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.

Pages with Doors

A while ago  in our art journaling class with Zom we made some pages with either a door or a window opening through to the next page….or at least, like most pages I’ve done, we started them in class and finished them at home. Here are my pages, first with the door closed, then with it open so you can see through it to the page behind.

This was the first page I had done with a black gesso background, but it won’t be the last. I love the way the pictures seem to arise out of the darkness. The words are from the “Charge of the Goddess”. I printed out 2 copies of the medieval door and stuck one directly on the other side of this one, so the door opens from both sides of the page.

When the door is open you can see the gorgeous painting of the “Virgin with Angels” by Bouguereau which I think is my favourite painting of Mary. I cut the Goddess stamp from an eraser.

I didn’t really think too much about my choices of images here, just followed my instinct but I suppose I’m showing two different faces of the Goddess here. Here is the next page:

As you can see I was going for a lighter, more “heavenly” look here with sky blue and white clouds. Actually I didn’t really like the circle of clouds once I had done them, partly because I mixed the paint with a Flow medium by Jo Sonja’s which turned out to be gloss. Yuck, I hate gloss in my journal…if anyone wants my Jo Sonja’s flow medium you can have it, I won’t be using it again.

What I do love is when you open the door and see the dark goddess with the snake, again, two faces of the Goddess. The writing on the left is the message of the Virgin of Guadaloupe as cited in Clarissa Pinkola Estes new book “Untie the Strong Woman”. Being brought up as a protestant (Methodist) minister’s daughter I never had much of a relationship to Mary, we thought that was a weird Catholic obsession, but I found this message strangely moving, “Have you forgotten, I am your mother, you are not alone….” Since I have become more into the sacred feminine in recent years I can feel a closer connection to Mary now than I ever have before. Though I have always loved some of the beautiful musical versions of Ave Maria. Especially the version by Franz Biebl…check it out on youtube sung by Chanticleer…I saw these guys sing this in Brisbane in 1997 and I’ve never been the same since!