Starting a new circle always involves a big decision – choosing the sketchbook to exchange across the year. This year I found the inside of sketchbook made from Khadi paper in Paperchase and added my own cover. The paper is a nice texture and I hope there are enough pages to last throughout 2018 in my year long exchange with Meryl.
I made some pages using collage, watercolour and drawing just to get the exchange going. Starting an empty sketchbook might be the most challenging part of the circle because as we exchange there are always pages to look back on and take ideas and inspiration from.
I’m eagerly awaiting a sketchbook from my other sketchbook circle partner, Cherrie – I’ve a seen a glimpse of a page in the Facebook group.
I received Helen’s sketchbook at the beginning of December and the month whooshed by with no work in the sketchbook until the last days of the month.
Helen’s pages were wonderful in their colour and pattern.
I began with some collage and cutting, none of which I was very happy with it.
In late December I took part in a twitter reading group based around Susan Cooper’s novel The Dark is Rising. I made some collages in response to the reading of the early chapters. The collage on the right hand page below is one of these. You can see more about this reading group by searching #the artisrising #thedarkisreading and looking at the twitter account of poet Julia Bird @juliamarybird
Later I made some more imagination based collages – then of the left hand page is using material from astronomy magazines I was given. Both of these, I now see, may have been influences by watching too many episodes of Stargate SG1!
I have enjoyed my partnership with Helen and I was sad to return the sketchbook. Luckily I have a full photographic record to remind me of the exchange.
I received the sketchbook at the start of November – Linda and I have managed to keep to the start of each month all through the yearn 2017. Below is the envelope we’ve used for the year – I wish I had photographed it more regularly sit changed.
Here’s Linda’s pages from her time with the sketchbook in October:
Predictably, I love the map collage but the most intriguing page is the one with the hole in revealing a face peeping through. Most of my pages served the double purpose of being my drawing for each day as well as appearing in this sketchbook.
This the last time I send the sketchbook to Linda and we’re reaching the end of our sketchbook collaboration. I’d love to explore that half revealed face image more though…
This month when I received the sketchbook Helen had made some great Gelli plate prints!
She had add some line drawing to this one which I continued.
The natural detail and colour on these prints is lovely. I’d like to try this myself soon. My additions were also based around Gelli plate printmaking, onto tissue dress patterns and maps. I like the way the text on dressmaking patterns can be part of the image. Printing onto tissue also allows for drawing onto and onto the print using the quality of the paper.
I’ve been experimenting with small (A6) monoprints onto maps lately and above is a trial of a larger version for this sketchbook. I’ve been mainly blocking out using cut and turn shapes, looking for parts of the map to allow to show through, and later in the process, looking for parts of the print to show through. Drawing onto the prints often then turns them into a more pictorial form.
On the final page I included some map cutting. Initially I was going to use this to print throughout seeing it on the black paper page I was struck by the colour and detail of the map against the dark of the page.
I received the sketchbook that I began back from Linda – we’ve managed to keep it in the same envelope since the beginning I think.
Some of Linda’s pages allowed me to respond on the page and others gave me ideas to respond on new pages. The page with black pen drawing reminded me of the work of two artists who I’ve come across and liked for a while. One is Jan Brewerton whose strongly patterned drawings and prints are so striking and the other is Fiona Humphrey, an artist printmaker who makes linocuts with strong linear marks and patterns.
I liked the facing page made of papers from a visit abroad. I had just returned from Norway so I tried to use things I’d brought home to make a similar page. I made a new page using some marbling that I drew on to following up the mark making approach from the earlier page.
I also added to Linda’s page of stamps and her page of flower drawings.
One of my new pages was made from collage from various sources and the other followed up Linda’s black pen page so I hope she’ll want to add to it. The different ways we all interact with our sketchbook partners is of great interest to me and something I hope to investigate more fully.
In the summer mailout we were sent postcards to alter and send back to be displayed at the sketchbook circle course at the Arnolfini. I wasn’t able to go so I was glad to be able to send my postcards in so I could take part in a different way. I was thrilłed that one of these was voted for by the participants as a favourite!
When I received the sketchbook from Helen I had good intentions about what I would add. There’s some much to respond to in the pages – the detail and pattern in the drawing, the pale and interesting collage and the natural forms.
As usual I am both satisfied and dissatisfied with my pages. The one I like least is the yellow, green and blue page with collage lines running down it. The facing page is the one I like best – made from leaf prints onto a Gelli plate onto a piece of map and then drawn onto. i’m a bit obsessed with colours and patterns of some maps I was recently given after a clear out at work. I haven’t quite settled on how to use them yet.
Helen had been using her linocuts in the pages of recent months and at the last minute I remembered to add a recent collagraph experiment. This coming academic year I want to reignite my interest in collagraph printmaking by learning new techniques and experimenting with different ways of marking the plate. In this one I printed with PVA and bubble wrap (white spots) and added carborundum to another PVA print (draw circles).
In June Linda had created some pages that invited me to work into them. Its great to have such strong starting points to continue with, picking on shapes, colours, materials or techniques and trying to devise a way to go further without losing a sense of the original.
Here’s the first example of before and after:
and here’s the second:
and here’s one from the previous swap:
I wanted the new pages to perhaps give Linda the same opportunity to work into them further and that’s a challenge – to do something that’s enough, incomplete and open.
Finally I returned to a familiar theme – Rupert re-imagined. In this version Rupert is behind a hill wondering what could be going on…
Helen’s pages from May have such a strong sense of pattern made from collage, printmaking and drawing. There are recurring images of birds and the natural landscape running through the pages too.
My pages from June have connections to the patterns printmaking and natural forms. The right hand page was made first, using Gelli plate printing, with some marbling showing through. The page on the left was a way of exploring the image further by drawing it.
The lefthand page was a not very successful attempt at roller printing using acrylic paint with further exploration of circles as patterns using collage. I have just bought a circle punch which is a useful tool for collage!
The left hand page was a rather unsuccessful attempt at polystyrene block printing – the colours are too muddy and working straight onto the page is perhaps a mistake. The right hand page was fun to make – choosing and placing red found papers then over stamped with an eraser block that made a quarter of the flower and was rotated to create the larger tile.
We seem to have some emerging themes and techniques in common which is great at this half way stage of the sketchbook circle year.