sketchbook circle

Altered Postcards

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!

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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. 

Jean and Carys final exchange December 2016

img_6258December was our final exchange and Carys completed the remaining pages so the sketchbook is now full. I like the way she has extended her pink circles onto the previous pages here.


 

On one side of the pages Carys had cut through to take the advantage of using both sides of the pages. I feel like we could have done more of this but its harder to do than it first appears.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I like the way Carys has used handwriting and cut out letters within her paining on the pages.

On the other side Carys joined her final pages to the last ones of mine by continuing the printed patterns in painting and drawing. The final page was completed with a door that opens – a perfect way to move into the next sketchbook circle exchange!

 

 

 

I’ve enjoyed my sketchbook circle exchange with Carys this year. I made it rather challenging for us by having such a fragile sketchbook as I had underestimated how robust a shared sketchbook needs to be. Its a factor that maybe needs to be taken into account when we make our own sketchbooks for the circle.

Amanda and Jean 2016

Our sketchbook swap ended with my last return but being a completist I couldn’t help making one last page for December. I’ve been challenged to work in the panoramic shape that Amanda chose and over the months I’ve begun to enjoy it. It gives such scope to develop an image or pattern. Using PVA and pieces of tissue that I’d previously marked with ink I made the image below. At first it was going to be abstract but as so often happens it became a landscape and I began to make choices of collage that developed this.


I called it “Winter marks the landscape” and followed it up with a postcard sized further image.


The sketchbook Amanda and I swapped was different in physical form than any of the sketchbooks I’ve worked in over the last few years of taking part in the sketchbook circle. The long narrow pages and the way they could be moved around rather than worked on chronologically were sometimes challenging but always inspiring. Elements from the sketchbook and the individual pages often came back to me when the sketchbook was not with me: patterns, colours, textures, the shape of the pages and the way they could be interchanged. Amanda is making a container for the pages and I will be interested to see this. It will certainly be full of ideas and starting points to dip into. 

Jean and Carys November 2016

I received the sketchbook back from Carys with some interesting new pages.


I love these colours and labels hanging down into the pages. They can also hang down onto this patterned page below. When I designed the sketchbook I had in mind that each side of the pages might work together and this is a great way of trying to do that. I had lost sight of this possibility over the months. 


This page too uses layers and flaps in an interesting way. We’re just coming to the end of the sketchbook and still bringing in new ways of using the pages.


I wanted to try to use each side of the page to create a scene centred around the envelope window in the page. On this side I used the window as if it was a window in the side of a spaceship. I vaguely remembered the story of a dog sent into space! I also looked for words and phrases that might go with the scene. 


On the other side of the page I worked in a similar way. This scene uses the window less effectively and is more surreal in its use of collage and text. 


It will be interesting to see how our last swap completes the sketchbook. 

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. 

Amanda and Jean August 

This month the monster came – our sketch book is getting out of hand, spilling out from the expanded envelope! Amanda had tied it up to hold it together and I’ve mainly kept the pages on the same order, inserting some extras here and there where they seem to fit.


It’s different to all the other sketchbooks I’ve worked in so far in that there’s only traces of a chronological order left, perhaps in our own photographs and blog posts. As I leaf through I come across pages that seem new, but I’m never sure whether they are new or I’m just noticing them this time as I’m seeing in a different way to last time I looked. I’ve found it hard to make any worthwhile prints this summer, making me feel that I’ve wasted my most important creating time. Daily drawing has continued since it’s such an established habit and hard to stop after nearly 1500 continuous posts.


This drawing from imagination was created for our sketchbook and posted as daily drawing. Made in the evening after an unproductive day I was surprised to get some positive comments from social media about it that encouraged me. This long thin form a feature of Amanda’s sketchbook that has interested me in itself, quite apart from what is on the pages themselves.


When it came time to put the piece of paper into the sketchbook as a page I found that it needed a ‘back’. I’ve enjoyed seeing and reading about Tilly Mack’s 100 marks drawing and decided I would impose a rule for this drawing. The rule was to pick up a pencil and start at the left and continue without stopping until I got the the right. This began with continuous line and then developed into repeated marks later. In the sketchbook the two pages spill over a little as the concertina is too long for our sketchbook. Here’s a link to Tilly’s blog Tilly Mack


Over the last few weeks I have come across the art of art of Jean McEwan – you can see it here: Jean McEwan

I love the way she is taking postcards and adding collage to change them. This afternoon I decided to have a go – I haven’t achieved anything as sophisticated as hers and in having a go I realise how hard it is to achieve the simplicity of her work.


These early attempts also relate to the pages made by Amanda below. In common  with the images made Jean McEwan these don’t include text and maybe that leaves them more open to the viewer’s interpretation.


As well the pages I’ve made and added some other pages caught my eye but I haven’t time to do anything with them now. I’ve taken a photo to remind me though.


I’ll be sending the monster back tomorrow to see if Amanda can tame it during September! Here it is, temporarily tamed for a journey back to Amanda.

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.