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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…

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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 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 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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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.

 

June 2015 Receiving and responding

2015-06-28 16.06.27When the sketchbook arrived back from Mary this time it was interesting to see that she had gone back to the two pages I had added to top and bottom and added on to the other side of each. As you can see from the featured image our sketchbook is quite a three dimensional object as it is a zig zag – so any flap pages can be seen on each side.

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Mary had also added a detailed landscape with such a great sense of space and looking down from a high place. This reminds me of some of the drawings made by Urban Sketchers artists but this one had surreal elements of large plants beginning to invade the city. In my response on the next page I continued this theme but my page shows what happens when nature continued unchecked and took over the city! This was an addition to a page Mary had begun.

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On this page Mary had added the fine detailed flowers coming down from the top and I added the rest of the foliage. Some of these patterns and shapes were taken from Egyptian wall paintings. In the distance you might be able to see the last remnants of the city visible behind the leaves.

2015-07-02 19.28.24On the next page Mary had transformed the last accidental pink blotch into a flamingo.

I forgot to take a photo of this page before I worked on it – when I got it just the flamingo on the right and the pink and orange drawing on the left was visible.

I added the green jungle background and the large orange flower. These are made from mono printing using a Gelli plate. I first encountered this at the sketchbook circle 2014 exhibition and workshop. I’ve added drawing with gold and black pens.

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The last panel was completed with one of these postcard sized mono prints. This panel represents exactly half way through for the year, six months gone and six months to go, and exactly half way through the pages o2015-07-02 19.29.06f the sketchbook – now its time to work onto the back of all the pages.

The zig zag sketchbook is such a different format to work on – when I stood it up to take the photo I understood more fully how it had different possibilities as we can think of it as standing in space and being looked at almost like a sculpture or mini environment. It will be interesting to see what Mary does with it next…

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…