Thursday 27 October 2011


24 x 16 inches on wood

For Sale

£149 GBP
(approx $239 USD)
+ shipping

Last week, I was lying on a hospital bed with my head in a cupboard. For some reason I thought it was poetic, to be lying with one's head in a cupboard (the bed folds out from a cupboard down). Next to me, in his own bed, lies my 26 month old son with breathing difficulties. He's got an oxygen level monitor taped to his toe and an oxygen dispersing pipe taped to his t-shirt blowing concentrated oxygen into his little face to help him 'work less hard' to keep 'his sats' up. When you're healthy, your oxygen saturation is around 97/98/100%. When Dylan first came into hospital it started at 88%. They think it was bronchiolitis and if you don't help a little one breathe when they have this, they can become too tired from working too hard to get the oxygen in which can - in serious cases - be fatal or at least cause some kind of 'not so fun things' to the brain. So, I kept watching the little red numbers go up and down, 91%, 88%, 94%, 96% and tried to be ok with yet another nurse forcing a nebuliser or ventilator on him which terrified him.

The first night, sleep was horrific, though Dylan - so tired - slept through all the noise. Wards are really not my thing and if I could decide where my tax money goes it would be on health and education only and first priority is to create single rooms-only in all hospitals. Wards are not conducive to healing. Sleep and good food are top priority to overcome illness and the hospitals don't provide either of those. Ridunkulous.

There is something so inexplicably difficult and painful about seeing your own child suffer. To see the fear in their eyes, to see them going through uncomfortable (or downright painful) experiences. It requires such a zen mind on the part of the parent, to 'let suffering be' and be strong so that you can be there to process it with your child afterwards. It requires a type of strength that I didn't think I needed to have. What your child needs is for you to be strong and there for them, but when you see them kick and scream against the people who hold him down to put a mask on his face, all you want to do is break down, fall apart and scream and kick too. (Particularly when you are 8.5 months pregnant).

Luckily, I've been told by a friend (who is also a child psychologist) that the key thing for a child not to be scarred for life from a traumatic experience is to be able to process the experience afterwards in however way they need to. If there is no adequate outlet to process the experience, it is much more likely that long term scarring might occur.

So, empathy is needed after the trauma. A way to express without being told 'you're wrong to feel that way' or to be dismissed for what you were feeling, nor to be told that you 'should be a big boy' or to be denied that the experience was the way it was for him. A child needs to be able to express and then be reflected back to. So, the reflecting back would sound like: "you were really scared weren't you, when they put the mask on your face?" - "you really didn't like when they put the tape on your toe" - "it was very upsetting for you when daddy had to hold you down, wasn't it"? It's a simple reflecting back of what he was feeling - no need to say: "but it had to happen", "you don't have to feel that way" etc.

Within the NVC process of communication there is an element called 'empathy giving' and this is what we use when Dylan is distressed. Whenever he is upset and we empathise with him, he calms down within minutes. All he needs to know is that he is being understood and heard around his pain. Sometimes we offer a small explanation as to why what happened, happened, but not usually before he's calmed down. When he is upset, we reflect and reflect and empathise. It is an amazing way of providing support for someone in distress.

I am incredibly grateful for this tool as I am always worried that some of his experiences might 'scar him for life'. I'm so glad to know that most long term scarring can really be avoided as long as the traumatic event is properly processed and empathised with.

Dreamscape - detail

24 x 16 inches on wood
For Sale
£149 GBP
(approx $239 USD)
+ shipping

When we were finally allowed to go home (I sobbed in front of doctors who told me we had to stay another night - not because I was worried for Dylan - he was doing fine - but because I thought I'd go insane having to stay there another night! At some point I hysterically exclaimed: 'If I'm going to have stay here another night, you're going to have another patient!' - Crazy pregnant lady alert that was), Andy fell ill!

Now, we're a week later, and we had planned a 'baby 2 day' yesterday to get all final preps finished for the next arrival (due in 2 weeks) and: our childminder fell ill! (She still is today).

So, 2/3 weeks before giving birth, one bit of chaos after another jumps into my lap! Is the universe trying to tell me something you think? ;) Are these ominous signs from the babe to come to warn me to prepare for a chaotic child? ;) Or, is this the 'storm before the silence'? I hope so! Ha ha.

Anyway, as you can imagine, I'm tired now.

And on top of all of this, I have continued with all my driving lessons (my practical exam is on 3rd of November, lol, which is a week before due date). Talk about too much on your plate eh. But hey, I do like me a good big meal! Although I don't always eat it all.

Dylan is fine now and he continues to grow physically and cognitively on a daily basis. Yesterday, he started singing 'baa baa black sheep' out of nowhere but with all made up words, it went something like this:

"Baa baa back sha habboo any wuuuul? Yes sa yes sa dee bag ool". That sort of thing just makes me so crazy happy. It's those moments that make every hard thing worthwhile. I wouldn't give that up for anything.

Andy is also ok, we're just now waiting for the childminder to find her footing again. We did manage to get some stuff done for babe 2 yesterday, but it's like this poor one is not going to get the royalty treatment Dylan got.

I'm ok too, but tired, have to pee every 2 hours at night, stomach feels like 6 basketballs packed tightly together and when I sit down I have to have my legs wide to let the stomach hang in between them. Charming no? ;)

I'm still passionately working on Life Book - people continue to sign up which is also SO happy making (we now have over 300 students!!) ! And I'm about to publish the weekly year schedule, so that everyone can see what will happen on a weekly basis! How cool is that?

Here are some more detail shots of my newest painting I did a week or so ago. I love this painting a lot, one of my most favourite ones that I've done. :)

Dreamscape - detail

Dreamscape - detail

Dreamscape - detail

Dreamscape - detail

Dreamscape - detail

Dreamscape - detail

Dreamscape - detail

24 x 16 inches on wood

For Sale
£149 GBP
(approx $239 USD)
+ shipping

Back to work lovely people. I hope everyone is doing well and sparkly. :) Big hugs! 

Do you want to join the 300 + Life Book Students and have an awesome year of art making in 2012? 


Wednesday 12 October 2011

Me, new art, life and 'surrogate suffering'.

WIP - trinity

So, it's about time to do a bloggie about me don't you think? I know, you've been dying to read more about my life, haven't you!? ;)

Well, I'm almost 36 weeks pregnant, round round round, busy, crazy busy and in love with my family and the world. That would sum it up pretty much.

Ah, you want more detail. I get that. ;)

Ok, well, here is how round I am:

I know, you *really* wanna do a belly swap with me right? ;)

Well, I'm pretty much consumed with 2 things at the moment: being pregnant and almost giving birth to babe nr 2 and Life Book. Then also, of course: Dylan and Andy, sleeping, trying to keep my sanity and eating chocolate muffins are also high on the list. Oh, I also try to take a few moments each day to relax and I paint to relax. The above image is a detail shot of a recent painting I've been working on. Those who follow me on Facebook will have seen it already. I've been experimenting with combining different face styles together. The face in the lower part of the painting is a stylised face and the other two are much more realistic. The top two are done through a different technique: paint-over acrylic's transfer (similar to paint-over collage). I'm not sure if I like the combination of the different styles. I like them all separately, but not sure if they go together. Interestingly, on FB there is a varied response, some people love the combination of different styles, others don't!

Here is the painting in its entirety, but it's not finished yet, still in progress, also, this pic was taken with iphone, so it's not the greatest pic of it:

The baby bump is so big at the moment that I'm really ready to have him out. But, I'm almost 36 weeks, so have to wait just a little longer. After 37 weeks he's ok to come any time apparently. Dylan came bang on his due date though, so if this dude is anything like him, he might do the same and I'll have to sit it out for another 4 weeks! Then of course: the whole birthing thing again; NOT looking forward to that bit in particular, but hey, it'll have to happen, ha ha.

Now, Andy and I are pondering on how to best prepare for babe nr 2. There are a lot of unknowns: how's Dylan going to respond? How much will this impact our current way of living (again! lol!), how will we organise all the night time arrangements etc.

No doubt it'll be almost as life altering again as when Dylbee graced us with his presence, yet, we don't really know it yet. Oy ve! Ha.

Speaking of Dylbee who is now 2 years and 2 months old. Woah, time flies! He is many things in the span of a week: hysterical, beautiful, amazing, annoying, stinky, wonderful, growing with leaps and bounds, expanding his vocabulary on a daily basis (he's recently started doing this thing where he tries to copy almost everything we say, including: when I call out for Andy, I call: 'Andy? Babe!?' and Dylan is now doing the same, he goes: "Daddy?! Daddy?! Babe!?" but the 'babe' sounds more like 'bep'. Ha ha! It's hysterical. I can't stop laughing every time he does it)! It's truly incredible watching him grow and develop. It's so fast now. Every day it's like he's a different person with more awareness and understanding. And the love, oh the love for this little being, sometimes it floods me and overwhelms me with such magnitude, it knocks me off my feet.

Here are some pics of him:

Dylbee swing

Dylbee slide

Dylbee sand

Zen stones Dylbee collected Zen stones grabbed 
(These were 'zen' stones that Dylbee collected and I laid them out nicely in a row, very zen no? ;))

And here is some new art I hadn't shared yet, these are new journal pages: 

Art Journal Sept 2011

Also, here are my first Life Book pages! :-)
These are the pages I'm creating in the first few lessons for Life Book! Eeee!
Exciting no? :)
Life Book - 2012

lb-3-700Life Book - 2012

Life Book - 2012

Life Book - 2012

  Life Book - 2012
Life Book - 2012

Life Book - 2012

Life Book - 2012

Life Book - 2012

Other than that, I'm ok, but I do still go through phases where I do this thing where I read something horrible (like a 10 month old who has been kidnapped or a 2 year old with leukemia) or hurricanes, earthquakes, wars and people going through tremendous suffering and then I imagine it happening to me and I then can't stop crying. I've always been an empathetic person, but since I've had Dylan this has become 'worse'. I put 'worse' in inverted commas as I think empathy is brilliant of course, but I also think what I do isn't necessarily empathy, but more a sort of "surrogate suffering" that is 'useless'. Ie: how am I helping anyone, by imagining my own child having leukemia or being kidnapped and then crying about it? 

I think this behaviour actually stems from stuff that happened in my childhood, what I mean is, when I 'suffered' in childhood due to bullying and other things, I didn't feel anyone cared, and I think subconsciously I think that if I do the 'surrogate suffering' for these people who are going through these terrible things, I somehow express 'care' and 'solidarity' which is almost like I'm giving myself empathy, care and solidarity for the stuff I went through when I was young. So by expressing care and sadness for other people's suffering, I'm also sending myself the same on some level.

I know, it seems perhaps convoluted and roundabout, but I think I'm onto something here. 

There is the additional fact, of course, that I really do care for people and their suffering. Truly, if I had one wish in the world, it would be to erase all suffering (or at least: certain types of suffering that seems too painful for me - certain type of suffering should just not be 'allowed'), but I also think when I do this 'solidarity crying', it's about me and deeper stuff about me. 

Additionally, the fact that horrible things like leukemia and kidnapping etc happens to little ones, does make me feel fearful and worried about what could happen to my own children. Imagining Dylan with cancer just absolutely devastates me in so many ways and on so many levels. And then I think: but this IS happening to some people! And that's how I get into a crying sessions, imagining how those parents must be feeling etc etc. See? Useless no? How is that helping anyone? 

And of course, this 'behaviour' is very non-zen or being in the now. It's all about future projection, attachment and 'false suffering'. (Well, it isn't 'false' as I am suffering, but I'm crying about an imaginary situation: Dylan having cancer or being kidnapped (!)). 

The other thing that is going for me too is that: all children in the world are Dylans to me. It's isn't less 'bad' that it's happening to someone else's child, it's as painful to me to see a little 2 year old starve to death in Ethiopia as to see a 2 year old in France battling cancer or Dylan going through something horrendous. 

Anyway, I try to be more present to just the now and tell myself that if such a horrendous thing DID happen to me, I'd have to deal with it then and not suffer for it now, but at times I just can't help myself and just tears keep flooding out of me. I suppose preggo hormones don't help either. 

Byron Katie helps me too with this, though her 'work' is quite radical and one needs to live it continuously. Also, at times it feels devoid of empathy. Anyhoo, the other day, this vid of hers helped me: 


and also this one always helps me as it's about fear of 'something in the future', worrying about a projected potential future (that is totally me): 


and lastly this one also mighty helpful: 


I just watched all of those and I'm actually feeling a lot lighter again. 

But anyway, I go through phases of just feeling absolutely aggrieved by what goes on in the world and feel lost as to how to deal with it. Byron Katie and Tolle are my usual go to guys to feel more balanced and leveled, but the outbursts often come back. I suppose their work is something I need to integrate into my life on a daily basis.

Don't want to end this on a slightly sad note, I'm not sad now, just wanted to share this with the world out there, as I feel sharing this sort of stuff often helps others too and I'm all about wanting to be authentic and open, so there! :-) Let me know if you understand/ relate? 

On a VERY happy note: Life Book has just exploded with sign ups, this makes me soooo happy I could cry happy tears! :) I'm also very excitedly writing up the detailed WEEKLY year outline (we're doing something every week, even though small things on some weeks), which is just so cool! And I'm super excited about having 2 more teachers join instead of Leonie! (I'll be introducing them on my blog this week and next week too). They are Kylie Fowler and Tracy Verdugo!

Registration is still open if you want to join the 220 + students who have already joined!

Wednesday 5 October 2011

Inspiration Station: Mystele - Introducing the Life Book Teachers

Hello people of the world!

Dylan is going through some kind of weird regression or it might simply be a 'transition' in his sleep behaviour (can you believe it, right before babe nr 2 comes?!). He's just doing very weird things, like the other day he decided to wake up at 4am, yesterday, at 2am, though he continued sleeping until 5, but he didn't have a nap during the day. All very odd. Consequently, earlier I had a little lie down and couldn't keep my eyes open! Grrr. Lol. I get by, but it's weird how his sleeping behaviour is gone all awry and it's really bad timing!

Nevermind, today, let me introduce you to the very very lovely Mystele from little glimpses studio. Many of you are familiar with her and her 'gut art'. From the moment I saw Mystele in her youtube videos I fell in love with her kind, compassionate and real personality. Also: her art really inspires me. She has a very distinctive style that I admire, it's 'grunge', it's layered, it's so very deliciously mixed media! She also likes to work 'green' (not the colour, but I mean environmentally friendly) and so often works on cardboard! Whenever I watch one of Mystele's videos, I feel happy. :-)

What I love about her work

Gosh, what don't I love? For me, Mystele produces the kind of work that even if she calls it 'ugly', I still think it looks great! Because of the texture, the layering, the attention to details, the extra elements you discover (look at the socks on that bird up there!). I love that she uses distortion of perspective and wonky angles to draw you in and make you think. I am reminded of the distortion of perspective that Van Gogh sometimes used. 

She has a free and raw way of working. Bold brush strokes, messy and layered effects and she accentuates her paintings with vivid colours.

She has the kind of style that I often try to emulate but never quite reach. I stay 'cleaner', more 'precise' and then get frustrated with the lack of freedom and expression I think I see in paintings like those of Mystelle's. I have a similar response to Jessie Reno's paintings, they seem so expressive and free, and no matter what I do, I can't quite seem to get to that point of more free, more messy, more mixed media! Haha.

What I love about Mystele

She owns 'purity of intention', bravery of heart and rawness of soul. I don't know if I can say much more that that, those qualities speak for themselves, but it's just that she comes across as honest, raw, open, kind, compassionate and willing to look at herself. She's encouraging (has kind things to say, sends me short little emails of praise and thanks that cheer me up and on) and she is wide-eyed and open. (I think I already said open, haha!).

Whenever I watch Mystele talk or work I feel at peace, joyful and happy.

I'm SO happy she said yes to contributing to Life Book 2012, she is going to add so much to the course!

:) If you want to find out more about her, do take a peek at her blog and site over here:


Want to join us on Life Book 2012

Tuesday 4 October 2011

Inspiration Station: Samantha Kira - Introducing the Life Book Teachers

Wuzzah groovy people! :)

Dylan woke up at 4am this morning and decided not the sleep anymore! So I am massively bleary-eyed and on the verge of falling asleep at my desk! BUT, I am sure I can muster up some energy to introduce you to another wonderful Life Book Teacher.

Today is all about the enchanting Samantha Kira.

Sam is one of those people who is thoughtful, open, authentic and real. I got to know her a lot better through her participation in the '30 day vlog' challenge which Effy and I also took part in. It was refreshing following her vlogs in which she shared her art, daily life, joys and struggles. :) I also feel a kinship with her as she too suffers from a chronic illness. Obviously, both of us would not define ourselves as 'being our illness', but it's something to connect over and it's often wonderful to receive empathy from someone who understands your situation.

What I love about her work

Primarily a journal artist (though she also works on canvas and does stitch/ sewing work), I love the colours, composition and designs Samantha uses.

I always find her pages interesting and they invite me too look for longer than I usually do and I tend to discover new elements the longer I look at one of her pages. She collages, layers, paints and uses her awesome handwriting to put together her works of art.

I enjoy her bold use of colour combinations and am really enamoured with her style of {swirly} handwriting which I often try to emulate in my own paintings! I also really like how she combines writing chunks of text with other elements on her pages. 

What I love about Samantha Kira

She is thoughtful, she cares about you, about me, about the world. She's brave and faces struggles head on and expresses pain and difficulty in an eloquent way, inspiring others in their struggle to be brave and keep going. I appreciate her honesty, her creativity, her passion and willingness to stay strong even in the face of adversity.

For me there is a depth to Samantha which gets carried through into her art. In Dutch there is an expression, it goes like this: "Stille waters hebben diepe gronden", the translation is something along the lines of: "Quiet waters go deep (or have depth)" *** and while I don't particularly consider her a "quiet" person, there is a kind of introspection about her, which to me hints at that going deep, if that makes sense! :) 

I love that she is going to be part of Life Book! Her style, techniques and lovely personable being will be a great addition to the lovely bunch we have lined up! :D 

*** I just realised that the exact translation of that Dutch expression is: "Still waters run deep" but didn't want to rewrite that part, ha! 

You can find Samantha Kira over here:


Intrigued by Life Book? Want to join us or read a bit more about it? 

Monday 3 October 2011

Inspiration Station: Jane Davenport - Introducing the Life Book Teachers!

My goodness you guys, the response to Life Book 2012 is phenomenal and SO humbling. I'm overwhelmed, over the moon and awestruck at how so many of you are SO enthusiastic about the course. *happy tears*

Well, to continue the momentum and the celebration, I want to finish introducing you properly to the last 3 Life Book Teachers who I didn't get a chance to introduce yet. Today, let me tell you all about the effervescent and talented Jane Davenport!

A photographer extraordinaire with a personality that instantly makes you happy and a talent for design & painting, Jane is a force of life not to be reckoned with! I got to know her first when she attended a few of my online classes. Her paintings and creations always stood out and inspired me, but more so, she was such a positive and happy contributor to the course, encouraging others, sharing her work and always with that excellent positive outlook on life! :)

What I love about her work

Jane has a very distinctive and attractive whimsical style that draws me in immediately. With a background in fashion design, her technical drawing skills really come out. I enjoy her soft colour pallete, subjects (often girls with cute little animals) and her art journal pages are a true inspiration to me! :)

Creative, imaginative and exploratory are just a few words that come to mind when I look at her work. (Oooh, I would include some of her photography here  too, but that would take up too much of the space and I want to focus on her paintings, go check out her website HERE, if you want to admire her photos too!).

I also love how she is not afraid to experiment with materials and techniques, her art journal pages open up a kind of free feeling in me because of it. :)

What I love about Jane

She is such a generous, giving soul. Like I said before: she has a tendency to bring happiness with her wherever she goes, and has such a positive outlook on life. Whenever I think of Jane, I can't help but smile. She once sent through some of her merchandise to me as a gift and it included a little green t-shirt for Dylan which he wears a lot and loves! So I have a bit of Jane in my house all the time! :)

I'm so excited to have Jane be part of the Life Book course- she's going to add such a positive, happy spark to the group! :D I'm super happy she will share her painterly talents with us as well! :)

I think she is still holding a give away on her blog, so have a peek there:


Do you want to come and join us on Life Book? 


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