Monthly Archives: October 2015

Module 1 – Chapter 10 ( Zig Zag Colour Book)

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Creative Sketchbook, Module 1
Chapter 10: ZigZag Book
Activity 10.1: Celebrating Colour. Choose your favourite colour and put together a zigzag book which celebrates this colour. You can use any of the techniques explored in earlier chapters, along with coloured papers (made or found) and photographs and images from magazines and newspapers.

Aims: The colour was never in any doubt – I’ve always loved blue (left to my own devices everything in the house would be blue, and I’d only wear blue clothes but, fortunately perhaps, my family force me to exercise some restraint). Anyway, I wanted this zigzag book to be something special to me, because although Module 1 has taken me such a long time (with the hugest gap in the middle), I really have loved working on it, and I’ve played around with all kinds of new techniques, and found new ways of looking at things. So I’ve tried to celebrate blue things, rather than just the colour blue. I’m not sure if I’ve met the brief, but I wanted to interpret this in my own way, and even if it’s not very good, it really is all my own work. And I wanted to think about it, and plan it out properly beforehand, rather than following my usual scatter-gun approach, which means I tend to jump straight in, without sufficient preparation, then get side-tracked on to something completely different, or disappointed because things don’t pan out as I anticipated.

First I gathered blue objects – beads, buttons, scraps of material, wool, embroidery threads, postcards, photos, pictures etc, and put them in an ‘Inspiration Box’. Then I made a Mind Map of all sorts of things I like, with a list of the various activities we’ve done on the course, and tried to marry the two together so I had eight ideas (one for each of the eight pages in the book), and the techniques I thought suitable for them. And I got a postcard sized sketchbook (A6) to keep track of my ideas and work some little samples (a bigger sketchbook would be much too daunting for what’s essentially a sampler).

I did consider cutting the top of my book into an arch shape, or creating a border which could go on each page, but I decided it’s best left simple. But I have got a front and back cover, because all books need covers.

The Blue Marble (Page 1 of my Zigzag Book).
On reflection I’m not sure if this is quite blue
enough, and the photo doesn’t show that
the background really is a good, dark blue.

 These are photos of my notes and trial runs.

Chapter 9 – Arcimboldo

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Creative Sketchbook, Module 1
Chapter 9: Arcimboldo
Activity 9. 1: Research the work of the artist Giuseppe Arcimboldo and then create a face in homage to his work.
Written on computer and stuck into sketchbook – sorry about the quality of the printing. We’ve run out of decent paper, so we’re recycling my husband’s old classroom scrap paper, work sheets, lesson notes etc (because he won’t need them now he’s retired)! Unfortunately it was cheap paper to start with, so when you use the back the print on the front shows through, and when you use glue it buckles really badly.




Chapter 7 – Simple Printing

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Creative Sketchbooks, Module 1
Chapter 7: Simple Printing

Activity 7.1:
 Make a print using a piece of fruit or a vegetable.
Activity 7.2: Make repeat prints using a potato to make the printing block.).
Activity 7.3: Make repeat patterns using a card printing block (stamp).
Reflections: What can I say? I loved, loved, loved working on this chapter – I just adored print making, and the way you can use quite ordinary, everyday items to create patterns, images, pictures… And you get the most extraordinary effects if you keep overprinting, creating layer upon layer in different colours. And there’s an element of unpredictability, which I rather like.
As for making my own stamps, I would never have thought of doing that in a million years, but it was so simple, and so brilliant – initially I used card, stuck on mountboard, but found thin sheets of crafting foam easier to work with. They’re fairly easy to clean, and once they’re stuck on mountboard they’re surprisingly robust – they stiffen up after you’ve used them for the first time, and are better if you use them once, then give them a coat of varnish or glue.
I used acrylic paint mainly, but tried inks and fabric paint as well, and I did some printing directly into the sketchbook, and some on the decorated papers from Chapter 4 – and I’ve got a stash of printed papers that aren’t in the sketchbook that I’ll hopefully be able to use for something else!
I hope you don’t mind, but I was enjoying myself so much that after completing 7.1, 7.2 and 7.3 I branched out and ended up experimenting with odds and ends from the house and garden, with varying degrees of success. Then I got even more sidetracked and tried monoprinting, which was FANTASTIC. To start with, I made a plate with gelatine, but it’s not a very stable medium (although it does give some lovely textured-looking effects), and it smells a tad peculiar. So I bought some acetate sheets and played around with those, building up layers, and underpainting, and overpainting, so I’ve included some of those in the sketchbook.
I could have been a bit more organised in my approach – the prints are a bit all over the place, and some are the finished thing, and I was pleased with them, while others are things that didn’t go as planned, or things that I could go back and do more work on, and some I was just messing around. But they give an overview of what I’ve been doing. Most of the prints have brief notes scribbled on them, but they’re not very legible, so I’ve numbered them all and included a key (at the end) because I hopped about from thing to thing, they’re not in the sketchbook in any sensible order. So here are the pages. 

 Key To Prints:
1.      Cauliflower in green acrylic on orange painted paper from Ch 4.
2.    lengthways carrot & large courgette circles, in acrylic on decorated paper
3.    Apples cut the other way to usual, showing seeds as a hidden star.
4.    Messed up apples – surface not even, paint too sticky!
5.    Half an apple overprinted in different colours. Love this!
6.    Potato prints overprinted in different colours. Love this too.
7.    Apples and cut-up apples from home-made card stamp.
8.    Apples and cut-up apples from home-made card stamp.
9.    Apples and cut-up apples from home-made foam stamp
10. Apples and cut-up apples from home-made foam stamp.
11.  Large star made from potato print triangles.
12. Small stars made from potato print triangles.
13. More potato prints from the triangle!
14. Potato prints on plain paper (same as 6). They were random cuts, that weren’t meant to be anything, but lots of them printed together look like little monks or nuns marching along in a procession.
15. Monoprint. Blue ink wash, overlaid with blue acrylic print, then rubbed with metallic wax crayon, and a pale purple ink wash applied. This needs ds more purple I think. Or another colour. But I like the effect.
16. Purple ink wash overlaid with monoprint using white acrylic and stamp.
17. Two samples of fabric, printed with selection of screw and nail heads, washers, buttons, a small cork etc, using fabric paints and a silver stamp pad. I was really pleased with these.
18. Two monoprints. Top one was blue ink wash directly into sketchbook, then monoprint made with blue acrylic and textured wallpaper. Then when it was dry I scribbled over it with a metallic wax crayon, and applied a wash of purple ink. Bottom one was a monoprint using same wallpaper, in white acrylic, on white deli paper (stuck over a print which went wrong), and second monoprint, in pink acrylic, using washers, screws etc . Bit fiddly as the paint dries very quickly..
19. Messy leaves. Honesty seed pods which look far less effective than the real thing. The top bit of poppy seed heads, which look almost mechanical, like little gears or something. They’re worth persevering with
20.Cauliflower monoprint – green acrylic brushed on acetate sheet, then bits of cauliflower pressed in. Very simple, but quite effective. Am toying with idea of adding an ink wash…
21. Photo of my home-made stamps – the two at the top were made from thin crafting foam, the two at the bottom from thick card.

Chapter 6 – Colour Matching

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Creative Sketchbooks, Module 1
Chapter 6: Colour Matching
Activity 6.1:
Mix paint to match a picture of fruit or vegetables.
I was a bit wary of this to start with, but once I got going I was fine – I used water colours and found matching colours wasn’t as difficult as I thought it would be, and I really enjoyed it. I remembered to jot down the colours I used, and even tried to keep the track of the proportions I used (there’s progress for you!). I felt a real sense of achievement and was pleased with the results. 

 Activity 6.2: Make a pattern using the palette created in the previous activity.

The aim was to create a pattern or abstract picture which reflects the proportions of colour in my source picture, which was a very different way of looking at pictures, colour and pattern – it made me inspect the original photo very carefully, and made me realise there was more variety than I thought at first.

For this I had to scribble a looping, curving pattern with white wax crayon, oil pastel, or candle, all of which will resist wet paint. Since it is such a long time since I’ve done any wax resist painting, I experimented with all three, and had a go with masking fluid as well. The oil pastel won out – it had good resist qualities, was much the easiest to use, and was clearly visible on the page (important when your eyesight is bad!).


At one point, despite the warning in the workbook about making lots of paint, I ran out, and initially left it as it was, because I was scared of spoiling it. But later I went back in, mixed up some more, and I don’t think you can see the join, which is good. Overall the results were not too bad, and I was quite pleased. However, although the proportions of colour I used were OK, the balance of colour was wrong – far too much white all blocked together, which made it look unfinished. Perhaps I should go back in and add another colour, to break it up a bit?

 Extra Activity: Make a pattern using the palette created in the previous activity.
·         Try the same activity as before, but vary the colours used.
·         Reverse the proportion of colours used.
·         Swap light colours with dark colours and vice versa.
·         Swap colours with their complementary colour. 
I did a couple of patterns using my pumpkin colours – the first one with different proportions to the original, and the second trying to reverse dark and light, which was not totally successful, but looks quite nice. (The first one is at the top of the page below, the second one is at the top of the next page – I don’t know why I didn’t do them on the same page).
Then I checked my colour wheel to try and make complementary colours for my oranges, yellows, greens and white, and even managed to mix a very dark purplish greyish black from phthalmo blue and alizarin red, which delighted me no end, but I used a ready-made tube of violet which had gone hard for my violet colour – I cut it in half, scooped a bit out with a cocktail stick and watered it down, and it was just what I wanted.
However, I had a disaster with the Alizarin red, because I squeezed a bit too hard and a lot of it came out in a rush, all over the painting, which hadn’t got all that far. I tried rubbing it off with a baby wipe, but that made the mess worse, so I blotted it with kitchen paper, and painted pale red over the biggest and worst bits, where it even covered the waxy outlines. Then I used a wet brush to lift off as much of the smaller blobs of paint as I could, and used a dry brush to get rid of the excess moisture. After everything was thoroughly dry I carried on painting, using darker colours over some of the red. It does look a little peculiar, but it will remind me never, ever to mess around with paints over a work in progress!
Anyway, I did a second attempt, altering the colouring distribution, which looks much better.

I really enjoyed this chapter. I loved the colour matching exercise, and resist painting was a fun technique to play around with. More importantly, it made me think about shape and colour in a different way, and to consider the variations of just one colour, and how changing the proportions of colours used in a picture can alter its appearance. I’d like to try this with identical pictures.