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!
In February I received sketchbook from Helen. It was handmade sketchbook, with different sorts of paper for the pages and bound very sturdily, so I think it will survive our exchange!
The pages inside were so interesting and I found that Helen’s approach and way of using collage is so like areas of collage I am interested in having come across the work of artists like Jo Urban, Alison Sye and Jeannette McEwan recently on social media.
Looking at Helen’s pages I was interested in the storytelling nature of them and I wanted to respond in an around them as well as by adding my own pages to follow on. Doing this with a new partner is a big step because it is hard to know how they will feel about additions being made to their pages.
First I added an extra page that could be used to view pages through.
I was a little more adventurous I added little details to the pages through using Washington tape, paper collage and drawing, trying to stick with the theme of the pages Linda had made.
For my own pages I began with two story telling pages using a range of materials. I’ve been collecting paper materials for some time now and the challenge is to find, group and attach images and text together. It is hard to say what comes first – sometimes its text, other times its shapes, colours or images. In these two cases there isn’t much text but what there is is quite significant: “notes from our village green” (taken from a book) and “I draw a new world”made up by me. At the moment constructing imaginary landscapes is a recurring theme in much of the art I make.
I also made a page based on an idea from Randall Plowman’s book “The Collage Workbook How to get started and stay inspired” published in 2012. This was to take three images, cut them into strips and stick them down in a mixed up pattern (right hand page). I left it to dry and returned to it several times feeling it was quite unsatisfactory but not knowing what to do with it. This morning I decided to “Fragment” it. Fragment is an app I use on the iPad and decided to use the same approach by cutting out and changing shapes within the image. I also ended up turning some cut outs around so that their patterns appeared on the next page.
This led me to go further, cutting out shapes to leave as holes and adding wash tape letters. On the other side of the page (below) I used a white pen and add drawn detail which worked effectively because the page was black. The holes revealed some fragments of the previous brightly coloured previous page made using watercolours and Derwent Intense pens.
For the second month I am ready to send my sketchbook on at the end of the month, quite a miracle! I wonder what Helen will make of it…
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.
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.
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.
In April Mary returned her sketchbook to me with some new and vibrantly coloured pages.
At this point (almost at the point of posting) I was reminded by discussion in the Facebook group that we had been sent an envelope of collage. I went back and used some fo he collage to work on one of th earlier pages and these last two pages that I was dissatisfied with.
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.
Linda 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.
The 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.
Over 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.
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.
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.
The 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.
Taking 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:
‘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.
Its 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.
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.