Transformational Landscapes

I’ve finished my Transformational Landscapes sketchbook, a spread from which is featured above. 

I usually blog on a Sunday, but I’m currently experiencing technical issues uploading photos to WordPress, so if you are interested in seeing the book in it’s entirety, please head over to my Instagram feed here. You can also find some of the images on Twitter here, and on my Facebook page here.

Apologies for my technical rubbishness, hopefully normal blogging schedule will resume soon!

Circling

My personal work continues to explore themes around movement, journeys, and the spaces between physical and imaginary landscapes. I am drawn towards a neutral, subdued palette of browns, greys and black, reflecting the rather introspective nature of my current preoccupations.

In contrast, this month’s sketchbook, sent to me by Suzanne, is full of printing, colour and doodling; I am inspired out of my navel-gazing and have fetched out my acrylic paints. I might look out the coloured tissue paper tomorrow and reconnect with my inner child.

Another Circle Closes

It’s that time of year again… I’m working for the last time in the book I have shared over the year with Ben, before I post it back after Christmas. I’m feeling a sense of achievement as I look back over the pages we have shared, and the visual conversation we have had. I have been lucky enough again to share with two talented practitioners who have made me think, and have challenged my own practice.

My experiences on the Artist Teacher scheme have inevitably found their way into my sketchbooks this year, and vice versa, reminding me how different aspects of my practice all inform each other and are influenced by each other. Having the sketchbooks on the go alongside the ATS enables me to put ideas on the backburner and work on something else, or try things out in a different way, allowing me to explore and experiment in different contexts.

I have sent my sketchbook back to Louise for the final time, and I’m excited to see how she responds to my final additions. I have signed up for another year of the Circle, hopefully one sketchbook partnership and one digital partnership; I am already excited about where the experience will take me next.

Liminal

Liminal: adj, technical, i) of, or relating to a transitional or initial stage; ii) at a boundary or threshold (Oxford Concise English Dictionary).

This is a word I have come across fairly frequently of late; it appears quite a lot in artists’ statements in degree shows and galleries, and I’d read it a few times before I happened across it in this post by Andrea Liu. I looked it up, forgot about it, forgot what it meant, and then it cropped up again a couple of days ago on the WordPress inspiration site, The Daily Post. So I looked it up again. This time the word resonated; I don’t think I’ll be adding it to my artist statement any time soon, as my style is a bit more down-to-earth that that, but I’m definitely at a transitional phase in my personal and professional journey as an artist.

It’s also another transitional phase in the Sketchbook Circle cycle; I have made my last contributions to the book I have shared this year with Louise, and will be sending it back for her to put in her own final additions; and Ben’s book will soon be on it’s way back to me for the final time. I’ve signed up for another year’s collaboration, and am hoping this time to push myself out of my comfort zone and enter into a digital collaboration as well as a sketchbook partnership. Sketchbook Circle has and continues to be a pivotal experience in my artistic and professional life; the group is vibrant, creative and supportive, and I have connected with some amazingly talented individuals. It has inspired me to take my work in new directions, and combined with this year’s experience on the Artist Teacher Scheme, I have been motivated to take my practice out of a sketchbook and work in new, and sometimes surprising ways. This excites me and scares me in equal measure, but I continue to put myself in situations which challenge me. I have been inspired to leave my regular job in order to pursue a freelance career, and I am making connections and discussing projects with new people. I look back on my first hesitant pages in my first shared sketchbook two years ago and reflect on how far I have come.

100 Pieces of Work

So this month, as well as working, parenting and Sketchbook Circle, I have to produce 100 pieces of work before 3rd September, when I go back to uni in Birmingham to start the second phase of the Artist Teacher Scheme. I have chosen to work in an 8×8 square sketchbook, purchased at New Art Gallery Walsall, where part of the summer intensive was hosted. I don’t feel that all my work has to be contained in this book; last week has opened my mind to ways of working which I have never considered before. Rather I am treating it as a diary or visual journal where I can record my journey. I have already taken lots of reference photos, and done some pieces of writing, both of which I have done before, but not really considered to be ‘part’ of my artistic practice. I have written copious amounts of post-it notes, which I intend to stick into my book. I am, after all, fascinated by the process, by making my thinking visible, by what it is that draws me time and again to the same things. I am reminded by this task of the poem written by Loris Malaguzzi, founder of the pioneering preschools in Reggio Emilia, Italy:

The child is made of one hundred.       The child has a hundred languages      a hundred hands                                        a hundred thoughts                                  a hundred ways of thinking                    of playing, of speaking.                           A hundred always a hundred…

I am reminded to grasp this opportunity to be childlike and engage in play.

I’ve even cleared my work table.