Sketchbooks – Just pretty or really useful for artistic development.

FB link to sketchbook video

I didn’t used to ‘do’ sketchbooks, but I find them such a great way to store ideas and experiments now that I always have a few on the go.

  • Drawing practice
  • Larger one for collages from outdoor sketches
  • printing experiments & notes
  • I currently I have one storing my 100days project too

How useful are they really ?

  1. Resources for future finished work. When I’m starting a new painting or print perhaps, I can flick through my sketchbooks to find an image or even a few images that I want to use as a starting point.
  2. I find them really useful as reminders of ideas I had previously and now forgotten so that if desired they can be reincorporated into new work. It’s amazing how many good ideas are forgotten if not documented. You don’t even need to write it up in great detail, as just some elements of it will serve to bring the whole of it back.
  3. Reflecting and reviewing where I’ve been and where I’m going is such a useful process that I’ve only recently discovered the benefits of. It helps to see your own progress and also find links between what might appear very different work. These can be great clues to pointing to underlying themes or characteristics of my work that I might want to really dig into as a way of finding my own artistic voice. Using as a reviewing tool with another, mentor, teacher, fellow artist, is also an excellent process, often identifying properties you’d not noticed in your work.
  4. Using a sketchbook which has been the resource for a series of paintings helps me to talk and explain my work with potential buyers, followers. This is really important when connecting with people new to my work so that they can really quickly appreciate where it’s coming from. It’s a great idea to take them to exhibitions. I know I really love to see the ‘internal workings’ of an artist through their sketchbooks and can significantly change my appreciation of their work.
  5. But yes they can also be great to look at aesthetically and why not. Mine often cheer me up when I’m feeling negative about my abilities, and it’s lovely to share them with likeminded folk.😉

Albers Interaction of Colour app for iPad

Check out #AlbersIoC! Get the app

Juliet Docherty, a fabulous artist and educator whom I recently spent the day with on a colour theory course reminded me of this app. I had down loaded a free check it out version previously but not spent much time with it. I have purchased the full version now, which gives you the full text of the book it’s based on plus some really cool interactive colour plates you can move colour sections about on and the ability to make your own colour plates using his clever formats and save them as an image or vector file.

It is fabulous teaching tool for your own colour theory adventures – highly recommended.

Painting with Lewis Noble

Lewis Panting close up of detail
Lewis panting in his studio

If you’ve not heard of Lewis Noble then do go and visit his website, his landscape works are wonderfully dynamic, full of life.

Lewis Noble – a Derbyshire based contemporary landscape painter

I came across his work one day on Facebook, where he hosts a group Lewis Noble’s Painting Course Group

His creative process is key to the way he works, and he runs some great workshops where he takes you on the journey, so that you can bring your own mark-making, colour choices and styles with you at the same time as embracing a creative process that can bring about some of the most exciting work you may have produced to date. I am always up for learning new processes that I can incorporate into my practice and help me develop my own work.

Step one – gathering information on site.

Emerge yourself in the environment / landscape that you want to portray. Listen, feel, see. Capture in sketchbooks, colours, marks, lines, compositions.

Step two -Collage of sketches

Back in the studio with a pile of sketches, some that you like most you like bits of, some you really can’t see anything useful in. Then starting with a piece you can see a interesting start of a composition, rip out the parts that don’t work for you. Add torn pieces from other sketches that give you what you need to make your composition work whether that be a dark area, a particular set of marks, a line or a colour. In this way you improve and develop your composition.

Step three -Repeat step one and two and fill your sketch book with your new compositions, using pva glue to set them down.

Final step – the painting

This is understandably the hardest part of the process and is much more dependant on your own skills. However, you now have a book of reference material from which you can work. Lewis for example often moves between parts of collaged sketches, combining elements from one and then another. Working in multiple layers building up a history on his canvas until he gets closer to a composition he feels happy with and then continues to resolve.

There are some great videos of him working you can access from his FB group which show some him in action.

Here are some of my own sketchbook collages followed by 2 paintings I came out with as a consequence of this 3 intensive days on the course.

1 Mildale, Derbyshire by Kaye Wilson Acrylic on canvas board
2 Mildale, Derbyshire by Kaye Wilson. Acrylic on canvas board

The course venue by the way was St John Street Gallery in Ashbourne where we were provided with excellent lunches by the owner in there cafe. St John Street Gallery & Cafe

Zillah Bell – Girls Trip Out – July 2018

I love a day trip with my arty girlfriends and a day out to Thirsk with a visit to the lovely Zillah Bell Gallery is just the sort of pleasure that peps up my soul, and replenishes up my artistic inspiration buckets, that keep me going.

On this date, there was a special exhibition of work by Kate Desforges and Sophie Layton.

Kate, or to use her full name, Kathryn, has worked hard to develop exceptional technical skills at lithography using birch as a plate which lends its own natural grain to her work. She has extended her skills and practice during a residency in Japan.

I particularly enjoyed seeing her working sketch books also on display, always so interesting to get an insight into the way an artist works.

She also works and teaches at WYPW so any opportunity for a workshop with her should be grasped greedily, she is a generous knowledge sharer. Her technical skills in a variety of printmaking techniques are strong, not just lithography.

Kathryn Desforges Artist Printmaker Website

Relic by Kathryn Desforges,
To the right, works by Kathryn Desforges, on the right, a piece by Sophie Layton
Kathryn Desforges Peak series on right , Sophie Layton on the left.

Wok by Kathryn Desforges

Works by Sophie Layton

Sophie Layton was new to me. Her work brings together, saturated colours and dynamic architectural shapes, in compositions which are both abstract and not abstract all at the same time. She creates striking images that stay long in your memory after you have looked away, imprinting themselves on your retina!

Sophie Layton’s website and blog from her adventures in Japan

In addition I discovered Lesley Birch, beautiful work, combinations of quick flashes of this and that colour, splashes, drips and rubs… producing expertly composed glimpse of skies, seas, windy landscapes, that transport you to their little worlds.

The new studies available were from her studies made in Scotland, and there isles.

Mill of Oa, Islay taken by Lesley Birch Feb 2018

Visit her website by following this link Lesley birch artist website

I treated myself to one of these little exquisite wonders…

Proof#5 Exhibition in Altrincham

So after a 6 month break from exhibiting, I decided to give our trimmed down Proof Printmakers Group a little outing!

I set about finding a local venue where we could host an exhibition to show off our more recent printmaking developments. It was a stark reminder to me of all the hard work that goes no behind the scenes to coordinate organise negotiate market an exhibition. Altrincham Open studios, Matt and Jo were a tremendous help, warm welcoming and supportive. Clare Phelan and Susy Robson provided keen curator eyes on hanging day. Fizz flowed and visitors discussed the art presented with the 5 artists/Printmakers at the Preview. Exhausted I slept for over 12 hours when I got home… still not tidied up though!