Art Journal Pages from 2015

It’s been a while since I blogged any art journal pages, so I’m bringing back the ‘My Life in Art Journals’ series and continuing the catch-up.

Let’s have a big flick through my art journal from March 2015 to the end of 2015 shall we? Click on the images to see bigger.

I also want to talk a bit about boundaries.

Someone once emailed and asked me to stop blurring out parts of my art journal pages. She came across as more concerned with reading my personal diary than looking at the art aspect, or the way the pages were put together, or the techniques and supplies that were being used.

I’m not the kind of person who does art journaling just for show. I don’t do it to show off beautiful pages and inspire people online. If people are inspired anyway, that’s fantastic! I started art journaling when I was diagnosed with severe depression in 2011 and I’ve kept it up as a kind of therapy. Therefore, a lot of what I write in my journal is personal.

I put my pages out there so you can see the art aspect and the fun stuff. The writing aspect isn’t really there to be read (for the most part it’s pretty mundane!), but I’m fine with people reading whatever I leave visible. The personal stuff isn’t for other peoples consumption. It just isn’t. And asking me not to blur out that stuff is a really entitled attitude to have. It’s for me, I don’t owe it to anyone.

Now, only one person has asked me to ditch the blur tool in all the years I’ve been doing this, and I’m hoping no one else will. I’m pretty sure most people would recognise immediately why a page had things blurred out, respect my entitlement to privacy and not tell me my photos don’t look good because of it. I don’t care if it makes the photo look less attractive. My privacy is more important to me than anyone else’s bizarre need to read a stranger’s diary.

I know that 99% of people will completely understand and respect this. I felt the need to mention it because there are a lot of photos today and almost all have something blurred out.

Those were the final spreads in my Junque Journal!

Moving on, to my second 2015 art journal:

Like the junque journal, this one is also handbound, but instead of making up the pages from junk pieces of paper I had lying around, I used thick acrylic paper from a local art supply shop. It’s really stiff and holds up really well no matter what you throw at it. The cover is bound with a vibrant Kaffe Fassett cotton fabric I had in my stash from way back.

The old photo on this next page is of my great-grandparents on their wedding day in 1913. They look so unhappy! I’m hoping that was only to do with having to wait an age for the camera to take the photo…

The image in the postcard on the next page is off the stained glass window in the Tate St Ives gallery, designed by Patrick Heron, whose art I love.

The borders on the following page were made with my own hand-carved rubber stamps.

I didn’t do much myself in the next double page spread! The ‘True Face Creed’ and the picture of the woman belonged to my daughter, who gave them to me. I merely painted the page, stuck down the cards, drew white zendoodles behind the woman’s head and gave that card a border.

I love the next page. The background of the left half is available as an instant download and printable in my Etsy store if you love it as much as I do. Just click the little Etsy thumbnail to take a look:

And with that, I can wrap up 2015 at last!

If you blog your art journal pages, please do add a link to your latest pages in the widget below so I can visit (note: post URLs only, not blog URLs please)

It’s taken me a week to edit all these photos, I think I’ll be blogging my 2016 journal in stages!  😀

Mister Linky’s Magical Widgets

This plugin requires intervention by this site’s administrator.

To display the widget for this post, please click here.

Crochet to Make a Difference

A few months ago, I decided to learn how to crochet. For a few years I’d been familiar with the amazing voluntary efforts of a charity called Woolly Hugs and I decided I wanted to join them.

Woolly Hugs started off on the parenting forum Mumsnet, by bringing people together to contribute crochet or knitted squares that are put together to make blankets. It began with blankets being donated to Mumsnet members who had suffered a bereavement, and over time it grew. The charity now contributes various woolly things for all sorts of worthy causes and has extended beyond the forum.

“Mumsnet is sometimes accused of being shouty and cross (and it can be) but put simply, there are few better places to get support when you need it most. These blankets and the work and love behind them shows just how much of a community Mumsnet really is.” Justine Roberts, April 2012, CEO and Co-Founder &

It was the death of a well-loved and inspirational Mumsnetter called Candy that really inspired me to get myself a hook and some wool and get involved.

One of the causes that particularly stood out to me was the Chernobyl project. Woolly Hugs made 112 blankets this year to give to children and teens who came over to the UK this summer for recuperative holidays. They live in areas affected by the Chernobyl nuclear reactor disaster. Read more about this project here.

The Chernobyl project is where I started my involvement. I learned how to crochet on 15th March and within 20 days I was able to make twenty 6″ squares and eight 12″ squares (the equivalent of another 32 x 6 inchers!)  which is pretty good going for a newbie!

To put into context the work that the Woolly Hugs volunteers do, for 112 blankets the equivalent of 8,960 six-inch squares were needed. That’s a lot of wool and a lot of work by an incredible team, which I was proud to be a part of. Here’s a small selection of the blankets that include squares I made:

The Chernobyl Kids project is an annual event, with different children coming over each summer, and I look forward to taking part again next year.

There are many ways to get involved in the work of Woolly Hugs – by contributing squares, blankets or other items you’ve made, by donating funds or by donating wool that can be used to make the squares/blankets. They have an Amazon wish list of things they need too. If you’d like to be involved, you can get in touch with them at their website, through their Facebook page or their Twitter.

Individually, each person can’t do much to make the world a better place. But when lots of people work on something together they can certainly make a difference.


Current Obsession

I recently had an “OMG I’ve found my people!” moment.

I’ve been a member of an autistic women’s group online for a while now, and someone posted something there that could have been written about (or by) me.

It was about a seemingly common trait in autistics where we fall down a metaphorical rabbit-hole when something triggers a need to know more about something.

alice falling down rabbit hole gif

An example (and it’s long because this is something I could talk about for hours!):

Several years ago, I found someone in my family tree who was killed in battle in WW1. This was the trigger. It made me need to learn all about him and how & where he died. I say “need” because although it’s also a ‘want’, it feels urgent when this kind of thing happens, like I have to know everything about him, right now.

I couldn’t get enough of trying to find out everything I possibly could about him. I even wrote to the War Graves Commission for this photo of his memorial stone (slightly grim fact: it doesn’t mark where his body is – he is buried in this cemetery but it was badly bombed and his remains were never found / recovered).

I just kept needing to know more and more so I got into reading books and memoirs on WW1 in Europe. I mean, literally, that’s the only thing I read for 2 years. Interspersed with the reading I was looking at maps online and finding the places mentioned in the books. I was using Google Street View to explore these places as they are today. I scoured the internet looking for photos and information of my lost ancestor. All I could find were his War Office records, including this document about the medals he earned.


Current Obsession:

Eventually I’d pretty much learned everything I needed to know about WW1 and it led on to reading about the Second World War. I’m still reading about WW2 a couple of years later and now I’ve got a massive work-in-progress online map of Europe pinpointing all sorts of things from that time period.

Here’s a small part of it:

warsaw ghetto map

The red outline shows the borders of the Warsaw Ghetto in Poland that was already out there, online. Everything else is stuff I’ve added. On my map I’ve got pins showing where certain events took place – from big things like the Warsaw Ghetto to numerous Nazi death camps to random things like the location of a cafe where Władysław Szpilman played the piano (Have you seen the film The Pianist? It’s excellent) and where Oskar Schindler lived. And this image above is just a very small part of my map. My map covers the entire European continent.

99% of the books I read are personal memoirs of the Holocaust and the Polish people. Why Poland? No particular reason, but it’s all fascinating stuff.

And I’m even learning Polish because there’s a book I want to read that’s only been published in Polish. Can you believe that? I’m learning a whole other language just to read one book that probably won’t even tell me a great deal about war-time Poland that I don’t already know.

An aside: this is the level of my learning so far – Czy koń jest kotem? Nie, lew jest dużym kotem!  😆 Here’s the translation to English. I’m sure you’ll agree, I’ll be able to read a whole book in no time  😆 I’m thinking it’ll be a few years before I can read the book…

All of this because I happened to discover an interesting ancestor.

So I’ve always felt like this, but pre-internet it wasn’t as easy to access the information I wanted / needed. I’d just read and read, and ask questions or sit daydreaming and wondering about things. I didn’t know I was autistic then, and I guess I assumed everyone was like this. There have been many nights where I haven’t even gone to bed because I was too busy researching this Poland stuff. I get lost down the rabbit-hole. Except in our house we say I ‘got lost in Poland’. And according to the other commenters on the group I mentioned earlier, this happens to them too. It’s the whole ‘special interest’ thing. The obsessive thing. The ‘I need to know this thing now, sleep is for the weak, and I will go off on tangents until I burn out and move onto something else’ thing.

I don’t really know why it’s only referred to as a ‘special interest’ when the person concerned is autistic/aspergers though. In neurotypical people it’s just called a hobby or an interest…

It’s a thing about me that I really enjoy though; something sparking my interest and getting deep into the research, learning all there is to learn. I love it!

What’s your all-consuming hobby, special interest or current obsession?


Sketching with Sktchy

No, that’s not a typo, Sktchy is an app that I use occasionally to practice sketching faces. For the uninitiated, Sktchy members upload photos, mostly of themselves/people to the app and then other members can be inspired by those photos and ‘sketch’ their own versions of them. I say ‘sketch’ in inverted commas because the term is used loosely!

When I think of sketching it brings to mind pencil drawings. But of course, sketching can be done in many different ways – pencil, ink, paint, collage, digital painting…

I thought I’d show you some of my Sktchy work today! If you download the app and go to my Sktchy profile, you can swipe across to see the original photos the sketches were inspired by.

^ Pencil and ink

^ Pencil and ink

^ Ink and watercolours on scrap watercolour paper that already had paint splotches on.

^ Ink and watercolour. Drawn without really looking at the paper and without lifting my pen from the paper.

^ Ink and watercolour

^ Pencil and coloured pencil

^ Pencil, ink and paint markers. The woman who inspired this one has vitiligo and was the ‘Monday Muse’ on Sktchy a few weeks ago. She brought a lot of awareness to the skin condition, as well as bringing out a lot of amazing art!

Do you use Sktchy? If not, it’s free to download – give it a try, it’s lots of fun!


Welcome to Blogtember! A Life Update List:

I’m so out of the habit of blogging. For as long as I can remember I’ve wanted to be a blogger who blogged on a regular basis, but I struggled to keep it up. My friend Jax at Live Otherwise is also trying to get back into a blogging routine so I’m following her lead, so to speak. I don’t know if I’ll manage daily posts, but even weekly would be a massive improvement!

Welcome to Blogtember…

I’ll start with a list of things that have happened over the last few months:

😎 I finally received the psychologist’s report confirming my ASD diagnosis. This was a huge (and VALIDATING) moment. My daughter got me this silver and turquoise glitter badge for my 40th birthday (from and I love it.

😎 Amber and I went to see Adele performing her homecoming concert at Wembley Stadium – she was amazing! Amber got her ticket months in advance and then they sold out. She was going on her own. A week before the event I happened to see Wembley had released a few more tickets so I decided to get one and go with her. I was incredibly lucky! We didn’t get to sit together but I was only a few rows behind her.

adele wembley stadium 2017 😎 I went with Amber and Mr F to see Green Day performing at Sheffield Arena (this is my favourite band of all time, I have adored them since I was a teenager). It was the second time I’d seen them perform, and it ranks in my top 3 of The Best Nights of My Entire Life, I can’t put into words how much I loved it! They were so much better than when I saw them in 1995.

😎 Another thing I did with Amber and Mr F was go to Pinewood Studios. We were in the studio audience of an episode of comedy gameshow Taskmaster. This was pure hilarity from beginning to end. We were surprised by how small the studio was compared to how it looks on TV. It took about 2 hours to film the studio-based segments of the episode which is also surprising if you’ve ever watched it. Very, very funny – I highly recommend going if there’s another series. Pinewood are extremely strict about photography on site, so I got this out of the car window while we were leaving:

😎 Using many online tutorials I taught myself how to crochet and then immediately became a volunteer for the Woolly Hugs charity, helping to make blankets for people in need. It quickly became an obsession!

😎 Last time I posted I wasn’t sure whether to keep this website up and running or move it to cheaper hosting or get rid of it completely. I eventually decided to keep it, even though it costs me quite a bit of money each year – I just can’t bear to lose it, even if I don’t update it very often. A bit of a re-jig might be on the cards when I’ve got the time and energy.

😎 My daughter Amber, who at one stage couldn’t step outside our door thanks to chronic anxiety, has come on in massive leaps and bounds (mum-brag alert!) She has passed her driving test, attended publisher events in London on her own (within days of terrorist attacks in the same locations, showing no fear), had a publisher request her manuscript for the novel she’s writing, hosted author events in person, filmed interviews with authors, been nominated for a blog award by a magazine, and got herself a new job alongside her current self-employment! Those who donated to her crowdfunder a couple of years ago will be pleased to know she recently finished college and got very good grades. There’s more of her achievements to tell, but I’d be here all day. The pride is immense. The anxiety hasn’t completely vanished – hopefully it will one day – but she has learnt to live with it.

😎 We went to visit my grandma for the first time in a long time and took her out to dinner. She hadn’t seen Amber for 3 years due to the anxiety, but she has never once complained. She is the most patient, kind and accepting person we know. My grandma is 87 and is awestruck by today’s technology. She has a very basic, calls-and-texts-only mobile phone and was astounded when I pulled out my iPhone and took this photo…she had laughter tears!

This is by no means a complete list. More to come soon.
Thanks for stopping by,