Vintage Cards and Christmas Shortbread

This art journal page evolved over a couple of happy hours crafting in my studio, listening to Christmas songs. The focal point is a Christmas card from my vintage card collection. The card was sent from a father in Italy to his daughter in New Zealand during the Second World War. During a time that was so fraught with heartbreak, with many families being separated from their loved ones, it must have been so special for that little girl to receive a Christmas card from her father from all those miles away across the ocean, and to know that he was all right. It makes me feel blessed to be surrounded by all my family at Christmas time.

To make the page, I painted and stencilled a background, then layered the card with Christmas sheet music, festive papers, fabric, lace and ribbon, finally adding a few little embellishments.

I love doing Christmas baking – homemade mince pies, Christmas cake, and Christmas cookies are enjoyed by all at this time of the year. This is my great-grandmother’s shortbread recipe. I add spices, orange zest, and cranberries at Christmas time to give it a festive touch.

Christmas Cranberry Shortbread

225g butter or non-dairy spread
125g icing sugar
zest of 1 orange
½ cup cranberries
375g flour
25g cornflour
1 teaspoon mixed spice

Cream the butter and icing sugar.  Stir in the orange zest and cranberries. Add sifted flour, cornflour, and spice and mix. Knead well. Roll out the dough ¼ inch to ½ inch thick. Cut into shapes. Prick with a fork to stop the dough from rising. (I forgot to do this, but they still turned out nice.) Bake at 160° C for 30 minutes. (I cook on fan bake so that the bottoms of the shortbread don’t burn.) Cool on a wire rack. Enjoy!

From our place to yours, Merry Christmas!

 

 

Growing Wild

For this collaged journal page I painted and stencilled the background, then added photos of my garden, images and words cut from magazines, washi tapes, and pressed flowers.

I love to cut words from magazines and junk mail and save them to use in art projects. I look for words that speak to me. Sometimes I will add one or two words to a journal page, other times I will arrange random words into a poem.

I have had a plain wooden box sitting in my studio for ages, and decided it would be perfect for storing my words. I painted it and then chose some of the words to create a poem on the lid.

I love how a few random words, some scrappy images, and a little imagination can bring nature to life on the page.

 

Written in the Stars

I have always had an interest in astrology; not in reading generic horoscopes in papers or magazines, but in the scientific aspect of mapping the planets and stars in the sky at the exact time we are born into this life. I love the idea that the position of the planets might have an influence on shaping our personality and our life path – our personal star map to help guide us through our life journey, while allowing our own free will and self-awareness to help us make choices along the way.

A couple of years ago, I saw that one of my favourite mixed-media artists, Suzi Blu, and her friend Courtney were offering astrological birth chart readings. I had always been aware that my personality was vastly different to that typical of my star sign and, curious to learn more about it, I signed up for a reading. I provided my exact time, date, and place of birth, and a couple of weeks later I received a PDF chart and a recorded in-depth explanation of the signs and personal interpretation of how it all related to my life. So much of it made perfect sense. Without knowing me, they were able to pinpoint my personality exactly and I was able to make sense of that which had always puzzled me. They also validated that I was on the right path with what I had chosen to do with my life, but suggested that my soul’s purpose was to delve deeper into my emotions, talk about uncomfortable things, and to write deeply things that are meaningful to me.

I am very fortunate to have had a good life with wonderful family and friends, a happy upbringing, and a happy marriage. The one thing I have struggled with over the years is social anxiety, which at times has led to crippling panic attacks, and in the past made school and work situations unhappy places to be.

After the reading I thought about what Suzi and Courtney had said and, soon after, I began writing ‘The Air that I Breathe.’ Although written as a fictional novel, this was a story with which I had a deep personal connection and could write from a heartfelt place of experience and emotion, a story that touched on my own personal experiences with social anxiety and panic attacks. But rather than dwell on the negative aspects, I wanted it to be a story of how we can create our own life path by choosing to live an authentic life and build a life around the things that allow us to feel happy and fulfilled. We shouldn’t be defined by our fears, our weaknesses and imperfections, but rather we should choose to shine a light on all that is good in our lives, on our strengths, our talents and capabilities, and on all that we have to offer others.

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Social anxiety is only a small part of my life now. I have created a life around the things and the people who make me happy, a life that is full and rewarding. I haven’t had a panic attack in a long time. I know the triggers, I do my best to avoid those situations, and knowing I can choose to avoid them makes all the difference in the world to my personal wellbeing.

If it were not for that birth chart reading, ‘The Air that I Breathe’ would probably never have been written. I guess you could say that its creation was ‘written in the stars.’

This art journal page depicts my star sign, Aries. I had a lot of fun painting it, with bursts of colour denoting moments of creation in the universe. Actually, they were blobs of paint that I peeled from my pallete paper the next day and stuck to the page. I thought they added a unique element to the painting.

Poppies and Bumblebees

A beautiful symbol of spring, there are poppies in gardens everywhere around here at the moment. This painting was inspired by photos of poppies taken in our garden a couple of years ago. I created layers on the canvas with tissue paper, scrapbook papers, acrylic paints, inks, and a honeycomb stencil, then painted the poppies, seed heads, and bumblebees with acrylic paints. The bumblebees were fun to paint. I think they help to add movement and life to the painting.

In the language of flowers, the poppy is associated with faith, remembrance, and consolation. The red poppy has come to symbolize the sacrifice of those who laid down their lives during the two world wars. According to folklore, if you sniff a poppy three times a day it will bring you luck. I have yet to test this!

 

Dragonfly art journal page

I created the background of this journal page with gesso, acrylic paints, inks, and tissue paper to add some texture. I stamped on the dragonfly and coloured it with pens, then added some scraps of trim and tiny jewels to the page. I had fun cutting words out of an old book to create a found poem. I was amazed that the book I was using, one that I had put aside ages ago to use for cutting up, had lots of words that related to my journal page.

I love dragonflies and I look out my kitchen window every day onto this one that lives on the wall of my studio.

I am playing along with the Things with Wings challenge at Try it on Tuesday.

Journal of Inspiration

I love looking through magazines for inspiration. Some of my favourites are Somerset Studio, Somerset Art Journaling, Sew Somerset, and Daphne’s Diary. I also love reading gardening magazines and the Australian Country Craft magazines. I am very lucky to have a wonderful mum who also loves to read magazines and passes them on to me after she has finished with them. Once I have read the magazines (often several times), I pull out pages with crafts or recipes that I would like to try, home decor, botanical art, poems, or pictures that make me feel happy. I also take out pages and cut out words that I can use in my collage. After that, what is left goes in the recycling.

Recently I decided to take the folder of inspirational pages I had pulled from the magazines and make them into a big journal of things that I love. To make the journal I took one of my magazines and removed all the pages from it that I didn’t want to keep, leaving a half inch border along the spine of each page. Then I took my stash of inspirational pages and glued them onto the half-inch tabs, while others I attached with my favourite washi tapes.

Some pages I glued back to back, covering up the sides I didn’t want to keep. On other pages I made mini collages, or used paint and washi tape to cover up parts I didn’t want.

I made a pocket on one of the pages to hold some of my vintage greeting cards.

I decorated the cover using gesso, acrylic paints, inks, paint pens, and washi tapes, and I added some fibers and beads down the side.

My journal is a big book of inspiration that I can take out and look through when I want to relax. And the good thing is I can keep adding pages to the journal – the bulkier the better!

Freedom art journal page

I recently discovered the poetry of Erin Hanson after coming across this inspirational quote on the internet and searching to find out who wrote it. I bought one of Erin’s books, The Poetic Underground Reverie, and just love her charming poems, which are emotive, relatable, and often hold a touch of whimsy. She has an amazing way with words and an incredibly deep and sensitive insight into human emotions.

The Poetic Undergound

I knew when I began this journal page that I wanted it to be bright and colourful, and for the wings to be made from pressed flowers.I gathered together a selection of papers, paints, and inks in my chosen colour palette and began planning the page.I added pieces of old lace, raffia, and washi tape, and typed the poem on my vintage style typewriter that Nick gave me for Christmas a couple of years ago. After spending so much time on the computer typing my novels, it is fun to use the typewriter for crafty things and to have my studio as a technology-free space where I can relax and unwind.Lastly, I sorted through my stash of pressed flowers and chose some ferns and feverfew and dried heather buds for the wings, and to embellish the pages.

This page reminds me that it is okay to take chances and that you never know where that leap of faith might take you.