Hello Friends, I hope everyone is well.

So this is the final bit to show you of my first art journal – the cover.  I left the cover till last for two reasons, firstly so that I could carry the journal around with the plain cover so it would not attract too much attention (although it did start to intrigue people as it ‘fattened up’); and secondly because while I was working on the journal the cover got covered in paint and dirty marks and by leaving the decoration until the end it meant that I could make the finished journal look ‘pretty’.

One day a friend saw the journal on my desk at work and without asking grabbed it and started looking through it, it felt a bit like he had picked up my personal diary and started to read it.  I don’t think he was very impressed.  He said “Who’s done this?” and I replied “Me” to which he enquired “And how old were you when you did it?”

On front and back covers there is gesso, collage, stamping, acrylic and watercolour paints and distress inks.

On the Front cover I added a little bit of bling and a panel with the title ‘AJ’s Art Journal’.  I found some big cardboard floor dominos made for small children in a charity shop.  I actually liked the images that were on the dominos but I also found that I could peel the shiney cover off them, decorate them and for the cover title I used glossy accents to give it a shine.  I didn’t know how to make a closure so I sewed a flower bead on the front and back covers and used a bit of fibre to wrap around the beads and form the closure.  I also added fibres to the wire spine of the journal.

The panel on the back cover is something I found by the waste bin at work, it’s an identification plate for a pump, and I coloured it with stazon ink, put two brads through the screw holes and stuck the whole thing on with glossy accents.

I’ve shown this image before but this is the finished journal.  I really love it and I’ve had so much fun making, showing it and I’ve really appreciated the encouragement, lovely comments and the new friends I’ve made.

Creative people are just The Best!

That’s all for now, see you soon

Big love


The End and a Beginning

Hello Friends!

These are the last pages in my first art journal, and as I managed to complete a whole journal without actually journaling anything I decided to write some words of my own on these pages.  Next time I’ll show you the cover which I left till last.

Hopefully my journaling on this spread will explain what it has meant to me to complete my journal.

Well I’ve just about finished sorting out my work room.  It still looks really cluttered and that’s because there is simply too much stuff in it, but at least there is now a semblance of order.  As I said before it probably won’t last long because I am naturally an untidy person, but it’s done me good to have a clear out.   The piles of ‘Things to Do’ will soon start to accumulate again.  I gave up with trying to shred the stack of old personal papers as my shredder kept jamming up every few minutes, so I went outside and burnt them in our ‘burning bin’.  My two cats were fascinated, I don’t think they have ever seen flames before, fortunately they had the sense to watch from a distance.

Today I am going to Osborne House with my local history group.  It’s our winter outing.  Osborne House is where Queen Victoria, Prince Albert and their large family came to live on the Isle of Wight.  It’s a huge house in magnificent grounds and today it will be decorated for Christmas.  Because we are a history group we are having an educational trip (i.e. the admission fee is waived) and we will be having a guided tour and talk.  We will be giving a donation to English Heritage who are allowing us to visit today.  Afterwards we are all going back to a friend’s house for mince pies and tea.  It should be a good day.

Hope everyone is well and happy

See you soon

Big love



Hello Friends!

I hope everyone is well and being fabulously creative.

I have done very little art this weekend because I decided that it was way past the time that I should attack the mess and clutter that was my work room.  So far I have spent 6 hours on Friday, 6 hours on Saturday and 13 hours today and I’m still not finished!

Periodically my husband has peeked around the door to see how I’m getting on and has struggled to see any progress, at one point he said “It looks like there has been an explosion in here”.  But things had to get worse before they could get better.  I have slightly rearranged the room so that now I can get to the cupboards which were blocked in by boxes of history group stuff.  Lots of craft bits and pieces are now in labelled boxes and I found some really old jars of paint, probably over 12 years old.  Many of them had to be thrown away, even some that had never been opened, but I have put the ones that seem to be OK in my paint drawer and I will use them for backgrounds on my journal pages.  There is at least a car load of rubbish that I will have to take to the local tip next weekend and I reckon there is probably about another 6 hours worth of work before I’m finished.  I hope I manage to complete the job before I give up.  I have quite a lot of filing of personal and history group papers to do and I really hate filing so that’s going to be my weak point and where I am most likely to give in to the urge to make some art.

The sad thing is that my room won’t stay tidy for very long because I am an untidy person by nature.  Luckily my husband is obsessively and compulsively tidy so the rest of the house stays in order, but he doesn’t touch my room which seems to be a magnet for clutter of every kind.

Anyway here is a spread from my first journal that I did a few months ago.  It’s a bit different to my others: Gesso’d background, then acrylic paint and collaged papers, some old unused bandage, organza strips, I used some adhesive metal tape over the precut birdsong paper with a die cut frame from K & Co and some gold leaf.  The word love was a die cut from K & Co, I decided to spray it with Adirondak colorwash spray to darken it slightly, but the spray completely obliterated all the design and lettering so I had to redraw it with black and white ink.

It’s a bit of a weird one, but it was good learning process.

Take care everyone, see you soon

Big love


If you want to get ahead…

Hello Friends!

I had the day off work today and I went to Chichester to do my Christmas shopping.  I left home at 7:30, drove to Fishbourne and got the ferry to Portsmouth then drove to Chichester arriving there at 9:30.  Chichester is a small city on the south coast, it has lots of interesting shops.  At first I didn’t think I was doing too well, I was doing lots of looking but not buying much.  Eventually I managed to get presents for most of the people on the list.  I also bought a few bits and pieces for myself: some trousers for work, some embellisments and charms from a £1 shop, and in a charity shop I found an A4 water colour pad for £2 and a large illustrated Victorian Songbook for £3 (it’s not actually Victorian that’s just what it’s about) it has some great illustrations that I will be able to use for my history group and also for my art.

I left Chichester at 1:30 and on the way back to Portsmouth I stopped off at Hobbycraft in Havant .  I always get excited when I go to Hobbycraft it’s a massive craft store and it’s so easy to spend lots of money there.

Before coming home I stopped off at a big shopping centre in Portsmouth and bought one last present.  Got the ferry back to the island at 4pm and was home at about 5pm.

My legs ache, my feet are sore and I’m shattered, but that’s the bulk of the Christmas presents out of the way, I just have a couple more to get then I can wrap everything and this year there should be no last minute panics.  I bought the present for my husband and also the present from him to me on the internet.  The present for him was delivered to my office at work and the present from him to me was delivered to home yesterday.  He has no idea what it is, so he says he is just going to wrap it up without opening it and at least that way one of us will be suprised on Christmas morning!

I had a long soak in the bath after I got home  then Tony served up delicious home made Leek & Potato soup and now I’m ready for bed.  I’ve got another day off work tomorrow so I might get time to do some art although I really should try and tidy up my room.

So anyway here is another grungy spread.  The images of the four lovely ladies in their hats is from the Graphics Fairy (thanks Karen), the other images may be as well (I’m sorry I can’t remember), the Graphics Fairy certainly is a wonderful source for the sorts of images I love.  For some reason the phrase ‘If you want to get ahead, get a hat’ always makes me smile, probably because it appeals to my sense of the ridiculous, and it seemed a perfect title to the spread.  The spread has textured gesso, acrylic paints, stamping, collaging and inktense watercolours to brighten it up.

That’s it folks, I’m off to bed, see you soon.

Big love


Take a Breather

Hello friends!

This spread turned out really grungy and not very pretty so I collaged some botanical illustrations I found on the internet on the top.  I like stamps with text on so I bought this one, with names of flowers, at a local craft store.  I also bought a set of tiny stamps of garden creatures and if you look carefully you will find a snail, dragonfly and bee in this spread.

The message is a reminder to me, and all you busy, busy people out there, that sometimes it’s OK to just stop, relax and smell the flowers, appreciate the view or just enjoy the moment.  We don’t have to be ‘doing’ all the time.  I added a white area for some journaling but I still don’t feel comfortable expressing myself in words on the page.  It’s OK on the internet, but for some reason the page is totally different.  It might be because I don’t like my handwriting or it could be just lack of confidence – I’m working on that one – so for the time being the journaling area remains blank.

Hope everything is good for everyone

Big love


Live the Life…

Hello friends I hope everyone is fine 🙂

Here is another spread from my first journal.  What I really like about this spread is the way the letters, and the bird in particular, seem to lift off the page, all done with just a bit of shadowing and highlighting.

The theme follows on from my previous post and is about me changing and attracting into my life good things.  I truly feel things are slowly but surely changing for the better.

The spread has the usual textured gesso ground with lots of layers of acrylic paint, stamping and paper.  I used some scans of old newspapers my history group had used for research, printed them out on matt photo paper and then aged it with tea and distress inks,  I then tore pieces of the print to add to the page.  The ephemera is from a packet of goodies I bought at Hobbycraft in the UK and is made by K & Co.

I have a new love in my life at the moment and it’s ‘ModPodge’.  I’ve been using it to cover some plain boxes with collage.  The boxes will contain some small some gifts I am making for some friends for Christmas.  I LOVE the ModPodge, even if it does smell a bit strange, the finish is soooo smooth and lovely.  I bought it when I was in America. It is available in some shops local to where I live but I’ve never bought any before because it always seemed far too expensive.  Then when I was in LA I asked my friend to take me to ‘Once Upon a Page’ in Burbank, it’s the nearest craft shop to where she lives in the Hollywood Hills.  It’s mainly a scrapbooking store and was a treasure-trove of goodies for me.  There were loads and loads of lovely papers so many it was hard to make a choice but eventually I managed.  I also bought some distress inks, chipboard pieces, some fauxphemera, a few stamps, the lovely ModPodge and a few more bits and pieces.  I probably went a bit over the top but I was on holiday and I had very little opportunity to spend any money during my visit so I thought it was OK to splash out on supplies. Besides I’m an addict and I just can’t stop myself.

That’s all for now folks

See you soon

Big love


Beautiful Dreamer

Hello friends!

Oh my I’m getting behind with so much stuff as I am trying to do too much.  I have loads of outstanding actions for my history group, so many it’s almost overwhelming me, and I want to get as much as I can out of 21 Secrets before it closes at the end of the year.  I am really enjoying the workshops on offer there, some of them are taking me out of my ‘comfort zone’ and that can only be good.  As well as that I have several other projects on the go which will be Christmas presents for a few of my friends.  If only I didn’t have to spend so much time at work!  But that’s what pays the mortgage and bills (and for craft supplies) so it’s necessary at the moment.

I am really pleased with this spread Beautiful Dreamer,  It has lots of layers – acrylic paint, Inktense, scrapbook paper and that lovely handmade paper I am so fond of using, bird and birdcage stamps, a stencilled flower and the pink dots are from some strange, cheap little pens I bought called Pretty Color.  I don’t know what the colour (English spelling) is made from but even after a day it was still wet on the page.  In the end I used some clear sparkly embossing powder on the top which seemed to work.  You can’t really see it on the image but the pink dots are now very shiney (and thankfully dry to the touch) 🙂

I have decided that I need to dream and day-dream much more and about the good things I want in my life.  I want to imagine wonderful things that could and might happen.  Only good can come of this, so Beautiful Dreamer is an appropriate title for today’s spread.   I hope you like it.

This month is Art Every Day Month, but to be honest with you I do that anyway and I don’t need a special month to motivate me to make art, what I need is more time, possibly a bit more money for more supplies might help too 😉   Art is pretty much the first thing I do when I get up in the morning and last thing I do before going to bed at night.  As I said before I make art in my pyjamas.   Since I started art journaling and getting into the creative flow I just can’t stop myself.   When I am at work, if I am on the phone or attending boring business meetings (I don’t think I have ever attended a meeting that that kept my attention engaged for the whole of the time), I am usually doodling (I don’t think my boss is very impressed, but hey, I do my job OK so he can’t complain).

Hope all is well with you and you are all creating wonderful things, I check a lot of your blogs so I know you are.

Big love


Mother and Daughter

Hello Friends

This spread came out a bit grungy looking but I really like it.  I textured the gesso, by sticking the wet pages together and then opening them while the gesso was still wet (a top tip from Journal Artista).  Then I layered over several different colours of acrylic.  The images on the first page are of my maternal grandmother and my Mum as young girls and the image on the second page is me at 6 months old.   I stamped small flowers and stuck die cut paper flowers from K & Co over the top.  I found the Graycie Herman quote and I loved it.   My Mum (and my Dad) have been loving and supportive to me and my brothers all our lives and I realise I am not always as grateful as I should be.

I know that many people (my husband for one) had a difficult and traumatic childhood, but for me, I honestly only have happy memories.  My parents didn’t have much money, my dad was a low wage earner and my mum had to stay home and look after three small children, but they both spent lots of time with us.  Although we didn’t have lots of things, or holidays, or gadgets, we did have lots of country walks, days at the seaside, picnics, encouragement to use our imaginations and follow our dreams and lots and lots of fun.

Now my parents are old it’s time for me to look out for them.

Hope everyone is good

Big Love


Back from my trip

Hello friends!

I am back from my trip to LA and trying to re-adjust my internal clock.  The trip from door to door takes over 20 hours – taxi from home to pier, ferry to Portsmouth, taxi to Heathrow (hanging about at the airport), direct flight to LA, taxi from LAX to my friend’s house in Hollywood).  There is an 8 hour difference and it took me a couple of days to get used to being on the other side of the world.  The weather was fantastic but best of all was seeing my friend G to celebrate her 85th birthday.  We have been pen friends for over 30 years and have met several times both in the UK and US.  G used to travel a lot but now it’s all too exhausting for her so she’s settling down to being a ‘home girl’ from now on.  I was there 10 years ago for her 75th birthday and again four years ago.

G organised a gathering of friends and family for a lunch on her birthday and 60 people came from all over the states to be with her that day.  She is an amazing woman who has inspired me for most of my adult life.  She is funny, feisty, brusk, chatty, interested, opinionated, loving, caring, generous, inclusive, open, sometimes (quite often actually) foul-mouthed, smart – the truth is, she is a ‘diamond’ in my life and I love her.  You can see the gift I made for her on my Other projects page.

Having just got used to LA time it was time to come home and now I’m struggling again.  Today my husband woke me up today to ask if I was OK.  I thought it was a strange question, but he explained that it was well past mid-day!  I had no idea, I thought it was about 7am.  I usually get up at 6am and today I remember getting up around that time to let the cats out and thinking I would go back and get another hour’s sleep.  Well more than 6 extra hours as it turned out!  Still I haven’t got to go back to work for a couple of days yet, so I should be back to normal by then.

The image is another spread from my first art journal.  I like the colours and I had fun doing it, but the process was definitely more important than the end result…   When I was scanning the page I realised that I had used the image of the lady from the cigar box on a previous page and in almost exactly the same position.  How strange.

Hope everyone’s good

Big love


Be the Star that You Are!

Hello friends!

This is about self-confidence, something I’ve struggled with for a lot of my life.  I have to say it has got easier as I’ve got older and this is a reminder to myself, that actually, I am OK, some of the things I do are pretty good and have value.  I need to stop listening to the negative voices and start paying attention to the positive ones.

The base for this spread is gesso which I textured and made waves in, with the wrong end of a paintbrush, then there are layers of acrylic paint and scrapbook paper, gesso’d and painted over again.   The star and letter stamps were cheap foam stamps, I wanted the lettering to look big and bold, but it was far too black after I had done it so I cut out some more scrapbook paper to accent and tone down the letters, then I tore some handmade (not by me) transculent paper and stuck over the top of parts of the spread.  I coloured in some of the areas with Inktense water colour to just give some highlights too.

Right now I am really busy, my history group has it’s AGM this coming Saturday and I have to give the annual report on the many activities and successes we have had in the past year, so there’s a bit of preparation to do for that.  Also I am going to visit a friend in LA in a week’s time, and I have to get packed and ready for that trip too.  I have prepared a little travel journal to take with me so hopefully when I get back I will have filled it with doodles, journaling and interesting stuff I’ve collected on the way.

I hope you are all doing fine and shining like the stars you are too.

Big love

AJ 🙂