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.
After the dark, wet days of winter we need a little pick me up and the sight of some new shoots and the first small flowers appearing in the garden is most welcome indeed.
With Spring on its way attention turns to all things brighter, greener and altogether more uplifting. The weather might be stormy but I’ve been tucked up in the studio creating my own sunshine.
As part of the big KUKI art and craft fair happening later in the Spring, I’m making watercolour sketchbooks. For a while now I’ve been desparate to try out a concertina fold making a couple to test. I love this style. It’s so different from using a regular sketchbook and really encourages a consistant theme to run throughout. I think the smaller size would be ideal as a travel sketchbook or field sketchbook.
I’ve made both a large and small one to try them out and so far I’m pleased with the results. The smaller one has been covered with some vintage wallpaper which I’ve had for ages and is perfect with its wipeable surface. The inside pages are made from watercolour paper and stand up very well to my mixed media materials. I’ve tried acrylic inks, watercolour paint and collage inside with no bleeding through or hardly any page buckling. I might see if I can get some more of these wallpaper samples to cover a few more, they’re so retro and funky and the wipe clean surface makes them ideal as covers.
I’m definitely going to make a few more with the wallpaper I have left.
I’m trying to develop my abstract painting style during 2022 with the idea that before the end of this year I’ll have created something on an actual canvas instead of a sketchbook. It’s a daunting thought and there are still lots of things I’m learning hence the sketchbooks. So far I’m loving watercolour, acrylic ink and collage and I seem to prefer to leave white space rather than fill an entire page. Most of my lines are horizontal so whether that means I’m trying to absent mindedly paint landscapes I don’t know. I also love to use script on the pages either directly with a dip pen or from collage paper. I’ll keep developing this style and I’ll return to this theme here in the future.
In the shop there are a few Spring-like cards too to brighten anyone’s day. Just follow this link to find them. I’ll be adding the sketchbooks too as soon as I have them all finished.
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.