Doodles

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This week I have been doing lots of doodling – mainly due to being completely exhausted at the end of a busy term. But also, I love the beauty of the small, simple stuff in life – doodles, the spillages and paint splotches on a mind map made for this month’s Sketchbook Circle pages, old book pages glued into a journal to be drawn and painted on. I love to doodle for several reasons; sometimes I use it as a way of opening up my brain to creative ideas and get into the flow state of mind; other times to help me concentrate and process information; and often in the evening to help me relax and unwind. I’ve also recently become fascinated by the idea of visual notetaking and sketchnoting – useful stuff which I’m hoping to put into practice at the upcoming staff training days. My signature doodle is squares – endless little squares with minute variations, although I’ve recently started to incorporate more shapes, both geometrical and abstract. It’s like slipping on a pair of comfy old slippers at the end of the day, a signal to my brain to zone out and switch off.

This time next week I’ll be in Norfolk with my family, hence preparing the journal pages. I can’t wait to see and smell the sea, to hear the skylarks singing in the big blue sky and to walk along the salt marshes with the sun on my back. Time to switch off for a while.

In the Flow

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The ideas have been flowing this week; lots of coloured layers, splattering, contrasts, textures and found materials. I’m pretty sure I’ve not stuck to the original plan, and there’s some rather random meanderings, but hey, when you get into the flow state of mind you just go with it, right?

Louise’s contribution to our shared book made me think about the links between Alice in Wonderland and the bottle labelled ‘Drink Me’, and Juliet and the sleeping draught which made her appear dead. Then I started thinking about costume and clothes, patterns and textile design, bold colours and shapes. Some of my pages have simply emerged from the intense concentration I have given the book over the past ten days, and now I look back at them I’m not really sure where they came from and where they fit in, but there they are, and I’m happy to see them.

I liked the way Louise noticed that I had placed things on the back pages, and that she placed some bits for me to use in the envelope I glued in the back; I like that the book is non-linear, that there are fragments glued onto random pages, and that we are each inviting the other to contribute to each other’s work. I regretted not having the confidence to do this in last year’s circle; Christian was very good at it, and I am pleased to be working with someone who likes to share pages again. The idea of collaboration on an image is exciting and full of possibility and opens up all sorts of interesting questions about when a piece is finished. Is it ever finished? Or is it an organic thing which continues to live and grow and change? I know I often go back to old work and change and reuse it. I love the new perspectives which present themselves when someone adds to my work. But now I need to stop and leave some pages for Louise.

“Alice started to her feet, for it flashed across her mind that she had never before seen a rabbit with either a waistcoat-pocket or a watch to take out of it, and burning with curiosity, she ran across the field after it, and was just in time to see it pop down a large rabbit-hole under the hedge.
In another moment, down went Alice after it, never once considering how in the world she was to get out again.”
(Alice in Wonderland, Chapter 1)

Making Connections

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This week has been one of intense experience and activity. Firstly, I received the sketchbook that I share with Louise back through the post; I am inspired and energised by her additions and am once again suffering from broken nights as ideas come dropping into my brain in the small hours. I am keeping a notepad by the bed so that I can catch them and then get back to sleep. Louise’s additions included a page of measuring charts from an apothecary; this took me back to GCSE English Literature lessons and Romeo and Juliet. Juliet drank the potion brewed by the apothecary, which led me back to the references to Alice in Wonderland I made at the start of the book, Alice and the bottle labelled ‘Drink Me’. My brain is wandering off in all kinds of directions with this starting point, including Harry Potter, the witches in Macbeth, theatre and costume (this also links in with Louise’s collaged addition of some dresses)… hence the notebook by the bed. Watch this space.

Yesterday I went to Birmingham to the Practice Imperfect CPD for artist educators. It was informative and stimulating to share ideas with others, to meet with artists who are employed in arts professions, and to meet some fellow Sketchbook Circle participants. I attended an immersive drawing and mark making workshop with Sarah Goudie, which was lovely – peaceful and meditative; working collaboratively with other participants on huge rolls of paper, I really enjoyed losing myself in the physical process of drawing. The second workshop was printing and pattern making with Sarah Bagshaw. This was lively and enjoyable; I am always impressed by what you can achieve with basic materials and techniques such as plastic cup or cork printing, mark making with plastic forks and collaging with chain store craft materials. Art isn’t and shouldn’t be something expensive and inaccessible to all but the divinely chosen few; there is beauty to be found in the everyday and the ordinary and I love art made by using stuff everyone has lying around the house. Personally I am a particular sucker for cardboard, old books and other discarded ephemera, and these elements feature regularly in my personal work. I love the tactile qualities and smell of paper, and the abstract shapes and patterns I can make by ripping and cutting old magazines, flyers, books and packets. I also love the process of making them into something new – making a piece of art by recycling and reusing the old and discarded – beauty in the everyday and the ordinary.

The other exciting new idea I received from yesterday was the information about the Artist Teacher Scheme. I had the opportunity to discuss it with some of the course tutors and current students, all of whom were very positive and encouraging. I think that this is going to be the next step in my artistic journey and am eagerly awaiting the opening of the enrolment for the course. Although the start of the day was slightly fraught (I always get lost in Birmingham), I think my day was summed up by an awesome piece of street art I saw behind the town hall. A huge eagle looks out from a concrete corner, a banner streaming from his beak which reads ‘Todo es posible’. Everything is possible.