Category Archives: Art by Asphyxia

Journal Flip Through – Receive

I thought you might like to see this flip-through of one of my old journals.

I was studying art pretty intensely while I was working with this journal.  My practise paintings all landed in here, and I still love flipping back through it and seeing my progression as I learned new techniques.

Later in the book, my family and I went on a road trip. The pages are full of junk that I collected, little drawings of things we saw and did, and they capture the small moments of the days in nature.  I love a good travel journal, and I think my books are just the right size – big enough for a page a day, but small enough to carry around with you.  I go back and live my trips over and over again with this visual record.

If you’d like to learn how to make and use a book like mine, check out my e-course, Make The Book Of Your Dreams.

About opening my own doors…

Sometimes doors open for me. Mostly I open them myself. This is how I have survived, and thrived, as a Deaf person.

Let me tell you about one way I’ve opened my own door, a while ago. I wanted to study an online course that would teach me how to sell my paintings more effectively. The course was advertised with a limited time to apply, and a limited number of students would be accepted. I emailed the teacher and asked him if it would be accessible to Deaf people. I know he usually teaches using videos, and sometimes has transcripts as well.

I didn’t hear back, and I didn’t want to pester him. Unfortunately I let too much time go by and applications closed. I’d missed out. I was really disappointed. I decided that I’d try to create my own course, and use the internet to answer the questions I wanted answered about selling artworks. I devised my own curriculum.

But unfortunately the finer points of the stuff I wanted to know, I couldn’t glean from Google. No go.

Some months later, the course was advertised again. I didn’t waste any time. I put in my application right away. this time I included the question in my application, ‘Will this course be accessible for Deaf people?’

I got a reply immediately. ‘I’m sorry, but this course is not suitable for deaf.’

There was no mention of how we might find a way to make it work. Sigh. I emailed back, suggesting some ideas. Perhaps I could buy the transcripts from the earlier course, at a reduced price? No, they weren’t available yet. None of my ideas was met with any juice. He pointed me towards another of his courses, one which I felt I already had a pretty good handle on and didn’t need to take.

Nevertheless, I put in the application form for it and described in detail all the achievements of my art business to date, the goals for my business, and exactly how I felt he could help me.

To my surprise, that changed everything. Suddenly the door was open. I sounded hardworking and focussed (yep.. maybe he assumed that Deaf people aren’t?), and I’ve got some momentum happening (yes.. did he assume that I didn’t?)…. From there we were able to negotiate. We’d do type-skypes, and because he was a little slow at typing, he’d throw in an extra one. I really appreciated that. Instead of just me busting a gut to get this information, he was prepared to extend himself too.

I’m most of the way through the course now and the results have been amazing. My art business is going from strength to strength. My teacher has described me as one of his hardest working students, which doesn’t surprise me. I’ve always had to work very hard to get what I want. Because those doors, they don’t open easily. They take a fair bit of prising.

But I’m glad I’ve got the guts to do it, because that’s what’s gotten me where I am today, with a fabulous career, a stack of published books, and a mudbrick eco-home that I built myself.

This painting is for everyone who needs a bit of inspiration to work at their own doors. It’s especially for those of us with some extra challenges to get them open. The original is in a museum in a Deaf school in Delaware, but prints are available in my shop.

If you’d like to do your bit to help raise awareness, feel free to share this post. Thanks!

Umm… can you tell me what you’re all saying?

This is one of my favourite paintings I’ve done. I don’t exactly know why. The words read, ‘Umm… can you tell me what you’re all saying?’ These words reverbrate inside my head so often, in so many situations. But I say them only a small percentage of the time. I feel like a broken record. And so often when I do take a breath and ask, my words are ignored. It’s not just me – lots of Deaf people find this. It’s so annoying, the extra effort needed to include us, that people around us often end up blanking it out. This includes people who love us and care deeply about us.

I’m asking you to go the extra mile. I know it’s annoying and hard, but it makes the biggest difference to me and other Deaf people. It’s even better when we don’t have to ask the question.

Feel free to share this post to raise awareness about this tricky issue. You can buy prints of this painting here.

Journal flip through – Journal No. 45

I thought you might be interested in this flip through of my journal when I’d only just started using it. You can see a handful of ‘finished’ pages at the beginning, and the rest of the book shows how it looks when I’ve ‘prepared’ it.

I make my journals myself, using office paper and upcycled materials. The hard-cover for this book came from a book of dolls a friend left by my front door as an anonymous gift. It took me a while to track down who had left me such a delightful offering, and I was so taken with it, I decided to use it as the basis for my next journal. I even cut out some of the dolls and stuck them inside the pages.

When I prepare my journal, I fill it with collage and interesting papers so that even if I am too tired to make a pretty page, I can simply scrawl roughly and the page still looks fantastic. Another advantage to this method is that it makes the book so appealing that I am drawn to it and feel a big pull to spend time within its pages.

If you want to learn to make and use a book like this, check out my e-course, Make The Book Of Your Dreams. I’ve also got a Facebook group for the course in which I post mini-tutorials to inspire students to make certain kinds of pages.

Just Deaf


In the early days of my relationship with Paula, she accompanied me to an appointment with an audiologist. I needed new ear moulds.  Given that I’ve been deaf since the age of 3, I’ve been fitted for a great many ear moulds in my life. I know what to expect.

However, the audiologist bent over me, a bit too close to my face, saying loudly, over-enunciating his words, ‘Now, this will feel a little bit cold.’

With as much poise and dignity as I could muster, I simply nodded. I know. I was itching to grab the equipment out of his hands and squirt the stuff into my ears myself. I’ve done it countless times, back when I had an audiologist who would let me make my own moulds. But since she retired, I haven’t had that luxury. Instead, I waited as he did it for me, and then reached up to manipulate the putty so that the moulds would be just as I like them.

He slapped my hands away. ‘You mustn’t touch until they are cured,’ he scolded me, again over-enunciating every word.

I think we got half way through the appointment when Paula suddenly exploded at him. ‘FOR FUCK’S SAKE!!!’ she screamed. ‘SHE HAS TWO UNIVERSITY DEGREES. STOP TREATING HER LIKE SHE’S TWO YEARS OLD!!’ I don’t know what else she said, but it was said loudly and vehemently and took some time. And she said everything I’ve wanted to say, for years and years, but have politely sucked it up in order to be gracious and poised.

What stunned me though was the transformation in the man afterwards. He didn’t apologise to me. But suddenly he treated me like a normal person. Up until then I’d been telling myself I was imagining it.

Unfortunately, the behaviour of that audiologist is very common. I go to vote, and the person handing me the voting card asks whoever I’m with, ‘Can she sign her name?’  People are astonished that I have a drivers’ licence. I remember as a child, that I had written a handful of limericks, with the correct cadenza, and the visiting teacher for the Deaf was beyond amazed, stunned even, at this feat, even though other kids in my class could write rhyming poems too.

These days, it’s a little easier to break people out of this patronising way. I drop into conversation that I have six books published and am currently working on my seventh. I show them a picture of The Grimstones. I give an author talk. THEN I get respect, and people realise that I’m not as dumb as I apparently look.

But you know what really stood out for me. I went to a new hairdresser, last Christmas, and I had to explain to her exactly what I wanted done with my dreadlocks. This is normally an exercise in frustration as most hairdressers don’t seem to believe I could possibly know what I want done with my hair. This woman treated me with respect. She sat me down, focussed while I explained, then checked as she went that I was happy, accepting my corrections. This was a minor incident, but months later it still stands out in my mind. Why? Because I was treated like an intelligent human being, without having proven myself first.

If you’d like to do your bit to help raise awareness, feel free to share this post. Thanks!

If you’d like a copy, or to give one to someone for a gift, I’ve just listed this as a giclee print in my shop.

Carried on the wind


This is my very favourite painting that I had in my exhibition. I loved it so much I was thinking about keeping it. And then I DID decide to keep it. I went into the gallery, intending to put a red dot on it, and saw that it had sold just before! I had to take a deep breath. Normally I love to let my paintings go to their new homes, but I admit it was a little challenging in this case. But so be it. Maybe the buyer sensed something, and got in just in time.

I am often cavalier about letting my paintings go, even the ones I love, because I know I can always paint another one. But since I’ve been ill and not able to paint, and ever so slightly afraid that the ability to paint will never return, I’ve come to appreciate my work much more! I quickly took a few pieces home to keep, and I’m so glad I did.

Anyway, this original of this one is gone, hopefully much enjoyed by its new owners. But I’ve just listed giclee prints in my shop:
Carried on the wind – giclee print

Deaf is the new black


Even though it’s really hard being Deaf at times, if I could choose to be hearing, I wouldn’t.  Let me tell you what I love about being Deaf.

• I can claim sign language – the most beautiful and expressive language ever – as my own, and use it whenever I want. I can sign songs, and that is visual poetry, I tell you.
• I can sleep through anything.
• Snoring doesn’t bother me.
• When I work with power tools, I don’t need to wear earmuffs.
• I can go shopping in complete silence if I take off my hearing aids. No couples bickering, children’s tantrums, blaring announcements or background music.
• In noisy environments, I am serene.
• I have a fantastic visual memory and am very observant.
• I’m granted an automatic passport to the Deaf community.
• People give me free things, discounts and little extras all the time.
• I read peoples’ faces and body language better than most.
• I communicate well with people who don’t speak English, as I know how to get messages through visually.
• Everyone remembers me.
• When I meet others who are ‘different’ in some way, we share an instant kinship and openness with one another.
• I can get away with almost anything by smiling sweetly.
• I can ignore you when you speak and you’ll never suspect I heard.

Giclee prints of this artwork are now available in my shop.