Watch a short video of the complete sketchbook at this link:
I received Helen’s sketchbook at the beginning of December and the month whooshed by with no work in the sketchbook until the last days of the month.
Helen’s pages were wonderful in their colour and pattern.
I began with some collage and cutting, none of which I was very happy with it.
In late December I took part in a twitter reading group based around Susan Cooper’s novel The Dark is Rising. I made some collages in response to the reading of the early chapters. The collage on the right hand page below is one of these. You can see more about this reading group by searching #the artisrising #thedarkisreading and looking at the twitter account of poet Julia Bird @juliamarybird
Later I made some more imagination based collages – then of the left hand page is using material from astronomy magazines I was given. Both of these, I now see, may have been influences by watching too many episodes of Stargate SG1!
I have enjoyed my partnership with Helen and I was sad to return the sketchbook. Luckily I have a full photographic record to remind me of the exchange.
I received the sketchbook at the start of November – Linda and I have managed to keep to the start of each month all through the yearn 2017. Below is the envelope we’ve used for the year – I wish I had photographed it more regularly sit changed.
Here’s Linda’s pages from her time with the sketchbook in October:
Predictably, I love the map collage but the most intriguing page is the one with the hole in revealing a face peeping through. Most of my pages served the double purpose of being my drawing for each day as well as appearing in this sketchbook.
This the last time I send the sketchbook to Linda and we’re reaching the end of our sketchbook collaboration. I’d love to explore that half revealed face image more though…
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…
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.
The 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.
After 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.
I 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.
I 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 earth 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 figurative 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!