Tuesday 29 December 2009

Sketch Books

As a mixed media artist I have always loved paper and the different varieties and weights you can get. I found it hard to make a mark on those crisp pages of my sketch books and I used to draw my ideas on a variety of bits of paper and grew frustrated when it came to following ideas through , but refused to see that it was my resistance and misinterpretation of how I should used a sketch book that was really the problem. Knowing that using a sketch book would enhance my creative process I decided to make my sketch books work for me now use my books several different ways.

I decided to make a series of different sketch books which would allow me to continue to work in a way that I felt was allowing me to keep my creativity flowing, but kept more order over how the ideas were stored. Each book has its own feel, and purpose. I have 3 sizes of books that I use to allow me the flexibility I needed in jotting down ideas, but allowed my work to remain together and made it easier to follow through ideas

Mini books (3x6) This size makes use of the loose or scrap pieces of paper that you may have lying around - these are 5 pieces of card either stapled or sewn together with a cover decorated in scraps of handmade paper that might be too small to use in a piece of work. I make them with mini pockets for putting in additional samples. I usually have more than one book on the go which gives me the flexibility in following particular themes/ideas in the different books at the same time. I carry a few of these around with me - they are light, easy to make and use. I use them to jot down quick ideas or things that have caught my eye - sketching the designs out, using water colours, collage and any other colour ideas depending on what I'm working on.

5x5 books - These books are used to follow up an idea, I make the books in accordion style and there are usually 7 or 8 pages to work with. The paper on these books are water colour paper 240 gms which allows for the use of paint and anything you want to stick in it, or sew in it and because of the design you can attach additional pages to it, the cover is made using recycled cardboard from packaging or boxes.

A4 books - I use the A4 size book if I am working on something that incorporates a lot of detail or if I am working on a portrait. I can also use information that I have been working on in the smaller booksonce I am happy with the idea in the 5x5 journal I will put together the finished idea I'm going with in an A4 book, and you also have the reference and thought process in the small books this also leaves room for additional ideas to flow at a later time.


Last month was been fraught with the prospect of having builders in my mums property working on kitchen, bathroom and toilet, and dust. Had to deal with the long line of people that needed
sorting. I was told by a very helpful young lady in relation to my mother with dementia, that its the ones that shout loudest and longest that are the ones that get heard, and so it does seem that with the social workers dealing with so many cases, that unless your falling apart at the seams you get parked at the side for as long as it takes.

I also had to make use of the respite service for carers and put my mum in a home for the duration of the building work, it was very hard at the beginning and my mum couldn't understand the reasons why. As far as she is concerned the people in these places don't talk and with only 2 staff on duty is was difficult to see how much they could interact with the clients past dinner in the evening and generally people were left to their own devices or to watch tv. I could understand how she felt. It was an eye opener to see the tv programme on BBC (can Gerry Robinson fix dementia care homes). But it proved to be a great help in the midst of the situation, she got on well with the staff as she is generally very sociable and lively.

The decorating is now complete, and as usual there is always areas that could be improved, places that need touching up, holes that need to be filled where they had their 'little accidents', and there was some damage done to walls, but hay, the mist of dust is clearing and now I have to arm myself for the next round.

In all that has gone on I have tried to maintain a level of creativity, which is the one thing, alongside my faith that keeps me going, working on different creative projects reminds me that in the midst of a situation there can always be a place for you to go and immerse yourself in colour, texture and over the next few weeks I will be featuring some of the work that has come out of those times also been working on some journals and sketch books, will let you have a look over the next few weeks..

Monday 12 October 2009

Asking for Help

Asking for Help

Mum living with Dementia yet still strong

As I sit in front of my computer, trying to be creative and an inspiration, reminding myself that I am not at my final destination but on life's journey my thoughts turn toward my 13 going on 30 year old son and being a mother.

Art Journal - I use my art journal to work through things
that are troubling me

This weekend as been quite a rocky one, I have been under stress caring for my mother who is living with dementia, whilst also dealing with the challenging and confrontational behavior of a young man who is still finding his way in 'communicating' the way I want him to (is he developing the differences that we notice in our men already!) but is also unable to express how he feels about not having his mum around as much as he used to.

I can see us both as if we are standing on opposite shores with the space between getting wider and wider, and I know that I have to be proactive in what I do rather than stand by as if helpless, watching our relationship deteriorate. I realize that I am not an island and I am surrounded by uplifting, caring, inspirational, people who are there to give support.

I have to get over 'myself' and ask for 'help' rather than carry it all on my already painful shoulders - when did it become a sign of weakness asking for help?. I can't feel guilty about not always being upbeat all the time because I am dealing with sensitive and difficult situations.

Art Journal - Believe

I must find time out for myself - and to be creative, rediscovering the beauty in simplicity and also remember my superhero outfit is in the dry cleaners and won't be ready for a few more days......

For information on the Arts and how they can impact - on our health and well-being check out the Art in Health Network


Friday 9 October 2009

Arts and Mental Health

I have seen some great results from the participants in my Art session at Raglan House Centre for the Elderly with Dementia in Camden. They are keen to participate and enjoy the social aspect of doing an activity together. They have the opportunity to have a discussion around different topics, we have music of different eras playing in the background and you can find them either singing along, tapping their feet - its great to see.

Every month we have an exhibition of work completed, and photos of participants in the session

Concentration has improved a great deal, and the sessions last for 2 hours - with participants remarking, 'have we finished already'!

This week we covered memories and words of wisdom. I was saying to the group with the rise in the family being separated and so busy we don't often get to share 'things their mother told them' or 'things they tell their children' and unless you are doing inter-generational work it often gets forgotten. 

Participants get to try new techniques and find the ones they like the best

Over the next few days will be sharing their words and some images.

Todays word of wisdom -
'If you want others to respect you, you have to respect yourself

If you would like to find out about Arts and Health Events connect with the Arts in Health NHS Network HERE
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