experiment

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 June 2017

Helen’s pages from May have such a strong sense of pattern made from collage, printmaking and drawing. There are recurring images of birds and the natural landscape running through the pages too.

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My pages from June have connections to the patterns printmaking and natural forms. The right hand page was made first, using Gelli plate printing, with some marbling showing through. The page on the left was a way of exploring the image further by drawing it.

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The lefthand page was a not very successful attempt at roller printing using acrylic paint with further exploration of circles as patterns using collage. I have just bought a circle punch which is a useful tool for collage!

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The left hand page was a rather unsuccessful attempt at polystyrene block printing – the colours are too muddy and working straight onto the page is perhaps a mistake. The right hand page was fun to make – choosing and placing red found papers then over stamped with an eraser block that made a quarter of the flower and was rotated to create the larger tile.

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We seem to have some emerging themes and techniques in common which is great at this half way stage of the sketchbook circle year.

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.

 

 

 

 

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 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!

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.

 

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!

May 2015 receiving and responding

2015-05-25 17.43.31In May Linda sent me the sketchbook I had started with some interesting new additions. I didn’t work on it until the end of the month in one quite concentrated burst just before I sent it back to her.

I like this use of textured wall paper in printing and rubbing. I’m always on the look out for interesting textures to use in my own collagraphs and in other types of printmaking with students.

2015-05-25 17.42.58Linda had continued to use some of the collage materials and in this image going across two pages

I love the placing of these shells against the more abstract collage and textures – it reminds me of a stage set or the aerial view of a beach.

The next pages were also one image and could be pulled out to show more of the image. This is something I had just added to the sketchbook I returned to Mary. by coincidence! It is this page that sparked off a response for me this time.

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As I looked at these pages they made me think about pathways in the garden – paving slabs, stones and gravel. Maybe its the time of year and being able to spend more time outside in my own garden. I was working at the table in the spare bedroom and from here I can look down on my garden. I kept to the brown and natural tones that Linda had used, partly because I had just bought some new Tombow pens in brown shades.

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This pull out image is a continuation of Linda’s pages going from her more abstract use of textures and patterns to a more representational ‘picture’ athough the space on my page is both an aerial view and a front on view. The leaf shapes are based on plants in my border at the moment (end of May). In my own garden the pathways are gravel and on my next page I decided to take a closer look at the gravel – often overlooked and taken for granted.

I collected some pieces of gravel at random to draw and paint. The range of colours, shapes and patterns is surprising.

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I enjoyed taking a closer look at each piece. I painted each in watercolour and then drew detail onto each piece after the paint had dried. I now I have exaggerated the colours a little!

At around this time a friend bought me some masking fluid. I often give her lifts to art classes and from time to time she gives me some art related supplies – although she needn’t, its always interesting to be given something I didn’t even know I wanted! This was the case with the masking fluid. I’ve sen it in shops, never bought it, but once I had it play began! I’ve used it on the next two pages.

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On the left hand page I continued the exploring of gravel colours and shapes and on the right hand page I moved onto different sized circles. On both of these pages I used the masking fluid like wax in batik, painting it onto layers of different coloured ink or paint working from lighter to darker. Peeling it off after to reveal the images was very satisfying.

The pages of the sketchbook moved from abstract to representational and back this time and some new materials have been used – watercolour paint and paper and masking fluid. In writing this post I was struck  by how I didn’t respond directly to the shells page although now I look at the photos of it its such an interesting and striking page – maybe next time…