sending

Jean and Linda – March


The sketchbook I started in January came back to me this month, with new additions from Linda. This first return is always interesting as it’s the first time we get a sense of how the exchange is going to work. It seemed that Linda had left some opportunities for me to work onto her pages – above I continues markmaking from her piece of collage and added some bright circles to her pale squares.

On this page added the collage pencil at the top of the page and my initials below Linda’s. I also added some letters to the inside of the envelope. I can see that Linda likes maps as much as I do! 

I’ve been collecting all the paper generated by day to day life lately to use in making art. Train travel is a source of interesting paper and I used timetables and tickets on this page. The timetable joins me in Northampton and Linda in London. 

I wanted to do as Linda had done and leave some pages with space for a response. On the page above I used a strip of collage tissue paper that has strips of maps and then  extended them upwards using watercolour. 

The process of stamping has rippled through the sketchbook circle over the last few weeks. I missed the sketchbook circle this year but one of the workshops was led by Stephen Fowler. I really enjoyed seeing the results of his workshop so I bought the book and began collecting the materials needed. Above is an initial experiment using thin foam stuck to corrugated card with some additional drawing. 

The sketchbook came in a wonderful envelope which I added to before returning to Linda. 

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Jean and Carys July 2016

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.

Jean and Carys, receiving and sending, May 2016

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.

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2016-06-01 17.55.32When 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.

 

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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.

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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!

 

 

 

 

 

Jean and Carys – receiving and sending March 2016

2016-03-30 12.20.15It isn’t until you get the sketchbook that you began back from your partner that you find out whether what you did in January was interesting enough to inspire a response.

Carys had added to my pages and made new pages of her own so I knew that she had been able to make something of my strangely made envelope page sketchbook. Unfortunately one page had stuck to another so I had to try very carefully to ease them apart. When we’re still working in our sketchbook its always a danger and something that’s happened before.

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I’ve partly stuck the bits back together and worked onto a group of the pages to disguise the damaged bits so they will become part of the image and part of the wear and tear of a shared sketchbook that is subject time pressure and the demands of postage.

Lots of my pages had been quite blue to match the pages and cover so it was great that Carys had added more varied colours.

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I liked Carys addition of the pen with the images flowing from it and I used this to make a new page using the patterns from the page itself and the colours and marks from previous pages. This led me to two new pages.

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The one on the left was an attempt to connect to the image seen through the window in the page and the one of the left was something I was making on the day that I finished the March pages and got ready to send the sketchbook back. This was an imaginary map-like drawing called ‘The Progress of Water’. I made this for my ongoing daily drawing project and it was partly inspired by running ink down a concertina made from Khadi paper.

The sketchbook works on the front and the back of the pages so there a few other pages to see and develop.

 

I liked the way these pages have layers, flap and labels added, making the already different pages even less flat and two dimensional. Cays uses words in her art and that’s something I do, but haven’t much in this sketchbook yet.

I added some collage and drawing to one of Carys’s pages and added some more layers of paper from Gelli plate printing and vintage paper collage.

Sketchbook circle workshop and exhibition

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.

2016-02-21 17.02.41I 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 2016-02-21 17.03.17and 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.

 

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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.

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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.

2016-02-20 15.24.05In 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 2016-02-20 15.18.25the 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.

 

 

Jean and Carys – sending January 2016

2016-01-27 10.42.23This is my third year of taking part in the sketchbook circle so I thought I might find getting started a bit easier – but no! It took me nearly all of January to decide what sort of sketchbook to use. As I photographed the sketchbook Mary had started with me last year I remembered how much I enjoyed the zig zag format so I decide to try to make one. I began to make a prototype with old envelopes and then realised the windows in the envelopes could be an interesting part of the pages so the prototype transformed into the sketchbook. I was helped enormously by some encouraging 2016-01-27 10.42.38comments in the Facebook group when I was wavering about whether the sketchbook was too unconventional! I did worry that it might be off putting to receive something like this, but as I worked in it I grew to like it and I hope my partner, Carys, does to.

I was very influenced by the blue of the envelope pages as I worked and found lots of blue bits and pieces to use on the pages. Lots of circles too – maybe a nod to the sketchbook 2016-01-27 10.43.13circle itself. As I worked I found that the windows appearing here and there led me to work on both sides of the first part of the zig zag. This was something I explored only a little this month but I feel it has lots of potential in the coming months.

2016-01-27 10.43.46As I worked I also used some Gelliplate monoprinting that I made using book pages (from damaged books, I promise!). These had a bluish colouring too but introduced some red too. This is something I originally encountered through the sketchbook circle too – at the February 2015 workshop. Looking forward to this February’s day on the 20th.

This month I’ve also been both completing last year’s circle by photographing the sketchbooks and writing final blog posts. It’s made me think about the connections between last year 2016-01-27 10.48.01and this new sketchbook and look forward to the new experiences I’ll have this year.

All month snippets and fragments of the sketchbooks that the circlers are working on have been appearing in the Facebook group. Its been so exciting to see all the different approaches and the excitement from everyone as they found their partners and began their sketchbooks.

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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.

 

February 2015 recieving and responding

2015-02-24 16.48.12At the end of January a little parcel arrived.

This time round Mary started off a sketchbook to send to me whereas last time I started a sketchbook for her. Mary had chosen a small Moleskine with zig zag pages inside. Its so small that it will fit through my unbelievably small letterbox in future exchanges!

Mary had used each panel to make an image but there’s also a sense of continuity from panel to panel.

2015-02-24 16.44.592015-02-24 16.45.03The challenge for me would be to maintain this continuity somehow – I had just seen that some artist teachers had achieved this last year. The last page that Mary had made reminded me of water – bubbles running up and down the page in watery colours. I opened the zigzag pages so I could see and work on the next four panels.

2015-02-24 16.46.53Taking inspiration from Mary’s panel I first of all used wax crayons to create some areas of resist and then used waterproof drawing inks to create watery leading to grassy effects across the panels. Whilst the washes dried I drew onto the damp pages with a dip pen and ink – some of these drawn marks spread out and some did not as the pages dried whilst I drew. I was able to work with accidental spreading of ink as well as deliberate drawn marks, going to back to overlap onto Mary’s last page.

I also picked up on Mary’s image of a grasshopper and found some images of fish and other insects in a damaged book that I had recently been given to use in collage and printmaking. Although I was looking for images I also came across some interesting sentences and added some of these to the pages as well:

2015-02-24 16.46.25‘Though very shy, they are said to be extremely sportive, darting with the utmost ease up the most rapid current.’

‘The darkness of the night increased the scaly brilliancy which the phosphoric properties of these beautiful fish produce.’

‘The Herring (C. harengus) is of great and even national importance.’

The pictures were taken from an old natural history book, but the descriptions are sometimes quite poetic.

2015-02-24 16.46.39Its too early to say what Mary and I are creating in this book – whether it is a continuous series of images or something else. One of the interesting things about the sketchbook circle swapping is that we can’t predict what another artists will make of our art.

2015-02-24 16.45.41 Last year I was quite hesitant about working onto the art of another artist – often clipping things in, photocopying and working onto the copy or going back and using empty pages. This year I worked back into Mary’s last page and I tried to leave some potential for continuity, spilling one of my images partially out onto the next page for Mary to use if she wants to.

2015-02-24 16.47.56As you can see, there are plenty of pages left for us to work on for the rest of this year…

Sketchbook Circle 14 exhibition at the Gerald Moore Gallery

On Saturday February 21st the exhibition and workshop for the Sketchbook Circle 14 took place at the Gerald Moore Gallery. It was a creative day of exploring new techniques and materials, reflecting upon the importance of art and meeting friends usually only encountered in the digital in real life.

In the morning I had a go at using a Gelli Plate to print with. I’ve seen this online many times and wondered what it was like – its a monoprinting surface that is smooth and somewhat like gelatin. It says on the website that its a ‘hypoallergenic polymer material’. Ever since I’ve been looking out for common materials with a similar texture but today I couldn’t help myself – I ordered one. At the workshop Georgia and Louise demonstrated some approaches to try and I’m looking forward to continuing with these on a plate all of my own.

2015-02-21 12.00.02I also had a go at something I’ve never heard of before shared with us by Elle – we used cotton as a painting surface. We painted diluted milk powder onto this and then used chalk pastels to draw with. Using them on the damp surface allowed for spreading and blending in a completely different and very satisfying way. I can imagine that having worked in this way we could go on working onto this with pen or thread perhaps.

In the middle of the day the exhibition of the sketchbook circle14 sketchbooks took place. It was great to hear from Sue Grayson Ford from the Campaign for Drawing, Lesley Butterworth from NSEAD and BobandRoberta Smith, prospective MP, who opened the exhibition with a wonderful speech. An edited transcript of the speech is here and its well worth a read – in a week where The Warwick Commission reported and the BBC launched Get Creative all our attention is on how to make sure the arts and creativity are part of every child’s (and every adult’s?) life.

It was wonderful to see a selection of the sketchbooks n their own plinths and lots of images from the pages on the walls.

2015-02-21 14.14.30I went to the Sketchbook Circle 13 day last year. At the time I was only just beginning to take part in a sketchbook circle and now, having completed a whole year I feel that I understand the process from the inside so much more fully and this time one of my sketchbooks was a part of the exhibition. The variety of ideas and approaches was interesting to see. Some partners had collaborated so closely that it was impossible to identify where the change of artists happened. Other sketchbooks developed in such unexpected directions over the year. Even though we were all working within the constraint of a smaller than letterbox sized book not two were the same – tiny zig zags, loose leaved notebooks, landscape, portrait, square, pages joined together that developed month by month. The range of techniques was huge and often three dimensional.

2015-02-21 15.43.13In the afternoon we were challenged further by Susan’s Drawing Machine workshop. We worked in groups to design and make groups machines that could make a mark without any human hand holding the pencil or pen. The process was great fun, leading us to improvise, test, refine and co-operate. Somehow I ended up having to be the person in our ‘machine’ – not sure how that happened, but it did and there’s a picture on Twitter…

We get a real sense of teachers everywhere working away in their sketchbooks during the year from the Facebook group but this day, where many of us meet and work together, is such a great feature of the sketchbook circle experience. Its also a chance to look back at one complete revolution of the circle and say thanks to our artist teacher partners and the group of people who have put so much time into organising the circle and the day. I can see its continuing impact from the posts this week – how many of us have succumbed to the urge to buy a Gelli plate?

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!