Heroine’s Art Journaler interview number one: Christina

As many of you know, for the last 18 months I have been teaching a course I have developed for women called The Heroine’s Journey. In this 7 part course we reflect on our lives through the lens of the stages of the Hero’s Journey (as identified by Joseph Campbell), using myths and fairy tales, writing, ritual, drama and art journaling. So far I have run the course 3 times, with another starting on 9th August. I have also already run a Part 2 Heroine’s Journey course, as many of the participants wanted to continue on with the process.

I thought it would be interesting to do a series of posts on some of the Heroine’s Journey participants and feature some of their work….so without further ado, may I present Heroine’s Journey art journaler Christina Christina black copy. Christina had not done much art journaling before doing the heroine’s course, but she has a natural eye for colour, harmony and beauty.

I interviewed Christina about her experience of the heroine’s journey, and art journaling.

Alison: What have you liked most about doing the Heroine’s Journey?

Christina: I don’t think I’ve ever given myself the luxury of time to do some creative work, like art work. I like all the new techniques I’ve been learning and I’ve been really surprised by how beautiful some of my pages are, so that’s been…startling and amazing really! And I really love some of my pages and feel happy to show them to people whereas in the past I would have found it very challenging to show my art to anyone.

I’ve also loved the camaraderie of the women in the group and I’ve had a feeling of safety within the group, where we’ve really exposed ourselves, both with our art work and with our feelings. There have been some very poignant moments and a few tears, both mine and other people’s. Holding that space for others…it’s been very beautiful.

A: Tell me about some of your pages…..this Warrior page for example?


C:  Well it was interesting how I ended up having this 15 year old warrior, standing next to my grown up warrior. I really saw what a warrior my teenager self was, way back then, she had to be. And also seeing her innocence. And then my mature inner warrior, how capable she is, how resilient. I enjoyed using the animal totems on this page too, animals that I felt an affinity with. They are my companions. The wolf is there behind me, he’s got my back, and the eagle flies over and is a scout, they’re both my scouts and my muses in some way too.

A: And the ancestors page?  Motherline Christina

C: Well I was really close to my Mum, and she died a long time ago and I really miss her, so I loved to put her photo here, when she was in her prime. And the Girl with the Pearl earring I included because my Grandmother was Dutch…and I loved the book, and the painting. She represents my European heritage. And I also used some maps of Europe in the background too. And then I included the perennial mother, mother Mary. That felt really significant to me too, to include the nurturing, overarching mother. And I’ve included the french thing in there, I’ve always loved everything French, I love the language, I used to own a french perfumerie.

A:  I like the muted colours you’ve used in the background, it almost looks like you’ve stained it with tea or coffee or something.

C:  Yes I wanted an aged look. I had some other ancestor photos I could have used but they were more 1960’s photos and didn’t go so well with this old “Ancient Mother” look.

The above 2 pages were made by Christina during  Part one of the Heroine’s Journey which she completed last year. She has also completed Part 2, and the next pages are from that course.

Christina has travelled quite a lot, and has spent some years living in Canada, which she loves. She told me she really enjoyed making this Special Places page, sifting through her travel phtographs and remembering special places.Place Christina



Joseph Campbell said “The cave you fear to enter holds the treasure you seek”

During the Part 2 course we made a page about entering the cave and finding the “treasure”, whatever that may be, perhaps some new knowledge, some new strength or self confidence. The journalers could choose  from a series of different images to represent their treasure. Christina chose a Holy grail image, which is hidden behind an opening door in the cave.. I asked her about this page.

A. Why did you choose the Grail image for your treasure, instead of the treasure chest or stars?

C. I’ve always had a thing for the Grail. A few years ago I did a workshop where we made a goblet to represent the Grail. I think the Grail is more mystical than a treasure chest. My red haired warrior is going on a quest, a mystical quest to get the Holy grail.

A. (On this page I introduced a new technique of scrunching and glueing down tissue paper to create a textured cave roof, which we then painted black or dark brown, When it was dry we rubbed  Inka Gold paint lightly on it, which was picked up by the higher ridges.  A.  I know you enjoyed the new process I introduced, of working with tissue paper to add texture. Can you say more about this?

C.Well I loved to create texture, I enjoy tactile 3 Dimensional art, and I also love gold, so I really loved rubbing the Inka Gold onto the tissue. I also tried rolling some tissue paper, as well as scrunching it,  to make stalactites hanging down.

A. yes everyone in the class was impressed with this innovation of yours.

C. i also put gold leaf around the image of the grail…you can only see this when you open the doors.

A. So finally I thought I would include your butterfly and flower head page. You have used a photo of yourself in your thirties I think. What was this page about for you in the end?

Butterfly head ChristinaC. Well as you had suggested I used some of the positive comments that the other Journeyers had written about me, as undercollage, along with a couple of my favourite poems that we had as our readings. I included a couple of tulips amongst the flowers to represent my Dutch heritage. But ultimately I think the page is about freedom…the butterflies represent freedom. I’m thinking of writing “Fly free” somewhere on the page.

A. I was impressed with the way you have made your butterflies 3 dimensional, in that you have only glued them down the middle and the wings are sticking out from the page.

C. Well, again, it’s that 3D thing that I really like. It was really interesting to see the things that the others wrote about me and to think, “so that’s how you see me!”

It was great to have Christina in the Heroine’s Journey group, and I really hope she continues art journaling, now that the course is over.



Doorways and Thresholds

This is a “how to do” post aimed at my Heroine’s Journey (Part 2) students…and of course anyone else interested in art journaling! We have been studying the Stages of the hero’s Journey (Joseph Campbell) in relation to our own lives and making an art journal to celebrate our lives and our journeys. Today we looked specifically at crossing the thresholds/doors/portals.

Here is the evolution of this first page on doors: First I painted a light background, mostly white mixed with Paynes Grey and Ultramarine blue…a bit like this page here:Grey background

then I cut out different sized arched door shapes from coloured tissue paper and glued them in, taking care to only put the Matt medium on the page and not directly on the tissue paper. Then I used a stencil girl stencil with arched doorways to jazz it up a bit.

Blue doorsI  wanted to add a doorway with doors you can actually open so I enlarged and printed out a photo I had taken in Tuscany of a door in Siena which I then backed with black cardboard (I used spray adhesive for this as I find it works better than Matt medium for large gluing projects, spray both of the surfaces!) It’s necessary to back the picture with cardboard so the doors will be strong enough when you cut them.

Blue doors cuttingYou’ll have to use a scalpel knife to cut the around the doors,  cut the centre line and the tops and bottoms but do not cut the edges which would be hinged!

Blue doors hand


I cut a rectangle of a starry sky, slightly bigger than the door opening and stuck it on the left hand page, and then stuck the door over the top, being careful to line it up so you can see the stars through the opening doors.


Blue doors 3

Blue doors 4









I stencilled a few butterflies in a pale blue, on the right hand page.Blue doors 5 I tend to use butterflies a lot in my journals to symbolise the soul or spirit, so on this page they represent the soul calling me through the doorways, into the adventure, whatever it may be.

Finally I collaged a woman walking towards the doors and some butterflies .Blue doors 6 I used some alphabet stamps to write the word “Threshold”, stamping it first in white, but it was too hard to read so I stamped over it (and slightly to the right and down a fraction) in black. I quite like the effect. The word “Doors” I stamped in black using some alphabet stamps that I have been carving myself from ezy carve rubber (bought at the art shop..but you can also use ordinary erasers).Alphabet stamps You have to have special carving equipment for this  but the Speedball lino cut set is not very expensive. Carving my own alphabet stamps is kind of satisfying but it’s difficult, easy to make one slip and ruin the stamp, and time consuming so I wouldn’t necessarily recommend it for everyone!

Doorways page number Two. For this page I first painted a double spread with a few colours, mixed on the page…Raw Siena mostly with some Yellow ochre, white and a couple of patches of Paynes grey mixed with white. Then I cut some door shaped stencils from some spare glossy photo paper (excellent for stencils).Brown stencils I just folded the paper in half, cut half a door shape , then opened it out and voila! symmetrical door shapes.



I used a sponge spouncer (love that word!) to stencil different shades of brown paint through the door shapes. Then I made myself a new foam stamp, one I had been intending to make for a while, based on the rectangular shapes in Klimt’s painting, “The kiss” Brown stamp I love this stamp!


So then I stamped it with dark brown paint, and when that was dry, with a light gold colour paint.

Brown 1


I was quite pleased although there was a bit too much tonal contrast, I knew it would detract from the photos of doors that I wanted to collage over it, so I toned the background down a bit. To do this I mixed a watery mix of gesso and raw siena  and painted it in a wash over the whole page, rubbing it off a bit with a paper towel as I did it.

Brown 2


I like the way it looks not just like doors but like a whole city of buildings, doors and windows. Then I printed out some more of my Tuscan doors. I cut the actual doors out of the largest one and replaced them with a starry sky. To me the stars represent the mystery…of what might be beyond the threshold, the unknowable, the great BEYOND!

Brown 3Using the “Rule of three” to balance the composition I added 2 smaller doors. There was a beautfiful blue colour in the starry sky which I wanted to bring into other places on the page for balance so I stencilled 3 patches of blue. Then I used my handcut alphabet stamps again to stamp the word “Doorways”  vertically. I was a bit disappointed and wished I had just written it instead, the brown stamp pad I used was very mottled and uneven. BUT I try to let go of my perfectionism in my art journal, so it’s ALL GOOD.

Brown 4Finally I wrote something about one particular threshold crossing in my life, when I left Sydney and moved to the North Coast. I wrote really small, with a fine gel pen, which smudged a few times (that’s what happens to left handers, I’m used to it!)

I hope this has been helpful. Let me know if you make a Doorway or Threshold page.