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!
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:
and here’s the second:
and here’s one from the previous swap:
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.
Finally I returned to a familiar theme – Rupert re-imagined. In this version Rupert is behind a hill wondering what could be going on…
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.
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.
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!
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.
We seem to have some emerging themes and techniques in common which is great at this half way stage of the sketchbook circle year.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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…
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.
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.
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.