I started this page layout on Tuesday night as my teaching sample for my ‘Christmas Crackle’ art journal session on 7th November. Building up layers and techniques, I was very happy with the resulting background. I then spent just as many hours searching for the perfect ‘winter’ quote. Eventually I settled on this excerpt from ‘Do not stand at my grave and weep’ attributed to Mary Frye.
I’m continuing my journey into illuminated letters with this layout. The background has languished, completed, in my second ever journal for possibly years, and I’ve been wondering what to do with it. The stencilled motif reminded me of the mediaeval screens, so all I needed to do was find the appropriate phrase to follow my illuminated letter. I can’t quite recall how I got to it, but seem to remember I wanted Latin phrases. This one is associated with, I think, the Catholic tradition and properly means ‘happy fault’. But I’m a crafter, and think it better translates to ‘happy accident’. Which got me thinking, and for the rest of the day I was designing myself a coat of arms. Where do my days go? On flights of fancy!
For those that don’t know, I have recurrent depression, with relatively frequent episodes of lows and pretty good recovery in between. You may correctly guess I’m struggling at the moment, based on my art journal reflections today (which are based on my ruminations in the shower this morning). Now, I don’t normally share autobiographical stuff, but the topic of depression is being discussed elsewhere in the crafting world and I felt moved to share my own experiences of this mental (absence of) health issue – the more we talk about mental illness, the less threatening it might be for someone else.
What’s in a word? Recurrent – it’s a cruel word. You don’t hear of people being recurrently happy. Or recurrent joy. Those too can be ‘unending’ but recurrent has it’s root in the Latin to ‘turn back’. And with recurrent depression, it’s like that – only a passive result of chemicals misbehaving rather than a conscious turning from ‘health’. It’s especially cruel, I think, as recovery between makes the downs even more difficult to deal with. Though medication is helping, and next week I’m going to be discussing throwing a mood stabiliser into the mix as well, there’s not a lot I can do to stop an episode occurring. Or recurring. Resilience disappears out of the window in the middle of an episode, and everything is an effort. I am lucky enough to be aware enough not to curl up in a ball, and capable enough to at least do some of my normal activities – even if they take up twice as much time and energy as they otherwise would. I am lucky enough to still have hope – I know at some point the bleakness will lift. It’s the not knowing exactly when, or how long for that’s the killer. And on that topic, I’m also blessed not to have suicidal thoughts or ideas that often accompany depression – but I so understand where they come from. I am supported by an extremely understanding wife and a close group of church friends, and indeed customers, who cope with me whatever state I happen to be in – and that’s worth keeping going for.
Back to business: background is acrylic paints in teal/brown/black – I think they were part brayered on, part swiped. Main word is stamped in Hickory Smoke Distress Paint. Rest of text in Sharpies.
Possibly one of my earliest surviving artworks, from 1985 when I would have been 14… Later strips weren’t coloured and I used a typewriter to add the text. I seem to remember the inspiration stemmed from the fabulous Classical Studies classes led by Mr Boulting at school, where we were asked to do comic strips to illustrate the mythological stories of Ancient Greece and Rome.
There’s just a week to go before I finally start my extended diploma in art and design course at Leicester College, and I must admit looking forward to it. We were set a summer assignment to create an A5 size postcard, with the front being a collage describing ourselves, and the reverse carrying the college address and a description of what we’d been doing over the summer.
I started work on it last week, and yesterday I finished my submission: