Artist Spotlight

How art journaling quite literally changed Gilly Welch’s life

Gilly is an avid paper lover and creates in some form every single day. She lives on the north coast of Cornwall (UK) regularly walking the coastal path for inspiration. She is constantly learning new skills and loves nothing better than finding different ways to incorporate all or part of these into her art journals.


To me art journaling means total freedom to go in any direction I want, no strings, no rules and the beauty is you really don’t need much to get started. Haha, that’s not so say that I don’t have a room full of all sorts of wonderful supplies which I have to admit is increasing in size all the time!

I’m really not a wordy person and quite often feel panic stricken if I need to write anything that will be read by lots of people… eek no pressure here then! This is where the magic of art journaling comes into it’s own for me, I can just let the ‘art’ do the talking whether it’s a photo from a magazine, a quote from Pinterest, a favourite song lyric or maybe just a headline from the days news added to a prepared background et voila a page is complete!


I love using lots of layers, so actually starting is the easiest part of all as I never really have a plan in mind. I just begin by throwing something at the page, whether it’s collaging a pile of torn up paper (I never throw anything away!), using paper napkins that have been split into layers of making an image transfer. In fact the more random the base texture the better the end result will likely be.

As an example, yesterday I bought some scones that came in a plain white sort of deli paper bag, which clearly was going to have another use! Last night I sprinkled in some PaperArtsy Golden Sands infusion granules and some water, squished it about a bit then left it overnight to dry. This morning I pulled the bag apart and tore it into pieces, collaged it onto a page in my large Ranger journal with plenty of liquid matte medium. I have absolutely no idea at this stage where it will go but it’s a start and may evolve later today, maybe next week…I’m thinking it needs some form of gold so I’ll start thinking about what I have or what I could do…


I always have a good supply of different Gessos (white, clear, black, liquid, thick and super thick), gel mediums in various thicknesses and stacks of different types of hand made papers of which I’m always on the lookout for more. My collection of Daler Rowney liquid acrylic inks and Ecoline liquid watercolours are increasing quite alarmingly as there’s such a wonderful range of colours to choose from and they seem to just jump into my shopping basket all the time.

I started my art journaling using a Moleskine (5”x8”), sticking pages together for extra thickness. However it really helped me when the GM WhatsApp group was going, listening to all the tips and tricks that the experienced Messians had to share, I definitely learnt a lot.

The Season of Words was quite literally life changing, as it was all about converting an old book into a journal. I’d never really thought of what potential possibilities were all around. I now love finding and using largish children’s books, especially ones with a hard cover and stitched down the middle. The ones with about 12-20 pages are perfect as I can complete the whole book in one Get Messy Season.

I’ve dedicated my Words Journal to my granddaughter Penny and used lots of quotes that I hope she will find inspiring when she’s a little bit older. A little keepsake from me to her.

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I must admit I struggled a lot when I first started, thinking too literally and ended up with something that was stilted and not my style which I absolutely hated. When I then saw everyone else’s interpretation I felt very down and kept asking myself ‘Why couldn’t I have thought or done that!’ and almost gave up on many an occasion. However I’m no quitter and I’d committed myself to the GM Habit and I’m so pleased I did plough on regardless as I’ve now produced something every week since it started! Now I really look forward to Monday mornings, I read the prompts through couple of times, then get on with whatever I have to do, all the while thinking about what I could do, what supplies I could use etc. The difference now is that I do a page that I like and sometimes it may only vaguely be related to the prompt but I really don’t mind as the prompt has no doubt started the thought process.


As I use a lot of layers I have to wait for different processes to dry, so I find myself getting up in the morning and completing a layer even if it’s only a layer of gesso before breakfast. By the time I next get to my desk it will have dried and I can then add the next layer and this is how it goes during the day if I’m at home.

I try not to think too long or hard about things, if a layer doesn’t work or if I’m not happy I just something else and cover up what I don’t like!


From as early as I can remember I’ve always been creative, whether it’s cooking, needlework, memory keeping, scrapbooking or the pottery lessons I had at school. I also have a love of random pretty things, buttons old and new, lace, ribbons, pencil cases, notebooks, tissue papers. I love taking new courses be it online or face to face and I’m always on the look out for something new that I haven’t tried before. I’ve done glass fusing, gold work embroidery, needle felting, fine cross stitch on linen, calligraphy in art and I never tire of learning something new.

I honestly can’t remember how I found GM nearly 3 years ago but I do know that it has taught me so much about myself –  trying new techniques, learning new styles, going outside of my comfort zone and just allowing myself to be me!

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Gilly Welch

Gilly is an avid paper lover and creates in some form every single day. She lives on the north coast of Cornwall (UK) regularly walking the coastal path for inspiration. She is constantly learning new skills and loves nothing better than finding different ways to incorporate all or part of these into her art journals.

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