Jean and Meryl – January 2018

Starting a new circle always involves a big decision – choosing the sketchbook to exchange across the year. This year I found the inside of sketchbook made from Khadi paper in Paperchase and added my own cover. The paper is a nice texture and I hope there are enough pages to last throughout 2018 in my year long exchange with Meryl.

I made some pages using collage, watercolour and drawing just to get the exchange going. Starting an empty sketchbook might be the most challenging part of the circle because as we exchange there are always pages to look back on and take ideas and inspiration from.

I’m eagerly awaiting a sketchbook from my other sketchbook circle partner, Cherrie – I’ve a seen a glimpse of a page in the Facebook group.


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.


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.




The final double pages continued the printed and stamped approach and one of them (the left hand one) had some folded pieces that opened.






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.


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.


My final page was some Gelli plate printing onto the page of a vintage book with the potential for Helen to work onto maybe.





Helen and Jean February 2017

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…

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.


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.


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.


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.


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!

May (receiving and sending)

At the beginning of May I received my original sketchbook from Mary – with great restraint I waited til the weekend to open it so I would have to time to look at it properly. Processed with Moldiv

Mary had continued our exploration of fonts and typography – taking elements of letters and the gaps in and between them as well as overlapping and looking through semi-transparent surfaces.

Its amazing how far this has come from that first inspiration of the Mira Schendel exhibition! (see January’s post)

Processed with MoldivShe had also explored whole pages of text – I love this one where some words are highlighted from a piece of text to make a new text or even a poem? It reminded me of something Dave Gorman used to do on his radio show – found poetry. He would take words and phrases from newspapers or media and put them together to make a new text read aloud. Then a few weeks after seeing this page I came across a post about Hidden Poetry on Stephen Lockyer’s blog. You can find it here – Hidden Poetry Mary has found and reveled the hidden poetry in the text – in Stephen’s idea children write tiny poems on labels and stick them in hidden places for others to find. You could add the idea of matchboxes to this!

2014-05-26 15.41.27I also like this page – its made using the app Sketchbook Express. I’m always pleased when the name of the app is attached – it can be frustrating to see an image, know an app is involved but not know which! I downloaded the app but as is common with me, haven’t had time to look at it properly. One day…

My first response was this page of Ts cut from a newspaper and drawn onto. As Mary had, I also found myself intrigued by the negative space and the new shapes created.

Processed with MoldivI also found these card letters in a shop – they reminded of evenings in front of the TV cutting out lower case letters in interesting papers to use in my classroom when I was a primary school teacher. Times have changed – they can be bought for 40p each nowadays!

In the same newspaper I came across the weather forecast page – it was bank holiday weekend and absolutely pouring with rain. In an attempt to change the weather I cut up the forecast and rearranged it. It continued to rain all half term…

This flap collage follows on from something I first did n the sketchbook Karen and I are swapping.

Processed with MoldivAs well as taking part in the sketchbook circle I’ve also been part of the #moreTEA digitial swap and this has led me to using some apps to manipulate images. I returned to the idea of TEA and made the word from colours found in the newspaper and then used the app ‘Fragment’ on the image to change it. Writing this it occurs to me that there’s a lot of art to had from reusing a newspaper.

Before packaging the sketchbook up I flicked back through the pages and found an old page from March. Since March I’ve learned a lot about apps so I decided to go back to my page of Zs and make some changes.

As I did this I discovered that colour tints can be added in the app although I’m not sure how I did this – typical of my use of apps at present, and not very useful if I want to teach anyone.

Processed with MoldivOver the last week I’ve decided to start a record of apps I use and tips / examples of their use to help me remember for my own use and to help me when I’m working with students. An example (needs work) is on this blog under apps and some examples I’m going to use with students this term are here apps for learning and teaching

As always the inspiration and ideas from this sketchbook circle, both Mary and Karen, from chance encounters on twitter and on the #moreTEA and NSEAD Facebook pages and working with my colleagues on Northampton Inspire continue to inform the art I make and my teaching. So thanks to all!

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