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.