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Helen and Jean – June 2017

I received Helen’s sketchbook at the start of June but didn’t’t open it till the third week of the month because of work!

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Its not a good idea to to do this as even just spending a few minutes looking can allow ideas to come to mind even when there isn’t time to work on them immediately.

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So this time my pages were quite an instant reaction as time was running out as the end of June approached.

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I love the different sorts of printmaking techniques that Helen has used.

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I worked onto the right hand page first on the pages above, cutting holes to allow the black page below to show through and adding some other paper such as the marbling as well. I then drew from the image with felt pens on the left hand page.

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I used a roller to make some printed circles and then added collage. During the weeks I was working on these pages I made my last work related train journey of the academic year and collected all my tickets to add to the collage collection. I used some up making this right hand page, trying to use the red part of the circle to create a repeating pattern.

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Inspired by Helen’s printmaking I had a go at printing these fish on the left hand page but I was very dissatisfied with them technically – I nearly ripped out the page! I tried stamping on the last page of the month – using a Hema eraser and creating one quarter of a pattern that I then rotated. Stamping onto a collage page of random reds allowed for various colours and patterns showing through the stamp.

In future months I’m going to open the sketchbooks and look at them when they arrive even when I haven’t got time to work on them, as I think ideas will come to me so that when I do have time the pages might be better in terms of ideas of quality of techniques used…

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.

 

 

 

 

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.

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!

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 onĀ  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!

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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September (receiving and returning)

2014-10-04 12.49.59There was a lull over the summer and then in September I received Karen’s sketchbook. Over the summer she had completed some more reduction lino cuts- I love the way she uses such bright and vibrant colours and the way the shapes are placed – in these there is more of a sense of overlapping and looking through shapes to other shapes.

2014-10-04 12.49.17There were also some pages where Karen experimented with making collagraphs from various materials such as bubble wrap, card and fabric. I think these were relief printed (applying ink to the surface of the plate with a roller then printing) in black and some colours. Although I have often explored relief printing with children, in my own printmaking I usually print intaglio (rubbing ink into the recesses of the plate, polishing off, 2014-10-04 12.49.17then printing). The sections of black printing onto white were striking and made me think of aerial views looking down onto the landscape. It looks like Karen made larger sheets of printing then cut them up and that is something I have been doing lately with collagraphs with flaws – cutting them into smaller sections and making them into cards. Sometimes this reveals something different about the image and often makes it more abstract.

2014-10-04 12.49.09Karen had also printed some of these collagraphs in coloured inks which gives them a different feel altogether.

When I received the sketchbook this time I was keen to respond immediately and quickly so I could return the sketchbook for October and get the exchange back into its sequence. After taking with other artists and teachers who are part of the circle I had realised that some partnerships were working onto each others’ work – a big step to take I felt, so I photocopied Karen’s printed pages so I could add and develop then without losing her original work. This led me to two responses.Firstly I made some relief printing tiles of my own using 2014-10-04 12.48.51textured wallpaper, string and card. Here they are before I printed with them. A friend of mine made the wonderful suggestion that to make a string printing tile if you use double-sided sticky tape its easier to attach the string in the shapes and patterns you want. Having 2014-10-04 15.08.52made the tiles, I printed each of them on white to see what they looked like. Its always hard to predict the effect the ink and printing process 2014-10-04 15.10.01will have on the tile. After this I started printing onto the photocopies of Karen’s prints – the coloured ones. I also collaged the black prints together to make a larger piece of paper to print onto. Just fitting the copies of the prints together was an enjoyable process and it led to an irregularly shaped piece to use. In the future I might copy again and add colour washes. This also reminded me of an exercise I did at a drawing workshop led by another member of the sketchbook circle (Minnie Teckman) 2014-10-04 14.46.29where she got us to make lots of rubbings, rip and cut them up and stick them down and then draw the result to explore making marks.

I also rolled some spare printing ink onto white paper and printed onto this as well. often when I’m printing ideas about how to develop the prints come as I work – its important to remember this when setting up printing with children. They need to be taught and to refine the 2014-10-04 14.27.39technical aspects, but they also need time to explore freely. Experimenting with how the surface they are printing onto affects what they are printing with is a part of this.

2014-10-04 16.33.55When I cleared up after printing I found some accidental prints from when I had cleaned roller between colours. The roller had retained some of the patterns from my tiles and then these were printed onto the paper. Printmaking can be chain of discovery from beginning to end!

In the evening I took one of the spare pieces of photocopied print and expanded with drawing as one of my daily drawings. You can see it here Jean’s drawing a day

I’ve worked quite intensively over a concentrated period of time this time as I’m aiming to send the sketchbook back today – but in writing it up I’ve found that its led to a lot of different ideas – I hope Karen can make something of them!

April (receiving and sending)

In April Karen sent me her sketchbook – she had continued to develop the small abstracts using brightly coloured paper. I liked the way these have titles and that’s something I’ve begun to think more about especially since I’ve been experimenting with more abstract work.

Processed with MoldivDuring April the NN Contemporary Gallery, here in Northampton, had an exhibition called Pip and Pop, an installation on the floors of the gallery using fine sand, sugar, origami, plastic figures, glitter, lights and found objects put together to make fantasy worlds. The gallery has windows that open to the street and walking past the injection of light and colour that the exhibition provided on a dull day was immense. Visiting the exhibition reinforced for me (along with seeing Karen’s work) the possibility of using more colour in the art I make.

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When I got home from seeing the exhibition I immediately made a tissue collage to help me remember what I had seen.

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As well the collages, Karen had also developed her work with shape and colour into two reduction lino cuts. She had mentioned this possibility in February and I had begun to think about trying out shapes and colours in my own practice, which is making collagraph prints. Usually my prints are representational and it was liberating to try something different.

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The use of different sized shapes and the positioningĀ  of shapes on top each other was something I wanted to try with collagraphs. I made a few separate shapes from mountboard; cutting it into a knife, painting on PVA and sticking textured wallpaper onto the plates. I also cut holes in some of them. I used a reddish brown, red and yellow to print the tiles – firstly with no overlapping to get a sense of what each looked like when printed.

2014-05-09 11.40.41In the next few experiments I printed two or three shapes onto paper, took those off, replaced them with two or three more and reprinted to create random overlapping.

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I am appreciating the way the exchange of ideas and visual material in the sketchbook circle is having an influence on my own art – I have built on these several plate two print collagraphs by making a series of two plate collagraphs using the sky and winter trees.

I look forward to receiving the next boost of ideas from Mary soon – she gave a tantalising preview on Facebook yesterday!