Helen and Jean February 2017

In February I received  sketchbook from Helen. It was handmade sketchbook, with different sorts of paper for the pages and bound very sturdily, so I think it will survive our exchange!


The pages inside were so interesting and I found that Helen’s approach and way of using collage is so like areas of collage I am interested in having come across the work of artists like Jo Urban, Alison Sye and Jeannette McEwan recently on social media.


Looking at Helen’s pages I was interested in the storytelling nature of them and I wanted to respond in an around them as well as by adding my own pages to follow on. Doing this with a new partner is a big step because it is hard to know how they will feel about additions being made to their pages.

First I added an extra page that could be used to view pages through.


I was a little more adventurous I added little details to the pages through using Washington tape, paper collage and drawing, trying to stick with the theme of the pages Linda had made.


For my own pages I began with two story telling pages using a range of materials. I’ve been collecting paper materials for some time now and the challenge is to find, group and attach images and text together. It is hard to say what comes first – sometimes its text, other times its shapes, colours or images. In these two cases there isn’t much text but what there is is quite significant: “notes from our village green” (taken from a book) and “I draw a new world”made up by me. At the moment constructing imaginary landscapes is a recurring theme in much of the art I make.


I also made a page based on an idea from Randall Plowman’s book “The Collage Workbook How to get started and stay inspired”¬†published in 2012. This was to take three images, cut them into strips and stick them down in a mixed up pattern (right hand page). I left it to dry and returned to it several times feeling it was quite unsatisfactory but not knowing what to do with it. This morning I decided to “Fragment” it. Fragment is an app I use on the iPad and decided to use the same approach by cutting out and changing shapes within the image. I also ended up turning some cut outs around so that their patterns appeared on the next page.


This led me to go further, cutting out shapes to leave as holes and adding wash tape letters. On the other side of the page (below) I used a white pen and add drawn detail which worked effectively because the page was black. The holes revealed some fragments of the previous brightly coloured previous page made using watercolours and Derwent Intense pens.


For the second month I am ready to send my sketchbook on at the end of the month, quite a miracle! I wonder what Helen will make of it…


Sharing the sketchbook circle experience with my colleagues 

Tomorrow we, the academic staff at in the Schol of Education at the University of Northampton, are all sharing a piece of research that we have been working on. I’ve been thinking how to represent my experience of the sketchbook circle so far in such in a way that my colleagues can get a sense of what it is and the impact it has had on my own practice as an artist and my teaching of students in higher education. My guiding vision from the beginning was that the idea that it should involve visual material and circles. 


I’ve planned my sharing around a circle with images from mine and Karen’s sketchbook 2014 on the smaller circles because I don’t have the original sketchbook anymore, and also the first six months of mine and Mary’s sketchbook 2015 as I’ve just posted this one back to her. I have mine and Mary’s sketchbook from 2014 and, in the envelope, mine and Linda’s sketchbook – unopened so far. I might open it tomorrow as part of the sharing. 
I’ve also got various QR codes to take the viewers to the videos of mine and Mary’s and mine and Karen’s sketchbooks from 2014 and this blog. In putting this together I have thought more about the impact of the sketchbook circle. I’ve found that from mine and Karen’s sketchbook I was led into a more abstract approach in my own art. This was something I’d wanted to pursue for a long time but never really managed. The framed art shows three examples: a collage (accepted for the Kettering Open14 and the Leicester Open in 2015 and two collagraph prints that have also been exhibited locally. I found that ideas from mine and Mary’s sketchbook had fed into my work with students as part of Northampton Inspire and as part of my teaching. You can see blog posts about these here:  Northampton Inspire and App flow

I’ve also been trying to devise a single image that represents how the sketchbook circle works. I’ve come up with this as a provisional stop gap for tomorrow.

The red is mine and Mary’s sketchbook with me and then away from me and the blue is mine and Linda’s sketchbook, with me and then away from me. This doesn’t really show how the participants sketchbooks interlock with each other – I’ll have to keep trying to devise something. I knew that Spirograph would come in useful!