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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 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.

Jean and Carys July 2016

This month Carys had created some lovely pages which could be read as mark making, or abstraction but also as landscape. I seem to see elements of landscape everywhere at the moment!

This led me to create a collage based abstract landscape using various tools and materials I had to hand. These are very much in a strand of ongoing collages that I’m making at the moment.

In the same way that aspects of landscape can be glimpsed in Carys’s latest pages these pages use landscape features with mixed up view points, moving from aerial view to distance and back in the same page space.

This was the only contribution I made to the sketchbook this month as I’m away in the last week of July and I wanted to do something and post it on time.

Sketchbook circle workshop and exhibition

Yesterday I attended my third Sketchbook Circle Workshop and Exhibition at the Gerald Moore Gallery in London. This is a great culmination of the preceding year’s sketchbook circle and chance for some of the participants to make art together and share their sketchbooks circle experience.

2016-02-21 17.02.41I was lucky enough to get a place in Elaine’s cyanotype and chemigram workshop. Both these processes connect art, photography and science in such an interesting way. After having a brief play with the processes I can see there is great potential. I love the deep blue colour of the cyanotype and the way all sorts of collected and recycled materials can be used in combinations and layers to create images. Many participants made much more interesting images than this one of mine! Chemigrams use photographic paper, developer 2016-02-21 17.03.17and fixer together to make images both positive and negative. It was so helpful to be able to learn from Elaine’s experience of using these processes with her pupils and her advice about the materials and suppliers to use.

 

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In the middle of the day we gathered in the gallery for the opening of the sketchbook circle 2015 exhibition.Its great to see some of the pages blown up and displayed as well as being able to leaf through some the sketchbooks themselves on plinths. Although we’ve often seen glimpses of some of the pages on Facebook throughout the year there’s nothing like seeing the entire sketchbooks: their size, shape, the tactile nature of the pages is always a surprise.

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Here are two pages, one from my sketchbook with Mary and one from my sketchbook with Linda.

The afternoon workshop is usually a collaborative and thought provoking experience and this year , as always it was active and inspiring. Susan challenged us in groups to make a performance drawing inspired by a word, some words, sound or music as well as some key materials. This was something I’ve never done before and looking back on it I feel like it gave me an insight into making more conceptual art of a kind that is entirely different to the art that I make myself.

2016-02-20 15.24.05In our group we had this to inspire us (see right). We had the idea to keep our drawing tools still and try to move the paper to create movements that would evoke a tsunami. We had a go and found that as well as the mark making on the paper the sound of the paper contributed to the stormy feeling. We also used the paper to destruction and the ultimate ripping of the paper also related to our word. When we performed our drawing  we asked 2016-02-20 15.18.25the entire audience to be the mark makers all along both sides of the huge roll of paper and we, the group, moved the paper back and forth with increasing violence. The experience couldn’t be fully captured by photography or film because it was all about being part of the group. Although marks were produced on paper the memorable parts of the experience were the sound, the pulling and pushing of the paper, the struggles of the mark makers to keep their drawing tools on the paper and the destruction of the paper.

The other groups devised equally interesting and varied responses, often involving the audience and making us think. The sense of devising a piece of art that would evolve as people took part in it and possibly left no ‘finished’ piece of art gave me an insight into conceptual art and the relationship between making art and viewing art from the inside. Susan reminded us how important it is to inspire pupils and students with one-off experiences that might change their thinking and open their minds.

One of the best things about the day was that I had the chance to get to know my sketchbook partners from last year beyond the pages of our sketchbooks. I had lunch with Mary and then had dinner with Linda and her husband. It was great to talk to each other and hear about their work in school and their lives.

We all owe a big ‘thank you’ to Susan, Elinor and Georgia for the day and the whole idea of sketchbook circle. I can see from all the photos popping up on Facebook in the last twenty four hours how much everyone enjoyed the experience.

 

 

December 2016 receiving for the last time

Jean Edwards1At the very end of December I received my original sketchbook back from Linda, with her last pages completed and rather neatly that took us to the last page of the sketchbook, filling it completely. Over the last few months we had each adjusted our contributions to aim for this so it was great to see it happen.

I like the way Linda has continued my planets pages into her next page, whilst gradually changing the colours to more earth tones. Continuing to use print also allows for a gradual transition from one page to another.

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This continues onto to the next pages where  printing, collage and drawing make layers of colours and marks.

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The final pages of our sketchbook also use printmaking and drawing – techniques we’ve both used often in this sketchbook. We’ve often created these interesting surfaces from papers and techniques through this sketchbook.

I’ve enjoyed collaborating with Linda and looking back to the beginning where I made my own sketchbook its interesting to see the way we’ve sometimes used the different papers that made up the pages, sometimes extending them so that they fold in. I really should have left more space between the covers as we had tie the covers together after a while, as the sketchbook became fuller and began to burst out of its binding. I wonder if the fact that we had very little white paper in the sketchbook was helpful – the clean white page can be daunting sometimes.

 

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

November receiving and sending

Over the last few swaps Linda and I have come to a mutual agreement to divide the last few pages equally so that we complete our sketchbook with the last pages in December. When I made the sketchbook in January I had tried to include enough pages and although we have added pages to the top and bottom of the existing pages we have only just had enough to finish. This has coincided with a busy autumn for both of us so maybe its just as well.

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Linda had made this page with some collage materials – I love the marbling. I haven’t done any marbling since I was a primary school teacher and this made me recall the wonder of the children when we lifted the paper from the water. I must have a go.

 

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The other page folded out into this amazing image! I love the use of the gold leaf we were sent and the found image of the Clangers looking in at me – its like I’m at the bottom of a hole or in another universe. I haven’t used my gold leaf yet as I’ve been too hesitant.

This inspired me to make a larger more pictorial image. I had made some very small Gelliplate prints in October so I made a much larger version  based on universes. Maybe those Clangers are out there on one of those planets!

  

October – receiving and responding

At the beginning of October I received the sketchbook started by Mary. Mary had added these pages.

2015-10-30 16.40.47I like the dark print on the bubble print background and it reminds me of the chine colle I use when I am printing collagraphs. The background of the image joins to the map on the next page and the text is from some of the vintage paper I’d put into the back pocket of the sketchbook last month. It fits the map so beautifully!

Mary had also made these pages from ink painting, collage drawing and printing. I enjoyed adding to it with more collage and drawing. Over the last two years of working together we have become much more collaborative in our approach to the pages. In this second year especially we tend to leave space for each other on the pages.

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The next page had the last of pink that had spread through so many pages earlier this year. I happened to have just made a small monoprint using the Gelliplate in pink and blue so this was perfect to add and develop on the page. Gelliplate monoprinting is a resource and process I have come to through the sketchbook circle and enjoyed very much. During #printoctober I made and posted a monoprint on a vintage book page like this every day.

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When I made the next pages I had just returned from the Ai Weiwei exhibition at the Royal Academy. I had seen so many instances of material and objects combined and confined within frameworks. This reminded me of Tony Cragg’s ‘Stack’, something I drew in my other sketchbook circle sketchbook.

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In this double page I used a lot of random collage to fill in between the card struts. The image below is constructed from photos of the textures and materials I saw in the Ai Weiwei exhibiton.

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2015-11-08 15.21.24After I had finished my pages and was packing up the sketchbook to go back to Mary I came across these fishes, hiding away in the back pocket. It was too late but I hope they return to me next time so I can make a home for them in one of the last pages!

 

 

 

 

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!