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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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Amanda and Jean October 2016

Amanda and I continue our slightly off time exchange – we’re making all the exchanges but they don’t quite correspond with the 1st of the month. Luckily we’ve both equally held on to the sketchbook too long but it seems to have worked out overall. 


As the sketchbooks gets fuller it’s somehow harder to respond as I’m reluctant to make it even bigger than it is already. It’s a real challenge to my ideas of working in the same sketchbook and I think I must get better at working onto the pages instead of adding more pages. When I think this, usually when I haven’t got the sketchbook,  it seems like a great idea. When I get the sketchbook back each indiviudal page is so interesting that it seems wrong to work onto it.


As part of my ongoing one drawing a day I was stuck for want to draw so I leafed through the pages allowing small sections to catch my eye. I was especially attracted by the textile and sewn pages which were abstract but had such great marks and patterns. 


I later used this approach to make some small fragments to add to the sketchbook.


I used watercolour, fine pen and letter stamps. I could often see landscape like forms in Amanda’s pages, as well as interesting colour combinations. 

I returned the sketchbook to Amanda very late in November and I think maybe one more go some time in December before the sketchbook ends up with its originator. It will be interesting to see how Amanda records it digitally. 

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!

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…