see if there were any I wanted to pick back up. Of the ten ministries I was doing at church, I’m now only doing two – none of which involve small children – and I am so much happier. Slowly, my creativity has returned. I am now selling handmade cards, and although I’m only making pin money at the moment, I feel a sense of achievement every time I sell one; I’m excited about the new opportunities this might bring. Physical exercise fell by the wayside last year, but now I’m getting out for short walks and intend to build up from there. In fact, I’ve renamed the Exercise pillar, Exercise and Nutrition as my diet is something I also need to address.

Looking at this list could be overwhelming if there are a lot of neglected pillars in your life. It might also be disheartening to see how unbalanced your life is, but Rome, as they say, wasn’t build in a day. It’s okay to take it slow. It’s okay to address each pillar one at a time. It’s okay to tweak and keep tweaking; we are all works in progress.

As I’ve been writing this, I’ve realised that I haven’t put a regular review of my nine pillars in my planner, so that’s what I am going to do right now. I’m going to add it to every month in the Future Log of my current bullet journal, so that I never overlook it again.

So, how about you? What do you think about this pillar idea?

Thank you for reading! Catch you soon. xxx

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