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).
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.
In April Helen returned the sketchbook with some interesting additions. She’s added some birds to my last page which fit effectively with the glimpses of landscape that can be seen through the gaps in the page.On the next page she made this great face themed collage.
On the next page there’s a vibrant red and yellow pattern page and a window with window box revealing a bird on the next page. I like the way we’re cutting through pages to reveal further images on other pages. The sketchbook circle craze for stamping is evident in the leaves and flowers in the window box.
The window works equally effectively looking from the other side. I love the next page with the bird transfer and the various fragments of collage and stamping in my favourite colours.
The final double pages continued the printed and stamped approach and one of them (the left hand one) had some folded pieces that opened.
My first additions for April were to work onto the right hand page with some stamping and drawing, trying to pick up on the circles from the page and develop them further.
My next page explored something I’ve been meaning to try out for a while – representing a collection on a page using a frame or box. I used paper for this but I’ve since thought I might try corrugated card to get nearer to the box in a museum case feel that I’s been aiming for.
I used collage materials from old books, magazines, leaflets and magazines as well as some stamping. They’re rather random in choice and I think either having a theme or choosing things that contrast would be better. The facing page has a collage based landscape with some drawing onto it.
My final page was some Gelli plate printing onto the page of a vintage book with the potential for Helen to work onto maybe.
December was our final exchange and Carys completed the remaining pages so the sketchbook is now full. I like the way she has extended her pink circles onto the previous pages here.
On one side of the pages Carys had cut through to take the advantage of using both sides of the pages. I feel like we could have done more of this but its harder to do than it first appears.
I like the way Carys has used handwriting and cut out letters within her paining on the pages.
On the other side Carys joined her final pages to the last ones of mine by continuing the printed patterns in painting and drawing. The final page was completed with a door that opens – a perfect way to move into the next sketchbook circle exchange!
I’ve enjoyed my sketchbook circle exchange with Carys this year. I made it rather challenging for us by having such a fragile sketchbook as I had underestimated how robust a shared sketchbook needs to be. Its a factor that maybe needs to be taken into account when we make our own sketchbooks for the circle.
The sketchbook I had begun came back in September – despite moving house and the start back at school Carys was able to send it to me!
I love the way these small circles are both little abstracts in themselves but also little fragments of the landscape too.
It was quite hard to work out how the green page was made – it looked like it could have been painted or collaged from magazine pages. I’m interested in its aerial view qualities.
I tried to continue it using the blue of the page and some pens, further developing the map and aerial view feel of it. I think its lost something in moving from colour to line and pattern though.
we’re reaching the point in the sketchbook where we can see how many pages are left and how many months there are so we can pace ourselves. Although it would be easy to add pages to this sketchbook.
My own new contribution to this part of the sketchbook went completely off at a tangent using a picture and text from a damaged book I had been given and some stickers from IKEA. Its a bit of a mess and highlights how hard it is to choose and compose with found pictures and text. I often see artists do this and it looks so apt and perfect – this is very hard to achieve!
This sketchbook has another strand of pages on the other side of the concertina.
These intensively detailed and colourful pages are wonderful. Looking at them again now I’d like to go back to them and use them as a jumping off point.
I used collage and pen to make a response – using my favourite greens.
I also continued with the use of found and vintage paper on the subsequent pages. Some of these pages also have some layers and folds.
And finally I added a small Gelliplate monoprint that I made as part of a series during #Inktober and #PrintOctober – now I’m writing the blog post I realsie that this was supposed to be September!
It isn’t until you get the sketchbook that you began back from your partner that you find out whether what you did in January was interesting enough to inspire a response.
Carys had added to my pages and made new pages of her own so I knew that she had been able to make something of my strangely made envelope page sketchbook. Unfortunately one page had stuck to another so I had to try very carefully to ease them apart. When we’re still working in our sketchbook its always a danger and something that’s happened before.
I’ve partly stuck the bits back together and worked onto a group of the pages to disguise the damaged bits so they will become part of the image and part of the wear and tear of a shared sketchbook that is subject time pressure and the demands of postage.
Lots of my pages had been quite blue to match the pages and cover so it was great that Carys had added more varied colours.
I liked Carys addition of the pen with the images flowing from it and I used this to make a new page using the patterns from the page itself and the colours and marks from previous pages. This led me to two new pages.
The one on the left was an attempt to connect to the image seen through the window in the page and the one of the left was something I was making on the day that I finished the March pages and got ready to send the sketchbook back. This was an imaginary map-like drawing called ‘The Progress of Water’. I made this for my ongoing daily drawing project and it was partly inspired by running ink down a concertina made from Khadi paper.
The sketchbook works on the front and the back of the pages so there a few other pages to see and develop.
I liked the way these pages have layers, flap and labels added, making the already different pages even less flat and two dimensional. Cays uses words in her art and that’s something I do, but haven’t much in this sketchbook yet.
I added some collage and drawing to one of Carys’s pages and added some more layers of paper from Gelli plate printing and vintage paper collage.
This is my third year of taking part in the sketchbook circle so I thought I might find getting started a bit easier – but no! It took me nearly all of January to decide what sort of sketchbook to use. As I photographed the sketchbook Mary had started with me last year I remembered how much I enjoyed the zig zag format so I decide to try to make one. I began to make a prototype with old envelopes and then realised the windows in the envelopes could be an interesting part of the pages so the prototype transformed into the sketchbook. I was helped enormously by some encouraging comments in the Facebook group when I was wavering about whether the sketchbook was too unconventional! I did worry that it might be off putting to receive something like this, but as I worked in it I grew to like it and I hope my partner, Carys, does to.
I was very influenced by the blue of the envelope pages as I worked and found lots of blue bits and pieces to use on the pages. Lots of circles too – maybe a nod to the sketchbook circle itself. As I worked I found that the windows appearing here and there led me to work on both sides of the first part of the zig zag. This was something I explored only a little this month but I feel it has lots of potential in the coming months.
As I worked I also used some Gelliplate monoprinting that I made using book pages (from damaged books, I promise!). These had a bluish colouring too but introduced some red too. This is something I originally encountered through the sketchbook circle too – at the February 2015 workshop. Looking forward to this February’s day on the 20th.
This month I’ve also been both completing last year’s circle by photographing the sketchbooks and writing final blog posts. It’s made me think about the connections between last year and this new sketchbook and look forward to the new experiences I’ll have this year.
All month snippets and fragments of the sketchbooks that the circlers are working on have been appearing in the Facebook group. Its been so exciting to see all the different approaches and the excitement from everyone as they found their partners and began their sketchbooks.
In December Mary sent me the sketchbook she had started back to me to for the last time.
The first pages I found were these, which continued from the pages I had made. Mary often combines deep colours and different patterns together, making her pages very dense and layered. These pages take up the pink that we’ve often used throughout this sketchbook as well as using different papers and ink. I love the feeling of looking into a mysterious landscape that these pages create.
From last time I sent this sketchbook back I knew I wanted to include the fish that I had found in the pocket at the last minute. I had four pages left to use so I decided to follow Mary’s example of an imaginary environment and create somewhere for the fish to live across all four pages. This has been the advantage of Mary’s choice of a zig zag sketchbook. We have been able to use single panels or continuous panels depending on our creative impulse. I used some of the experimental Gelli plate sheets I’ve made to create the background and then some pink collage bits and pieces, chosen to create a link back to Mary’s earlier pages.
I also added other collage materials – ink dribbling, old maps and pieces cut from other monoprinted papers. During the sketchbook circle the approach of allowing an image to evolve from the materials has become a part of what I do and led me to using my imagination much more than I used to. See examples from Mary, Linda and other participants on the Facebook page has helped me with this. Abandoning the idea that I might have a fixed outcome in my mind that I am trying to translate onto to paper has been liberating.
I also wanted to connect these last pages to the back cover which has Mary’s small daughter’s hand print and some splashes. It was these splashes that made me think the fish could be bursting out from the water and be joined by some more ghostly fish to sit on Hannah’s hand. The waving hand of the person leaving could be us leaving this sketchbook complete after our year of exchanging. I tried add some gold leaf that we’d received in a mailout with mixed success!
As I looked back I found that Mary had returned to one of out previous pages and added an extra page. I like this window onto the strange world of Rupert – it almost looks like a projection onto the sky!
I’ve enjoyed this second year of exchanging a sketchbook with Mary. I think we’ve evolved a more connected way of using the pages than we had last year. We’ve left space on pages for each other to use, we’ve added layers on top as flaps or extra pages and we’ve sometimes worked continuously on sequences of pages. Maybe its also related to Mary’s choice of sketchbook – the flowing pages of the zigzag book instead of sequences of double pages. Certainly our sketchbook seems almost sculptural when spread out! With hindsight we could have made more of this feature thinking about looking through pages – maybe next year…