Like most people, I guess, I have always loved the idea of keeping a diary or journal but have been too lazy to do so. I kept a diary for a couple of years when I was a teen and I still have it – it really is the most ridiculous nonsense, I was a such an annoying person. On and off over the years I have tried to dedicate myself to keeping a journal but it has never, ever stuck. Then I heard about a new thing called a bullet journal. A man called Ryder Carroll had devised a way of keeping all your to do lists, notes, schedule, calendar and a journal/diary in one place. You can visit his site at www.bulletjournal.com. Instead of having all these things on various electronic gadgets, he took us back old school style to a notebook and pen. And most importantly to me, you could design it how you wanted around his basic skeleton – an index page, a future log, a monthly log and your daily/weekly spread with symbols – a key – to how you would deal with tasks, events and reminders. It all sounds much more complicated than it is and it spoke to me. It promised me a way to get organised, get focused and enjoy of the benefits of a diary/journal that I could stick to. It doesn’t ask that you write screeds every night. A few lines, a quick review of jobs done, jobs to do and that’s it.

Like most bulletjournallers, I bought a Leuchturm 1917 A5 dotted, hardback notebook with 249 pages. You can, of course, choose whatever notebook you like but this prince among notebooks already has an index, numbered pages, lies flat and has faint grey dots which help you draw grids and keep everything neat. It’s perfect. I also bought the Leuchturm pen loop to stick inside to hold my pen. I went for the black cover but you can get lots of lovely colours.

So you begin with an index, which allows you to find weeks and Monthly logs fast.

You can also add in things like a Reading List, Weight Tracker, Period Tracker (for the ladies obviously) and so on – anything you want to track over the weeks, months, years – so the Index helps you to navigate these things quickly.

Then you have a Future Log where you list the next x months and details things you need to remember; birthdays, anniversaries, important dates…this helps when you set up your monthly log, you can refer to your Future Log to see what needs to be noted for that month.

Any blurs here are deliberate – you don’t need to know everything! Then you’ve got to decide how much space you need every day – do you want a weekly spread so you can see your week at a glance, a daily spread if you need to write a lot. Then you’ve got to decide what you want on your page. Do you want to track anything? Do you want to records things in particular? Do you want a space to jot down notes? And so on. The beauty of this bullet journalling malarkey is that you can tailor it to you.














As you can see I have gone through a few versions trying to find the layout that suits me best. At one point I shifted my day boxes all the the one side of the book so that I was leaning on the side with most paper, but I have recently decided I don’t much like that layout so have gone back.



I track my water intake, calories and steps each day y way of little graphs. I have a habit tracker to – a wee ticky box table – which makes sure I do certain things during the day like take my vitamins, wash my face at night and so on. I have a little two-sided table to record what exercise and what creative thing I have done each day. A little book shaped box to record what I am reading that week and finally a little calendar with that week coloured in.

In each day box – I do a weekly spread – I record the weather (a little weather symbol), my mood that day (little face), I bullet point things to do that day and a little reflection. I tick off jobs done, cross them out if they were no longer necessary and I > them if they need to be carried forward in which case they go on the next day’s bullet points or a day when I plan to do them.

You’ll also see that I draw quite a lot and colour in parts. I also sometimes use washi tape to decorate the pages. It all sounds ridiculously complicated but I swear, it takes me 5 minutes at night to tick off, reflect and look at the following day. I am the laziest person I know and I have managed to keep this up since August last year. Once a month I draw the layouts for the following month.

So, what are the benefits? Well, I can only speak for myself but this system has made me more productive, happier, more reflective and grateful, and focused. Don’t get me wrong, it also makes me feel a little guilty when I have not met targets or habits, or if I have had to catch up on days that I have missed, but that’s kind of the point.


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Lily’s Unicorn

I find myself drawing another unicorn. When I gave the pupil whom I drew the last unicorn for, I got asked by my friend E to draw another for her niece. Using Prismas again, I decided to also try out the new Kraft brown card I bought recently. I have seen a few coloured pencil artists use it to great effect. Combined with prismas, the card gives the coloured pencils great depth and vibrancy. It’s also ridiculously easy to draw on.

Sorry about the lighting in the photo on the right. I was working by lamp light (no, I didn’t travel to the 19th century). It casts an ugly yellow glow.

And so, here’s the finished piece. I added my friend’s niece’s name in silver Zig pen with a little black shadow to make the lettering stand out. I think it worked out quite well. Even an old goth like me will concede that it’s very cute.

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Past Histories

A good few years ago I worked in a SEBN school which had day and residential pupils who were all boys. They were 12-18 years old and what most Glaswegians would have referred to as ‘neds’. They probably were, but they were for the most part pretty good fun and it was definitely the best job I have ever had. I cherish memories of working there. I was a general classroom assistant with emphasis on English and literacy though I helped out a lot in the Art department too. I helped a lot of the boys draw pictures, sometimes more than helped and though you might like to see a few of the collaborations. Some on the pictures were done on canvases with permanent markers which made them difficult to get right but we did our best.

I have blurred the boys’ faces obviously – it’s not some weird Insidious / Sinister thing going on.





As you can see gangsta rap, Celtic Football Club and Scarface were the usual preoccupations and I can’t tell you how many times I had to draw this trifecta over and over again.


There was also a day when the boys decided that instead of chibbing each other with Berol Markers pens, they could ask me to draw tattoos on them. Arms only! I tried my best and these hardened boys showed off their felt tip tattoos all day long.

Glossary – ‘chibbing’ – running at each other, using a permanent marker to make marks on each other’s person, usually faces. A trend that occurs in most Glasgow schools to this day.

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After I drew the magical, colourful unicorn for a pupil, I was asked by my friend E to draw her a unicorn for a niece and, by the way, could you do a Harley Quinn for my son? Not Margot Robbie’s Harley Quinn but a more Disney-fied version that apparently is a popular doll. Finding a reference online, I sat down with some Kraft brown card and Prismas. Now, I have complained numerous times about the quality of Prismas and their rubbish cores but if you set that aside they are rather great to draw with; creamy, blendable and very bright on Kraft paper. Also, Kraft brown paper, a new discovery, is wonderful to draw on. It’s rough enough to layer on and makes coloured pencils sing.

I started with the hotpants and already I am a little concerned that the crotch highlights are a little…off. A quick check with hubby confirms my doubts and I know I’ll need to come back to that.

Doesn’t the coloured pencil really stand out on the Kraft paper?


The hair was a lot of fun to draw. It’s less detailed and gives me scope to draw long fluid lines. The curl on the blue streak side is a lot of fun too.

Actually this whole piece is a lot of fun.









I have added my friend’s son’s name into the background as graffiti – it stands out well because I layered white and the chosen colour. Lastly I added 3 little diamantes on Harley Quinn’s belt for the studs I was too lazy to draw in!

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Mad about Mousepads

The department where I work recently held a little event to raise awareness of Autism and get a little money to make the department more welcoming and fun for the pupils. A donation of 200 mousemats meant we had to come up with a creative idea to get them sold. First of all I used a shop-bought stamp with lino cut ink, which worked pretty well.

But my friend pointed out that they weren’t very girly and I was restricted by only really having this Sugar Skull stamp which was large enough to make a statement.


Before Christmas I bought a lino cut set with it in mind to try some lino printing at some point. This was that point. I leapt straight in, carved a ‘girly’ flower print and got printing. I found it quite easy to carve the lino after drawing on my design with a permanent marker. Carving is easier than I thought it would be and yet I still managed to jam the carving knife into my thumb at one point.

Still, look!










The roller and the ink make it really simple and I am really looking forward to having a go at lino printing again without the time pressure.

A little coda, we raised 924 pounds on the day which is quite incredible!










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Copperplate Calligraphy

I enjoyed creating my friend’s Christmas place settings so much that I thought I would do more of them but first I really need to polish my calligraphy. ‘Polish’ as in actually learn some proper calligraphy and not just my bastardized calligraphy that solely relies on using an italic-nibbed pen rather than any actual talent. So I got a hold of a Speedball Oblique pen, Winsor & Newton black calligraphy ink and a recommended book. For once I am also determined to start from the bottom and learn my way up instead of taking short cuts.

Things didn’t go great when it took me nearly 3 hours just to line out my guide sheet. Who knew 55 degree lines would be so hard? And getting it right would take a few gos? A week later, I sat down with smooth tracing paper, my book, my pen and ink and started learning the basic lines. It’s really difficult. I began with straight lines then added in up and down strokes. I tried to remember to pause at the top and bottom of the line so that I would have a squared off line. I couldn’t understand why I wasn’t getting a thin line on the up stroke until I realised I wasn’t allowing time for the tines of the nib to come back together after widening for the down stroke. I am so much more impressed by some of the wonderful calligraphers I have seen online – they make it look so easy, but I’ll get there.








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Magical Unicorn

I know they don’t exist before any calls for the men in the white coats but one of the pupils I work with loves them and I thought since I had to sit and help my eldest with his art homework, I could knock a little unicorn picture up for her. Honestly, it’s not my usual kind of thing but it was so much fun to draw something this colourful and this ridiculous despite the looks I got from the boys in the house.

I had a wee look online to get some references for a unicorn and picked elements I liked. The rainbow seemed like a no brainer though. And I added the dappled freckles because freckles are always cute. As I was finishing up, I decided that it wasn’t magical enough and added some stars. I hope she loves it.





















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Festive Place Settings

My friend L asked me to make place name settings for her Christmas dinner table. The only brief I was given was that her theme was black and silver.

I began by making the basic sized card to be folded over and glued silver glitter card to one side. This is the side that the names would appear on.






Next, I cut the name plates with fancy scissors, you know the ones that cut a scalloped edge, and added the names. Children got a little Christmas themed stamp which I coloured in. Male adults got a manly stripe of black and silver washi tape and female adults got a silver sticker from a collection of stickers I bought from Lidl a while back. Female adults also got a little diamante.

The name plates were attached to the silver card with foam tape to raise it off the card.





On the back of the place settings, I wrote ‘Christmas 2016’ in silver and added another wee sticker. That way they can be read from the back, across the table and they become a keepsake. Lastly, I packaged them up in their own individual slip cases and handed them over for the festivities to begin.


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A Little Sign

The department where I work recently changed names. We used to be Support for Learning but we have rebranded as Pupil Support Base. Emphasis not on learning but supporting. Anyway, things like that in our school usually signal a request for a new sign and I got to work. As an old person, we tend to think the young people appreciate graffiti style writing, and rather than buck that assumption, this is what they got –



I quite liked them in black and white, a simple black Sharpie on Derwent Heavyweight paper. But I had to add some colour, using Ecoline inks. If only I was as funky and cool. Really old huh?








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A ‘C’ special catch up

So another little catch up, just to bring us right up to date. During my haitus, my friend C asked me to design a tattoo for her. She is a huge Terry Pratchett fan and following his death she wanted to commemorate him. She chose a line from his last book and I came up with a few ideas. This is the one she went with –

‘The magic was already here’ in the shape of a witches hat. I don’t have any photos of my actual design or the other options and I thank C for the photo used here. It makes me so pleased to see it on her foot.

Speaking of C, she is our school librarian and she often asks me to do a little creative work for her. A Game of Thrones inspired poster for her Readathon (no photo regretfully), a little ghost with ‘Libscary’ on it for Halloween (no photo regretfully) and this, dripping green slime for her Halloween display. Credit goes to C too for her photo and the creative tweaking too.

And to finish off the C trifecta, I include a little coloured pencil painting I did for her of her cat. I did start to take progress shots –





But these are the only ones I could find. Thank you again to C, for her inspired photos of the finished piece, framed and placed in amusing areas over the real pet –









And there we are. A C trifecta of catching up.

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