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Helen and Jean August 2017

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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.

IMG_6994IMG_6995IMG_6996As 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).

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Helen and Jean April 2017

img_6569In 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.

img_6570On 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.

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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.

 

 

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The final double pages continued the printed and stamped approach and one of them (the left hand one) had some folded pieces that opened.

 

 

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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.

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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.

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My final page was some Gelli plate printing onto the page of a vintage book with the potential for Helen to work onto maybe.

 

 

 

 

Jean and Linda – March


The sketchbook I started in January came back to me this month, with new additions from Linda. This first return is always interesting as it’s the first time we get a sense of how the exchange is going to work. It seemed that Linda had left some opportunities for me to work onto her pages – above I continues markmaking from her piece of collage and added some bright circles to her pale squares.

On this page added the collage pencil at the top of the page and my initials below Linda’s. I also added some letters to the inside of the envelope. I can see that Linda likes maps as much as I do! 

I’ve been collecting all the paper generated by day to day life lately to use in making art. Train travel is a source of interesting paper and I used timetables and tickets on this page. The timetable joins me in Northampton and Linda in London. 

I wanted to do as Linda had done and leave some pages with space for a response. On the page above I used a strip of collage tissue paper that has strips of maps and then  extended them upwards using watercolour. 

The process of stamping has rippled through the sketchbook circle over the last few weeks. I missed the sketchbook circle this year but one of the workshops was led by Stephen Fowler. I really enjoyed seeing the results of his workshop so I bought the book and began collecting the materials needed. Above is an initial experiment using thin foam stuck to corrugated card with some additional drawing. 

The sketchbook came in a wonderful envelope which I added to before returning to Linda. 

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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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…

Amanda and Jean October 2016

Amanda and I continue our slightly off time exchange – we’re making all the exchanges but they don’t quite correspond with the 1st of the month. Luckily we’ve both equally held on to the sketchbook too long but it seems to have worked out overall. 


As the sketchbooks gets fuller it’s somehow harder to respond as I’m reluctant to make it even bigger than it is already. It’s a real challenge to my ideas of working in the same sketchbook and I think I must get better at working onto the pages instead of adding more pages. When I think this, usually when I haven’t got the sketchbook,  it seems like a great idea. When I get the sketchbook back each indiviudal page is so interesting that it seems wrong to work onto it.


As part of my ongoing one drawing a day I was stuck for want to draw so I leafed through the pages allowing small sections to catch my eye. I was especially attracted by the textile and sewn pages which were abstract but had such great marks and patterns. 


I later used this approach to make some small fragments to add to the sketchbook.


I used watercolour, fine pen and letter stamps. I could often see landscape like forms in Amanda’s pages, as well as interesting colour combinations. 

I returned the sketchbook to Amanda very late in November and I think maybe one more go some time in December before the sketchbook ends up with its originator. It will be interesting to see how Amanda records it digitally. 

Amanda and Jean August 

This month the monster came – our sketch book is getting out of hand, spilling out from the expanded envelope! Amanda had tied it up to hold it together and I’ve mainly kept the pages on the same order, inserting some extras here and there where they seem to fit.


It’s different to all the other sketchbooks I’ve worked in so far in that there’s only traces of a chronological order left, perhaps in our own photographs and blog posts. As I leaf through I come across pages that seem new, but I’m never sure whether they are new or I’m just noticing them this time as I’m seeing in a different way to last time I looked. I’ve found it hard to make any worthwhile prints this summer, making me feel that I’ve wasted my most important creating time. Daily drawing has continued since it’s such an established habit and hard to stop after nearly 1500 continuous posts.


This drawing from imagination was created for our sketchbook and posted as daily drawing. Made in the evening after an unproductive day I was surprised to get some positive comments from social media about it that encouraged me. This long thin form a feature of Amanda’s sketchbook that has interested me in itself, quite apart from what is on the pages themselves.


When it came time to put the piece of paper into the sketchbook as a page I found that it needed a ‘back’. I’ve enjoyed seeing and reading about Tilly Mack’s 100 marks drawing and decided I would impose a rule for this drawing. The rule was to pick up a pencil and start at the left and continue without stopping until I got the the right. This began with continuous line and then developed into repeated marks later. In the sketchbook the two pages spill over a little as the concertina is too long for our sketchbook. Here’s a link to Tilly’s blog Tilly Mack


Over the last few weeks I have come across the art of art of Jean McEwan – you can see it here: Jean McEwan

I love the way she is taking postcards and adding collage to change them. This afternoon I decided to have a go – I haven’t achieved anything as sophisticated as hers and in having a go I realise how hard it is to achieve the simplicity of her work.


These early attempts also relate to the pages made by Amanda below. In common  with the images made Jean McEwan these don’t include text and maybe that leaves them more open to the viewer’s interpretation.


As well the pages I’ve made and added some other pages caught my eye but I haven’t time to do anything with them now. I’ve taken a photo to remind me though.


I’ll be sending the monster back tomorrow to see if Amanda can tame it during September! Here it is, temporarily tamed for a journey back to Amanda.

Mary and Jean #sketchbookcircle2015

 

Here’s a video of the entire sketchbook in order!

December 2015 – sending back for the last time

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.

2015-11-08 15.21.24From 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.

2016-01-01 10.53.55I 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!

2015-07-04 12.03.19I’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…

 

 

 

 

 

August 2015 receiving and responding

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In August I received the sketchbook originally started by Mary back again. It was lovely to see that Mary’s daughter, Hannah, born during last year’s sketchbook circle is now joining in with this year’s!

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2015-08-26 14.12.12Mary’s pages were interesting and abstract – and over time, maybe because I worked with Mary last time too, I have become braver at working onto her pages and adding to them.

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I like the way Mary often alters the surface of the page before working on it – painting it often. We seem to have left behind the pink splodges that escapes onto lots of earlier pages!

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2015-08-30 16.04.33This time I made a new page with holes in so different parts of one Mary’s pages were revealed and then I used the circles that I’d cut out on the facing page. I continued that theme of seeing through in different ways bu adding some translucent paper with drawing on it over another of the pages.

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Adding to the last of Mary’s pages I continued her landscape into one I made from a page from a Rupert annual. I’ve recently been given some damaged annuals to use. There are a lot of spoiled pages so I’ve been cutting bits out and then drawing beyond them to extend them. I’ve left the landscape and sea quite empty so maybe Mary will continue to develop this image.

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Just before I sent the sketchbook back I made a more random image using various collage bits and pieces – maps, Rupert figures and drawing. I’m not very satisfied with this but it may be that Mary sees something in it and can rescue it! After I’d sent the sketchbook I continued with the idea of extending the Rupert fragments.

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