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.

I Write Because…

I’ve recently found the email courses on the WordPress Daily Post blog, which you can visit here; I started this blog at the end of last year, and I’ve managed to keep it updated weekly for a whole year! Writing and blogging has actually become something of a minor obsession for me; I have always been a compulsive list maker, and can even admit to having copied lists out again when they got too crossed out and scribbled on (I call it ‘updating’); and I am completely obsessed with stationery, being unable to walk into any shop without browsing (buying) notebooks, pens, pencils etc.

But when I started exploring my own ideas and practice in more depth on the Artist Teacher Scheme, I suddenly felt compelled to start writing again; I mean proper writing, like I did as a teenager at school and university, working on essays and keeping a diary and doodling in the margin. Pencils (pencils!) and notebooks and highlighter pens. I think that at the moment I am going through such a massive period of growth both professionally and personally that the only way to stop my head from exploding is to let some of it out onto paper, write it down so I don’t forget it and I can come back to it, write it down so I know it isn’t lost forever.

I love the physical act of writing longhand; I am mesmerised by the regular rhythmic movement of my hand as it progresses across the page; I love the shapes of the words and I marvel that my brain and hand working together can produce these same shapes again and again and again. I recall how my handwriting has changed and evolved over the years as I have grown and matured. I am obsessed with the physical process; I have filmed my hand writing and made audio recordings of the sound of the pencil moving across the page.

My art work takes its starting points from memory, personal narrative, the persistence of identity; I am fascinated by the philosophical paradox of self – what makes me uniquely me? how come I am still the same person that I was 20 years ago? how is it that physically, my brain looks much like everyone else’s, but my thoughts, dreams, likes, dislikes etc are uniquely mine? I attempt to express the processes, both mental and physical, that I am exploring and trying to capture. Writing has become part of that process of self-exploration and self-discovery.

I write only because

There is a voice within me

That will not be still.

Sylvia Plath

Illustrated Lives

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I’ve spent alot of time idly imagining what my dog does when I’m out at work, and this week I have been revisiting this idea in my sketchbook. My dog is a collie cross with a big attitude, so it’s not difficult to depict her in various everyday humorous scenarios . I’ve also included other dogs, who belong to family and friends; they’re becoming quite a gang. My daughter’s imagination has been really fired up by this tangent and she invents things for me to draw the dogs doing; her latest request is for a picture of Delly helping to do the gardening on our allotment. So I’m enjoying a relaxed bank holiday weekend lounging in front of the TV with the dog chewing up her new bone all over my clean blankets and my sketchbook on my knee, happily doodling away…. hey, wait…. there’s the beginning of a new idea for a sketch….

Ideas and Daydreams

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I’m still busily recording my artistic aspirations, as suggested by Sunni Brown in The Doodle Revolution. I’ve found that visualizing how I’d like my future career to look is helping me to better clarify exactly what it is that I want to achieve, which in turn is helping me to identify small steps I can take to get myself there.

I’m hoping to be able to set up an atelier at work for the children to work in, like the Reggio Emilia preschools in Italy. I would love to work as a practicing artist in such a setting; I have been reading about the value of this practise – how we model learning in so many subjects for our children, yet expect them to progress in art with less skilled adult input (although I am aware that many of you lovely people out there are putting in some highly skilled and dedicated work). I’ve also read up about several schools which have this setup on the AccessArt website, and have contacted one setting and received positive support and feedback. I’m lucky enough to work in a nursery where creativity is valued and the arts and art education are promoted, so watch this space for more on the progress of this project!

I’m finding that I’m working in two ways at the moment; I’ve got a visual notebook for doodling, daydreaming, writing, drawing and general brain dumping; and my two Sketchbook Circle books, which are mostly abstract mixed media pieces where I take a more fluid, loose approach and let the work flow.

Interestingly, I don’t use colour in my visual notebooks; I like to work in pencil. This is something I might try and develop this week, as well as putting the finishing touches to my April book and sending it off. And finding some funding for the art studio at work. And thinking of ideas for an outdoor art project I’ve been approached about. And….. and….. and…..

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