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.


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.


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.


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.


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!


Contributing to the sketchbook circle experience

Earlier this year I was given the opportunity to curate the materials that would be sent out to sketchbook circle participants in July. This was both interesting and slightly worrying as I had enjoyed received all the different resources and ideas each month. For a while I wondered what I would do and eventually settled on different sorts of papers. I’ve been lucky enough to make contact with Bridget at Avenue Books, a local book seller, who now funnels damaged books and papers my way to use in collage and printmaking.

2015-09-23 14.51.16Since then I’ve been looking around for interesting papers to use all over the place. For the papers in the packs that were sent out I found the music manuscripts and old book pages from Avenue books; the Chinese pages from abandoned text books in the book exchange at work and the insides of envelopes from ongoing recycling since I began to see art teachers using these in last year’s sketchbooks.

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Cutting, sorting and collecting together about 190 bundles took over the front room for an evening and reminded me of the many times, as a primary teacher, that I would spend evenings making resources.

Its quite therapeutic to do this kind of task – the sort of time that allows for thinking and ideas to pop up. I’m hoping to see this paper appearing in sketchbook pages over the next few months!

March 2015 receiving and responding

2015-03-29 15.14.33In March the sketchbook I had started came back to me from Linda. Linda had made some rubbings as part of her next few pages, as well as drawing and folding the pages to alter them.

I liked her continuation of my drawing of ‘Stack’ – I seem to have become distracted from how interested I was in the layers and relationships between objects so it was good to be reminded.

2015-03-29 15.14.49Linda had also made an intricate page of small colourful marks and lines – I really want to get some find brightly coloured pens and have a go at this, it almost looks like very find sewing at first glance.

2015-03-29 15.15.02Linda had also added collage to some pages and I especially liked the blue layered collage made with printmaking, and then drawn through on  a page made from tracing paper.

2015-03-29 15.15.15The facing page to the tracing paper was made from brown paper and had become wrinkled and soft – I’m not sure if it was already like this or if Linda made it this way. I was struck by how it now seemed so more flexible and decided to take advantage of this by weaving with it. I’ve recently been given some old books and one is a book of music – the colour and texture of this paper seemed to fit with the brown paper.

2015-03-29 15.15.34Over the last few months I have been very taken with an old childhood toy – Spirograph. I tried it out with black and brown pens to continue the subdued colours of the previous page. Wanting to continue the changing of pages that Linda had begun I also cut out and around the shapes. This is something I’d like to continue with – I can’t quite believe that I had had the fine motor skills to use this as a child and I’m not very keen on the pin holes left when the rings have been. I just read last night that on the latest Spirographs blutac is now used so I must try that.

2015-03-29 15.32.12I also tried some textures and drawing to return to Linda’s earlier pages.

Overall I’m enjoying the various ideas for markmaking, collage and texture that the exchange has developed so far. It gives me a chance to work in a completely different way and often leads me to use some of these approaches in my art. I’m looking forward to seeing what comes back to me in May.


January 2015 sending…

When a sketchbook circle starts one of the big decisions to make is what shall the sketchbook be like? The only constraint is that it should fit through a letterbox so that the circle can work by post. I could see some of the choices being made during January and as I looked through my box of sketchbooks that I could use none seemed quite right. Eventually I decided on a portrait 8 x 4 inch sketchbook but I had left it too late to order one from Pink Pig. Then I remembered the workshop I had been on when the #sketchbookcircle14 began – techniques for making your own book!

2015-01-24 16.08.11So last weekend I made my own hardback sketchbook with sewn in pages. I went a bit wild with the pages as I realised they could be made from any paper and be non-standard sizes, so that might affect the way Linda, my sketchbook partner, and I work in the sketchbook over the year.

2015-01-24 16.11.09The cover is made from an old map. Its only since I took part in the sketchbook circle that I’ve realised the potential of using different sorts of paper and at Christmas I came across a bag of old maps amongst some bric a brac for sale.

At the same time I was thinking about what I would put into the sketchbook. At the beginning of January I had been to Tate Britain to see the Late Turner exhibition. I had time to wander round Tate Britain and I came across Tony Cragg’s sculpture ‘Stack’ from 1975. Its so huge and the more I looked at the more I found to see. I settled down on the floor of the gallery and drew one side of it.

2015-01-25 11.41.01As I drew it, drawn by the shapes and natural colours I realised that it was very hard to do it justice with just the black pen I had with me. There were some splashes of bright colour amongst the browns, greys and blacks. There were so many textures as well – trying to show fabric, brick, wood and plaster. Drawing made me look so much more carefully, as usual. I only had time to draw one side of the 2015-01-25 11.40.31cube. I photographed the other sides – but one side is too close to the wall to get far enough back. I’ve tried to recreate the cube in my sketchbook using the photos. I’ve also found someone who videoed the sculpture which is a great reminder – you can see this below. I plan to go back and draw the other three sides over the next few months (or years).

Later at home I began to think about exploring my drawing and the memory of the sculpture more and I made a representation using collage.

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As i made this I found that I should have approached it in a different way – from the inside out. If I was doing this again (and I might) I would make a ‘behind’ layer to work on top of, which would get rid of much of the whiteness. I might make this using wax resist and ink and then work on top with collage. As I write about it the more I want to do it! I’d also like to recreate it as a collagraph plate and print it.

Here’s a link to Tony Cragg’s websitewhere you can see more of his work and here’s a Pinterest board I have begun to make.

I deliberately waited until my sketchbook circle partner had received the sketchbook before writing this post – so that I did not spoil the surprise. I’m looking forward to receiving Mary’s sketchbook and responding to her art!

Final pages of my sketchbook with Karen, December 2014

When Karen sent me the sketchbook she had started for the last time she had continued to develop her theme of abstract colour collages

2015-01-05 11.50.172015-01-05 11.50.24I love these explorations of shape and colour and they’ve a real impact on the printmaking that I do.

2015-01-05 11.50.322015-01-05 11.50.39I especially like the way the shapes and colours are layered and overlapped. Each image has a name which reminds me of printmaking – when I had to choose a name forr my first abstract print this summer I found this a real challenge and for many weeks the name was red and yellow blobs, until, eventually I had to come up with something more appropriate – which turned out to be ‘red and yellow, yellow and red’ – still too literal perhaps!

2015 - 1I had continued to work on some of the ideas that I had begun to develop from Karen’s last pages. I had photocopied and cut up some of her printing to use to inspire drawing and over the next few weeks I made some these the basis of my daily drawings. I used a cut or torn patch of the photocopy placed in the middle of page to work out from using Tombow pens in various greys and a black fineline pen. As I worked markmaking became an aspect of the drawing, as did an almost aerial view of an imaginary landscape.

2015-01-06 15.48.22Later in the sequence of drawings I manipulated one in the app ‘Fragment’ and drew from this pushing the markmaking further and leaving any sense of a representative image behind.

At the same time I made a collagraph plate using textured wallpapers, cutting with a craft knife and painting with PVA glue based on the drawings. I printed this in one colour and in several colours to experiment with the print. I also printed several times without re-inking, resulting in some paler versions. When I received the the sketchbook back from Karen for the last time I added a coloured and single colour version of the print to the sketchbook.

You can see below that the coloured version looks very much like a landscape from above.

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I also used some more pieces of Karen’s prints to spark off another abstract drawing across the two pages. I had intended to add the six drawings above (or copies of them) but forgot before I returned the sketchbook – but they can be seen here. I also had a go using the vibrant colours Karen often uses to make a collage and draw into it – for some reason this became very pink and lost the brilliance and contrast of the primary and secondary colours that Karen tends to choose.

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Working with Karen in this sketchbook has had a lasting impact on the way I work as a printmaker and in my drawing every day series. I had often wanted to work in a more abstract way but hadn’t ever quite managed to find a way into this. This year I have extended the way I use collage, drawing and printing by responding to Karen’s art – I;m really very grateful to her for helping me do this.

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Getting my sketch book back for the last time (December)

In December I received the sketchbook I had started back from Mary with her last contributions. She had continued to work with text, collage and maps. She immediately followed by long image of a skyline made form newspaper collage with these pages of collage – the blue of the sea is made from the insides of envelopes that have lots of different blue line patterns.

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2015-01-05 11.40.48I like the combination and placing of the buildings, windows and bridge and I’m still making my mind up about whether this is two separate pictures or one continuous picture.

There’s also a page of Laurent Chehere’s Flying Houses series which is an interesting way to develop buildings in a more fantastical way – it would be great to explore these in three dimensions and write stories or poems to go with them! Maybe that is my primary school teacher side coming out…

2015-01-05 11.40.55Mary had also made this great layered collage page with all different sorts of paper including maps, magazine pictures, printing and drawing. There’s a lot to look at in this page and it provokes all sorts of questions about how it was constructed and how the pieces and layers fit together.

2015-01-05 11.41.40A further page used paper from maps even more.

Over this year I have become so much alert to the possibilities of using found and previously used papers to make art – At Christmas I was lucky enough to find a source of old maps that I hope to use in collage and in printmaking in 2015.

2015-01-05 11.41.14There was also this page of holes.I love the way that Mary has created this little windows into other worlds on this page using nothing more than paper and drawing tools. I’d really like to explore this further.

Mary and I have been exchanging this sketchbook over the year, working in it in response to each other’s art – and as well as this Mary has given birth to a daughter! I’ve so enjoyed the input of new ideas, ways of looking, artists whose work I did not know of, materials and how they are used that I have encountered in this exchange.

This is what our sketchbook looked like by the end! Mary has transformed the outside to reflect some of the themes we explored.

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October (receiving and sending)

2014-11-02 15.50.13I received the sketchbook from Mary during September and responded to it in late October. This time Mary has added some suggestions of artists to look at alongside her own response to these. One of these was Tom Phillips and his work of art ‘A Humument’ which you can see for yourself at this link – A Humument a wonderful combination of words and art that I so glad Mary introduced me to. Looking back in our sketchbook I can see that Mary had referred to this in an earlier month but I hadn’t picked up on it, so I was glad she 2014-11-02 15.49.49returned to it.

Here’s what I wrote in the sketchbook.

I tried to have a go myself at working onto a page of a book – its quite a challenge to choose some interesting words and phrases. I haven’t done a very exciting job here as I was too literal and descriptive but in doing this I learned something about how I might develop it in the future. I can see the possibilities for using the accidental positioning and relationships 2014-11-02 15.48.25between words on the page. There is much inspiration to be gained by exploring The Humument website where all the pages can be seen.

Recently I had also been exploring letters and text as a neighbour had very kindly given me some woodblock letters to experiment with. When I first started playing with these I printed letters, and later single words onto newspaper. Initially this was just to 2014-11-02 15.49.26have a go, but as I printed I began to find text, pictures pr a combination of these in the newspapers and print random or chosen words on to them.

The one to the right is one of my favourites – I didn’t really take in the three words at the top of the picture but I think these add to the overall image so much!There’s a few other examples in the sketchbook that I’m sending to Mary next week. One of the other things I did with the letters was to print them all over a sheet of newspaper to see what each one looked like and to get better at applying the printing ink and pressing the block down. After this sheet was dry I found the 2014-11-02 16.38.47accidental words that you can see in the image on the left.

Over the last few weeks I’ve been going further with this idea by also adding lines of poetry that seem to fit the image and word.

Building on the use of words and phrases from newspapers and some collage / drawing I was working on last week inspired by imaginary skylines I also constructed a collage and drawn skyline with pieces cut from a newspaper – again looking for interesting words and combinations of words.

2014-11-02 15.48.17Mary also sent me  suggestions of two other artists – Ed Fairburn and Nigel Peake with some drawing added to a map. I’m looking forward to exploring them in the future!

So next week this sketchbook will be in the post to Mary and I hope to receive one from Karen.

March (receiving and sending)

In March I received the sketchbook I had started back from Mary. It was great to see what she had made of my pages – since it was the first time I had passed on a sketchbook I was conscious of doing enough and doing something that someone else could respond to!

20140405-182906.jpgMary had picked up on the lettering and typography of the Mira Schendel art I had been looking at, using letters from newspapers, printing with letters and combining them.

I really liked the way Mary had included some windows from window envelopes – I had never realised what fantastic view finders these could make. I’ve been saving envelopes with windows in ever since!


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Mary had also used and included some lettering and typography on different surfaces and I loved the way they overlapped and became marks and patterns – it sent me to garage to look for letter stamps that I had used with my class when I was a primary teacher. After some rooting through boxes I found my set of sponge letters and a stamp pad.

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For some reason I used the lower case ‘z’ and began experimenting with printing it onto tissue. photocopying the print, drawing round the letter and decorating the inside and outside of it.

I also started looking at the spaces around the letter but drawing them and cutting them out.

And inevitably I overlapped the layers I had created as well as placing them over Mary’s layers.

Processed with MoldivAlthough these panels are around 10 cm x 10cm I like the way they can be made to seem bigger when photographed, and I’d love to have a go at something like this on a much larger scale and hung up as I saw in Tate Modern – maybe in the holidays.

The other idea of Mary’s I picked up was using letters cut from newspapers. I took the local newspaper and began cutting, homing in on letters with straight lines and also looking for colour. After I’d made one collage I photocopied it and extended the page. Using Mary’s view finder I homed in on combinations of letters looking at the patterns they made.

Processed with MoldivThe more I explored these letter combinations, the more they become like patterns – their orientation no longer matters.

In late March I also began to take part in more TEA MailArt#7 project. The first envelope I received had my name and address in letters and words cut from newspapers and additional lettering here and there too!

All the time I was working in this sketchbook I was thinking about what Karen made of the one I had sent back to her. I’ve just received it and I’ve been waiting til the weekend to open it, so I have time to really look at it.