As I stand here cutting paper and sewing books for KUKI I’m reminded of the last time I was preparing for the KUKI festival which was three years ago I think. I cannot believe the change in just a few years in my approach to making these notebooks. Looking at some of the books I made back then, frankly I’m embarrassed. My slap-dash way of measuring and cutting was shocking! In fact I’ll go as far as to say it wasn’t in my nature to quibble over the millimetres. I would even suggest to the participants at my workshops to ‘wing it’ most of the time and I’d mock anyone who spent longer than a couple of seconds calculating exactly how many millimetres to measure with their sharp HB pencil. After making accordion books and discovering the need to have deadly accuracy if you want the pages to look perfect and the covers to open properly, I find myself measuring twice before cutting just to make sure and testing paper grain. All alien concepts in my past life.
I’ve even marked on my cutter the mm difference because I’ve discovered not all rulers are the same.
I can tell you right here and now that my HB pencil is sharp, my cutting blade is regularly changed and my metal ruler is always on the table. There’ll be no slacking with these books.
I’ll crack on sewing until I have a nice little stack.
Have a good weekend and I’ll see you here next week.
It’s easy to fall into a habit of doing or not doing something, especially the not doing something! At the beginning of the year I realised I’d lost the habit of sketching or painting which I used to thoroughly enjoy. As well as practicing more abstract work I wanted to practice more drawing and sketching skills. I don’t think I’d actually drawn anything for a long long time especially if it wasn’t for an end goal like designing a stamp or stencil or a design for a christmas card. I gathered a few books together from my studio, none of them new. They’d either been started and abandoned or bought and not started at all.
Each one has a different use which is why I have six on the go. Firstly from the bottom up I have my inspiration journal. I’ve had this for a while now and I’ve even blogged about it more than once. I use this more like a collage book sticking in magazine images of things I like, patterns, colours or ideas I might be able to use in other work. I really do find it a very useful tool. It helps to choose colour combinations, ideas for a sketch or painting, layouts or even to simply remind me of what I have in my studio. It’s such a simple concept of cutting and sticking then adding in some paint or ink.
Next up is my watercolour sketchbook. I call it a sketchbook when in fact I like to keep it neat and clean and draw realistic images which I colour with watercolour and pencils. This type of thing does take time which I don’t always have so this is why I only do this occasionally. It gets me into a habit of looking closely so I notice things I didn’t actually see before.
My mixed media journal is next, I’ve had this for a few years now and dip in and out of it. It has everything from drawings and collage to gel prints I really like and mixed media pages. It’s a bit of an anything goes type of book in which I just enjoy the process of trying things out. As I’m passed the middle and I’ve glued alot of papers in there, the pages are getting a bit bent but I don’t mind that at all. It’s a Ranger mixed media journal so the pages are good and strong.
Then I have my new accordion watercolour sketchbook which I’ve shown you here before. This large one I’m using to test it out as I’ll be selling these at KUKI but I’ve made myself two smaller ones which I’ll use to take with me if we go away anywhere.
I’m also using a really nice A5 sketchbook as an abstract testing book. Inside its pages I’m mainly trying out composition and testing out ideas. It might be using watercolour, acrylic or collage, whatever I fancy at the time. The pages are not particularly good quality as it’s a sketchbook but this hasn’t put me off using all sorts of materials including ink which I was surprised and pleased to find didn’t bleed through as much as I thought it might. This is a new book for me this year and I’m finding it very useful so far as I decide what I like and don’t like.
Finally on the top of my stack is my actual sketchbook. This is a much more loose style, including quick sketches of things with less details. This is the one I’ll most likely use if I need a quick arty fix. I plan to take this one out and about once the good weather is here possibly into the forest when I go out for a walk with Cooper.
So that’s a look at my collection of sketchbooks and why I’m using more than one.
I’ll be back next week but in the meantime have a good weekend and stay safe.
It’s nearly that time of year when we get all mushy and soft, cook a romantic dinner, maybe light a candle and pack the kiddies off to bed a bit earlier. With that in mind I’ve whipped up a few arty cards with a Valentine theme.
I took some pre-painted backgrounds and cut them into hearts. I think they look so pretty like that.
I layered most of them over a watercolour wash and flicked some gold paint here and there. The gel printed background was already quite busy so I left the heart simply gold so it would stand out.
We’re well into the beginning of a new year and it’s taken until now for me to get back to writing again. As with any new year I’ve spent the time planning and preparing for any new challenges this year might bring as well as reflecting on the events and non events of last year.
2021 was another year of highs and lows but despite them all I have great hopes going forward. I’ve spent time recently tidying the studio which turned out to be an excercise in re-discovering things I’d completely forgotten about. For instance, I came across a box of lino cutting supplies which had been sadly neglected. I cleaned it out, threw away a few bits of manky dried out rubber, and after rearranging the tools back in their little holder I had the urge to have another go at it. The bottom of the box produced a few earlier fails but on the whole I’ve had a positive experience carving stamps. As I’ve been organising some workshop dates for 2022 and deciding on themes I think it might be nice to get the Mosaik group interested in stamp carving too. It’s a good reason to get back into it again anyway and It’ll be a nice complement to their mini books and scrapbook pages. The whole set is looking far too clean don’t you think?
Getting rid of things has helped me to thin out my shelves so now I can actually see what I have. It makes for a much more calming space now. I didn’t really need a box full of pipe cleaners and sparkly green bobbles anyway! It’s off to the recycling for me and time to break out the smelly candles and relaxing music!
Embracing the fails
The month of January has been Image Transfer month for the Messy Monday group on Facebook. Along with its members I’ve been demonstrating a few of my own hints and tips for making transfers on the gel plate. This is one technique where luck plays a big part in how well you can get a good transfer as well as lots and lots of practice. I think as a demonstrator I felt a huge amount of pressure to produce perfect prints every time which in reality I wasn’t getting, or at least it didn’t feel that way to me. I keep telling the group not to give up on their fails because anything can be salvaged so I think I should practice what I preach and stop being so negative. Once I stopped being so hard on myself I started to think, it is what it is, my idea of perfection has to come down a bit and… actually I really like my prints, faults and all. So with that in mind I posted in the group the good the bad and the downright ugly because that’s how life is and not everything will turn out the way we hope. I think the group apreciated the honesty so they could stop feeling like their own prints were fails too and embrace the little imperfections.
It’s all very well having a stack of prints but the question is what to do with them? I know this is something the group would be eager to find out so I’ve incorporated a few into some projects which you can see here.
Cropped and enhanced with pencils, pens or paint, they can look so much better.
That’s it for now, I’ll be back soon with some more news from the studio.