Tuesday, September 28, 2010

September catch-up

Apologies for ignoring you this past couple of weeks. I wish I could blame it all on Google, but the truth is I’ve had a couple of infections and have been struggling with extreme lethargy!

In an effort to keep my spirits up, any energy was quickly channelled into something creative.

It’s pretty hard to work on anything new requiring inspiration or courage to push the limits, but I have done a bit of “scribbling” as planned.

Below are a few examples which I think may hold some potential.


Ink, graphite.


calligraphic-moon Ink, aquarelle. This one is just a study really, but I like the idea of the ink marks floating over a hazy “moon”.



Ink, aquarelle


While I’ve been enjoying playing with these drawing materials, I’ve found the lack of a fully satisfying finished product was becoming frustrating. I’m doing these drawings primarily in the very first journal I made, the one at the bottom of the picture below, which you can also see here. It’s the very last empty journal I have, so I decided it was time to put some of the papers I’ve collected to use, and to get my binding skills back in practice.

The red journal below is the result. It’s filled with acid free cartridge paper and has a combined Celtic/Coptic binding. The two centre threads in the Celtic weaves pass through the same hole, which was an experiment, but I think it has worked well.


I find it’s a good to combine working on something with a nice concrete outcome (like a journal) while doing something exploratory and with results that are less tangible, so far.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Problems with Google

This is just a quick post to let you know that for some weeks now I’ve been having a few problems with Google, and hence blogger.

I’ve just discovered that a number of comments I’ve made when visiting other people’s blogs have not come through – either that or people just don’t like my comments and are blocking me!!

So anyway I just want you to know that if you’ve noticed I’ve been a bit absent, well that is probably why.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

September Scribbles Week 2

I returned to my first attempts with the pipette with a white pen, a Uniball Signo, that I bought maybe a year ago from Amazing Papers.

I really enjoy the look of the white line and devoted a lot of time this week to trying out different ideas with it.

These pages from my visual journal are posted in the order they were created.




Below: Ink, coloured pencil, pen


I bought myself an inexpensive calligraphy pen which came with three different nibs, and tested out my new sepia calligraphy ink (below)



Above: Calligraphy ink on vellum, monoprint on perspex, which you might recognize from here.


Above: Calligraphy ink with brushes.

Thursday, September 09, 2010

Bibliotheca Part II

A few weeks have passed since I wrote about my visit to the Bibliotheca Librorum apud Artificem. That was intended to be the first of two posts about that afternoon, so here at last is the second.

If you know about the history of artists books, you will probably know about Ed Ruscha. He was a key artist working in the modern movement in the mid-sixties, which led to the development of the book arts as we know it today.

The Bibliotheca holds four books by Ruscha, who works primarily as a photographer. I’ve seen what I believe was his first artists book, a concertina entitled Every Building on Sunset Strip and also the famous Twenty-Six Gasoline Stations in other collections.

Every building on Sunset Strip

Click on image for larger view

However, it was a pleasure to handle these unassuming photographic collections, which radically influenced so much of today’s photography. For me, as a child of the sixties, there was also a guilty nostalgic pleasure in the imagery, especially Nine Swimming Pools.

The use of such everyday descriptions as titles fits perfectly with Ruscha’s goal that these be multiples, readily available and draws a powerful distinction between his books and expensive, glossy fine art photography books. There’s something very approachable about these books.

Sarah Plimpton’s For Now is a very different style of book. Abstract, organic, earthy and quite sensual, a book for a lover of texture and etchings.

Sarah Plimpton

This is the sort of book that makes you want to linger. Plimpton comes from New York, and now divides her time between that city and Paris (sounds good to me!) She also paints and writes poetry. You can see two more of her books at Bibliotheca  Librorum and more of her work on her website.

Finally I come to one of Monica Oppen’s own books, Rebecca's Diary. (You will remember from Part 1 that Bibliotheca Librorum… is Monica’s collection.) Monica is a talented artist and bookbinder in her own right, and I mention her book last only because I know that for her, the Bibliotheca is not a way to publicize her own work, but to share the beautiful objects she has collected over the years.  

Rebecca’s Diary starts from the original Grimm’s version of Cinderella and investigates the girl who becomes Cinderella. This book is the young girl’s imagined diary, and allows us to delve into one of the most loved characters of children’s literature, accompanied by Monica’s beautiful hand-coloured etchings.

My afternoon exploring a small part of the Bibliotheca Librorum apud Artificem passed too quickly, but I’m already looking forward to my next visit.

Monday, September 06, 2010

Calligraphy: inspirational book

I had a request after my last post for a bit more on this book which triggered my excursion into this new area. I’ve scanned the table of contents because that is what I always want to check out when I’m considering a book.


After that I photographed a number of spreads, because you really need to see the full opening to get a real sense of the flavour of the book. They are just snaps, but the full book wouldn’t fit on my scanner. Nevertheless, I think you’ll get the idea. I was tempted to put up a lot more, there are so many beautiful images in the book, but I suspected the publisher and author might not be happy about that. Actually I don’t know why, I think the more you see, the more you are likely to be drawn to the book.

call1 call2 call3 call4Finally I scanned some info about the author as well. I noticed that the book was originally published in German and it appears the author may be Swiss as her earlier books have French titles. That may explain why she isn’t well-known in English-speaking calligraphy circles.


If you like the look of this type of imagery, the book goes into the sorts of nibs and other tools used, as well as other variables, like the support used, speed of writing etc. It doesn’t give instructions or specific “projects” though, if that is the sort of thing you like.

Saturday, September 04, 2010

How are bird poo & calligraphy connected?

It seems a little explanation is in order! I enjoyed participating in the “August Break” so much, and I realized a few things.

It helped me to identify what sort of subject matter interests me most in my photography (reflections, abstraction, light and shadow and strangely perhaps, architecture). I’ve honed my skills with Photoshop so I can get closer to achieving the “look” and mood that I’m seeking.

The trouble is that photography is just a little too “hands off” for me. I enjoy the actual going out and scouting for potential photographs, and the digital processing is okay (not a negative anyway) but even when I print off the result, I don’t really get the same “buzz” as I do from the handcrafted work I’ve done. Disappointing, but knowledge is power.

It made me think about the value of concentrating on a particular medium for a while, practising regularly, daily if possible to see how I go with it and whether it might become a regular part of my skill-set.

There are a number of areas that I’m very drawn to, and have only dabbled with. I’ve bought some gear, maybe a book or two or gone to a work shop, but not really gone much further. My studio is full to over-flowing, and I think it might be time to get methodical.

So…in the interest of keep me on track, here’s a basic list:

abstraction (huh! not a medium, I know, but more of a lens through which to explore:

  • drawing
  • printmaking
  • encaustic

I don’t see any of this taking me away from books, which is good, because it’s important to keep something constant!

So this month, it’s going to be drawing though not so much in a representational way, more in an abstract, tactile, material and maybe colour sort of way. I would see this as a way into both printmaking and encaustic.

A few months ago I stumbled across this wonderful book by Denise Lach, Calligraphy: A book of contemporary inspiration.

Denise Lach: Calligraphy

Suddenly I had found a book which articulated exactly the approach I’d been thinking about for the past couple of years. The book uses natural textures and forms as inspiration for what I would call “a calligraphic response”. The results are fascinating, beautiful and sublime, and even better, in the book Denise says you don’t need to study calligraphy before you try this way of working!

I’ve started exploring inks, because I love transparency and a kind-of calligraphic effect, without actually moving into text. I’m interested in the meditative qualities of repetition and the ritualistic nature of some of these practices, although I don’t particularly want to follow the traditional paths.

So here I am, and the first two days I’ve been playing with probably the easiest tool, the pipette. You saw an example in my last post, and here’s another:


At the moment I’ve only one pipette, so I’m limited in the type of line I can achieve, but I like the organic, hand-drawn quality.

I went out walking and found inspiration in the most mundane marks. In fact, I went back for my camera, so I could show you.

inspiration on the path Yes! it’s bird poo!

Below is my first attempt:

pipette-ruling2556 Not as easy as it looks – this seems too “drawn”.

Hmm, this is better, but I think ink might be too thin. Paint might work better. Not really sure how much you can expect when you take your inspiration from poo!


So I’ll be continuing my “mark making” explorations and posting a few other posts, still catching up on exhibitions I saw while away. This month I plan to draw every day, Mon-Fri, but I may post in small batches to conserve a little energy. And hopefully you’ll witness some improvement!!!

Friday, September 03, 2010

Pipette play


Just a taster of what I’ve been up to yesterday and today. A bit too tired to post more tonight, but I promise a follow-up tomorrow with lots of pics, and a bit of an explanation.

Happy Friday evening (or day if you’re in the northern hemisphere).

Wednesday, September 01, 2010