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!
This month Carys had created some lovely pages which could be read as mark making, or abstraction but also as landscape. I seem to see elements of landscape everywhere at the moment!
This led me to create a collage based abstract landscape using various tools and materials I had to hand. These are very much in a strand of ongoing collages that I’m making at the moment.
In the same way that aspects of landscape can be glimpsed in Carys’s latest pages these pages use landscape features with mixed up view points, moving from aerial view to distance and back in the same page space.
This was the only contribution I made to the sketchbook this month as I’m away in the last week of July and I wanted to do something and post it on time.
This month things got in the way of our exchange and so I didn’t receive the sketchbook from Amanda. In some ways this was good in that the month was so busy at work that I might have neglected it, had it arrived. By the end of June things had eased up a bit so I decided to make a few June pages and send them to Amanda anyway. The beauty of the sketchbook Amanda made for us is that it’s such an unusual shape that even in its absence the size and shape of the pages can still inspire me! During the month of June I also acquired some new materials – Derwent Inktense pencils. Often a new tool or product can be a source of ideas, just in that one needs to go back to the experimentation phase.
On these pages I’ve used combinations of masking fluid, watercolour and Inktense pencils. I’ve had fun trying out different effects although I still regret not buying the Inktense colour sticks instead of the pencils when I had the chance. Some things these pages illustrate are my increasing use of colour, exploration of the overlap between drawing and painting and inclination to work from imagination. The sketchbook circle experience has been instrumental in supporting me to do this. Before the sketchbook circle I rarely, if ever, worked from anything but observation.
I’ve sent these pages off to Amanda so she can add them in where they will best fit – our sketchbook is also quite loose leaf in structure so in time we’ll never know that there was a summer time blip!
This month Carys had worked on lots of pages and there was plenty for me to respond to. I love the map like pages that have emerged in our sketchbook, the sense of looking at the land from different viewpoints and seeing the shapes and patterns. Carys also introduced some different shapes placed onto and cut through the pages – the hexagon lattice is something I especially like. Seeing through to other pages so that the view is partial and incomplete is also inspiring to me.
When I began to respond I had let time run out so I didn’t work on as many pages to send back to Carys.
I fell back on a favourite recurring shape of circles and material of maps presented in a grid. As I did it I focused on the lines on the maps – paths, roads, railway lines and rivers, trying to place the circles so that the lines did not join up across the page.
Looking back now on Carys’s pages this page seems stark and rather under developed in comparison. I also realised that I’ve gone on to use this layout in my daily drawings.
I also made a page of blue papers and drawing.
This is also a rather basic page, inspired by the blue page and amount of blue paper I seem to have at the moment, left over from other projects.
It seems this month that none of my pages make a strong connection to Carys’s pages – I’m not sure why that is as there’s plenty to look at.
The next pages were an experiment I’ve been meaning to try for a long time. I have an old jigsaw and I painted some pieces with blue or white acrylic.
I had to give them two coats to stop the old picture showing through. I then used a blue and white pen to add patterns. They remind me of a time when I often drew broken pottery, both real and imaginary. Other than enjoying the experiment I’m not sure what the purpose of this is, although looking at them I do like the look and wonder about trying some pieces that would fit together or working out the pattern that these pieces come from and would fit back into.
This hasn’t been my best month so I hope Carys found something in it to work from!
The beginning of the sketchbook circle is always an exciting time as we get to start and receive new sketchbooks. I received an interestingly shaped package from Amanda at the beginning of February – very long and narrow, perfect for my letterbox. When I opened the sketchbook I was quite surprised as it was made from handmade papers throughout – all sorts of colours, techniques and surface. It took me a while to absorb this.
I like the shape very much as I’ve often used long narrow sketchbooks and made long narrow prints in various orientations. I could see so much in each page – Amanda had included a note to encourage me to use and work on the pages, which was reassuring.
After a while I noticed that the sketchbook was made with holes and threaded with string at one edge and I realised that as well as working on the pages I could also add some pages for Amanda.
I scoured various piles of work in progress and useful papers that I’d stored to come up with some new pages that I could add. I was very careful when unthreading the sketchbook to keep Amanda’s pages in the same order. Looking back on it maybe the planning of a way to easily reorder the pages is another interesting way of working together. In many sketchbooks the page order is set and in this one it is not.
I haven’t photographed all the pages – just some that I worked on this month.
As I began I was quite tentative, choosing some collage strips to add to a quite abstract page. Maybe its an example of trying to add something to an abstract page to make it read as a more figurative page. I’m often drawn to the lines produced by stark tree trunks and branches against a light sky and there is something of this here.
I also added some new pages to the sketchbook.At the bottom of this photo is a proof of a print I was working on at the time. I was trying to allow the trees to come out of the usually rectangular shape of the card plate. Its a work in progress, so far with mixed success.
At the top of this photo the page I added made from a map, with some holes cut into it (using my new big hole punch) can be seen. This allows some glimpses of the print.
In the middle of this photo is a page I put in but allowing parts of one of Amanda’s pages to be seen. They seemed quite like the earth so I added some drawing to try to incorporate them into a scene.
I also used the circles cut from the map to ass to another of Amanda’s pages. Looking at it now it seems like they are hoes punches through a layer of rocks, allowing us to see through to the map like landscape below.
The page at the top is a random piece of collage with some of my additions.
The page at the bottom is a lovely portrait by Amanda. Its interesting to have these more figurative flashes appear in the pages.
As I added pages I used some created using a relief print from textured wallpaper with a very strong pattern.
Finally I made a collage composite picture from a scene from Rupert and an image from an old books that I had been given to use to make art. I enjoyed trying to devise drawing and collect text to connect these disparate pieces together.
The next day I continued with this approach beyond the sketchbook. You can see what I did here.
So it was quite a challenge this first exchange – I hope I’ve done enough to interest Amanda!
Yesterday I attended my third Sketchbook Circle Workshop and Exhibition at the Gerald Moore Gallery in London. This is a great culmination of the preceding year’s sketchbook circle and chance for some of the participants to make art together and share their sketchbooks circle experience.
I was lucky enough to get a place in Elaine’s cyanotype and chemigram workshop. Both these processes connect art, photography and science in such an interesting way. After having a brief play with the processes I can see there is great potential. I love the deep blue colour of the cyanotype and the way all sorts of collected and recycled materials can be used in combinations and layers to create images. Many participants made much more interesting images than this one of mine! Chemigrams use photographic paper, developer and fixer together to make images both positive and negative. It was so helpful to be able to learn from Elaine’s experience of using these processes with her pupils and her advice about the materials and suppliers to use.
In the middle of the day we gathered in the gallery for the opening of the sketchbook circle 2015 exhibition.Its great to see some of the pages blown up and displayed as well as being able to leaf through some the sketchbooks themselves on plinths. Although we’ve often seen glimpses of some of the pages on Facebook throughout the year there’s nothing like seeing the entire sketchbooks: their size, shape, the tactile nature of the pages is always a surprise.
Here are two pages, one from my sketchbook with Mary and one from my sketchbook with Linda.
The afternoon workshop is usually a collaborative and thought provoking experience and this year , as always it was active and inspiring. Susan challenged us in groups to make a performance drawing inspired by a word, some words, sound or music as well as some key materials. This was something I’ve never done before and looking back on it I feel like it gave me an insight into making more conceptual art of a kind that is entirely different to the art that I make myself.
In our group we had this to inspire us (see right). We had the idea to keep our drawing tools still and try to move the paper to create movements that would evoke a tsunami. We had a go and found that as well as the mark making on the paper the sound of the paper contributed to the stormy feeling. We also used the paper to destruction and the ultimate ripping of the paper also related to our word. When we performed our drawing we asked the entire audience to be the mark makers all along both sides of the huge roll of paper and we, the group, moved the paper back and forth with increasing violence. The experience couldn’t be fully captured by photography or film because it was all about being part of the group. Although marks were produced on paper the memorable parts of the experience were the sound, the pulling and pushing of the paper, the struggles of the mark makers to keep their drawing tools on the paper and the destruction of the paper.
The other groups devised equally interesting and varied responses, often involving the audience and making us think. The sense of devising a piece of art that would evolve as people took part in it and possibly left no ‘finished’ piece of art gave me an insight into conceptual art and the relationship between making art and viewing art from the inside. Susan reminded us how important it is to inspire pupils and students with one-off experiences that might change their thinking and open their minds.
One of the best things about the day was that I had the chance to get to know my sketchbook partners from last year beyond the pages of our sketchbooks. I had lunch with Mary and then had dinner with Linda and her husband. It was great to talk to each other and hear about their work in school and their lives.
We all owe a big ‘thank you’ to Susan, Elinor and Georgia for the day and the whole idea of sketchbook circle. I can see from all the photos popping up on Facebook in the last twenty four hours how much everyone enjoyed the experience.
This year there are lots of blogs about the sketchbook circle experience.
Here’s a video of the entire sketchbook in order!