Becoming a professional artist

Pre-prepared pages

Dec 27, 2012 by Asphyxia

Inspired by Mary Ann Moss from Dispatch from LA, I’ve been preparing some of my journal pages in advance, with spaces ready for me to write in.  (Or stick photos into, or paste bits of artwork over.)

Pre-prepared pages 1

I’m having a lot of fun with this.  Without worrying about colours and not giving much thought to composition, I’m just using up the scraps lying around my art studio.  When I have a bit of paper I like, a note from someone, an image that doesn’t have a home, I often tack it to the wall.  And then when I’m doing collage, I grab whatever is handy and glue it down.


Pre-prepared pages 2

The above left page was a practise run with a stamp I made.  I love how one tiny simple stamp can create an entire pattern.  Having practised it, the page just sat on my desk and I didn’t know what to do with it.  Now it’s got a home and strangely, it’s one of my very favourite pages in this whole book.

Pre-prepared pages 3

This one has a space for a big column of writing, but also labels ready to receive smaller observations or to do lists.



Self Portrait Stamp

Jan 7, 2013 by Asphyxia

Self Portrait Stamp

I’ve been very inspired by Dispatch From LA’s Stencil work, especially her amazing portrait stencils.  I did a stencil-making workshop once, years ago, but am a bit fuzzy on the details now.  I don’t really have a good set up at the moment for stencils, and for now I’m reluctant to expand, especially if it requires purchase of new equipment.  But I am heavily into making rubber stamps, so I decided to apply her inspiration and make a self-portrait stamp.

I started with a photo of me that Jesse took on my birthday a few years ago.  I am holding a gothic doll he gave me as a gift.  I chose that photo partly because I like it, and partly because it seemed very symbolic to do a self-portrait of me holding a doll, given that I’ve somehow managed to devote very large chunks of my life to dolls.  As a child I made them endlessly, then I found a way to earn a living performing with them as a puppeteer.  Now I draw dolls almost every day.  I can’t get enough of them and I’ve no idea why.

Anyway, I used my iPad and stylus for the next step, but you could just print out the photo and use a couple of markers.  I drew with black “texta” over the dark areas of the photo, and drew with white over the rest.  I had to tweak a bit – my first draft didn’t look quite right.  Eventually though, I had a picture that was all black and white, and showed sufficient representation of the image.

Next I went over that with tracing paper and a pencil, to get the outline, and transferred it to my block of rubber.  After that it was just a matter of patient carving.  It didn’t take all that long – a few hours I think.

I love the result, and so far I’ve used it over and over again in my journal.  My favourite ones have happened when I’ve had a piece of paper next to my journal, where I rub spare paint off my brushes, and clean up my stamps.  Every now and then I stamp over some mix of colours and other stamps, and the effect is fantastic, so I tear it out and use it in my journal.



I’ve got an art studio!

Jan 12, 2013 by Asphyxia

I've got an art studio!

After years of working entirely out of cardboard boxes and little art bags, I’ve finally got an art studio!  And I’ve got Paula to thank for this.  A couple of months ago I had a complete meltdown.  I can’t remember exactly what it was about.  Not art, at any rate.  I think I was threatening to leave.  All the details are a bit fuzzy now.  Poor Paula and Jesse were at a loss for what to do with me.  Paula, on her morning walk, mulled over it in great details, and eventually came home with an idea.  “I think you need an art studio.”

Well, yes.  I’d love to have one.  I had been trying out various ideas: art at the library (no interruptions!), art at friends’ places, looking for a room to rent one day a week… but there were problems with every idea.  Paula was fed up with me taking over the one and only table for hours – days – at a time.  I’d tried setting up in Bertha, our campervan, but the bench seats gave me a backache, the table wobbled like mad, and it was way too dark.  Paula suggested Bertha again and I dismissed the idea.  But she dragged me out there and insisted I tell her everything that was wrong with the place.

One by one, Paula worked out solutions to my problems.  She pulled up the bed at the bright end of the space, and turned it into a secure, non-wobbly, light-filled bench.  She offered to build me an ergonomic chair exactly the right height for the bench, since it was a bit low for a normal chair.  She told me to go to the op shop and get a lamp and a heater (it was still cold back then).  I did as instructed, and believe it or not, there I found a child’s office chair, exactly the right height for the bench and perfectly comfortable for my very dodgy back.  The actual desktop came some time later.  I used a small wooden table top in the meantime.  Paula and I were starting to despair of ever finding the proper desktop, but one day when I was out on my bike, I saw someone had chucked out a desk the perfect size.  Paula and I raced back to fetch the top, and my studio was complete.

This is the best thing that’s happened to me in a whole year.  The very best.  I love my art studio, and every week when I write in my journal what I’m grateful for, my art studio is the main thing.  I love my set up – everything within reach.  I stick notes and little drawings to the wall, and then when I need a collage paper, I rip it down and glue it into my journal.  So often, before, I wouldn’t bother to use paint, or a rubber stamp, or something I wanted, because I’d have to lift a cardboard box down from a very high shelf and rifle through it to find the thing I needed, use it, and then return the heavy cardboard box to its high shelf.  I’ve done that patiently for years, or not done it when I can’t be bothered.  And now I don’t have to.  Within arm’s reach is a tin of rubber stamps, ready to dip into.  My paints are right there, my water jar is kept filled with fresh water, my reference materials are at my elbow, ready for a quick look up.  I’ve finally bought a small guilotine, which really helps with the amount of cutting I do.

I make an effort to return everything to it’s proper place as I work, or at least at the end of a session, so it remains functional and appealing and inviting.  Jesse is drawn to the space and my materials, and quite often sits there to create something, these days.  While I work, Paula and Jesse visit me from time to time.  We’ve converted the wobbly table and uncomfortable bench seats into a bed, so it’s a lovely place for them to lounge while chatting to me.  Or I have a nap there and then continue to do art.  It’s such a treasure to me to have a space I can go to that’s all about art.  And when I’m there, I just focus on what I’m working on, no distractions… it’s heavenly and amazing and magnificent.  You don’t need a studio to do art, but if you DO have space for a table like this, I can’t recommend it more highly!  Lucky me.



Bees in our top bar hive

Jan 17, 2013 by Asphyxia

Bees in our top bar hive

It was so hot that we decided to cool off the chickens by spraying them with water.  Paula and I couldn’t agree on the technique: spray directly, or squirt water into the sky and let it drip down like rain.  Instead of sorting this out rationally, we started up the hose and then kept grabbing it from each other, blasting water absolutely everywhere in the process, including directly onto our poor little chickens.  Unfortunately, we managed to forget that we were standing right it front of our bee hive.

Bees in our top bar hive 2

The bees were furious!  We both got stung, several times.  Ouch.



Some pages from my journal

Feb 1, 2013 by Asphyxia

Some pages from my journal 1

Some pages from my journal 2

Some pages from my journal 3



Colouring book dolls

Feb 6, 2013 by Asphyxia

Colouring book dolls 1

I made a colouring book to give as gifts to the children in my life, and of course, I’ve been colouring in the dolls myself.


Colouring book dolls 2

Colouring book dolls 3



More colouring book dolls

Feb 11, 2013 by Asphyxia

I really can’t get enough of these sweet dolls from my colouring book.

More colouring book dolls

More colouring book dolls 1

More colouring book dolls 2



So last century

Mar 4, 2013 by Asphyxia

So last century

I saw this conversation on Facebook and it made me laugh.



Anxiety lives here…

Mar 9, 2013 by Asphyxia

Recently I’ve been having a weird spate of anxiety.  Anxiety hasn’t played a bit part in my life recently.  But a stressful project I’ve been working on has brought it back.  And my outlet is this painting, anxiety girl:

Anxiety lives here...



I need a revolution…

Mar 19, 2013 by Asphyxia

I need a revolution...

I’m experimenting with art styles that could work for my next book, the one set in the future.  Maybe some elements from this?  I’m loving my self-portrait stamp on the girl’s dress.



My new journal

Mar 25, 2013 by Asphyxia

My new journal a

I’ve finally filled my old journal, and with much sadness, closed the back cover.  But I made a new one and I’m loving it.

I used my last two paintings as inspiration for the cover.  “I need a revolution” (which I do!  I’ve GOT to fix my anxiety!), and anxiety girl with all her big numbers and Paris map.

I’ve filled it with plain pages, patterned pages, flaps, and interesting labels from Mary Ann Moss.

My new journal b

My new journal c

My new journal d

My new journal e



Rubber Stamps

Mar 29, 2013 by Asphyxia

Rubber Stamps

My rubber stamp collection continues to grow.  I find rubber stamp carving ultimately relaxing, the perfect thing to do of an evening when I’m too lazy for anything else.  And I love my stamps.  I use them over and over and over, some of them more than others.  My self-portrait stamp has had a good workout lately, my text stamp is used in almost every painting, and my harlequin stamp gets frequent use too. The tree has turned out to be surprisingly useful, as have most of the flower stamps.   I’m loving the numbers from my recent paintings so much that I’ve now made a set of number stamps too.

For some strange reason, my very very favourite stamp is my “fixie” stamp.  I’ve decided to start signing my artwork, since I feel it’s starting to be MINE now, rather than exercises from my art school.  I won’t sign the pieces I’m making for my next book, though, because technically they would need to be signed by Piper herself!  But from now on, anything else is getting my “fixie” stamp.  I love the wonky letters and the lower case F.

Rubber Stamps 2



You have become so dear to me

Apr 4, 2013 by Asphyxia

This one’s for Paula, the love of my life:

You have become so dear to me

We’ve been together for 15 years now, and our relationship is still amazingly strong.  I’m so lucky to have her by my side, cooking amazing meals, inspiring me with her rustic fences, gorgeous mosaics and beautiful acting.  Everyone falls in love with her when she plays August in The Grimstones, but only I get to take her home.

She complains that in this painting she should have grey hair.  I say that if you want a photo likeness, take a photo.  This one’s got all the arty, unrealistic touches I just love about making my own art, as opposed to a faithful photograph.

(And notice my “fixie” stamp in the bottom right corner!)



Violet, the contortionist

Apr 10, 2013 by Asphyxia

Violet, the contortionist

A recent page from my journal.  I’m loving Violet, my alter ego for whom nothing ever goes quite right…



As She Stitched

May 7, 2013 by Asphyxia

As She Stitched

I did this painting recently, and ended up making a little box for it, filling it with sewing paraphernalia.  Something beautiful happens to me when I sew, or do any kind of art or crafting. At first, especially if I’m a bit out of touch, it can be hard to sit still. But gradually as I slow down, my mind sets free, and I start hear a kind of music from inside. Stitching by hand, for me, is the very best way to restore my soul and learn (again) to hear the music within. This piece is a reminder to make time for my creative life as medicine for the soul.


As She Stitched 2



Pages from my journal

May 27, 2013 by Asphyxia

Here’s a few pages from my journal.

Pages from my journal

I’ve become a big fan of these grid-style pages.  I’ve even written down a process to make them.  I draw a figure and then divide the page with one section for each thing on my mind, each issue I’m facing.  In each box, I draw a symbol of some kind that represents the item.  Then I layer, layer, layer, using water colour, rubber stamps, pencils, charcoal, acrylic…  And when I’m happy, I slash into it, making it old and dirty.  In real life, these are lovely – thick textured paintings and I really enjoy them.

Pages from my journal 2

On the right page, the pencil sketch is actually a flap, and when you open it, inside there’s a letter I wrote to myself, age 15.  That was an amazing exercise.  Back when I was 15 I was so unconfident.  I never knew I would “make it” as an artist.  My friends were so environmentally minded and I knew NOTHING about global warming and other enviro issues – I felt really inadequate.  I wouldn’t have believed that I would end up showing other people how to make good choices in that regard.  The most interesting thing that came out of the letter, was that I told myself I didn’t need to TRY for success.  I simply had to stay true to my inspiration, and do the things I felt inspired about, and everything would roll out from there.  And when I wrote that, I realised that I had a mantra for the rest of my life.  From here forward: stay true to my inspiration and don’t strive too hard to make it work.  Trust that things will fall into place.  I like it.

I recommend this as an exercise – write a letter to your younger self.

Pages from my journal 3



Waiting for a change of heart

Jun 30, 2013 by Asphyxia

I’ve been having a rough time lately.  I’m waiting for everything inside to settle down and feel better.  Happily I do my best art when I feel terrible, and have been quite prolific lately.  Here’s one of my recent paintings.

Waiting for a change of heart




Jul 4, 2013 by Asphyxia


I’m learning how to use spraypaint and stencils with this fantastic course by Mary Ann Moss.  OMG fun fun FUN!  I’ve been trying to relax and play and not worry too much about the outcome.  The very first exercise in the class is to make a folder, to hold the results of all our sprayed artwork.  This here is my folder.  The course isn’t about stamping, but as you may know, I am obsessed with rubber stamp making, and I’m hoping the two will turn out rather complimentry.  The title is to remind myself to just play, rather than try to make fine art.




Jul 10, 2013 by Asphyxia


I made this stencil based on a girl I doodled in my journal.  I’m loving her.



New Journal

Jul 22, 2013 by Asphyxia

My old journal is sadly full.  Always so hard for me to let go of a journal that has been my friend and companion for months. But I’m pretty excited about this new book I made.  Here’s the front cover:

New Journal 1

And the back cover:

New Journal 2

Yes.. you got it, this is journal number 41!  Eek!  I’m going to have to build a new house just to store all my journals in, soon.



Go Slow

Jul 28, 2013 by Asphyxia

Go Slow 1

More fun with my homemade stencils and spraypaint.  A reminder to myself not to do too much.  Ha!  As if I will ever follow my own advice!



A recent painting…

Aug 3, 2013 by Asphyxia

A recent painting...



Another recent painting

Aug 9, 2013 by Asphyxia

Another recent painting



Fun with spraypaint and stencils

Aug 20, 2013 by Asphyxia

Fun with spraypaint and stencils

This is my favourite stencil I’ve made so far.  I’m in love with this girl, who is cut from artwork I originally did in my journal. I’ve never been good at using yellow but I’m loving it here too, paired with the black and a touch of pale blue.  And random collage is very satisying, especially from old sewing patterns.. fun!



More fun with spraypaint and stencils

Aug 26, 2013 by Asphyxia

More fun with spraypaint and stencils

I’ve always wanted a quatrefoil stencil and I finally got around to cutting one myself.  I can’t get enough of this pattern.  And I’ve decided I love spraying stencils over a collage of creamy coloured found papers.  I’ve stuck this one just inside my new journal and I’m loving seeing it every time I open the cover.



Baby’s First Butcher Shop

Sep 2, 2013 by Asphyxia

Baby's First Butcher Shop

I found these images of Victorian butcher shop dollshouses and fell in love.  I just love the way it was a perfectly good toy for a child to have not one of, but many.  So different to now where we are so squeamish we’d never celebrate our child’s first birthday with a toy butcher shop!  Killing my own meat has been such a journey for me.  Perhaps if I’d had a series of these as a child, I’d take it in my stride now! 🙂



My creative mission statement

Sep 8, 2013 by Asphyxia

My creative mission statement

Every now and then I lose my way with my art.  I wonder what I journal for.  Is there any point to all this?  Why bother?  I stop for a while, and then I feel dull, and next thing I know I’m cranky and snapping at my family because I feel unfulfilled.  It’s clear I need to be creative to keep my soul in good state.

So I decided to create for myself a Creative Mission Statement, which I’ve put on the wall.  I’ve divided my art life into four key areas:

  • art study (which I always love cos I can’t get enough of learning new things),
  • art jobs (like making a notebook that I need or something as a gift),
  • journaling,
  • and making fine art pieces which I might eventually sell (this includes writing as well as visual art). I’d like to sell my art.

The blue boxes are there to remind me why I should do these things, even if I feel uninspired on a given day.  For me usually the inspiration comes through doing, rather than beforehands, so a why-bother reminder is a good one for me.

Since I created this, I’ve regularly checked back and made an effort to do something in each category every now and then, and when I feel lost it reminds me that I AM on track and doing what I want to do with my art.  And sometimes when I’m not sure what to do, I check out this picture and choose something I haven’t done for a while to work on.



Original paintings on Etsy

Oct 10, 2013 by Asphyxia

Original paintings on Etsy

I’ve wanted to sell my work for a while, but I’ve been kind of nervous. I bought some canvases and painted them.

Now I’ve made myself an online shop, and this week I’m taking the plunge and listing several original pieces for sale.  Gulp.



More paintings available

Oct 30, 2013 by Asphyxia

More paintings available

I sold some paintings! I really did!  I can’t tell you the exhilaration that came with that. The idea that someone likes my work enough to actually BUY it.  Wow.

So I’ve been making more, a Detour series. I’m pretty pleased with how they turned out.

Here’s what it’s about:

To me, the consignment is the plan, not yet paid for nor realised. The detour represents the opportunities life presents us, and our willingness to take them on. I created the Detour series of paintings as a manifesto to remind myself to be open to what life has to offer.