Violet Spirals

“The path isn’t a straight line; it’s a spiral. You continually come back to things you thought you understood and see deeper truths.”

Barry H Gillespie 

exploring the spiral path

As we continue around the color wheel, this week I’m sharing my first experiments with the color violet.

I’ve taken this year long trip around the color wheel a few times now. So stepping into each color feels like a return to a familiar place.

A few years ago I set the starting point of this color adventure as yellow, meaning that violet marks the mid point in the journey, and in turn has come to be the color of summer to me.

I love how these connections develop over time, it’s something we can appreciate more and more with each year clocked up in this lifetime.

Each time I repeat this 12 color project I learn something new in the nuances, and a bit more about myself along the way. So I was inspired [there’s that word again] to revisit a pattern that suits this notion – the spiral.

a spiral collage

I began with some painted papers, much like i have thoughout this journey.

Painted with watercolor and gouache in my usual haphazard way, today I’ve got regular drawing paper (pages from a sketchbook) and some heavy weight tracing paper, for contrast. I like tracing paper for the way the color shows through both sides, and the way it crinkles up on contact with paint and glue.

I tried three shapes for my spirals: a square, a long rectangle, and a circle. The long rectangle was the most fiddly to handle, the circle probably the easiest, being the smallest of the shapes it didn’t flop around so much.

the long rectangle spiral made with painted tracing paper.

You could do this with scissors, but I love torn edges so much I freehanded all of these.

I’ve been playing with this torn spiral technique in my art journals for a long time so can go quickly, but if you’re trying this for a first time it might be easier to sketch your path out on the back of the paper before you begin.

The trick is to keep the spiral wide enough to follow the line in to the middle, then back out to the edge. That way you get two complete pieces. Hopefully that explanation will make more sense in the video!

By the time I finished I had a little heap of spirals. They naturally like to knot together (in the same way as cables do) so in this last collage I let them do this.

I especially like the combination of surface pattern in this one, it reminds me of batik dyed fabric. It’s got me wondering about trying a more intricate pattern for a larger piece. What do you think?

Here’s how my spiralling went

“Twelvty” 12 Colors in 12 Months

Every month this year I am making a series of mixed media pieces in just one color. At the end of the year I’ll combine them into one big multicolored work. 

I’m sharing my process throughout this adventure here in this blog. (So far this year I’ve explored Yellow, Yellow-Green, Green, Blue-Green, Blue & Violet-Blue)

I’d love for you to join me. TWELVTY is open to everyone, and better yet, it’s free!

Sign up for my newsletter to find out more and get your free TWELVTY guide ebook. 

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tree of life

Life often moves in a spiral motion: I’ve been here before, haven’t you?

The view is a little bit different through today’s lens but what I see looks distinctly familiar.

It feels like no time passed, in so many senses, but the numbers tell me it’s approaching 10 years since I drew this.



I remember so vividly, when this drawing came through me. (Not to me, most definitely through me)

Have you had this happen too?

I had the strongest sense of just being a vehicle through which this drawing wanted to be made real. It could have been anyone.


Of everything I’ve ever drawn, I’ve felt the least able to claim this as ‘mine’. If anything, I am its.

I remember the day it happened, I remember the big pad of watercolor paper, the watercolor pencils and paints, the frenzy of leaves and curves and wispy bits.

I remember watching it happen in front of me: Connected, and separate. Both at once.


The drawing had its own spirit, and was not willing to stay on paper.

It wanted to grow, to have more color, more depth, more vibrancy. What It had me draw was only a skeleton.


it demanded scanning and tinkering, new layers of color, new detail.


Even all these years later, through it’s many incarnations and variations, it’s the most loved of all my drawings.

It’s me, and it isn’t me.

It’s an enigma.

It is, Tree of Life.


To celebrate 10 years of Tree of Life I’ve adapted it for printables, so it can manifest itself around the world.

Would you like to give this drawing a space in your world? It’s available from Society6 in many shapes and forms.

Art prints in many sizes, framed or unframed

Notebooks for musings & doodles, lists & lyrics, poems & plans. Cases, covers & skins for phones/ ipods. Totes & zippy pouches for carrying important things around in! And more! 


 All these & more can be found at:


If you like this, and things like this, you can get sporadic updates on my thoughts and drawings delivered right to your inbox. Hop onto my email list right here.

(and I’ll send you my ebook A Year full of Color as a thank you for joining)

Your email is utterly safe to me. I will ensure it is guarded at all times by dragons. Hungry dragons.

universal things

We’ve all got our theories, our beliefs, or rules by which – with varying degrees of conviction –  we play this game.

The nutshelled version of my belief system is: We’re all doing the best that we can, given the resources and information we have to work with, and that nobody knows what’s going on. 


Not with any hard-core provable certainty. (No matter what they claim).


We’re all holding on as best we can, to what we can reality on this little blue orb spinning about somewhere in the midst of an unimaginably large amount of other stuff that popular science tells us is expanding, at high speed, into … into… well … more of the what we don’t know what.


One notion I’m drawn to is the fractal universe. I like Carl Sagan’s description here:

I find the soothing quality of his voice makes something mind-stretchingly unimaginable sound so simple, almost obvious.


I’m not a scientist, and I’m not that interested in debating the detail (explanations usually collapse under their own weight anyway), I just find this notion pleasingly tidy.


I’m totally intrigued by feedback loops. (this very snippet from Mr Sagan appears somewhere in this – I’ll post the full version one day… Remind me)

It’s all made up of loops: It all feels like a loop. Like, a spiralling loop.



Don’t give me that look…


These are the eyes belonging to the half face that we saw a few pages ago. See. That’s like a loop too.





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