Chapter Next: Mirage


Some the pages in my altered book are already conveniently titled. The book began as an orphaned volume of short stories, and some of the tales’ titles just appealed too much to cover up.

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Doesn’t Mirage just conjure such magic?

I haven’t embarked on any of these pages with a plan. Planning just isn’t in my spirit. I didn’t get that gene.

So to begin I just do something, and let that define where it wanders next. The first something that happened on this page took the form of sprinkles of Brusho swept about in circles with a wet brush. IMG_41541

Oh my how I love how these dusty crystals explode with colour. This stuff is the definition of less is more. More than a wee bit makes for a super rich gravy of an ink, which is gorgeous, but when you use an imperceptibly itsy amount each tiny trace of this magic erupts into zingy pigment on contact with moisture.

It is more than gorgeous. It is actual magic.

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Another early layer was gesso scraped through a stencil, then extra messy gesso scraped haphazardly. If you’re a fellow scraper of gesso you’ll recognise those characteristic windshield wiper patterns of clearing excess off the scraper 😉

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In the years preceding this project I accumulated a shed load of design magazines, rich full of the most gorgeous graphics and illustration.  Just lately I embarked on transforming the knee high heap into 4 boxes of delicious collage ingredients, and a small mountain of recycling.

Thing is, I don’t know who this half a face belonged to, and as an artist I’d like to credit the creator. Any reference to the inventor got lost in the snippings. If it was you – thank you  and I hope that you like the new other half I made. In the spirit of self-portraiture I’ve mismatched the eyes for a familiar wonkiness!

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Hope you’ve enjoyed this little trip through the putting together stages. Here’s how the page developed as a whole………

week by week 1/52


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There’s something so deliciously enlivening about the start of a new thing

…a new year

…a new book

…a new project

In past years I’ve played with different art journaling projects, from page a day to a page a month.  This time around it’s a page a week.

So, 2015, here we go!

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Week 1 has been a painty brain-dump.

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The only thing I had in mind to start was colour: I’m in a big ole red/magenta/turquoise vibe this week. Look at them ZING!

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I primed the pages with gesso and began with some dollopy finger-painting.  This process was fun but produced a textured surface so crunchy it really precluded writing with anything finer than a big soft marker. So the words are big n few.

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I found some phrases through the week which stuck in my head:

Focus (my word for the year)

Let down your guard and Trust  (I’ve read this in more than one place. So it’s a sign, right?)

Stand in your Light (I’ve heard myself say I’ve been standing in my own way a few times, this is a better place for me to be!)

Speak your Truth (it doesn’t have a meaning I can grasp at the moment, but I sense I might come back to this one later and see what I can’t see right now – ‘the woods for the trees’ maybe. What the hey, good solid advice.)

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I wrote out the Holstee Manifesto. It’s mostly buried under layers of paint now. But I know it’s in there….the line “Some opportunities only come once, seize them” is just showing enough still to remind me: I want to compose a 2015 manifesto for myself.

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Then there’s the three eye-fish. I’ll talk about them another day 😉

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Meanwhile it’s day 7 of week1… I wanna get home and get my last bit of painting done for this page. I’ll post the finished version tomorrow.

Til then, g’night folks – sleep like kittens and dream of joyful things X

for the love of paper


Isn’t there something irresistable about paper? this page is centred around play with handmade paper. Not made by me I hasten to add – that’s a game I haven’t played (yet)!

It lends itself so well to roughly torn edgery, and as I discovered this week, tearing it when wet makes for even fluffier edges. Now I don’t remember what this paper is made from, it’s (I beleive) Indian and has super-long fibres. I painted it with Koh-I-Noor dye paints then gently tore it while it was still soggy.

The contrast on the magenta page really ZINGS!

I did the cut-out thing with a scalpel, the out-cut-bits then glued on top making multi-levelled layered shape, surrounded by doodle. With some more of the hairy edged paper and dyed envelopes glued to the underside of the page to show through the cut out holes, the next page was starting to take shape too. But more of that later.

Moments in the process


There is often a stage in the process where I look at the page and think WTF? What is going on? It might fly off on a tanget, or it might develop recognizably from here. But until it does, I have no way of telling…

Pushing on from this point gets easier every time. Like this…


Beginning the page with Black Gesso, some white writing and doodling. Tissue paper for texture.


Building up the shapes with slices of dyed envelopes


And some splashing – I used Dr Martin’s Bombay inks and some dilute acrylic paints.

And left to dry…


…to doodle on…


…and on…

to this! 😀

scrap-driven pages



Working in the way I do generates a lot of scraps and offcuts. There are days (most of them) when I have no idea where to begin or how the page will look. The scraps often decide this for me, and Day 33 is pure 100% scrap driven!


Along with the scraps I make there are scraps I save from the ‘outside world’ – labels, tickets, lists and quotes written on the backs of envelopes… these were the founding ingredients for day 34.

The quote that I made annoyingly illegible was from an unknown Sufi master: “May I overcome any bitterness that may have arisen because I was not up the magnitude of the pain I was entrused with”. Hearty food for thought.


Scraps make for textural interest too, in page 35 I used little torn rectangles to build up a layer of white on the blank white page, that’s where the linear forms began and the rest just happened!

a day in a page


me and the inner kid had some chores this morning, but we tempered this by including a ‘raid the stationery drawer’ moment in the office (old sticky labels… MINE! semi-dryed up highlighter pens…MINE!. We got nice fresh walnut bread and bananas on the market, we got chocolate…

Back home to play! Now!

Texture demands IK. Any thing – don’t care what – I just need to tear stuff and glue stuff. Now!

Within easy reach of where we’re sat there are stashes of texture. There’s packing paper, cartridge paper (IK had been playing with a compass… so quite a few pages of pencil circles. Had a feeling these would find a use one day)

Strips of off-cut fabric and edges from stuff. A strip of hideous flourescent pink nylon net…

all those little snippings of thread… some, they’re like, less than an inch, little wisps.

We need Color!!!

See the cool ink-squirting device we devised?
(Yes, this is very top heavy and unstable. Yes, it would cause mess and possibly tears and swearing if knocked over. Proceed with caution. Thankfully we managed not to let this happen. The beast is dismantled and disarmed until next he is needed.

dripping with extra texture


Another part of the process with the now familiar printer manual: Scrumpling!

Both before and after the inky stage, scrumpling the paper helps it dry unevenly

Uneven drying makes for gorgeous textural effects.

With sharp folds the fibres of the paper is damaged just enough to make it super absorbant, and make for darker lines and patterns.

The inks run to and through the chanels formed by the creases

Reds n Ripples


For quite a shiny page, the close up shots don’t do the colors real justice, but I’ve included them to show you the lumpy bumpy textures. I really like the way paper goes into ripples when it gets wet (glue-y), and on this page I’ve highlighted the waves – although not sure it came out in the pics.

new things old things


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this was Monday’s page, recycling techniques in a new order, mostly acrylic with a bit of ink spray. Very much into stenciling just now. I’ve ordered some Frisket paper (and waiting on delivery as I type) and giddy with anticipation!!

liberating discoveries


Through the pages of the recent weeks I’ve made some unexpected discoveries:

Everyday I look forward to my bit of time set aside for play, there are similarities, sure, but everyday is individually distinct from it’s neighbours.


The ‘no rules’ rule liberates any planning, expectations, or regrets. By photographing the interim stages they are captured, so when they vanish under another layer of something-totally-else, I still have a memory of them to refer back to.


The properties of one small detail can infuse into other parts of the page. A textured paper inspired these scored lines…

Sometimes new characters drift through my subconscious and out the end of the pen. They reside here, waiting to return in a future idea. Or not. It doesn’t matter!

The adage less is more does not apply. The contents of the page unconsciously reflect the content of the day, and some days are bright, loud, bustling and care not for a controlled, contrived design and color scheme. They are just pieced together with what is at hand.

The possibilities ARE limitless!