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.



Dance with your Heart


Hello friends

Hope things are good with you, I am absolutely fine.  I still can’t find enough time to do all the things I want to do, but I’m not stressing about it.  If things don’t get done it’s not the end of the world.

I have been quite creative recently and that’s always a good sign.  I am slowly working on my ‘secret big project’, I reckon at this rate it’s going to take another 18 months to 2 years to complete.  That’s as long as I keep at it, but to be honest I do have a history of starting things and never finishing them so we’ll just have to wait and see if I can keep at this one.  It doesn’t really matter though because I learn as I go along so all is good.  At some point in the future I might have to share it with you just to check if it’s worth continuing with.

I was going to share another black & white page from my Tikis and Totems journal today, but I just couldn’t have two b&w posts in a row, so the above page is another from my small (6″ by 9″) journal and the page was completed several months ago.

I am really curious to know why colour is so important to me, most creative people I know are really into music I think most people who are creative listen to music when they create.  While I don’t dislike music, (afterall you need music to be able to dance), left to my own devices I would never think to listen to music.  To be honest if I never heard any music I don’t think I would be too bothered.  But colour, now that’s a different story – if I can’t feast my eyes on beautiful colourful images every day, then things get a bit weird and I suffer from withdrawal symptoms.

I did wonder recently how I would cope if I ever lost my sight.  Initially it seemed that would be the worst thing that could  happen to me, but then I realised that the eyes are just the windows that let the light in and I have an amazing imagination so even if my eyes didn’t work I am pretty sure my brain would adjust and I would just ‘see’ things in a differnt way.  Don’t worry there isn’t anything wrong with my sight, other than I now need glasses for reading.  It was just one of those random thoughts that come out of nowhere, but I was reassured by the ‘solution’ my brain came up with.

Here is the before and after image:


When I was younger I loved dancing but I’m a bit rusty now and I have nowhere near the energy I had even 10 years ago.  Still Hoopfit class starts up again next week, that’s fun and good exercise so I’m looking forward to it.  Got to admit I’m not much good at hooping though, I spend a lot of time bending down to pick the hoop up! But the teacher is lovely, it’s definitely a giggle and it’s always easier to exercise when it’s fun.

Hope life is treating you well, take good care of yourselves and I’ll see you soon.

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.




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.

What is Life?

Page 3 What is Life collage and penwork small

Hello friends

I hope everything is good for you and you are keeping well and happy.

I am back!  We went away for a couple of weeks and I had a total digital detox – we had no phones, no internet, no blog, no Facebook and no television (although the tv bit is not so unusual for me) for 2 whole weeks – it was great.

We went away in the Bongo (campervan), it was a bit touch and go right up until the last few days whether or not we could go in the Bongo as it was in the garage waiting to be repaired until the Friday before we left and the garage were not sure they could get the part to fix it.  I had a ‘Plan B’ if the Bongo was not fixed and that was to go in the car and take the ordinary tent.  The weekend before we went I put the tent up in the garden just to check everything was still there and I knew how to do it.  Camping for 2 weeks in that tent would have been difficult as despite being big enough for 4 people neither of us can stand up in it so we would have come home with bad backs from two weeks of stooping.  But fortunately the lovely people at the garage were able to fix the campervan in time for us to take it away, and we had no problems during the two weeks.

We went to WOMAD (World of Music, Art and Dance) festival at Charlton Park in Wiltshire for the first long weekend, then to another small festival in Hampshire for the next weekend. In between we stayed at a campsite near to Bath and had a visit from one of our oldest friends while we were there.  That was lovely.  T and S were best friends when I met them when I was 15 years old and 46 years later, even though we hardly ever see S these days we are still good friends and always enjoy seeing each other.  Being away for 2 weeks and doing 2 festivals was pretty tiring and T’s health was not very good while we were away so at times it was a real struggle, but I really like the outside living, even when it rained I thought it was OK (although I’m not sure T would agree).  I broke my camera on the first day so was not able to take any photos, but in a way that was good too and it felt like part of the digital detox.

I finished the page above while we were away, it’s a page from my Tikis and Totems journal – all the collage and most of the penwork was already done so I just added the quote. I’m not sure the quote really goes with the image but the colours reminded me of a sunset so I used it anyway.

Here’s a comparison between the page with just collage and the finished page.  All the collage elements came from a children’s book I meant to make a note of the title and the illustrator, but unfortunately I forgot!

Page 3 what is life before and after

While we were away we put ‘The Furry Boys’ into the local RSPCA boarding cattery.  We felt awful about doing that but at least that way we knew they would be safe.  We could have just left them at home and got a friend to come in and feed them, but because they don’t like each other and sometimes fight we were worried that either one of them would get injured or that one of them would decide to move out and go and live with one of the neighbours rather then be in the house alone with his brother! We both thought about them every day while we were away and worried about them in those small pens at the cattery.  So as soon as we got home we rushed to collect them.  We thought they might be angry with us for abandoning them for two whole weeks but they were so pleased and excited to see us and it was great to all be back home together.  They have been very affectionate and while I’ve been at work they have both brought T presents every day – either a mouse or slow worm (often dead).

Bill and Jack

Bill and Jack – the Furry Boys

From now on I will be back at work full time and just have my normal quota of holiday so hopefully at long last I will start to get back into the swing of full time working.  I have had so much time off work in the last couple of years – 8 months sick leave then a phased return to work then almost double the amount of normal holiday in the last year – it has been difficult to get myself settled back into the routine.  I think I needed all that time off though because even after I finished the treatment for cancer and have been in remission for over a year now, to be honest the bit after treatment has been, in many ways, more challenging than undergoing the agressive treatment itself.  Finally, I think I am getting my head around it and can move on with my life 🙂

Just recently I have been getting more creative too and that’s always a good sign and good for my soul.

It’s a beautiful sunny day here so I’m off out to enjoy what will inevitably be the brief but pleasant British Summer so I’ll post this later when I get back.

Take good care of yourselves and I’ll be back soon.

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.




Dare to be different

Dare to be differentHello friends

Week four of my return to blogland and I need to tell you that I am going offline completely again for at least a couple of weeks.  I just need to get away from all the noise on the internet.

The past month has been quite challenging on a national and global scale: there was the UK referendum, I was devastated by the result.  I know that I was in the minority and accept that we will be leaving the EU, but that doesn’t mean I have to like it. I know that everyone voted for the best of reasons so all I can do is hope that I’m wrong and things won’t get as bad as I feel they will.

After the referendum it got even crazier with David Cameron, our PM, resigning and other crazy things going on.  So now we have a new PM, Theresa May, I have to say I hate her politics, but I do have a grudging admiration for her, she’s a strong woman and, let’s face it, slightly better than any of the alternatives – Andrea Leadsom, a woman I’d never heard of before but came across as a right-wing loon – Boris Johnson, professional buffoon and lier – Michael Gove, who went against his word and stabbed his friend in the back in order to further his own political career (fortunately it backfired on him).  I’m really not sure why Thersa May has put Boris Johnson in as Foreign Secretary and made us a laughing stock of the world though!  It might have something to do with the fact that she didn’t want us to leave the EU and he lied to persaude people to vote Brexit, so he can deal with the consequences, I don’t know.

Meanwhile, the Labour Party, the main party of opposition in the UK is pulling itself apart because the vast majority of the membership elected Jeremy Corbyn, a progressive socialist, as leader last year.  Most of the Labour MPs don’t like him or his policies, and rather than accepting that they should be representing the views of the membership have tried their hardest to get him to resign or oust him by other means.  This means there will be another leadership election in September.  There have been all sorts of shenanigans going on in their attempt to rig the election.  I am really hoping they fail because Corbyn is the first politician in many years who has made me think that change for the better might actually be possible.  I joined the Labour Party in July to support Corbyn, but a few days later the National Executive Committee changed the rules saying that only people who had already been members for 6 months could vote unless people registered and paid £25 in order to be able to vote in the election.  After thinking long and hard about this I paid the £25 and it’s just been confirmed that I can now vote.

Of course between now and the election ‘they’ are going to try and discredit Corbyn by any means, but he is such a dignified, calm and reasoned man, he refuses to get involved in personal mud-slinging and just states his case quietly and calmly – that it’s about people.  ‘They’ keep saying he is not electable and he’s too left wing but maybe that’s what we need right now?  For the past 20 years or so it has been difficult to vote in general elections for me because I couldn’t see much difference between the two main parties, but I think Corbyn could provide me with the choice I’ve been looking for.  We’ll see.

There is other madness going on in the world too – Trump being nominated as the Republican candidate for the US president against Hilary Clinton for the Democrats!  And all sorts of attacks on ordinary people going on in Nice, Iraq, Afghanistan, Germany, etc. etc.  It’s all getting a bit too much to bear, so I just need to get away from the noise and calm myself down for a while.  I’m going to be off-line for another couple of weeks or so, but I will be back.

In the meantime I’m sharing another page from my small 6″ by 9″ journal.  This page was finished between April and June last year.

And here is a comparison between the ‘just collage’ stage with the completed page:

Page 11 before and after

That’s all for now folks, enjoy your summer and I’ll see you in a few weeks time.  In the meantime 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.


SringrayHello friends

Well here we are week three of my return to blogland and already I’m slipping with the posting!

I meant to post something yesterday but it was sunny (actual real summer sunny) and I was busy doing other stuff.

I haven’t got much to say at the moment so here is a page from my small 9″ by 6″ journal, this page was completed in April 2015 just as I was coming to the end of my cancer treatment.  It’s a strange page about a stingray.  Ever since Steve Irwin was killed by a stingray people have been scared of them, but they are really beautiful and gentle creatures and if you are lucky enough to go swimming in an area where a stingray lives, it is going to come and check you out.  It won’t attack you (unless you surprise or hurt it) but it will swim all around you and come up close to see what you are up to.  It’s a truly incredible thing to experience and I’m lucky that it has happened to me on more than one occasion.

Anyway here is the page with just the collage and then with the penwork:

Before and afterLook after yourselves and I’ll see you soon.

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.

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.