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.

Debbie's Studio - NB
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…

Collage

The Return Of The Collage Project

Today, after a 3 month break,  I am resuming the collage project I was doing with my sister Carolyn. The project had been temporarily shelved for an assortment of reasons but I can now see my way clear to resume where I left off. Carolyn probably wont be posting any for a while yet but do click the link and enjoy browsing through her art work anyway.

For our collage project we were following the prompts in The Collage Workbook by Randel Plowman. It’s a great book with wonderful creative collage ideas. Today I begin with prompt no. 16 which is “upside down”. Here’s what I did…

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Drifting Into Autumn

I have chosen soft autumn colours for this collage and I have deliberately placed several elements of the collage upside down. In my corner of the UK autumn is setting in early – trees are changing colour in the park and leaves are dropping like mad. It’s more than likely due to our unusually hot summer and lack of rain.

I have also done prompt no. 17 which is “finger paint”. I had to place some paint onto my collage using only my fingers – a little bit messy but quite fun to do…

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Summer Breeze

Soft blue shades dominate this collage. White and turquoise acrylic paint was fingered down the left hand side of the collage but I have covered over some of it with collage elements. There is also some white paint across the top too. Erosion Bundle paper was used for this collage along with some used teabags, some scrim and a couple of bits of flaky paint I found in the harbour which probably came off a boat or two…

I love collage – it’s so much fun. I love how it’s a form of art that anyone can do, whether you have no art experience at all or are a seasoned professional artist. Collage can be as simple or as complex as you wish. It’s a fun way to let your imagination run wild.

More collages are in progress as I speak and I will post them soon. Why not try a little collage work this week… ?

Collage

Colour Plunge

This is week 5 of a collage project I’m doing with my sister Carolyn, we’re following the prompts in The Collage Workbook by Randel Plowman. This week’s prompt is colour plunge – create a collage using only different shades of one (or almost one) colour. I did three collages in total…

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Vintage Pale Blue

The first collage is made up from vintage pale blue papers and some fabric from an erosion bundle….

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Prussian Blue

This collage is again blue but totally different blues – rich dark Prussian blue tones to this one. The fabrics in this came from my erosion bundles….

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Roman Baths

The last collage is made using vintage pale green papers, with tiny hints of turquoise here and there. I used some erosion bundle papers in this one. There’s a tiny piece of scrim on the left and some vintage cellotape on the right to add extra vintage touches.

All three collages measure 8″ x 8″. They all turned out completely different to how I originally intended them to be but I like them. Next week’s prompt is image pairings – I need to think about this one….

Erosion Bundles

Art & Beauty In Decay

Summer EB 2017 Mosaic - NB

This image follows on from yesterday’s post of my Summer Erosion Bundle 2017. It’s a mosaic I created in Photoshop of some of the highlights of my erosion bundle. Notice the lovely autumnal colours ~ rusty browns and autumn berry colours….

When I made my erosion bundle back in the summer I realized it would be autumn when I opened it so I deliberately tried to incorporate things that would create autumnal colours – I didn’t  just throw my bundles together, I did give them a little thought…. !

You can click on the image to view a much larger version and large pictures have gone into my Art Gallery.

There is indeed art and beauty in decay, when nature just left to do it’s thing….

 

Erosion Bundles

The Making Of An Erosion Bundle

This is the post a few people have been waiting for…. ! This post is all about how I go about making my Erosion Bundles. I would like to state at the outset that this is NOT A TUTORIAL. In this post I am simply documenting how I made my current set of erosion bundles. Each time I make erosion bundles they are different – different ingredients, different papers, different fabrics etc. – it’s never the same.

I begin by gathering all of the things I need for my bundles. The primary components are the papers and fabrics….

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Papers 1 - NB

These are just a sample of the papers and fabrics I used. Next I need interesting things to go between the papers and fabrics…

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Tea Bags - NBEyeshadow - NBPearl Mica - NB

My ingredients above are: blackberries, blueberries, rusty stuff, teabags, eyeshadow and some pearl mica. The blueberries and blackberries I bought fresh from a local supermarket and froze them till I was ready to use them. All the rusty stuff I have rusted myself in my back garden! The eyeshadow was only 59p from a local discount store!

Ingredients gathered it’s now time to start layering papers and fabrics….

Paper & Fabric Layers - NB

Generally, I put the stronger, thicker papers and fabrics towards the outside of the bundle and the more fragile papers and fabrics nearer the centre of the bundle. At the base I started with a fairly strong piece of paper. In this case I used a piece of textured wallpaper as my base – textured side inside. It was approximately A5 size. Then I started randomly adding some of the staining ingredients on top. Then I added some fabric and more staining ingredients on top of that.  I like to vary the staining ingredients on each layer a little so each layer is slightly different. I added some more paper, more staining ingredients. I keep going till I have quite a thick pile of papers and fabrics layered up as in the picture above. You can see some blueberries and a rusty washer at the edges of the bundle in the picture above.

When my erosion bundle was about 4 – 5 inches high I decided that was enough and tied it all together with string….

Tied Bundle - NB

Tied Bundle - Side View - NB

You’ll notice in the first image above that I used quite a lot of string and I tie my bundles fairly tight as I don’t want anything falling out! You’ll also notice in the first image above that some of the string is stained…. that’s because I recycle my string! I always save the string from my previous erosion bundle and use it again for the next one if possible!

I had enough papers, fabrics and staining ingredients left over to make two more erosion bundles….

2 More Bundles - NB

Notice the recycled string again… ! All three bundles went out in the garden on Monday afternoon (24th July 2017). How long I leave them will depend on the weather. But I don’t want to open them till at least the end of September or possibly the end of October.

Hanging On The Fence - NB

The first bundle (above) is now hanging on my garden fence and the second two are sat on an old seat by my back door. It is hard leaving them for 2 -3 months – the curiosity is almost overwhelming – I’m dying to know what’s going on inside! But you just have to be self controlled, leave them alone and let nature and the elements work their magic on them….

For me, erosion bundles are all about experimenting! There are NO RULES – anything goes! In my view, there is no right or wrong way to do an erosion bundle! I’ve just gradually developed my own way of doing them. Some people like to use only natural ingredients in their bundles (fruit, veg, plants etc.) and that’s fine. But me, I’ll use anything! If I think it might make interesting marks, stains, textures, or cause interesting chemical reactions, I’ll try it! As with all experiments, some erosion bundles turn out better than others. Through my process I’m gradually learning what works and what doesn’t.

So for all you lovely people who have asked how I make my erosion bundles I hope this post has given you a little insight into how I go about making them. And maybe you might feel like giving it a go yourself…..

Photography

Colour Inspiration

Turquoise Boat - NB

These are the colours that are inspiring me today ~ turquoise, aqua, and cyan ~ colours on a sea worn boat in the harbour….

Indigo,Turquoise & Rust - NB

Above we have some bleached dark indigo denim (dark indigo denim doesn’t bleach white, it goes a dark cream colour that you see above) along with some cotton dyed with cerulean blue acrylic paint and some rusty stuff.

They’re colours that complement each other so well. Underneath the image I used Photoshop to “paint” colour samples with colours extracted from the image. In real painting terms the colours I see in the image are Indigo, Cerulean Blue, Buff Titanium and Burnt Sienna ~ a beautiful inspiring combination….

I may have a play with these colours later this evening….

Photography

Indigo & Rust

Denim & Rust - NB

At the weekend I decided to have a little play with some light blue denim and some bleach. I just love the wonderful shades of indigo blue that denim comes in – they’re all very different.

Also a new crop of rusty stuff is “developing” in my garden! The piece of rust above is one of four new pieces recently rusted. I also have a lovely collection of washers and nuts happily gaining a nice thick rusty coat in my garden at the moment….

Rusting Washers - NB

They’re not properly “cooked” yet – these washers will be in my garden for at least another week yet. I’m so looking forward to putting some of these into my erosion bundles and other art work when they’re done!

Photography

Vintage Blue & Rust

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A collection of vintage blue and rusty coloured treasures from around my work room. Vintage dyed fabrics, a piece of dyed string, a vintage blue pressed hydrangea flower, a rusty coloured dried pressed rose, a rusty ring pull from a can – all on a vintage blue textured background. I painted the background paper with acrylic paints.

All these lovely things I collect inspire me and I will eventually use them in art work when the right project comes along. And I will then replace them with other lovely things… !

Erosion Bundles

Winter Erosion Bundle – Part 1

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Soon after finishing my previous Erosion Bundle I started a new one! You can see the results of my previous one here: Art & Beauty In Decay.

An erosion bundle is simply a pile of paper and/or fabric layered up with stuff that will leave stains, marks, colour and texture etc. I use tea bags, coffee, paint, rusty stuff, household chemicals – literally anything that has the vaguest hope of leaving marks, stains, patterns or some colour! I use lots of different paper types and sizes and different fabrics, Sometimes I finish with a fabric wrapping , sometimes I don’t! Then I tie it up with string and out it goes into the garden to be left to the mercy of the elements for a long as I dare! Usually anything from 6 to 12 weeks, to let nature do it’s thing…

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This erosion bundle I left outside for about 8 weeks. I had planned to leave it longer, but due to the sub-zero icy weather alternating with warm rainy weather, the bundle eroded much quicker than I thought it might. The above two pics are both sides of the same piece of paper – just look at that wonderful rusty, crusty stain on the paper…

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I scanned some scrapbook paper and printed it off – into my erosion bundle it went! More lovely rust stains. But do you see that darkish  grey-blue stain in the bottom right corner above? The stain left by a blueberry!! Next is the other side of the paper…

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… delicious colours and textures…

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Scrapbook paper with rust stains, blueberry stains and paint. But look how beautifully aged and crinkled the paper looks – this paper was white copy paper when it started out! Next is a detailed section of the above pic…

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Next the reverse side of the above paper…

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The two dark marks in the above pic on the left are blueberry remains! Here’s a more detailed look…

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Another detailed view of the same piece of paper…

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Beautiful blueberry stains and rust…

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Lovely turquoise paint stains. Do you see the white mark on the right of the above pic? It’s the remains of an effervescent vitamin C tablet! Nothing is sacred when it comes to an erosion bundle… Next is the reverse side of the paper…

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In the top right corner is another one of those tell tale blueberry stains. But do you notice some tiny bits in the rusty stain in the bottom right corner? When I looked at them closely I realized they were raspberry seeds! The raspberries didn’t leave any colour in my erosion bundle but they did leave their seeds behind for some added texture! Next a close up view of the blueberry stain:

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Well, this is going to conclude Part 1 of my Winter Erosion Bundle results. There will be a Part 2 and a Part 3 in due course! This was a very big erosion bundle and the results were very mixed and varied.

Click on any of the images to view them larger…

These papers will get stored very carefully till I decide on the right project to use them on. As a girl in love with colour and texture, I find these erosion bundle results very exciting! A blog friend called this “garden art” – I like that! Nature is very good at creating it’s own art!

What I love most of all about these papers and all the other papers from erosion bundles is that they are all totally UNIQUE, ORIGINAL and ONE OF A KIND! There will never be another one exactly the same ever… !

Watercolour

Vintage Dyed Fabrics

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Vintage dyed fabrics… lace, silk, organza, jute, cotton, denim, scrim, string…

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dyed with tea, coffee, acrylic paint, rust, turmeric…

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Above is some distressed silk – distressed and dyed with bleach and vinegar and rust…  (it was originally cream coloured!)

All these fabric pieces look wonderfully vintage after being dyed and all of them will get used in mixed media art projects in time. It’s so useful to have a supply of vintage dyed fabrics ready for use…