Going Bigger


Hello Friends

I hope all is good with you.

I am trying to get back into regular blogging again so the image above is a project I worked on earlier in the year and completed in May.

For some time I have been wanting to work on bigger pieces and not solely in journals, but I wasn’t sure how things would work out so I didn’t want to waste money purchasing big canvases and expensive paints.  Where I work we often get large and heavy items of equipment delivered in rough made crates, usually made of plywood.  The crates just sit around in the yard and deteriorate until someone eventually decides to dispose of them.  Often the equipment is not used for a while so it all sits outside and crate deteriorates in the rain and weather.  Late last year I found an empty crate still in good condition with a lid that measured about 2′ by 3′.  The lid had a rough frame of wood on the back that stopped the ply from warping, so I asked if I could take it.

I bought some sample pots of Valspar paint from B&Q in Turkish Blue, Party Pattie (pink), Bonjour (yellow), Neon Apple (green), Bengal Tiger (orange), Beet Beet (purple) , Hot Shot (darker orange), Cleopatra Sunrise (bright blue), Spring Fever (light and bright green) and High Voltage (bright red).  It cost about £20 for 10 pots of 236ml paint.

I painted the lid with flat white paint and then did this:

Work Map

It’s finished off by adding detail with paint pens.  I have hung it on my office wall at work.

Then I found a bigger piece of plywood measuring 3′ by 4′.  This one didn’t have a frame on the back so I made one with rough wood I found in our cellar at home and I painted this:


The photo is not very good because I had to use a mobile phone and it didn’t really capture the detail too well.

The second piece I donated to the Mondomix festival in return for a free ticket to the event.  They put it up in the Yurt behind where the DJs played.  Here are a couple of photos taken by other people at the Festival:

Mondomix 1 by David Cramp DJ Lucia Decermic

DJ Lucia Decermic photo taken by David Cramp (copyright David Cramp 2016)

Mondomix 2 by Kathy Lockwood DJ Dabba Ranx

DJ Dabba Ranx photo taken by Kathy Lockwood (copyright Kathy Lockwood 2016)

I learnt some things from painting bigger:

  1. If I am going to continue with the bigger theme I need a bigger studio and more time!
  2. I’m used to working on the horizontal plane – most of my art is in books/journals so I work on them flat on the desk.  These two pieces were also worked on flat,  but I think I need to try to start working vertical, after all a wall (which is my ultimate aim) is vertical.
  3. I probably need to simplify things, not sure how to do that yet though (need to experiment more).
  4. It takes a lot of energy to complete a bigger piece, so I am full of admiration for people who paint huge walls, they must be super fit (and a lot younger than me)!


So what does it all mean?

I had a conversation with a good friend yesterday about how other people (experts) explain art and how if you are an artist you (apparently) should be able to explain what your art means.  Well I don’t have a clue what my art means.  I know that I am creative because it is an imperative within me and it makes me feel good – I love colours, repetition and symbols, they ‘speak’ to me at a deep level, but there is no way I could put that into words and explain it to you or even to myself.

It’s the same for me when I go to a gallery or view someone else’s art.  A lot of art really moves me and makes me feel joyous, usually it involves bright colours, repetition and symbols (so there is a correlation between the art I like and the art I make) but I have no need to try to explain what deep philosophical process the artist might have been trying to explain.  Maybe they just want to make beautiful pictures and that’s all there is to it?  What do I know?

Here are just a few of the many artist’s whose work I really admire, if you have time you might like to check them out 🙂

David Shillinglaw, Yayoi Kusama, Nikki de Saint Phalle, Keith HaringOs Gemeos,

I do often wonder what it’s all about but I as yet I still don’t know.

Until the next time, take good care of yourselves

Big love

AJ xxx



© 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.


Thoughts are not facts

Hello friends

I hope you are all keeping healthy and happy.

I haven’t posted on my blog again for ages, I’m not sure why but it just hasn’t felt right for me to do so.

The truth is that I am still feeling somewhat out of kilter and discombobulated (isn’t that a fabulous word)?  Physically I feel pretty good and,  as people keep telling me, I look ‘really well’ but the truth is my head is in a mess.  Maybe I haven’t  posted because I don’t want to sound miserable and I don’t want or need sympathy, it’s just the way things are at the moment.  It’s no great shakes just something I need to work through.

I really thought that once I had finished all the treatment and started to feel better physically everything would be just hunky dory and ‘back to normal’ in no time at all, but that’s not how things are. Right now I feel like I don’t know where I am and half the time I’m not even sure who I am.  Sounds crazy doesn’t it?  But that’s the nearest I can get to describing this feeling of being lost.

I am pretty emotional too and I can’t seem to keep myself on an even keel.  Sometimes I am sinking into depression for no reason that I can think of.  I don’t mean the crippling “can’t even get out of bed” type of depression, but the just the sensation of everything being flat and uninteresting.  I know it will pass and it does, but when it happens I don’t really want to have to interact with other people, and that’s tricky when I have to go to work and help to sort out other people’s problems.

I remember when I was first diagnosed with cancer the nurse told me that it was going to change me.  I had no idea what she was talking about and I think I just dismissed it. BUT now I completely understand what she meant, it’s just that I can’t really explain it to you.

I think partly it is down to confidence (or lack of it), having 8 months of treatment has certainly bashed my self esteem a bit, and I don’t feel that confident in my ability to do things as well as I used to.  There is also the uncertainty as to whether the cancer will come back or not. I always try not to worry about bad things that ‘might’ happen, because in my experience they usually don’t and worrying about them is just a waste of time, besides if they do happen you just have to deal with them anyway.  I try not to worry, but I don’t always succeed.  I think probably the longer it goes with things being OK the more assured I will feel.

I am still being creative but for some reason at the moment I don’t feel like sharing what I’m working on, and I don’t know why that is either.  I’m working on my radiotherapy mask project, which is turning into something of fairly epic proportions!  It’s still not anything like I’ve imagined or planned it to be but I think I just have to go along with it.  Rather than me trying to shape the project I just need to let it guide me where it wants to go because it’s going to go that way anyway…

I am also working on another project with a bit more ‘depth’ to it and I probably won’t share that or much of it until it’s finished either (this one could take years). What I want to do is work through something, I’ve picked a theme and I’m just seeing what ideas come to me around that theme.  Then I am going to look at some other artists who I really like and see if and how I can use their work to influence my own art.  I’m hoping that this will help me progress and grow. It think it might also be my route for re-finding myself – the ‘where’ and ‘who’ I am. Wish me luck!

I’m back at work full time now, but because it’s such a struggle I am using up all my leave from last year so I can take breaks when it gets too much.  Like for example today I couldn’t face going in because I’ve had a really crappy weekend, with a very low mood, so I contacted my manager this morning and told him I needed to take emergency leave.  Fortunately for me he is an incredibly understanding and sympathetic person so that seemed to be OK.

T is still off work and having major problems with the cardio medication, but fortunately he finally got to see a GP who understood and between them they are working things out, it’s just taking a bl**dy long time!

I did eventually get around to writing to the local hospital to explain why I insisted on staying under the care of Southampton hospital when the radiotherapy treatment finished.  The feedback I gave included the good as well as the bad things I had experienced at the local hospital.  Last week I went in to meet up with the Specialist Nurse and her manager to discuss my rather long letter of feedback.  They seemed to take it all very seriously and were very apologetic, hopefully they will use it to make improvements to the service that people receive there.  I hope so anyway.

Two good things came out of it for me one is that I am now enrolled on a Surviving Cancer Information Programme (SKIP) which starts at the end of October and I think that will help me to cope better, and in the meantime I have been referred to a psychologist for support prior to the programme starting. So hopefully things will start to improve for me soon.  I think I could probably work things out by myself over time, but I am worried that I am messing things up at work and letting people down so I think I need a bit of support to get me through this tricky bit of fully getting back into the swing of things.

The page above (completed in May of this year) is from my small journal (6″ x 9″)  and below are the before and after penwork images.

Thoughts before and after penwork

Take good care of yourselves my lovelies

Big love from me

AJ xxx

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© 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.

Everything works out

Everything works out


Hello friends

It’s almost a month since I wrote anything on my blog so it’s time for another update.  I hope all is well with you in your part of the universe.

Here things have settled down and we are now on a more even keel.  We are both out of our depressive moods and getting on with things.  T still has to get his medication sorted out as something is making him feel very unwell at the moment, but he’s seeing his doctor next week so hopefully she can make some changes for the better at the moment he is still on sick leave.

I have started back at work which is good.  I’m taking things slowly.  The first week I did two and for the past two weeks I’ve done 3 day weeks and I am gradually working up to being in full time work again soon.  It will be good to finally get back to normal again but at the moment I’m struggling a little with my time management.  I suppose that after 8 months of having very little to do and all the time in the world to do it in, I’ve gotten used to not doing much at all, but I’ll get back in my stride eventually.  Anyway it’s so good to feel healthy again and I’m feeling optimistic about the future.

Next week I should be working 3 days: Monday, Wednesday and Friday, but on Wednesday I have booked leave as I am travelling to London with a couple of friends to receive another national award for Ryde Social Heritage Group.  We are going to have to leave VERY early in the morning to be able to get to London by 10am and then at some point in the day I have to give a short presentation to lots of people, but I’m looking forward to it very much.  We have to leave London by mid afternoon in order to be able to get back to the Isle of Wight by early evening.  It will be a long but rewarding day and I’ll have all day Thursday to recover from the travel.

I’ve started working on a project with my radiotherapy mask.  At the moment I’m not sure how it’s going, definitely not quite as I expected. I think I just need to keep at it and see where it goes. The project involves papier mache and wheat paste and I haven’t played with those for a long time so at the least I’m enjoying the process and that’s more important to me than the end result.

Apart from that I still haven’t found much time for doing any other art so the page above was completed in my small journal in March this year, below is the before and after image:

Page 4 before and after

Stay healthy and happy and I’ll see you soon

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.

More Challenges!



Hello friends!

I hope you are all doing well.  I haven’t posted in a while because I’ve been in a bad head space for a few weeks, life continues to throw challenges my way, and I haven’t been coping that well.

Soon after my last post T developed flu-like symptoms and was clearly unwell and spent much of the time in bed.

On 26 May it was my birthday, you know one of those ‘big ones’ with a big fat zero at the end.  It wasn’t the best birthday, T was very sick and although I did get a couple of visitors to be honest I really didn’t feel that sociable.

Our holiday was booked to start on 29 May and the night before I suggested to T that we cancel and stay at home instead, but he insisted he felt a little better each day and wanted us to go.  So we packed up and went as planned.

I knew that we wouldn’t be able to do much in the way of walking or activity but I thought all we had to do was chill out and take things easy.  I packed a whole bag of art supplies to keep myself occupied so it wouldn’t matter of we didn’t go out at all.

The cottage was exactly as advertised and the area – near to Lyme Regis in Dorset – is lovely.  The weather was not brilliant, in fact it was a bit chilly at times but the cottage had good heating so that wasn’t a problem.  BUT it was not a good holiday, in fact it was stressful and difficult for both of us.  T became really unwell physically and mentally and we both really struggled to cope.  We both ended up depressed and despondent and it was definitely not the rest and recuperation I had been hoping for.

Before T became unwell I was feeling a bit flat and lost as I’d come to the end of months of treatment but had no idea whether or not it has worked. I’ve joined a cancer forum online and found out that this often happens to people when they reach the end of treatment .  All the while you are being treated it feels like you are doing something about it but then it stops and you feel like you are left in limbo all on your own. So I was already feeling low and then when T became unwell it was like a double whammy and I fell apart a bit.

Over a week after arriving home things are finally slowly beginning to improve for both of us. We managed to see a local doctor earlier in the week and he told us that heart surgery can sometimes trigger depression in patients and the heart medication might be affecting the other meds T takes for his Bipolar Disorder.  It’s certainly been a rough old ride on the emotional roller-coaster recently and neither of us have dealt with it particularly well.

It’s a bit of a shame that the medical profession seems to treat symptoms but not the ‘whole person’ in retrospect it’s pretty obvious that heart problems are going to trigger a bipolar episode but we had nothing in place to deal with it when it did.  I just wish I was better at dealing with it, but when T is in that big black hole of depression, even though I know it’s not personal, I can’t help but feel alone and depressed too.

So, anyway I didn’t get to do any art while we were away apart from the lettering on the page above.  The atmosphere was just too tense and not conducive to being creative. I tried really hard to put into practice all those things I know about being mindful, not listening to the thoughts going round and round in my head and just deciding to be happy. Writing that quote in my journal was a message to myself that I don’t have to be defeated by the stuff life throws at me. A few times I was successful and managed to lift my mood, but most of the time, despite my best endeavours, I felt defeated and despondent.  Clearly I need to practice a lot more!

While we were on holiday I went out a couple of times on my own and I discovered a fantastic cafe in Bridport called the Soulshine Cafe  there is a lovely vibe there and I found it just at a time when I really needed some sunshine for my soul.  I also saw a fantastic exhibition at Bridport Arts Centre by the A Level students of Colfox and Beaminster School.  It was really good, so much talent!  I spent ages there looking at the art and browsing through the students’ sketchbooks and then had a long conversation with the lady who was volunteering at the exhibition.

On the Monday after we returned from holiday I went on my own to see the Oncologist at Southampton Hospital.  He examined me and asked me some questions about how I was and said things ‘look OK’.  After a bit of a discussion about whether or not I should return to the local hospital he made me an appointment to see him again at Southampton in 3 months time.  Before that I will need to have another CT scan and on the day I’ll have a blood test, so hopefully I’ll find out more then.  At the moment it seems we are playing the ‘wait and see’ game.

I am so pleased that all the treatment is over now. Physically I feel good and I’m not overly worried about my health at present. I know it’s early days yet but I’m really hoping that it’s all over now.  Next week I will be starting my phased return to work after almost 8 months sick leave and I’m looking forward to getting some normality back into my life. I am a bit anxious because I’ve been away from the work environment for such a long time, but my employers have been very understanding and my colleagues have been keeping in contact with me, it will be fine and fun once I get back into it, all I have to do is ‘get up, dress up and show up’ and start getting on with the rest of my life now.

The page above is in my small journal and here is what it looked like before the penwork:


That’s all for now, take good care of yourselves, and I promise I will work on improving my mood before I post again.

Big love AJ xxx 🙂

And here is a video of another old journal 🙂


© 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.



Ups and Downs and Ups!

My poster made at Gonzo Design Workshop

Hello friends, I hope all is good with you.

More health issues but not me this time!

Life definitely gets weird at times, at least it does for me.  Just as I was beginning to feel a bit better and my mood was lifting after the month of radiotherapy T ended up in hospital! From Monday 11 May until Friday 15 May he was in the acute ward of coronary care unit at the local hospital.  Then on Friday morning he was sent over to QA Hospital on the mainland and later that day he had an angioplasty.  He came home on Saturday 16 May.

He was awake and watched the operation on a screen while it was happening and the doctor explained what he was doing.  I had no idea that any of this was possible.  When I thought of heart surgery before I imagined something really major resulting in a big cut to the chest and lots of stitches, but the only wound he had was the cut in his wrist where they fed in the wire up his artery and into his heart.  If you are interested you can see a similar operation here, it’s fascinating!

All the while he was in hospital he was pain free but pretty bored so he was pleased to get home again.

While T was in hospital I had plenty to keep me occupied: looking after the garden and greenhouse and keeping his precious vegetable seedlings alive, making sure the cats where fed and cared for, keeping the house clean and tidy, feeding myself and visiting the hospital once or often twice a day.  For some reason he didn’t want anyone else to visit him apart from me.  I also decided to repaint the walls and ceiling in the dining room before he came home.  It’s exactly the same colour as it was before only it looks a bit fresher now.   I also washed the floor, rug, curtains and blinds and put them back.  I didn’t really feel too anxious about him being in hospital because he was pain free and actually looked quite healthy while he was there, but I just wanted to keep myself busy while he was away.

Now he is home I am helping him to sort out the garden so he doesn’t get  too tired, his chest is still a bit bruised and he is on loads and loads of new medication at the moment which is slowing him down and sometimes affecting his mood.  Still I think we are doing OK at the moment.

Anyway it looks like we are still going to be able to get away for our short break, but we will be forced to take things very easy as I don’t think he will be able to walk very far.

A Treat for me!

Yesterday (May 20) I decided to give myself a treat and had a day trip to London see an exhibition by artist David Shillinglaw and attend a ‘Gonzo Design Workshop’ run by him at Morgan in Clerkenwell.  I had a great day and it was lovely to meet David.  He is very inclusive, welcoming and chatty as well as being a sensational artist.  After being quite nervous in the beginning I soon felt at ease and at home. In the workshop we made posters either about ourselves or about something we wanted to protest about. The materials we had to use were Design magazines, scissors, glue sticks, tissue paper and marker pens.  I was in my element and it was fun to just play around.  I nearly always create my art on my own and there is a whole new dynamic when you create with other people.

The image above is the poster I made about me 🙂 and here are a couple of pictures from the day.

Workbench at Gonzo Design Workshop

Workbench at Gonzo Design workshop with David Shillinglaw at Morgan Furniture London. Finished posters hanging in background/


David Shillinglaw and Me!

After months of being ‘chemo’ bald my hair is finally beginning to grow back!

Here is a video of the workshop:

Today I must admit I am feeling tired, but it’s worth it to have had a fun day yesterday.

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

Big love

AJ xxx

© Janette Gregson and ajsartjournal, 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.



Hello friends

I’ve been away from my blog again for a while so I hope you are all doing well.  What a lot has happened since I was last here!

My health

During the last couple of weeks of radiotherapy treatment I was getting quite tired and often went to bed as soon as I got home, apart from that I didn’t feel too bad although the inside of mouth was sore a lot of the time.  The final treatment was on 29 April.  I thought I would feel euphoric at reaching the end of treatment, but that couldn’t be further from the truth.  After the treatment ended the sores in my mouth became worse, my tongue felt like a piece of old carpet, I lost all sense of taste and eating was very difficult.  For a few days I suffered from what I assume was depression.  I was still functioning and being creative but I became even more introverted than usual and very emotional.  Thankfully things are now beginning to get better, my mouth is no longer sore and my taste is gradually coming back (I had no idea how difficult it would be to eat when there was no taste).  I’ve got a red mark on my face where the beams targeted the mandible in my jaw bone and I look like I’ve just been slapped, but that doesn’t hurt, it just looks a bit odd.

I do have this strange sense of being left in limbo though.  The last 6 months have been really difficult, but I have no idea if the treatment has worked or not.  I don’t go back to Southampton hospital until 8 June and I’m not sure what they will be able to tell me then as I have no scan or blood test scheduled before then.  The oncologist I saw at Southampton did tell me that after that appointment in June all subsequent appointments would be at my local hospital.  I was horrified and told him I didn’t want to go back there as I was so unhappy with the way I was treated.  We are going to talk about my concerns when I see him in June.

The face mask

At the end of my treatment I was given the mask to bring home, I also asked if I could have the ‘dreaded’ gob-stopper, they thought that was an unusual request but gave it to me anyway along with the piece of thick pink wax which was helping to protect my skin.

I think it needs to be turned into a piece of art eventually.  I’m not sure what I could do with the gob-stopper and the wax so I might just hide them inside so I will know they are there even if no-one else does.


Once I start to feel better physically I’m sure my low mood will improve as I generally work on the principle that if I feel OK then I am OK.

The death of a friend

cheesybitsThe friend we visited at the Hospice on 29 March sadly passed away on 15 April he was at his sister’s house and surrounded by his family when he died.  We attended his funeral on 27 April (2 days before I finished the radiotherapy treatment).  We were not very close friends and we hadn’t seen him for a few years before we visited him at the hospice, but he was part of our history. Back in the 1980s he played in the same band as my husband. He was an absolute giant of a man with a cutting sense of humour, but he was always lovely to me and I liked him a lot.

I think his death really brought home to me that people don’t always beat cancer and that probably has contributed to my anxiety and low mood at the moment.

Rest in Peace Dave “Cheesybits” Bowater and thanks for some great memories.

The earthquake in Nepal

Durbar-Square-KathmanduOn 25 April there was a massive earthquake in Nepal, a poor country where life is normally hard for the people.  The devastation caused by this earthquake has left 8,413 people dead, 17,576 injured, 260 still missing and many thousands of people homeless.

We spent time in Nepal in the early 1970s, it is a stunningly beautiful country and the people are welcoming and generous.  It breaks my heart that the people are suffering with this devastation now and I’m giving what I can to the relief fund.

The building in the image is one of the historic buildings in Durbar Square Kathmandu now destroyed.  That is sad but right now it’s the people who need our help.

Other news

On 2 May a royal baby was born and apparently the ‘whole’ country celebrated.  I’m not sure I did celebrate though, I mean I am pleased for them as a family but it’s just another baby and I’m sure there were lots born that day throughout the UK.

Then yesterday we had an election, perhaps you heard about it?  I’m just too pissed off to talk about it really.  Things are about to get even tougher for the poor and disadvantaged of this country and it does not make me proud to be British today.

Right, that’s got all that off my chest so now for something cheerful and positive 🙂


I’ve booked our accommodation and the ferry for our holiday at the end of May and I’m just looking forward to getting away and having a break for a few days before I start my return to work.  I won’t even mind if it rains for the whole week because I’m just going to be chilling out.

The artwork

The page above is a page from my Tikis and Totems journal which I did last week, here’s what it looked like with just the collage:

I cheated with this one and I downloaded a totem pole from the internet, it was a colouring sheet for children to colour, I cut all the different parts from collage instead of colouring it in and then did loads of penwork over the top.


That’s all for now folks, sorry this was a long one.

Stay well and happy.

Big love

AJ 🙂



© Janette Gregson and ajsartjournal, 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.






Time for Tea!

Teatem Pole

Hello friends!

I hope all is good with you, we are currently enjoying some lovely spring weather here, a bit of sunshine and warmth makes everything look and feel pretty good.  It probably won’t last so I’m making the most of it while I can.

I’m now a third of the way through the radiotherapy treatment and I can’t wait for it to be over.  I think my head must be expanding because I swear that mask gets tighter every day!  I really hate being encased in it, but I’m a good patient so I don’t make any fuss about it, I try and keep calm while it’s on and breathe a mighty sigh of relief when they come and release me from it.  Still I’m sure it’s worth it and it will soon be over.

This is another page from my Tikis and Totems journal.  I decided to do something completely different and I made a Teatem Pole instead of a Totem Pole.  I’m British and we are famous for our tea drinking so I think it’s appropriate that we have a Teatem Pole to honour our heritage 🙂

I didn’t do too much penwork on this page, here is the before and after images:

Teatem Pole before and after

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

Big love AJ 🙂


© Janette Gregson and ajsartjournal, 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.



Hello friends!

How are you doing?  I am doing well and all is good here.

The page above is the first page inside my Tikis and Totems Journal inspired by the Artstronauts Club.  You have to be a member of the club to see the full contents of the website, but it’s not expensive to join and it’s mega-value for money 🙂

I have started with the radiotherapy treatment now, I’ve had three sessions so far and now I’ve got the weekend off.  Next week I have 5 sessions, then the week after 4 sessions and in the final week 3 sessions.  Each session takes about 20 minutes, but I am away from home for several hours, because of the travel and the inevitable waiting around, but that’s OK.  I am doodling at every chance I get 🙂

Having the face mask on is REALLY claustrophobic and I have to concentrate on my breathing (and silent chanting) to stay calm.  It’s just about bearable because I know that it will soon finish, but it’s definitely not pleasant.  That mask fits my face REALLY tight.

I have had so much time off work that I am finally going from full pay to half pay this month. That’s a bit of a blow but fortunately I do have savings so we will be able to manage until I get back to work.  It must be really difficult for people who don’t get sick pay, who are self-employed or who don’t have savings.  Dealing with cancer is difficult enough as it is without having to worry about money as well.  I am so lucky that I don’t have to worry about our finances at the moment.

It looks now like I will be returning to work in the second week in June but we are going to get away for a week before that.  I have booked us a self contained chalet on a hillside somewhere on the south coast of England and not too far away from home, for the first week of June,  I’m really looking forward to a week off-line and away from normal life before I start my gentle and phased return to work.   We don’t really have anything planned just a week away with just the two of us.  Luckily a good friend is coming to house/cat sit for us so The Boys will be looked after while we are away.

I am guessing that even when I return to work I will still be monitored to see if I am and remain clear of the cancer, but I feel pretty good so I don’t think I have too much to worry about on that front.  I am looking forward to getting a normal life back though, it’s been pretty tough this last 6 months.

Here is my page with just collage compared to finished page:

Page 1 before andafter


Have a good week and I’ll see you soon.

Big love AJ 🙂 xxx



© Janette Gregson and ajsartjournal, 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.