artist

Helen and Jean – June 2017

I received Helen’s sketchbook at the start of June but didn’t’t open it till the third week of the month because of work!

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Its not a good idea to to do this as even just spending a few minutes looking can allow ideas to come to mind even when there isn’t time to work on them immediately.

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So this time my pages were quite an instant reaction as time was running out as the end of June approached.

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I love the different sorts of printmaking techniques that Helen has used.

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I worked onto the right hand page first on the pages above, cutting holes to allow the black page below to show through and adding some other paper such as the marbling as well. I then drew from the image with felt pens on the left hand page.

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I used a roller to make some printed circles and then added collage. During the weeks I was working on these pages I made my last work related train journey of the academic year and collected all my tickets to add to the collage collection. I used some up making this right hand page, trying to use the red part of the circle to create a repeating pattern.

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Inspired by Helen’s printmaking I had a go at printing these fish on the left hand page but I was very dissatisfied with them technically – I nearly ripped out the page! I tried stamping on the last page of the month – using a Hema eraser and creating one quarter of a pattern that I then rotated. Stamping onto a collage page of random reds allowed for various colours and patterns showing through the stamp.

In future months I’m going to open the sketchbooks and look at them when they arrive even when I haven’t got time to work on them, as I think ideas will come to me so that when I do have time the pages might be better in terms of ideas of quality of techniques used…

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…

Jean and Linda January 2017

The sketchbook circle begins again for 2017. After three years choosing a sketchbook should be easier but it isn’t! Having made a sketchbook that turned out to be rather fragile and hardly survived a year’s exchange and worked in another with an unorthodox physical structure I decided to buy a sketchbook – but there’s so much choice. Time was running out and I was in London for urban sketching so I visited the wonderful Cornelissens, near the British Museum. There was a great choice and I settled on a quite small landscape sketchbook which I hope my partner, Linda, does not find too small.

Over the last few years I’ve been using collage more and more and so I began our pages with using found paper materials.Some of this turned out to relate to beginning a new creative project like the new year of a sketchbook circle.

I was lucky to go to a vintage or jumble sale recently where I got hold of some old dress patterns and astronomy magazines and they have begun appearing in what I’m making here and in other art that I make.

Since I began using collage more I’ve been a compulsive collector of bits and pieces when I’m out and about – I have quite a collection of train tickets which I feel sure will come handy some time. In these pages I used them almost like little window frames.

Over the years that I’ve been taking part in the sketchbook circle I’ve been very interested in the different ways of how artists might collaborate when working in the same sketchbook. I’ve begun to keep a list! I decided to make a page that would leave some space for my collaborator if she chooses to add her own art. I found the strip of map and it had a grid so this sparked the idea of extending this by using squares of collage materials and drawing. I wonder if Linda will develop this. Its so hard to predict how a new partner will work at the start of the year.

I managed to post the sketchbook in January, not allowing myself to fall behind at this early stage! I know that this first month when we send our books on its great to quite quickly receive one back so the momentum is not lost.

I looked forward to receiving my new book from my other partner, Helen, for February.

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.

Jean and Carys, receiving and sending, May 2016

This month Carys had worked on lots of pages and there was plenty for me to respond to. I love the map like pages that have emerged in our sketchbook, the sense of looking at the land from different viewpoints and seeing the shapes and patterns. Carys also introduced some different shapes placed onto and cut through the pages –  the hexagon lattice is something I especially like. Seeing through to other pages so that the view is partial and incomplete is also inspiring to me.

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2016-06-01 17.55.32When I began to respond I had let time run out so I didn’t work on as many pages to send back to Carys.

I fell back on a favourite recurring shape of circles and material of maps presented in a grid. As I did it I focused on the lines on the maps – paths, roads, railway lines and rivers, trying to place the circles so that the lines did not join up across the page.

Looking back now on Carys’s pages this page seems stark and rather under developed in comparison. I also realised that I’ve gone on to use this layout in my daily drawings.

 

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I also made a page of blue papers and drawing.

This is also a rather basic page, inspired by the blue page and amount of blue paper I seem to have at the moment, left over from other projects.

It seems this month that none of my pages make a strong connection to Carys’s pages – I’m not sure why that is as there’s plenty to look at.

The next pages were an experiment I’ve been meaning to try for a long time. I have an old jigsaw and I painted some pieces with blue or white acrylic.

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I had to give them two coats to stop the old picture showing through. I then used a blue and white pen to add patterns. They remind me of a time when I often drew broken pottery, both real and imaginary. Other than enjoying the experiment I’m not sure what the purpose of this is, although looking at them I do like the look and wonder about trying some pieces that would fit together or working out the pattern that these pieces come from and would fit back into.

This hasn’t been my best month so I hope Carys found something in it to work from!

 

 

 

 

 

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!

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.

 

 

Jean and Carys – sending January 2016

2016-01-27 10.42.23This 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 2016-01-27 10.42.38comments 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 2016-01-27 10.43.13circle 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.

2016-01-27 10.43.46As 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 2016-01-27 10.48.01and 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.

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