imagination

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!

img_2946.jpg

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.

img_2947

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

img_2948.jpg

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

img_2951.jpg

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.

img_2949.jpg

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.

img_2952

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 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.

img_6571

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.

 

 

img_6572

The final double pages continued the printed and stamped approach and one of them (the left hand one) had some folded pieces that opened.

 

 

img_6587

 

 

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.

img_6588

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.

img_6592-1

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!

img_6300

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.

img_6301img_6302img_6303

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.

img_6343img_6344

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.

img_6345

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.

img_6346

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.

img_6347

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.

img_6348

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.

Amanda and Jean 2016

Our sketchbook swap ended with my last return but being a completist I couldn’t help making one last page for December. I’ve been challenged to work in the panoramic shape that Amanda chose and over the months I’ve begun to enjoy it. It gives such scope to develop an image or pattern. Using PVA and pieces of tissue that I’d previously marked with ink I made the image below. At first it was going to be abstract but as so often happens it became a landscape and I began to make choices of collage that developed this.


I called it “Winter marks the landscape” and followed it up with a postcard sized further image.


The sketchbook Amanda and I swapped was different in physical form than any of the sketchbooks I’ve worked in over the last few years of taking part in the sketchbook circle. The long narrow pages and the way they could be moved around rather than worked on chronologically were sometimes challenging but always inspiring. Elements from the sketchbook and the individual pages often came back to me when the sketchbook was not with me: patterns, colours, textures, the shape of the pages and the way they could be interchanged. Amanda is making a container for the pages and I will be interested to see this. It will certainly be full of ideas and starting points to dip into. 

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.

img_5758

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.

img_5759

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.

img_5755

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.

img_5756

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!

Amanda and Jean August 

This month the monster came – our sketch book is getting out of hand, spilling out from the expanded envelope! Amanda had tied it up to hold it together and I’ve mainly kept the pages on the same order, inserting some extras here and there where they seem to fit.


It’s different to all the other sketchbooks I’ve worked in so far in that there’s only traces of a chronological order left, perhaps in our own photographs and blog posts. As I leaf through I come across pages that seem new, but I’m never sure whether they are new or I’m just noticing them this time as I’m seeing in a different way to last time I looked. I’ve found it hard to make any worthwhile prints this summer, making me feel that I’ve wasted my most important creating time. Daily drawing has continued since it’s such an established habit and hard to stop after nearly 1500 continuous posts.


This drawing from imagination was created for our sketchbook and posted as daily drawing. Made in the evening after an unproductive day I was surprised to get some positive comments from social media about it that encouraged me. This long thin form a feature of Amanda’s sketchbook that has interested me in itself, quite apart from what is on the pages themselves.


When it came time to put the piece of paper into the sketchbook as a page I found that it needed a ‘back’. I’ve enjoyed seeing and reading about Tilly Mack’s 100 marks drawing and decided I would impose a rule for this drawing. The rule was to pick up a pencil and start at the left and continue without stopping until I got the the right. This began with continuous line and then developed into repeated marks later. In the sketchbook the two pages spill over a little as the concertina is too long for our sketchbook. Here’s a link to Tilly’s blog Tilly Mack


Over the last few weeks I have come across the art of art of Jean McEwan – you can see it here: Jean McEwan

I love the way she is taking postcards and adding collage to change them. This afternoon I decided to have a go – I haven’t achieved anything as sophisticated as hers and in having a go I realise how hard it is to achieve the simplicity of her work.


These early attempts also relate to the pages made by Amanda below. In common  with the images made Jean McEwan these don’t include text and maybe that leaves them more open to the viewer’s interpretation.


As well the pages I’ve made and added some other pages caught my eye but I haven’t time to do anything with them now. I’ve taken a photo to remind me though.


I’ll be sending the monster back tomorrow to see if Amanda can tame it during September! Here it is, temporarily tamed for a journey back to Amanda.

Mary and Jean #sketchbookcircle2015

 

Here’s a video of the entire sketchbook in order!

December 2015 – sending back for the last time

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.

2015-11-08 15.21.24From 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.

2016-01-01 10.53.55I 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!

2015-07-04 12.03.19I’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…