J52: Just Write

Journal52, Week 11

Prompt: Just Write

I tried multitasking with this one. It is an art journal page for Journal52 and it is my psych homework. I had an appointment with my psychiatrist last Friday. I didn’t mention my declining mood but maybe I should have since it has only gotten worse. I thought it was just the usual up and down at the time. What we did discuss was work. I am having trouble dragging myself through it. I’m not sure if it is work itself, or me being depressed that is the problem. As I was leaving the appointment, Psych said he felt he should give me homework. He asked me to write about work. He wanted me to write what I like about it without thinking about it too much. He didn’t say I had to write it out in my neatest handwriting or anything and considering I hadn’t used this art journal prompt, I figured why not make it into a page.

I’m not really sure what this exercise is supposed to achieve. I don’t deny that there are things I like about my Ph.D., there are just a lot of “but”s. I enjoy learning. If you aren’t learning, you aren’t evolving and if you aren’t evolving, well, you are pretty much dead. I know there are lots of different ways to learn. I just know the academic way of learning and I was good at it, so that’s the route I took.

I also like information. I like to gather it, break it down into small digestible pieces and then build it back up in my own words with my own perspective. I like to share this information with others too. Teaching those that want to learn is always a great experience. I have a bit of stage fright, maybe a lot of stage fright, but giving a talk at a conference can make you feel like a rock star.

I also get to help people, improve their quality of life. Right now, there is no solution for age-related vision loss. There are treatments to help slow the progression, but no cures. The doctors spend as much time with their patients as they can, but some ophthalmologists have to pack 90 patients into one day. They don’t have the time to explain everything. I can do that. I can answer questions and explain how to use various visual aids. We even have training programs that teach people how to use what sight they have left. Most importantly, I can listen. Sometimes, that is all my patients want, someone to listen to them. I can do that.

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The reason I started down this path in the first place was because I was interested in vision, aging vision in particular. I was close to my Gran growing up, I even lived with her the first year my family moved to Montreal. Gran had Macular Degeneration (AMD). It got so bad that she was considered legally blind. This meant she wasn’t completely blind, she could still see light and movement, but no details. She walked around with the white cane, listened to audiobooks and was a member of the Canadian National Institute for the Blind (CNIB).

Now, just stop for a second, imagine what it must be like to be a senior citizen, someone who has been depending on their vision for 65+ years and now cannot rely on it at all. You can’t drive, you can’t read, you can’t recognize people, you can’t shop without help because labels, prices and colours are hard to figure out and you can’t do most of your hobbies anymore because trying to see what you’re doing is too frustrating. Just imagine. It is worse when it happens quickly and there is no time to adapt. That is what happened to Gran. Most of the folks I work with get pretty depressed, but not Gran.

Gran was resilient. She had a great attitude. She was determined to stay independent and wasn’t going to let AMD stop her. She still went out on her own. She used her memory to get around the area she lived in. Once, she slipped on some ice and fell, broke her arm. She was out and about, cast and all a few days later. Her love of reading turned into an audiobook subscription. She used tools given to her by the CNIB to continue playing cards and doing cryptic crosswords. Gran even continued knitting! Of course, she could only do the patterns she knew by heart, but added her own little twist to them. These are two of the elephants Gran knitted. An angel and another one with a pink sweater, scarf and beret.

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All in all, she lived 15 years with AMD. Gran was a remarkable woman. Her attitude was inspiring. Sadly, I know it’s not like this in all cases. That is what prompted me into this field. I wanted to help in any way that I could. I still do.

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By the time I finished my writing, I was in tears. Gran has been gone for 11 years now, but sometimes it feels like it was just yesterday. I guess there are just some losses you never really recover from. I am pretty sure this is not the conclusion Psych wanted me to come to when he assigned me this writing exercise. Perhaps he wanted to determine if I was doing a Ph.D. for the right reasons? I don’t know.

Anyway, this is the page.

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For those of you interested in the art part…..I started by drawing a few eyes here and there. I wrote around them with different shades of blue Sharpie. You can see the Sharpie through the back of the page, so make sure you plan to gesso over the back or something. I wrote in different directions with a combination of printing and cursive. I spread a thin layer of gesso over the writing when I finished. I used my old Blockbuster membership card to spread the gesso. I find you can get a thinner layer with the gesso than with a paint brush. I wanted the writing to still be visible. The eyes were coloured with watercolour pencil crayons and Signo Uniball pens. I went over the background with some pastel gelatos. You can see kinda read the writing. It’s a bit tough in some places. I then went through with a Sharpie paint pen and highlighted some key words.

J52: Artistic Restraint

Journal 52, Week 9

Prompt: Artistic Restraint

This week was hosted by a guest artist and for the first time, there were rules!! The rules were, you could only use one shape and one colour (plus black and white), but you could use any media available to you. My shape was circles. I had just gotten a circle paper punch that I wanted to try out. I chose the colour purple, just because I hadn’t seen anyone else in the group do purple yet.

I drew circles with a stencil and used my punch on paper with different textures. I didn’t have much in the way of purple paper, so most of the circles were punched from neutral paper and coloured. I used purple from every type of media I had, except acrylics (watercolour pencil crayons (regular and metallic), Neocolor II, Crayola Crayons, Sharpies (regular and paint marker)). I outlined the circle with a Fude pen and then went around the circles with black pastel. I smudged the pastel into the background. I intended on leaving some white space, but it ended up smudged with pastel and gelato. I highlighted the circles with white Neocolor and doodled some lines in black and tiny circles in white.

J52 – Aromatherapy

Journal 52, Week 8

Prompt: Aromatherapy

I love coffee. I enjoy having my coffee and starting my day slowly. Coffee at home is always enjoyable. When I am able to have coffee at work, I have it while checking emails, getting caught up on reading or proof reading whatever presentation I am doing that day. It’s a rather calm part of the day. So the smell of coffee is kind of calming to me. That’s my aromatherapy.

Since this page is about coffee, I painted the background with coffee. It worked quite well! When the coffee dried, I sketched a girl enjoying a cup on top.


I coloured the girl with watercolour pencil crayons, Derwent art bars and Neocolour II. I had to use all three media to get all the colours I needed. I’m experimenting with faces a bit. I’m not too fond of this one, but I like her hair.

I wanted the side of the spread the girl was on to be calm because she was having her coffee. I wanted to other side of the page to look busy….as if the aroma of the coffee was keeping the chaos at bay. I used “Tea Dye” Distress Ink on dictionary pages to make them closer to the coffee colour. I inked the edges of the journal pages too.


The dictionary pages were “A” words. I checked for “aromatherapy”, but only “aroma” was there. I circled it in purple/pink to make it stand out a bit.


I wrote a “To Do” list on paper from my stash. I inked the edges of it like I did with the dictionary pages. I stuck a few plastic clocks on with E6000. I wasn’t sure if I needed glue that strong for them to stay on, but I figured gel medium wasn’t going to work. The E6000 was pretty strong, so I had to open the balcony doors to air the place out. It was cold!!


I wrote in words to fill the spaces that looked empty. The coffee quotes was written with a black Sharpie paint pen. The busy words where written in gold Sharpies paint pen and outlined with a regular brown sharpie to make them more readable. The rest was done with the same brown sharpie.

J52_wk8_aromatherapyPaper ephemera courtesy of Creative thINKing

J52: Haphazard Valentine

Journal52 2015, Week 7

Prompt: Valentines

I skipped week 6 for J52. I’ll try to come back to it later. This page started out a little differently. A couple weeks ago, while I was in Toronto, I bought some new art supplies. I decided to use a blank page in my journal to try them out. I was staying at my aunt’s place in Toronto. She is an artsy, crafty type person too and she has all kinds of supplies. She even has a whole room just for arts and crafts. I am so envious!! Anyway, she was kind enough to let me use some of her stuff. I tried some stencils and stamps and I experimented with Distress Ink.

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The experiment page came out a mess. It was mostly pink with smudged stamps and blobs of gesso and gel medium everywhere. It didn’t really matter though, it was meant for experimenting. Then, this Valentines prompt came up. I figured the page was already pink, so why not. I scribbled on some hearts and lines with various colours of gelatos. I found a quotes about love from Charles Shultz that wasn’t too mushy, so I went with that. I cut out some chocolate from a magazine to go with it. I muted the bright colours on the page with watered down white gesso. Once that dried, I added some black pastel to the hearts for depth and I wrote the quote with a Signo Uniball pen.

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There is my haphazard valentine.

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J52: TV Time

Journal52 2015 – Week 5

Theme: Television

I don’t watch traditional television anymore. When I lived at home, there were a bunch of TV shows I used to follow with my mom and sister. When I moved out, I opted not to spend money on cable, so no more shows. Eventually DVDs started to come down in price, so Hubby and I started collecting TV shows we hadn’t seen. Now, we just watch Netflix.

I didn’t have any really creative ideas for this theme. I like lists though! I made a list of all my favourite TV shows over the years.

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I used metallic watercolour pencil crayons for the background. When I activated them with watercolour, they came out really bright. I tried to mute the colour a bit with a watered down layer of gesso. I wrote the name of a different TV show in each block. Some were written with stamps, some gel pens, some Sharpie paint markers. I tried to play with my lettering a bit. I went around the outside of the pages with “burlap” Distress Ink. It does give it an aged look….sort of.

Have you watched any of these shows? What are your favourites? Here is my list.

  • Stop the Smoggies – Does anyone know this one? It’s a 90s cartoon with an eco-friendly theme. I loved it, but couldn’t find it on a regular basis.
  • Battlestar Galactica – The more recent version. This is one of my all-time favourites I think. Hubby got the DVDs as a gift and we watched it together. I rewatched it by myself last fall when I was really depressed. Still awesome!
  • Student Bodies – This was a Canadian teenage show, so most of you will have never heard of it. I loved it because the main character would interpret his experiences into cartoons….kind of like I do.
  • Dinosaurs – “Not the Mama!!” haha!
  • Zoo Diaries – This was on TLC. I just like animal stories.
  • Art Attack – This was a creative show. I think the host was British. He did these huge works out of different materials. You could only tell what it was when you looked at it from a bird’s eye view. It was fun to try to guess what he was doing while they showed him working on it close up.
  • Grey’s Anatomy – This one is still on. I’ve watched it off and on. It gets a bit old sometimes, but when it is good, it’s really good!
  • Full House – I loved this show when I was younger. I watched a couple episodes when it came out on Netflix….ugh!! I cringed. I don’t think I’ll be rewatching that one.
  • Star Trek Voyager – Captain Janeway is awesome! The Borg are pretty bad ass too.
  • ER – The best medical drama of all time 🙂
  • Project Runway – I love to see the designs people come up with. I draw the ones I really like.
  • Party of Five – I watched this one with my mom when it was on TV.
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles – who wouldn’t love giant, pizza eating, karate chapping turtles trained by a giant rat?!
  • Lois and Clark: Superman – I stumbled across this one while I was flipping through channels. I didn’t know what it was at first, I just saw a guy stop a bus with his bare hands. That was enough for me to put down the flipper.
  • Jeopardy – It’s used to play along with my Gran. She watched everyday. I was so proud of myself whenever I got one that she didn’t!
  • The Care Bears – Love, love, love and still love!
  • Law and Order: SVU – This was my favourite of the three. There was less law and more mystery than the original law and order and I preferred Elliot to the guy from Criminal Intent, he annoyed me.
  • Veronica Mars – I binge-watched Veronica Mars on Netflix when I was really depressed. I just wish there had been more of it.
  • Hands Up, Hands On – This was a 90s arts and crafts show for kids hosted by Lois Walker. Each episode taught you how to do 5 different crafts.
  • Take Part – This was another 90s Lois walker arts and crafts show. Do they even make shows like this anymore? Lois Walker was awesome
  • Property Virgins – This was a house hunting TV show. Sometimes, they looked for houses in areas I knew! that was fun.
  • Shark Week – Not really a show, but I love sharks!
  • Stargate SG-1 – I enjoyed the original concept of this show. I grew to like it even more once the character development was something you followed from episode to episode. It was mostly stand alone episodes in the beginning.
  • Size Small Island – Another 90s (maybe even 80s) kids’ show. I think the hosts may have been related. They both had a high-pitched squeak when they pronounced the letter “S”.
  • X-Men – I loved the cartoon. I used to want to be one of them!
  • Mr. Dressup – He was a classic. I am most familiar with the Casey and Finnegan days.
  • The YTV Hit List – This was my only source of music videos as a kid since we didn’t get Much Music. I watched so many Spice Girl, BSB and Moffatt videos on this show.
  • Sesame Street – Another children’s classic.
  • Star Trek Enterprise – The only Star Trek I have seen every episode from. I liked Captain Archer, even though he barked at the crew a lot. I wish the ending hadn’t been so abrupt though.
  • Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman – Great story, great characters. I was so annoyed when they changed the actress that played Colleen.
  • Bones – I haven’t watched the whole thing yet, but I really want her job!
  • Gossip Girl – This was another binge-watch while I was really depressed. It helped me escape my reality, maybe that’s why I enjoyed it so much.
  • Degrassi High – I loved how realistic the original show was. Caitlin and Joey were my favourites
  • America’s Next Top Model – Everyone has some ridiculous reality TV they like, this is mine. I wish the Canadian version had lasted longer. I knew someone who made it to the last episode in the Canadian one.
  • Sailor Moon – I loved Sailor Moon before anime was a real genre! I loved drawing all the sailor scouts too!
  • The Gilmore Girls – Rory was some I could relate to and I really liked the show. I’m glad it ended when it did though. Rory had become someone I couldn’t relate to anymore and I probably would have stopped watching.
  • The Price is Right – This was my comfort show. Whenever I was home sick from school, it was Bob Barker at 11am.
  • Scrubs – Medical AND funny. Just Awesome.
  • Cupcake Wars – I’m looking forward to when they put more episodes on Netflix.

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