Wednesday, 27 May 2015

Art therapy

I think it was in 2012, perhaps before, that I accidentally stumbled across Tammy's Daisy Yellow blog about art journals.

I'd always enjoyed art at school, but didn't pursue it beyond GCSE. I used to sketch and have still got a few of my old sketchbooks, full of horses mainly, and my pencils and paints. But things happened. On a college trip I was ridiculed for my delight in finding and buying a tin of Caran d'Ache aquarelle coloured pencils and made to feel a fool and childish. So drawing was 'not cool'  and something that I should hide and not tell people about. In the meantime writing took over. For my writing I got heaps of praise at university and then a job as a journalist and a short story I wrote got published.

So writing was my 'thing' apart from a brief dalliance with pottery, which I very much enjoyed, with a brilliant teacher who had an art degree and was happy to share tips about sketching and art in general.

My art materials lurked in a cupboard, along with tins and boxes of pens, and coloured pencils and pastel pencils that my husband had acquired while working for Schwan Stabilo. I had children and art became something they enjoyed while I watched and encouraged and supplied art materials.

Then there was sewing, which I had always enjoyed and was such a normal part of my life I took it completely for granted, but quilts are art too, and gardening, which is undeniably art, using plants as paint. But my own efforts (and I still drew, all over the place) remained secret.

Koi 2013, thread sketch
And then, on Pinterest I think, I started seeing pictures of art journals, beautiful pages of swirling colour and exciting texture alongside inspirational quotes. I googled 'art journal' and found Daisy Yellow. I devoured the pages of her blog and discovered a thing called 'altered books' too. Adults, grown-up women like me, were doing art. I didn't need telling twice! I dusted off all my art materials and, to cut a long story short, I now draw all the time, everywhere. I paint, I collage, I make pictures with my sewing machine too, I sketch on holiday instead of just taking photographs, I fill lovely Moleskines with all kinds of arty messes, I alter books and now I paint on canvasses too.

 Last year, when H13 faced her Big Operation, I knew art would help me through, just as music helped H13. Tammy of Daisy Yellow also runs a yearly art challenge, ICAD - a challenge to make art on an index card every day between June 1st and July 31st. This last year neatly covered the period from signing the consent form for the operation, to having it, staying in hospital, and recovering at home.

Hospital 3

During the very worst times, when my brain was in full panic mode, I just filled in patterns on a squared index card, creating fantasy quilt patterns in black and white. It's amazing how such a simple, repetitive thing, just making marks with a pen on a 5"x3" card, can quiet the mind and pass difficult time. I'm delighted to say that I finished the challenge and of course I'm doing it again this year.

July 27th 2014 Carousel

All of my ICAD2014 pictures:

Created with flickr badge.


  1. I really enjoyed this post. Some of the ICAD cards would work perfectly as fabrics. I especially liked the pen and ink mushrooms, it had quite a japanese feel to it and I could see it working on silk really well. Others looked like you'd use a wax resist technique? Have you tried batik? I was obsessed by it in my Art O level. I think you should let us see more of this side of you. The Carousel horses were fantastic xxx

  2. Thank you for being so kind! Yes there was a bit of wax resist in there. I haven't done any batik since middle school, about 100 years ago, but recently I've been looking at the possibility of combining it with free motion machine embroidery, so watch this space. I hadn't thought about turning some of the cards into fabric - that would be fun. I have plans to turn the Carousel horses into a larger painting. That card was the first time I had painted with acrylics and I was astonished how it turned out. xxx

  3. Not kindness, just my honest opine

  4. Thank you for pointing me in this direction! The old mojo needs rejuvenation and this could be just the thing to help me. Looking forward to giving it a go, and seeing all the work done by so many talented people across the world.
    Your 2014 ICAD Flicker album is inspirational ~ so diverse too! I hope mine will be half as good as yours and I'll be happy bunny.
    I'm sure I'll be fairly rubbish to start, but like riding a bike I'm sure it won't take long to get back in the saddle again. xoxo

    1. I thought it might suit you! I found my cards got neater towards the end of the challenge, as I started to get the hang of it. I'm sure you'll very quickly become a happy bunny. I can't wait to see your cards.

  5. I want to go and shout at the ones who made you feel childish, but it would be pointless when you've already shown more creativity in one blog post than I suspect most of them ever achieved. I'm in awe of how multi-talented and arty you are - which ever medium you turn to, you produce a feast for the eyes. Clever lady!

    1. Thanks Chris! It's funny how some moments stay with you. The person doing the art shaming was part of a group who were very 'Made in Chelsea'. I shouldn't have listened really.


I am sorry to have to add word verification thing again but I keep getting spammed.