imagination

Altered Postcards

In the summer mailout we were sent postcards to alter and send back to be displayed at the sketchbook circle course at the Arnolfini. I wasn’t able to go so I was glad to be able to send my postcards in so I could take part in a different way. I was thrilłed that one of these was voted for by the participants as a favourite!

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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).

Jean and Linda July 2017

In June Linda had created some pages that invited me to work into them. Its great to have such strong starting points to continue with, picking on shapes, colours, materials or techniques and trying to devise a way to go further without losing a sense of the original.

Here’s the first example of before and after:

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and here’s the second:

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and here’s one from the previous swap:

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I wanted the new pages to perhaps give Linda the same opportunity to work into them further and that’s a challenge – to do something that’s enough, incomplete and open.

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Finally I returned to a familiar theme – Rupert re-imagined. In this version Rupert is behind a hill wondering what could be going on…fullsizeoutput_d91

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.

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.

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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!

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.