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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. 

Jean and Carys September

img_5757The 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.

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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.

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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!

img_5754This 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.

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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.

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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!

Jean and Carys – receiving and sending March 2016

2016-03-30 12.20.15It 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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

Amanda and Jean – receiving, February 2016

 

Processed with MOLDIVThe beginning of the sketchbook circle is always an exciting time as we get to start and receive new sketchbooks. I received an interestingly shaped package from Amanda at the beginning of February – very long and narrow, perfect for my letterbox. When I opened the sketchbook I was quite surprised as it was made from handmade papers throughout – all sorts of colours, techniques and surface. It took me a while to absorb this.

 

I like the shape very much as I’ve often used long narrow sketchbooks and made long narrow prints in various orientations. I could see so much in each page – Amanda had included a note to encourage me to use and work on the pages, which was reassuring.

Processed with MOLDIVAfter a while I noticed that the sketchbook was made with holes and threaded with string at one edge and I realised that as well as working on the pages I could also add some pages for Amanda.

I scoured various piles of work in progress and useful papers that I’d stored to come up with some new pages that I could add. I was very careful when unthreading the sketchbook to keep Amanda’s pages in the same order. Looking back on it maybe the planning of a way to easily reorder the pages is another interesting way of working together. In many sketchbooks the page order is set and in this one it is not.

Processed with MOLDIVI haven’t photographed all the pages – just some that I worked on this month.

As I began I was quite tentative, choosing some collage strips to add to a quite abstract page. Maybe its an example of trying to add something to an abstract page to make it read as a more figurative page. I’m often drawn to the lines produced by stark tree trunks and branches against a light sky and there is something of this here.

 

Processed with MOLDIVI also added some new pages to the sketchbook.At the bottom of this photo is a proof of a print I was working on at the time. I was trying to allow the trees to come out of the usually rectangular shape of the card plate. Its a work in progress, so far with mixed success.

At the top of this photo  the page I added made from a map, with some holes cut into it (using my new big hole punch) can be seen. This allows some glimpses of the print.

In the middle of this photo is a page I put in but allowing parts of one of Amanda’s pages to be seen. They seemed quite like the Processed with MOLDIVearth so I added some drawing to try to incorporate them into a scene.

I also used the circles cut from the map to ass to another of Amanda’s pages. Looking at it now it seems like they are hoes punches through a layer of rocks, allowing us to see through to the map like landscape below.

The page at the top is a random piece of collage with some of my additions.

The page at the bottom is a lovely portrait by Amanda. Its interesting to have these more Processed with MOLDIVfigurative flashes appear in the pages.

As I added pages I used some created using a relief print from textured wallpaper with a very strong pattern.

Finally I made a collage composite picture from a scene from Rupert and an image from an old books that I had been given to use to make art. I enjoyed trying to devise drawing and collect text to connect these disparate pieces together.

The next day I continued with this approach beyond the sketchbook. You can see what I did here.

So it was quite a challenge this first exchange – I hope I’ve done enough to interest Amanda!

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!

  

Contributing to the sketchbook circle experience

Earlier this year I was given the opportunity to curate the materials that would be sent out to sketchbook circle participants in July. This was both interesting and slightly worrying as I had enjoyed received all the different resources and ideas each month. For a while I wondered what I would do and eventually settled on different sorts of papers. I’ve been lucky enough to make contact with Bridget at Avenue Books, a local book seller, who now funnels damaged books and papers my way to use in collage and printmaking.

2015-09-23 14.51.16Since then I’ve been looking around for interesting papers to use all over the place. For the papers in the packs that were sent out I found the music manuscripts and old book pages from Avenue books; the Chinese pages from abandoned text books in the book exchange at work and the insides of envelopes from ongoing recycling since I began to see art teachers using these in last year’s sketchbooks.

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Cutting, sorting and collecting together about 190 bundles took over the front room for an evening and reminded me of the many times, as a primary teacher, that I would spend evenings making resources.

Its quite therapeutic to do this kind of task – the sort of time that allows for thinking and ideas to pop up. I’m hoping to see this paper appearing in sketchbook pages over the next few months!