In December Mary sent me the sketchbook she had started back to me to for the last time.
The first pages I found were these, which continued from the pages I had made. Mary often combines deep colours and different patterns together, making her pages very dense and layered. These pages take up the pink that we’ve often used throughout this sketchbook as well as using different papers and ink. I love the feeling of looking into a mysterious landscape that these pages create.
From last time I sent this sketchbook back I knew I wanted to include the fish that I had found in the pocket at the last minute. I had four pages left to use so I decided to follow Mary’s example of an imaginary environment and create somewhere for the fish to live across all four pages. This has been the advantage of Mary’s choice of a zig zag sketchbook. We have been able to use single panels or continuous panels depending on our creative impulse. I used some of the experimental Gelli plate sheets I’ve made to create the background and then some pink collage bits and pieces, chosen to create a link back to Mary’s earlier pages.
I also added other collage materials – ink dribbling, old maps and pieces cut from other monoprinted papers. During the sketchbook circle the approach of allowing an image to evolve from the materials has become a part of what I do and led me to using my imagination much more than I used to. See examples from Mary, Linda and other participants on the Facebook page has helped me with this. Abandoning the idea that I might have a fixed outcome in my mind that I am trying to translate onto to paper has been liberating.
I also wanted to connect these last pages to the back cover which has Mary’s small daughter’s hand print and some splashes. It was these splashes that made me think the fish could be bursting out from the water and be joined by some more ghostly fish to sit on Hannah’s hand. The waving hand of the person leaving could be us leaving this sketchbook complete after our year of exchanging. I tried add some gold leaf that we’d received in a mailout with mixed success!
As I looked back I found that Mary had returned to one of out previous pages and added an extra page. I like this window onto the strange world of Rupert – it almost looks like a projection onto the sky!
I’ve enjoyed this second year of exchanging a sketchbook with Mary. I think we’ve evolved a more connected way of using the pages than we had last year. We’ve left space on pages for each other to use, we’ve added layers on top as flaps or extra pages and we’ve sometimes worked continuously on sequences of pages. Maybe its also related to Mary’s choice of sketchbook – the flowing pages of the zigzag book instead of sequences of double pages. Certainly our sketchbook seems almost sculptural when spread out! With hindsight we could have made more of this feature thinking about looking through pages – maybe next year…