Drawing & Sketching · Sketchbooks · Watercolour

Coastal Explorations

I have just recently returned from a 2 day workshop hosted by artist Debbie Lyddon at her Whelk Shed studio in Wells-Next-The-Sea. The theme of the workshop was Coastal Explorations. But before I tell you more about this exciting, creative workshop I must tell you a little about Debbie’s art and where you can find her work on the internet. Debbie has a website – debbielyddon.co.uk, she also blogs at debbielyddon.wordpress.com and you can find her on Instagram – debbie.lyddon. Please, please DO have a long look at her stunning, original and inspiring art work – she creates beautiful textile art, she also draws, sketches, paints with watercolours and creates with a whole host of other mediums too. You wont regret losing an hour or two exploring her work…

The workshop theme was Coastal Explorations. It was a 2 day workshop on the 11th & 12th of May (Saturday and Sunday). There were only 5 spaces on this workshop which were occupied by myself, my sister Carolyn and three other lovely ladies. The workshop sold out super quickly, so I was really pleased that Carolyn wasted no time in getting us booked up.

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Debbie’s Studio

This is Debbie’s studio. It’s a lovely large, bright work space along the quay at the water’s edge in Wells-Next-The-Sea. We arrived just after 9 am for a 9.30 am start. The workshop ran till 4.30 pm each day. This is actually my first ever proper art workshop.

Once everyone had arrived we began by having to introduce ourselves to everyone, saying a little about ourselves. Then it was straight down to creative endeavors. Saturday morning was to begin with a SIGHT WALK but as it was raining we improvised and began by painting a large sheet of paper (about quarter imperial size) with watercolour paint – just totally random splashes of paint and mark making. This only took about 20 minutes or so and we left them to dry.

It had now stopped raining so we began our SIGHT WALK. Debbie had made us all a small sketchbook from drawing paper – neatly hand stitched. Armed with the sketchbook, along with a pencil and graphite stick, out we went for a walk along the marshes. We had to observe our surroundings, near and far,  and then make quick drawings and notes about what we saw. We were encouraged to FILL our sketchbooks! We also collected interesting things we found along the way – shells, rusty objects, pebbles etc.

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A SIGHT WALK along the marshes

This is where we walked, picked up interesting things from the shores of the quay and farther along we ventured up onto the dyke (the grass bank on the right of the photo).

Back in the studio we got down to creating things inspired by our sight walk. The painted sheet of paper we did at the outset we turned into a concertina book. We had to write notes from our sight walk into the book.

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How to cut and fold the paper to make the concertina book can be found in this book…Making Books - NB

Debbie highly recommended this book. I bought mine from Ebay for the princely sum of £1.50 and it’s as new. It is a brilliant book full of creative book ideas.

We also made plaster prints inspired by our sight walk. I’m not going into all the ins and outs of how to make plaster prints but if you ever get the opportunity to do it I highly recommend it. Here are my plaster prints…

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Plaster Prints

We used objects we found on our sight walk to make impressions in clay first then the plaster is used to make a print from the clay. I really like how my plaster prints turned out and this is something I would love to do again sometime.

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Plaster prints in progress in Debbie’s Studio

Above is a view of our working space in Debbie’s studio. On the tables you can see our plaster prints in progress, paint trays, drawing materials etc.

As well as the plaster prints we also started to make a pocket for our concertina book (pictured earlier) to go in. We started by painting a piece of our chosen fabric with acrylic paint. If you look at Debbie’s work you will see that she creates lots of lovely rusty eyelets in her work. She showed us how she does this and we incorporated an eyelet in our fabric, which was left overnight in the studio to dry and hopefully go rusty…

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Our painted fabrics with eyelets, hanging to dry and rust in the studio…

I think this brings us to an end of the first day of the workshop. It was a full day but very productive and fun.

Day two of the workshop (Sunday) began at 9.30 am again. We began by making our own hand made sketchbook to take outside for a SOUND WALK. I absolutely loved making my own sketchbook. Debbie gave us all a standard bookbinding needle, which we took home with us. We used the correct linen thread for book binding too. This is something I’ve wanted to do for a long time but never really knew how to go about it.

Debbie showed us a Powerpoint presentation about seeing sound and translating sounds into art – very interesting. Then we went outside, like the previous day, with the sketchbooks we made ourselves for a SOUND WALK. For the sound walk it was all about what we can hear and not what we can see. We had to just listen to everything around us, near and far and document it in words and drawing/mark making in our sketchbooks.

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My Sight and Sound Sketchbooks from the workshop
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My hand made sketchbook made for the SOUND WALK

Above and below are images of my sound sketchbooks – just writing and drawing what I hear…

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Have you ever tried to draw sounds?  You don’t draw what’s making the sound – you have to draw the sound itself. Try it – you may find it quite tricky… !

Back in the studio we had to create a piece of art inspired by what we’d heard on our sound walk. We were given a really wide but short piece of watercolour paper to paint on and then fold into a concertina book. Here’s my sound inspired concertina book…

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An abstract watercolour in book form inspired by sound

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Above and below are two closer views of my sound inspired concertina book…

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Abstract swooshes of watercolour paint and and marks from a graphite stick…

Remember the painted fabrics we left to dry in the studio from the previous day? Today we waxed the fabric and then stitched them up by hand to create a pocket for the concertina book we made the previous day…

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My hand stitched pocket with a watercolour concertina book inside

Stitch is really not my thing. But I embraced it and did it. I was just about as far out of my comfort zone as I could be doing this and my hand stitching is not great. I like the eyelet and it has a little rust on it. I quite like how the pocket turned out.

Sunday afternoon we also made a little box for one of our plaster prints to go in…

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It was made from felt dipped in wax and then tied up with wire. This was lovely to do and something I will definitely do again. This now sits on the windowsill in my home studio.

I think that pretty much brings us to an end of the two day workshop. It was a full two days – Debbie packed a lot into each day. We all had a lot of fun and learnt new things.

In between all the creativity each day, we had a tea break in the mornings with lovely cookies, lovely lunches each day of home made quiche, salads, cheese and fresh bread and tea break with home made cake in the afternoons! What more could you want? Also, I may not have documented everything we did in the exact order that we did it, but I think you’ve got a very good idea of how the workshop progressed.

What have I taken away from this workshop? Several things…

  • I love making my own sketchbooks/books and will continue to make lots more
  • I will try to increase my awareness of my surroundings via all of my senses
  • I will do more drawing, sketching, painting outside in inspiring locations using my own hand made sketchbooks
  • I will try to create new and unique art from the drawings, sketches and notes in my  handmade sketchbooks

The workshop has given me a valuable glimpse into Debbie’s thought process and work practice as an artist. She was very generous with her knowledge and resources. She also very kindly let us photograph the numerous pieces of art on display in her studio. But those photos I will not post – it’s up to you to make the effort to visit her website, blog or Instagram account. It’s a very inspiring way to spend an hour or two…

Sketchbooks · Watercolour

Shading

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As you can see,  this is not a watercolour masterpiece! But what it is, is an exercise in creating 3 dimensional shapes in watercolour by Hazel Soan on YouTube.

As instructed, I started with very simple pencil outlines of the 3 items and then tried to follow Hazel’s on screen instructions on getting the shading in the right places to give the impression of  three dimensional objects. I know this is something I need to improve upon… alot! So for me this was a good place to start and I found the exercise very useful.

I used just one colour for simplicity – Prussian Blue (in the video Hazel used Indigo) and I painted this straight into my Khadi paper sketchbook. I’m reasonably happy with how this turned out – it’s not a bad start. And I’m reasonably happy with the shapes of my objects. Drawing things in perspective was the only useful thing I remember learning in art class at school.

I hope you all enjoy the rest of the bank holiday weekend – I’m off now to fill my head with more watercolour fluff… !!

Sketchbooks · Watercolour

Sea Shell Sketches

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Seashell sketches ~ drawn with a HB pencil and painted with watercolours. I drew rough pencil outlines and filled in with watercolours.

These are the very first sketches I’ve done since I was in Secondary School, which was the better part of 40 years ago – I’m VERY out of practice! For my first attempts, I’m reasonably pleased with them.

My goal this year is to draw and sketch more and paint them with watercolours. At school I used to be reasonably good at drawing – but sadly the teaching and motivation I got from the art (and needlework) teacher was virtually nonexistent…!

I was inspired to do these by Anna Warren – her sketches in her blog posts Sketching in Tasmania and Freycinet – from the sketchbook are just lovely. Do have a look…

(NB – week 2 of the Surface Treatment Workshop will be next Wednesday instead of today – life got in the way…. as it does… !)

Sketchbooks · Surface Treatment Workshop

Indigo Circles

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A second selection of stamping samples for week 1 of the Surface Treatment Workshop…

This time I used a stencil as a stamp, which was suggested in the book. I used indigo paint with a touch of white mixed in with it…

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The prints are very simple, but I like the contrast between the indigo paint and the white paper underneath…

How the prints appear in my sketchbook:

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This will be all for week 1 now and for week 2 the focus is on stencils…

Sketchbooks · Surface Treatment Workshop

Surface Treatment Workshop – Week 1

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This is week 1 of the Surface Treatment Workshop! Week 1 starts off very basically with stamping. For the sample above I covered a 6″ x 6″ piece of paper with collage and then simply stamped circles over the top in different sizes and colours. I rummaged round the house and found lots of things I could use for stamping circles – above I used a cardboard tube, a jam jar, a little bit of bubble wrap and… the best bit… an empty Belgian Bun packet! The larger dark blue circles were from the bottom of a plastic Belgian Bun packet – this has just got to be the best excuse ever for buying Belgian Buns!

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For the above sample I started with a 6″ x 6″ piece of paper and covered it with white gesso. Then I stamped a gold and turquoise pattern on the base of the sample using acrylic paints. To create the square pattern I used some of that rubbery stuff you put under mats and rugs to stop them slipping… ! For the small dark circles I used bubble wrap and then simply stamped the fish on. Very simple!

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Both samples have been stuck into a dedicated 8″ x 8″ sketchbook set aside especially for the project. I’m trying not to be overly fussy or fiddly with the samples for this project, after all, it is meant to be an experimental learning curve. I think I’m reasonably happy with how week 1 has turned out – now looking forward to week 2… !

Sketchbooks · Watercolour

The Blues

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Watercolour samples which have now been stuck into one of my growing number of sketchbooks. Lovely blue shades – Prussian Blue, Indigo, Cerulean Blue, along with Phthalo Turquoise, Lemon Yellow, Sap Green, Paynes Grey and Burnt Umber.

You will recognize this image as one of the images in my current blog header…

Sketchbooks · Watercolour

Shades Of Blue

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This is another one of a series of colour charts I have done in a dedicated sketchbook. These are watercolours in shades of blue and turquoise mixed with Chinese White. I absolutely adore these colours and shades.

These charts are purely for my own reference – I find it useful to have a visual guide of how colours mix together. Sometimes the results are quite unexpected. Plus seeing lots of beautiful colours and shades on one page inspires me. And it’s a really fun thing to do… !

Photography · Sketchbooks

Vintage Print Sketchbook

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At the same time that I bought the sketchbook in my previous post I also bought this one too! What am I like? I can’t help myself!

As you can see it has a lovely off white linen cover with a vintage print. But inside….

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…. it is filled with the most beautiful thick cream coloured paper. It’s slightly crinkly textured paper with a handmade feel to it. It just lovely! It’s paper that’s crying out for some paint, ink and colour…

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On the left is the sketchbook from my previous post. I don’t know exactly what I will fill these books with yet but I will know the right thing when it comes along!

I buy these books when I see them for one very good reason, even though I don’t know exactly what I will fill them with and that is because:

if I don’t buy them when I see them, they aren’t going to be there when I go back! It’s now or never! Sketchbooks like these are not run of the mill, mass produced, when they’re gone, they’re gone!

If there’s one important thing I’ve learnt in life it’s to seize opportunities when they come along – you may not get a second chance!

Photography · Sketchbooks

Decorated Sketchbook

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This sketchbook caught my eye in a shop in town, I couldn’t resist…

It’s beautifully covered with a neutral linen and lots of shiny beads in shades of cream, silver, gold, copper, bronze and amber…

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Sketchbook bokeh…

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The shiny beads catch the light and sparkle…

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I’m looking forward to filling this book with beautiful things…

Collage · Sketchbooks

Warming Up Winter With Red & Gold

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I’ve called this “A Winter Rose” – it’s mixed media on paper, 10 cm x 7.5 cm. I actually used real rose petals in this that I had dried quite a long time ago and saved. I stuck them on with acrylic gel and when dry I went over them with and acrylic glaze tinted with garnet coloured pearl mica. They are now perfectly preserved on my art work!

How my winter rose looks in my collaged sketchbook:

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The following two pieces of art I have collectively called “Harbour Lights” as the sequins remind me of the lights round Mousehole harbour (Cornwall, UK):

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The red and gold work well together on the vintage collage paper background. Both are mixed media on paper and they measure 10 cm x 15 cm and 11 cm x 15 cm respectively. They have both been stuck in my collaged sketchbook.