Inspired by dinosaurs

Hello friends

I hope you are keeping well and happy. I didn’t realise I’d been away so long again, I am struggling to get back into regular blogging. Also very little time for making art, which is a shame because the more I make art the easier it becomes and when I don’t do it I find it difficult to get back into my flow. But sometimes there are more important things to do in life and that’s OK.

So I thought I would share the image above with you, it’s a project I finished over a year ago. The picture is about A3 size and I made it as a house warming present for some young friends who had just bought their first home.

The project started when I bought a children’s book about dinosaurs:

It’s a lovely book with great illustrations and and a wonderful colour pallette.

First I created a background.

Then I added a collage border and focal point using bits cut out from the dinosaur book.

Next I added shading using Inktense water colour pencils.

Then outlined everything with black ink.

Using paint pens I altered all the collaged elements. Although I use elements cut from books I use them as inspiration but I always want to make them my own with my own mark making.

Finally I added the beautiful Apache Blessing and some swirly bits and put it in a frame. I hope they like it, they said they did, but people are very polite and to be honest I wasn’t entirely sure about it. I do love the colours of this piece though and and the Apache blessing. “Walk gently through the world and know its beauty all the days of your life”.

It’s summer and the weather is hot, I LOVE it! The garden is thriving, it takes a lot of watering which is time consuming but worth the effort. Whenever I can I use water from the water butts and when they are emtpy the plants get a splash of tap water, just enough to keep them going until the next rain.

Our cats are as gorgeous as ever and I am happy to have them in my life.

Jack in his castle, it’s an ornate tomb in the cemetery, but he’s claimed it as his own.
Bill just wants his tummy tickled 🙂

I am TRYING to blog more regularly, but at the moment failing spectacularly, I’ll try harder!

I am trying to stay off politics because the situation in the UK (and the world) is driving me crazy. It really does feel like the lunatics have taken over the asylum. I could easily slip into full raging rant mode, but I won’t.

I’ll be back when I can and in the meantime take good care of yourselves.

Big love

AJ xxx

Geography of the Soul

Castle 02 a

Hello friends

Things are still pretty hectic in my life, but they are getting better, I’ve just got to make sure I keep things moving forward and keep breathing.  I hope things are good with you and less chaotic than they are for me right now.

Here is another page in my Internal Landscapes Journal, I finished this at the beginning of the month. I am fairly pleased with this one because I liked the way it progressed.

I started off with this page and this is how it progressed:

I overpainted the original page trying to extract and simplify the main components, but I still was not happy with the end result.  So on the facing page (which originally had mainly text) I gessoed the whole page and I decided to extract even more from the original image and the end result is the image at the top of the page.

I was trying to produce something that might look OK painted big on a wall, I still don’t think I’ve achieved that, but I do feel I’m getting closer.

The quote is by Josephine Hart and I think it’s from a book called Damage.  I haven’t read the book but I believe this is the opening line and it’s such a perfect piece of writing.  Here is the quote in full:

“There is an internal landscape, a geography of the soul; we search for its outlines all our lives. Those who are lucky enough to find it ease like water over a stone, onto its fluid contours, and are home. Some find it in the place of their birth; others may leave a seaside town, parched, and find themselves refreshed in the desert. There are those born in rolling countryside who are really only at ease in the intense and busy loneliness of the city. For some, the search is for the imprint of another; a child or a mother, a grandfather or a brother, a lover, a husband, a wife, or a foe. We may go through our lives happy or unhappy, successful or unfulfilled, loved or unloved, without ever standing cold with the shock of recognition, without ever feeling the agony as the twisted iron in our soul unlocks itself and we slip at last into place.”
― Josephine Hart

And here is a proper wall artist in action and delivering lusciousness 🙂 :


That’s all for now folks see you soon.

Big love

AJ xxxxxxx


© Janette Gregson and ajsartjournal, 2011-2018 unless otherwise stated. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Janette Gregson and ajsartjournal with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Ancient Places


Hello friends

I hope all is good with you, there is such a lot going on in my life at the moment I’m struggling to keep all the balls in the air, just got to remember to keep breathing in and out, and repeat.  Unfortunately I have no time for making art right now as other things are taking priority.

So while I’m waiting for life to return to some sort of normality, or at least calm down a bit I thought I would post something I finished earlier this month.

It’s a spread from my Internal Landscapes Journal, it started off like this:

003 Ancient Places spread s

Then progressed to this:

003a Ancient Places spread s

and ended up as the image at the top of the page.

I messed up the bottom right hand corner ‘big time’ and in an attempt to salvage the spread I collaged on the head and hat.  It wasn’t very successful, but the rest is OK apart from the fact I don’t really like the colours.

But there you go, it’s just an experimental book, so even if I don’t like the end piece I can always learn from the process.

Look after yourselves and have fun.

I’ll see you soon

Big love AJ xxxxx




© Janette Gregson and ajsartjournal, 2011-2018 unless otherwise stated. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Janette Gregson and ajsartjournal with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.





Internal landscapes

002 finished for blog.jpg

Hello friends

I hope all is good with you, here everything is ticking along as usual.  I spent much of March trying to get back into the routine of being creative every day.  Decorating the bedroom was also a creative act but completely different from putting paint or collage on paper and I had missed doing that.

I still have the big piece of wood (30″ by 44″) to paint to go on the wall above the bed but I need to get some ideas before I attempt that.  So I purchased this book in a local charity shop:

001 Landscapes Cover small

It’s a big paperback book measureing 12″ wide by 16″ high of photographs of landscapes taken from the air.  I’m using it as a kind of sketchbook to develop some ideas.  I am using what is on the original page to inform and inspire what I put over the original images.

Unfortunately I didn’t take a ‘before’ photo of the page above, but it was the index page.  It had images on the left hand side and text on the right.  I gesso’d over most of the page leaving just three small elements of the original images on the left hand side which are now contained within circles.  I added the circle to the right hand side of the page to give some balance.

In case you are wondering I ALWAYS leave the covers of my sketchbooks/journals until last.

This is also part of my long term project Inside/Outside in which I am looking at all aspects of inside and outside.  A book showing images of the surface of the planet are ideal for my investigation.  I have a feeling that when the book is finished it will be all about Interior landscapes.

I’m not too sure how I feel about  the finished page above but it was good to be working with paints again and I do like the colour combination.  I generally find green the hardest colour to work with!

Inside the book I stuck some of the pages together to give a firmer surface to paint on.  I’ve had varying degrees of success with this as some of the pages didn’t stick very well and there are some air bubbles trapped!  But it’s just an experimental sketchbook so I’m not too bothered with the end results at the moment (and I’ve never been bothered about perfection anyway)!  For now it’s just more important to be going through the process of getting paint onto paper and having some fun.

Just before I go, here is a treat for you 🙂  I discovered this amazing artist today and she is only 9 years old.  Incredible Talent!  Here is Pakritee from India, if you like this video perhaps you will leave a comment and encouragement for her on the YouTube page  There are other videos of her painting too.

That’s all for now folks

Take good care of yourselves

See you soon

Big love

AJ xxx




© Janette Gregson and ajsartjournal, 2011-2018 unless otherwise stated. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Janette Gregson and ajsartjournal with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.



It’s finished! (Well almost)

Bedroom 1

Hello friends

I hope all is good with you and you are well and happy.  It’s taken 10 weeks but the bedroom decorating project is finally finished, well almost!  The new furniture arrived a couple of days ago and we’ve been moving piles of clothes and stuff back into the room this weekend as well as breaking up old furniture and taking it to the local landfill site.

There are still a few things to do, I need to put shelves up in the left hand alcove and that big space above the bed needs some artwork.  Fortunately I have a big piece of wood that will fit the space and providing I can paint a good enough painting it will go there. We also need to get some better bedside lighting.

The white patch in the centre of the bed and on the headboard are just sunlight shining through the window.

Here are a few more photos:

Bedroom 2

Bedroom 3

We had to move everything out of the bedroom, apart from the bed, while the work was being done, so we’ve been living in chaos for 10 weeks!

Here is a photo of the work in progress:

Before 1

This was taken early on in the project because we soon realised that moving all the furniture out would make life a bit easier.  Unfortunately T got the flu early  in January and was really poorly for a few weeks, then even when he recovered from the flu he had terrible back pains so wasn’t able to help much.  Fortunately before he became ill we had stripped the walls back to plaster and filled in all the holes, and sanded down and painted the woodwork.  After that I was pretty much on my own doing the decorating whenever I got a few minutes to spare.  I washed and then painted the ceiling, it took three coats of paint before it looked good, and doing stuff above my head really hurts my neck, but I was determined and so relieved when it was finally OK.  I also put lining paper on the walls first and then wall paper – red on two walls and cappucino coloured on the others.

The house was built around 1860 and the floorboards were uneven and had big gaps between then so I purchased hardboard and covered the whole floor with it to make it more even before the new carpet was laid.  That was a whole weekend wetting the hardboard and then attaching it to the floor by hammering nails at 4″ intervals across the whole floor.

The thing I am probably most proud of is the window sill I made.   I always thought it was strange there was no window sill in the bedroom.  I looked at putting a wooden sill in, but it would have cost of lot of money and I’m not sure I’d have done it properly.  Then one day I was down in the cellar and I found a sheet of PVC that was left over from when we had the soffits and fascia boards replaced at the back of the house a few years ago.  So I decided to use that as it was free.  I cut it to the right size and cut it into the wall, stuck and sealed it all in place.  It matches the new PVC window we had put in last year, and the window looks so much better with a proper sill.

Here’s the before and after pictures:

There has been so much stuff  crammed into my art room for the past 10 weeks I haven’t been able to do any art, even if I’d managed to find the time (which was impossible).  I’ve missed that kind of creative activity and I’m looking forward to getting my paints out again soon, although at the moment it is still far too chaotic to be condusive to creativity.

I am really pleased with the bedroom, it has a lovely calm feel about it even with the shocking red walls and red carpet.

The two cats have been quite disturbed about the whole decorating project, but I think they approve now it’s finished.  Bill Kat was so impressed he spent a little while investigating the new furniture, then he went out and a short time later came back wtih a lovely present – a live rat! which he delivered to me and let go under the new bed!  Fortunately T was able to capture said rat and liberate it outside.  I think Bill got it again though because yesterday I found a dead rat of a similar size on the path at the back of the house.  I know that the little ‘presents’ he brings in are to show how much he appreciates us, but honestly I wish he wouldn’t do it, it creeps me out!  Especially if I have to deal with live rodents on my own.

So I hope all is good in your part of the world and I’m hoping to get back to normal, whatever that is, soon.  At the very least to get back into some sort of regular art practice.

Look after yourselves and I’ll see you soon.

Big love

AJ xxx




© Janette Gregson and ajsartjournal, 2011-2018 unless otherwise stated. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Janette Gregson and ajsartjournal with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.




Workings of my Mind

Hello friends

10 October 2017, is World Mental Health day.  I was going to post this post on that day as  it would be an appropriate time to share this news.  However I’ve realised that 10th falls on Tuesday and as I don’t always have the time or energy to write blog posts after being at work during the day, I decided to write it today.  Now I’ve written it I may as well post it rather than waiting a couple of days.

This post is about my entry into a competition run by CultureLabel and the UK mental health charity Mind from 18 July ’til 3 September 2017.

Here is the brief :

CultureLabel and mental health charity Mind have joined together to run a competition exclusively for Mind members

This summer, we want you to tell us about the ‘workings of your mind’ through art. Inspired by artist David Shillinglaw, we want you to create a snapshot of the workings of your own mind in a creative way such as a drawing, illustration, painting or photograph.

We all have our own unique ways of working through the things in our mind, and we want to see yours!

Here are some things you could consider to help get you started:

  • What does the landscape of your mind look like?
  • How are things organised in your mind? Are they structured? Or do they feel chaotic?
  • How do you approach problems?
  • What keeps your mind working well?
  • How do you balance things out in your mind?
  • Where do your thoughts start and where do they finish?

The winner will be chosen by David Shillinglaw, and their artwork will appear at an exhibition in London on World Mental Health Day in October. They will also have the chance to meet with David and receive creative feedback.   

You will also be in with the chance of winning some special prizes including:

  • £200 worth of Love2shop vouchers
  • Your work featured in the Mind News membership magazine
  • Plus a T-shirt, designed by David Shillinglaw from CultureLabel

The deadline for entries is midnight Sunday 3 September 2017. So get doodling and good luck!

Anyone who follows my blog will know I’m a huge fan of David Shillinglaw and his art so of course I was going to enter the competition.   Mind is a good charity and mental health issues are significant to me.  I don’t know if I’ve mentioned this before on my blog, but T, who has been my partner and husband for nearly 45 years, has Bipolar Disorder (also known as Manic Depression), so I’ve witnessed and experienced first hand how devastating and difficult mental health problems can be – our life together has been a continuous roller-coaster ride of ups and downs.  Mind is a good and supportive charity and I love their mission statement: “We won’t give up until everyone experiencing a mental health problem gets support and respect.”

I also think it’s important that people with mental health issues are able to talk openly about them, no-one should feel that they have to hide it from others, feel ashamed about it or be judged for things they are unable to control.

However my entry for the competition was not about T but about the workings of my mind, I wanted to show how full of self-doubt, uncertainty and contradictions I am, how I have this constant commentary going on inside my head and how I use self-talk, art and mindfulness to try and keep calm and stay positive (with varying degrees of success).

I was pleased with how my piece turned out and I think followed the brief quite well.  Once I had finished the piece I had to submit it quickly because I knew that self-doubt would start creeping in and I’d talk myself out of sending it in if I gave it too much thought.

To ceate my piece I painted a background with neon acrylics on 140lb water colour paper and then I created the girl’s head and face from images cut from magazines, I used four different faces to create the one image.  Then I used various types of marker pens to alter and embellish the face and hair.  The symbols around the border and between the phrases are like a secret language to me, I don’t know what they mean, but they appear a lot in my art. I think of them as signs from the universe. The phrases in the piece were written down in a stream of consciousness way and I used lots of different styles of fonts to show that there is no order to the way I think about things.

The winner of the competition was a young man from Liverpool called Ash Alshukri.  I think he really deserved to win as his piece is quite stunning and moving.  I was very pleased and proud to be named a runner up along with Kathryn Watson and Danika McElroy.  You can see all four images here and if you follow the link to Ash’s blog he explains in detail how he created his wonderful piece of art. I must admit I didn’t put that much thought or planning into my piece, but Ash has clearly had a better level of education than me and likes to plan and work things out, he has an analytical mind whereas I just threw myself into it with no planning 🙂  I was so chuffed to be a runner-up though, I had a big grin on my face all day when I found out. 😀

Here is a video of a young woman from Canada describing her experience of Bipolar Disorder.  While I am very comfortable talking about my own life and health issues, e.g. I shared pretty much everything while I was going through cancer treatment, I don’t think it’s my place to talk so openly about T’s difficulties, but hope this video might give you a bit of understanding of the kinds of things Bipolar Disorder does to a person. Please remember though it’s a very complex illness and how it manifests itself is unique to each person.


Finally here is a video called Headspace it’s a hand-drawn animation with ink, gouache, white-out and coffee by artist Jake Fried at

Jake Fried (1984) began his artistic career as a painter, but as he went through the process of layering and modifying images, he realized what truly interested him was the way the images metamorphosed in the course of making a painting and he changed tracks to become an animator. In recent years his films have been widely shown internationally, including at the Tate Modern, Sundance Film Festival, and on Adult Swim and Netflix. Fried works with ink and white-out, sometimes adding gouache, collage and even coffee to generate hallucinatory vistas, modifying and shooting the images over and over to create mind-bending animations that evolve at a frenzied pace. He currently teaches at the Massachusetts College of Art & Design and the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.

That’s all for now, I’ll be back soon and in the meantime please take good care of and be kind to yourself and make some art.

Big love

AJ xxx










© Janette Gregson and ajsartjournal, 2011-2017 unless otherwise stated. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Janette Gregson and ajsartjournal with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Just keep movin’ don’t stop


Hello friends

Gosh a lot has happened since my last post.

The day after we spent the whole day travelling up to Yorkshire to meet up with T’s family.  We left home before 10am and arrived at the hotel in Bingley at about 6:30 pm.  T doesn’t drive so I drove all the way with just a few comfort stops.  Unfortunately this trip back to the place of T’s birth was bittersweet as we were attending the funeral of T’s brother-in-law.  We had both known Pete for 46 years.

Pete was a big bear of a man, he married T’s sister who is about the same age as me when she was 16 years old.  Pete was in the army so they moved about and lived in Cypress, Southern England, Northern Ireland and Canada (and probably other places I can’t remember) while they were young and bringing up their three children.  We saw more of them after Pete left the army and they moved to northern England, we saw them at weddings, family gatherings and when they visited T’s mum when she was still alive.  I liked Pete a lot, he always looked very gruff but he was a sweet man, when he hugged you you knew you had been hugged.  We were very sorry to have to say goodbye to him last week.

It was an opportunity to see the rest of the family though and I have to say I really like T’s extended family they are diverse but all really lovely people.

When T and I visited Yorkshire 4 years ago, to celebrate his 60th, we made a couple of unsuccessful attempts to find the 5 rise locks at Bingley.  It’s a tourist attraction but somehow we failed to find it.  After the funeral we went back to the hotel and T went for an afternoon nap so I followed the instructions given to me by T’s younger brother and set off on my own on foot to try and locate the famous locks.  This time I was successful. I found the canal and arrived at the top of the locks.  I took this photo looking back after I had walked down the hill


The locks are a feature on the Liverpool to Leeds canal and are the steepest staircase locks on the longest canal in the country.  Built in 1774 the locks allow barges and canal boats travelling along the canal to rise (or fall) 60 feet.  It’s an amazing feat of engineering.

I carried on walking and a little further on there is a set of 3 rise locks, with a rise/drop of 30 feet.  Built at the same time as the 5 rise locks.


At the bottom of the 3 rise locks is the Damart building and its distinctive chimney is easily seen from Bingley town centre.


That evening T and I went and had a fish and chip supper with T’s sister as we had to set off early the next morning for the long trip back home.  It was good for just the three of us to sit and have a quiet chat.  I can’t imagine how it must feel to lose your partner after a life time together. 😦

The drive back was not too bad, but still took a long time. I went to bed at about 8pm and slept straight through until the next morning when I was back  at work. It took me a few days to get over that marathon drive.

I have noticed that I get tired more easily now, apparently it’s common for someone who has had chemotherapy to feel tired a lot of the time. When I’m not tired I feel good so it’s just a case of pacing myself better.

Last weekend on Saturday I did some shopping (which is probably my least favourite thing to do) and I also spent some time with my friends from the local history group at an open day event they we  re having in the cemetery.  On Sunday T and I went for a walk along a beach (that’s probably my favourite thing to do) as it was a sunny but breezy day.  T did quite well considering how painful it is for him to walk any distance these days.

Sea and Sky Sept 2016I don’t like to walk too close to the cliffs as sometimes big chunks fall off!  Actually sometimes cows fall off the cliffs too and I don’t fancy being hit by a large piece of rock or a cow! I was curious about the piece of an old building hanging off the top of this cliff, one day, no doubt, that too will end up on the beach.

Orange CliffI have had a good week at work I’m slowly reaching some resolutions to some of the problems I’m dealing with.  The good thing is that I’m not letting the slowness or difficulty stress me out.  It’s taken me 61 years but I think I’ve finally learnt that there is no point in worrying about things that are beyond my control, I just need to do the best I can and be satisfied with that.  I do however wish that I had more time to be creative…

This weekend T and I went shopping together on Saturday morning (deep joy [not!!!]) and then I spent the afternoon with friends from the local history group again.  Today (Sunday) it’s been a lovely autumn day, this morning I helped T clean the decking so that it can be oiled to give it some protection before the winter sets in.  It took us a few hours and it was a horrible job, still it’s done now.

This afternoon I went for a walk along the beach and Duver at St Helens, it was such a beautiful day and the light was amazing. I forgot to take the camera so you’ll just have to take my word about that.  Then I visited Mum and Dad who are OK but seem to be getting much frailer these days, I suppose it’s to be expected as Mum is 84 and Dad is 94.  Their bodies are frail but their minds are still pretty sharp though.  We started discussing plans for Xmas!  Personally I think it’s far to early to start thinking about that, but Mum likes to know what’s happening well in advance of the event, so we are working on a plan 🙂

Other news in brief:

  • *T won his appeal against the DWP to get ESA payments (hurray),
  • *my bongo passed it’s MOT (hurray),
  • *I stopped getting emails on 23 September and when I enquired with my ISP what was happening I was told they had sent me an email giving me 30 days notice that they would no longer provide an email service and I would have to make alternative arrangements and now the 30 days was up so no more emails!  (I don’t remember getting that email)  It’s taking a while to sort this out, but eventually I should be able to continue using the same email address, but I’m thinking of transferring to a different ISP.  They were fantastic when I first signed up with them over 20 years ago but over time the service has deteriorated and the email saga is the final straw! (Grrrrrrr!!!)
  • Yet again I have had no time for being creative this weekend (Grrrrrrr!!!)
  • I’m still practicing mindfulness so that’s OK (hurray).

The image at the top of this post is another page from my small (6″ x 9″) journal  and here is the before and after penwork image:

Keep movin' don't stop before and after penwork

Hope all is good with you.

Take good care of yourselves and I’ll see you soon.

Big love

AJ xxxxxx


© Janette Gregson and ajsartjournal, 2011-2016 unless otherwise stated. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Janette Gregson and ajsartjournal with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.



Don’t Worry


Don't WorryHello friends

I hope you are all good and happy.

I’ve been off-line again, but this time not from choice.  The router broke and we were without internet for 10 days, at first I wasn’t bothered about it, but then I thought I should try and do something as I had bills to pay so I spent hours on the phone talking to Tech Support from my ISP, they had me resetting the router, changing pass words and trying to connect again and again without success.  After four evenings of wasted time and still no success someone with a strong Indian accent who I could barely understand and who I think had taken far too much Valium promised to investigate and to phone me back the next day.  He should have phoned me on Friday, but he didn’t, then it was the weekend followed by a Bank Holiday and still no internet.  So on Tuesday I phoned Customer Support and asked if they would replace the router they had originally sent me for free, but I was told as it was out of warranty I’d have to buy one.  I could buy it from them and it would be sent out in 3 days time.  So I went to local shop and bought one instead.  I seems to be working OK so far. (Fingers and Toes crossed while I said that)!

Still the good thing was I had plenty of time for being creative so I’ve finished two big paintings and started a third.  I’m not ready to share those yet though so the image above is another page from my Tikis and Totems Journal that I finished while we were on holiday.  This page was an experiment in black and white – I prefer bright colours.

Here is the image with just collage and then completed with pen work:

 Collage first then penworkAnd here is another old journal I made back in 2011 🙂

That’s all for now, take good care of yourselves and I’ll see you soon.

Big love





© Janette Gregson and ajsartjournal, 2011-2016 unless otherwise stated. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Janette Gregson and ajsartjournal with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Hello, how are you?



A page from my Secret Messages Journal

Hello friends

I’ve been away for half a year! I’m not really sure how that happened, but there has been lots going on.  Too much to go into really so here is a quick precis of the first half of this year from my point of view:

The main thing is that I am feeling good now and I am still in remission (got another check up in 2 days time but no cause to worry about that as far as I know);

T lost his job at the end of January due to having had too much sick leave and that was quite a stressful time, so as I was beginning to feel a lot better he was beginning to feel worse – we are muddling through OK;
In March I attended a 2 day course run by Penny Brohn UK which was all about living well with cancer, I loved the course and I gained a lot from it, in particular I learnt about Mindfulness Meditation and that has been a life changer for the better;
I am working full-time again now (although I have had a lot of leave in the past 6 months – due to the generosity of my employers) and things are gradually getting back to normal;
I started going to Hoopfit class in April run by my lovely friend Gina, I’m still not very good at it, but it is fun;
I became a voracious viewer of art (probably at the expense of creating much myself) but seeing beautiful things every day really lifts my spirits and I have discovered so many wonderful artists thanks to the internet :-);
I did some display/information sheets for a new exhibition Poo@theZoo it’s the brain child of a fantastic group of local artists called Eccleston George and it was a privilege to work with them on this project.  My contribution was to tell the story of what happens to human poo after the toilet is flushed;
In May I had a birthday, I was 61! we went out for a picnic at a lovely spot and then we went away (not very far) in the camper van for a weekend;
At the beginning of June we went away again to a very small world music festival Mondomix and that was good;
The following weekend we had another long weekend of camping in the van at a campsite that is within walking distance from home – the reason for staying so close to home is that we have to come back at least once a day to feed and check on the cats;
As a late birthday present T and I went to London on 22 June to see an exhibition by the artist Yayoi Kusama, it was fabulous;
On 23 June we had a referendum in the UK on whether or not we should stay in the European Union
On 24 June we got the shocking result that by a tiny majority of less than 4% (52% -48%) we voted to leave the EU and since then I’ve been in deep shock, both of our main political parties the Tories and Labour seem to be self destructing and the £ seems to have disappeared down the pan. There is so much uncertainty, these are worrying times.  I have spoken about this a lot on my facebook page so I don’t intend to say any more here.

So that’s one half of this year in my life, never a dull moment!

Earlier in the year it was bothering me that I wasn’t being as creative as I would have liked so I decided to finish off a journal I started years ago.  It’s called Secret Messages and is an altered sample book.  I gave up on it a long time ago because I wasn’t very happy with how the first pages turned out. When I went back to it I just experimented with whatever came into my head. I also wanted to use up some of my extensive hoard of ‘stuff’ collected over the years because it  ‘might come in useful someday’ Here is a short video of the book, it’s a bit of an oddity:

For my own records and just in case you might be interested in more detail.  The book was a sample book I purchased in a charity shop.  The samples were window or wall screens, I think.

Front Cover

Front Cover

The only thing I did to the front cover was rip off the label and add the letters to form the words Secret Messages. I intended the journal to have no words in it (I didn’t quite succeed).

Inside front cover

Inside Front Cover

Inside the front cover I just stuck the piece of paper with washi tape and added the small ornate envelope with a message inside.


Front of Page 1

Front of Page 1

Page 1: This screen was made of 2 layers of fine silk with paper strips with symbols between. I cut some circles out of some paper in my stash and glued it over the screen to form 3 round windows the I added more scraps of paper coloured red with distress ink, added three gold strips, some ‘gems’ and a ribbon border.

Back of Page 1

Back of Page 1

On the back I cut three matching holes in more paper and stuck it on, added white pen work and a border of wire and pink fluffy balls.


Front of Page 2

Front of Page 2

Page 2: Another screen of fine silk with paper strips between. I painted this one with gesso leaving the two leaf shaped windows. I added colour with acrylic paint, paint markers and glitter and added a stick-on flower jewel and three ribbon strips to the side

Back of Page 2

Back of Page 2

On the back I painted again with gesso leaving the two windows, added colour with acrylic paint and glued on bits of deconstructed jewellery for texture.


Front of Page 3

Front of Page 3

Page 3: This screen was made of 2 layers of fine silk with bamboo slats between. I added a collage border and then glued on the leather bag clasp and the yellow heart was a prize in a Christmas cracker.

Back of Page 3

Back of Page 3

On the back of the page I added a collage border, stuck a paper doily, coloured with galatos in the middle and added a centre piece from a deconstructed ear-ring.


Front of Page 4

Front of Page 4

Page 4: This screen was also made of fine silk and bamboo slats but I removed all of the bamboo, then I added texture paste and acrylic paint and stuck on some old coins, tokens and pieces of deconstructed jewelry.

Back of Page 4

Back of Page 4

I covered the back of the page with pieces of old maps then added a border of soft feathers  to the top and side (for some strange reason when I am out walking if I see a feather I have to pick it up so I have quite a collection!), stuck on some gold stars and two old ferry tickets.


Front of Page 5

Front of Page 5

Page 5: Another screen of silk and bamboo. I removed all but three of the slats of bamboo. cut some paper from my stash to make a border and then added lace around the edges, I put an old photo of T and M into an old brooch and stuck that onto the page with ribbons and fibres hanging from it. I put a strip of ribbon down the hinge side, added a wire work heart and added the letters to form the words You & Me.

Back of Page 5

Back of Page 5

On the back of this page I stuck some patterned paper, then decided I didn’t like it so I Mod Podged some printed tissue paper over the top of that, still didn’t like it so I used up my stock of gold letters on the page, still didn’t like it, added the green border with acrylic paint and stuck on some gold beads.  TBH I still don’t like it.


Front of Page 6

Front of Page 6

Page 6: This screen was made of silk and raffia. I removed nearly all of the raffia, just leaving the strip in the middle. I wanted to use the piece of lace so I cut some paper to the same shape and stuck it on the page and I also Mod Podged on the piece of orange fabric. I enhanced the colours of the orange fabric with paint pens and painted the paper blue before Mod Podging on the piece of lace. I like the way it hangs over the edge of the page forming a frill.

Back of page 6

Back of Page 6

On the back I added more of the orange fabric which I enhanced with paint pens and I added course texture paste to the top of the page and rubbed in some gold colour to the corner.  Finally I threaded ribbons through the raffia.


Front of Page 7

Front of Page 7

Page 7: This screen was made of sheer silk with lines of tiny black glass beads. I Mod Podged some white fabric to the back of it and then sprayed it with coloured inks and water, then I stuck on lots of sequins and gave it black border with duct tape.

Back of Page 7

Back of Page 7

On the back it looked a bit messy so I added a double layer of fine red, glittery mesh, still looked a mess so I added the strips of red fabric which made it look better, but the pink tasselled fibre and the eyes on two tags really improved it as did the black border.


Front of Page 8

Front of Page 8

Page 8: This screen was made of viscous raffia and all I did was thread the coloured ribbon through it. The wooden thing that looks like a bird head is a brooch given to me for my birthday by a friend.

Back of Page 8

Back of Page 8

On the back I painted the black border.  The bark, sticks and seed pods were collected on a walk on our first camping trip.  The piece of wood with the heart was given to me at the Call of the Wild Soul Art Retreat in 2012.


Front of Page 9

Front of Page 9

Page 9: This screen is made of raffia and silk. The feathers from the top are from our third camping trip, the white ones are goose feathers. The feather at the bottom I picked up when I took my parents to the local Alpaca farm, it is a lovely looking feather but it comes from a very ugly bird. I can’t remember what it is called but it looks a bit like an ostrich only uglier! I added a ripped paper border to the bottom of the page and a piece of ear-ring to attach that single feather. I added a purple border around the page with distress ink. The feathers at the top were glued and sewn down and I sewed an ornate belt buckle over them and attached a bead and tassel embellishment. I really like this page.

Back of Page 9

Back of Page 9

On the back I stuck down the artificial leaves and added a border of orange, ripped hand-made paper, I added a couple of butterflies to the leaves and the flower is from a hat I bought for some occasion (and never wore).  I added the letters to form the words Be Mindful because it is so important to me to keep practicing mindfulness.


Front of Page 10

Front of Page 10

Page 10: This screen is made of polyester and fossilized leaves. The leaves are so beautiful I didn’t want to do much to it so I added the border it’s just brown paper coloured with distress inks. The little tag which has an imprint of a fern on it is a clothing tag. Down the side is a piece of a ‘hippy’ headband and at the bottom a piece of corrugated cardboard, two more feathers and a paper rose.

Back of Page 10

Back of Page 10

On the back I just used the same brown paper border and those are little wooden disks with numbers on (they might be from a Bingo game).


Back of Page 11

Back of Page 11

Page 11: This screen was really strange it was made of very thin and fine stainless steel and it was like fabric but metallic silver.  I actually did the back of the page first, I used paint pens to draw on the metal background, I outlined everything in black and added a black border to the page.  Then I added a double layer of red glittery mesh and put the kitty tag between the 2 layers.  I fixed the mesh down with a gold ribbon border, sewed on the strange wooden figure that came from a necklace and added a row of bling to the bottom of the page.

Front of Page 11

Front of Page 11

On the front page to cover up the stitching  I stuck on some torn green tissue paper, I added some green paper lace over the top so that the metal could still be seen, added 3 paper roses and edged the page with red ink.


Front of Page 12

Front of Page 12

Page 12: This screen was sheer but stiff silk, I didn’t want to do anything to alter the screen itself so I added the border of orange printed paper. On the day of the referendum result it was really hard to come to terms with it, even though I expected the vote to go that way, the reality of it shook me to the core, it’s hard to explain. I went for a long walk along a beach to clear my head. Whenever I go for walks I collect things that catch my eye and on beaches I am always attracted to colour so I collected all these bits of rope and cord and when I got home I stuck them onto the border of the page. The fish tag is from a Weird Fish T-shirt. This is the only page in my book that has a title, it’s called ‘Give them enough rope…’

Back of Page 12

Back of Page 12

One the back I wanted to give a feeling of being lost so I used a piece of a map and then gave that another border with map tape.  The heart tag is to remind me not to give up hope 🙂


Inside back cover

Inside back cover

I wanted to leave the information about the make up of the screen material but I ‘knocked it back’ with a thin covering of gesso, then I randomly added torn paper and the Number 3 card. I didn’t do anything to the back cover.


The whole journal

The whole journal

It’s a bit fatter than it was when I started and it’s been good to experiment and try things out even if a lot of them didn’t really work. The process is more important than the result so I’m happy anyway.

Sorry for the long, long, long post, I’ll try not to leave it 6 months before I post again 🙂

Big love


© Janette Gregson and ajsartjournal, 2011-2016 unless otherwise stated. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Janette Gregson and ajsartjournal with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Happy New Year!

Page 6 7 & 8 sHello!

I hope everyone is doing well.  I hope too that you all had a lovely Christmas and I wish you all the very best for 2016!

I knew I had been neglecting my blog but i didn’t realise it was four and half months since my last post!  I guess I just needed some space to get myself together after the cancer treatment.

The Bongo!

On the one year anniversary of my cancer diagnosis (mid-September) T and I did something exciting and possibly crazy, we spent a lot of money and bought ourselves a Bongo.  In case you don’t know what a Bongo is here’s a picture of ours:

Bongo! s

It’s an old vehicle but it’s in really good condition and it has everything we could possibly need for our planned adventures.  Inside it has been converted into a campervan and has a fridge, 2-ring gas stove, sink, loads of cupboard space and the seats convert into a bed. The roof also lifts up and there is a tent/bed up there too.  It also came with an awning/tent which can be attached to the vehicle, when it is parked up.  We think it will be perfect for us and it’s great to drive, so far we have only been out for day trips, but we are looking forward to going camping in it in 2016 once the warmer weather and longer days come back.

Making a space for another vehicle

Having got the Bongo I needed to create somewhere to park it.  There was space to park one vehicle on our land and I needed that for my car. While I am working I still need to keep my car. So T had to sacrifice a piece of the garden so I could create another parking space. It took me about a month to do that and it was REALLY hard physical work – digging out shrubs, removing about 4 car loads of soil and transporting them to the local landfill site, then building a low retaining wall from heavy blocks and filling the space with 1 tonne of gravel and more blocks.  T offered to help, but I was worried he would put too much strain on his heart so I did most of the work on my own.  Here’s the end result, unfortunately there was not enough room to make the new space for the van so my car is now parked here and the van is parked where the car used to go.

Here’s the space after the fence was removed and most of the soil taken out:

DSCF7602 s

And here is it finished 🙂

DSC00321 s 1

This is the old parking space where the Bongo has to be parked now, I also built that wall along the side of the path.  The garden used to slope down to the path, and by building the wall I was able to level out the garden with some of the soil I had to remove for the new parking bay, that saved me a couple of trips to the local landfill site, but boy oh boy those blocks were heavy to move about!

DSCF7597 s

All the while I was doing this work the weather was great, in fact perfect camping weather but I had to get on and finish the project and by the time it was done (mid October) the weather was much cooler and the nights were drawing in. So still no camping for us.

Taking a break from the local history group

In mid October I stood down from my role of Chairman and committee member of the local history group, Ryde Social Heritage Group I am still a member of the group but I felt that I needed a break from the total involvement I’ve had with the group since we formed it in 2002 and I’ve been Chairman since 2007.  I started the group with two friends in 2002 and have seen it develop and grow into an award winning group.  It’s something I’m really proud of, but after 13 years of it being a high priority for me I realised that I had left much of ‘normal life’ for T to sort out. It just wasn’t fair to expect him to carry on doing the lion’s share of the house and garden work. It felt like we needed to be spending more time together.  But I am confident that the people remaining on the Committee are as committed to the success of the group as I was, so I know it’s in safe hands and will continue the good work started all those years ago.  I have quite a bit more space in my room now that all the history stuff has been handed over, but I must admit it’s still untidy and chaotic in my room and there is still far too much ‘stuff’ in here!  That’s something I shall be addressing in the New Year (she said).


After a short rest following the building work I decided to start another project and we redecorated our living room together: we stripped the walls, repainted the ceiling and woodwork, then repapered the walls.  We finished that job just before Christmas. Actually there are still some shelves to put up but we finished it enough to be able to use the room again over the Xmas holidays and at least it is looking fresher and cleaner now.

In Remission 🙂

I had another meeting with my oncologist earlier in December, it was a good meeting and I was told the usual ‘Everything looks OK, come back in three months’. It had been bugging me a bit that other people I know who have been treated for cancer have been told that they are in remission but no-one had ever said that to me.  So I decided to ask the doctor if ‘Everything looks OK’ means that I’m in remission and she said ‘Yes it does, I’m sorry but I can’t promise you that you will never get cancer again but at the moment there are no signs that you have it, so yes you are in remission’. So I left the hospital feeling considerably lighter and happier.

T’s health is still not 100% he has been off work for another two months and we are not sure he will be able to return to work, but most of the time we are both doing OK and mood-wise at the moment we are fine.

The strange Christmas Tree

I decided not to have a Christmas tree this year as I had seen this really cool idea on Pinterest so on the weekend before Christmas I went out in to the Cemetery (my house is just inside the cemetery gates) and collected a load of holly, ivy, yew and spruce cuttings and then spent a day decorating my dress form.  So for Christmas we had this headless and armless ‘festive’ lady standing in the corner of the room.  The cats were not sure what to make of her, but then Billy Kat discovered he could get underneath her skirt and there was a magical cat cave inside 🙂

Christmas 2015 1 s

Unfortunately I didn’t realise quite how heavy all the greenery would be and by the time Christmas was over the skirt had dropped a bit, but apart from that it did look quite effective.  If I do it again next year I’ll make sure I fix the rabbit wire skirt more securely to the torso so it will stay in place.


The building and decorating projects, health issues and my return to full time working have meant that I have had very little time for art in the past 4 months, but I consoled myself that I was nevertheless still being creative even if I wasn’t making ‘my art’.  The project with my radiotherapy mask is still ongoing but it was stalled for a long while and is not complete enough to share at the moment.

The image at the top of the page is from my small journal (6″ x 9″) and was completed in April 2015 when I was having radiotherapy.  Because I had to travel to the mainland for the treatment, it meant there was a lot of hanging around waiting for ferries, buses and treatment so it was good to have a small journal and some pens with me.

Here is what the 3 page spread looked like before I played about with the pens:

Page 6 7 & 8 collage only s

So that’s all my news, in a long an boring post!  Don’t suppose anyone has managed to get through all that text (I wouldn’t have) but that’s OK because this blog is for me more than anyone else.  So that in a few years time I’ll be able to look back and say “Oh that’s what happened in 2015”  as I will probably have forgotten.

Hope all is good with you in your part of the Universe.

Big love AJ 🙂






© Janette Gregson and ajsartjournal, 2011-2015 unless otherwise stated. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Janette Gregson and ajsartjournal with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.