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…


May (receiving and sending)

At the beginning of May I received my original sketchbook from Mary – with great restraint I waited til the weekend to open it so I would have to time to look at it properly. Processed with Moldiv

Mary had continued our exploration of fonts and typography – taking elements of letters and the gaps in and between them as well as overlapping and looking through semi-transparent surfaces.

Its amazing how far this has come from that first inspiration of the Mira Schendel exhibition! (see January’s post)

Processed with MoldivShe had also explored whole pages of text – I love this one where some words are highlighted from a piece of text to make a new text or even a poem? It reminded me of something Dave Gorman used to do on his radio show – found poetry. He would take words and phrases from newspapers or media and put them together to make a new text read aloud. Then a few weeks after seeing this page I came across a post about Hidden Poetry on Stephen Lockyer’s blog. You can find it here – Hidden Poetry Mary has found and reveled the hidden poetry in the text – in Stephen’s idea children write tiny poems on labels and stick them in hidden places for others to find. You could add the idea of matchboxes to this!

2014-05-26 15.41.27I also like this page – its made using the app Sketchbook Express. I’m always pleased when the name of the app is attached – it can be frustrating to see an image, know an app is involved but not know which! I downloaded the app but as is common with me, haven’t had time to look at it properly. One day…

My first response was this page of Ts cut from a newspaper and drawn onto. As Mary had, I also found myself intrigued by the negative space and the new shapes created.

Processed with MoldivI also found these card letters in a shop – they reminded of evenings in front of the TV cutting out lower case letters in interesting papers to use in my classroom when I was a primary school teacher. Times have changed – they can be bought for 40p each nowadays!

In the same newspaper I came across the weather forecast page – it was bank holiday weekend and absolutely pouring with rain. In an attempt to change the weather I cut up the forecast and rearranged it. It continued to rain all half term…

This flap collage follows on from something I first did n the sketchbook Karen and I are swapping.

Processed with MoldivAs well as taking part in the sketchbook circle I’ve also been part of the #moreTEA digitial swap and this has led me to using some apps to manipulate images. I returned to the idea of TEA and made the word from colours found in the newspaper and then used the app ‘Fragment’ on the image to change it. Writing this it occurs to me that there’s a lot of art to had from reusing a newspaper.

Before packaging the sketchbook up I flicked back through the pages and found an old page from March. Since March I’ve learned a lot about apps so I decided to go back to my page of Zs and make some changes.

As I did this I discovered that colour tints can be added in the app although I’m not sure how I did this – typical of my use of apps at present, and not very useful if I want to teach anyone.

Processed with MoldivOver the last week I’ve decided to start a record of apps I use and tips / examples of their use to help me remember for my own use and to help me when I’m working with students. An example (needs work) is on this blog under apps and some examples I’m going to use with students this term are here apps for learning and teaching

As always the inspiration and ideas from this sketchbook circle, both Mary and Karen, from chance encounters on twitter and on the #moreTEA and NSEAD Facebook pages and working with my colleagues on Northampton Inspire continue to inform the art I make and my teaching. So thanks to all!

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