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.

Wells Quay 4
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.

Concertina Book 1 - NBConcertina Book 2 - NBConcertina Book 3 - NB

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…

Plaster Prints - NB
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.

Work In Progress - NB
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…

Painted Fabrics Drying - NB
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.

Sight & Sound Sketchbooks - NB
My Sight and Sound Sketchbooks from the workshop
Sound Walk Sketchbook 1 - NB
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…

Sound Walk Sketchbook 2 - NB

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…

Concertina Book 4 - NB
An abstract watercolour in book form inspired by sound

Concertina Book 5 - NB

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

Concertina Book 6 - NB

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…

Bag For Concertina Book - NB
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…

Plaster Print In Box - NB

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…

Surface Treatment Workshop

Surface Treatment Workshop – Week 9

Welcome to week 9 of the Surface Treatment Workshop. This week my sister Carolyn and I are experimenting with Fiber Paste. We used Golden Fiber Paste – I couldn’t find any alternatives that claimed to have the same properties. I read through the prompts in the book decided I was going to begin with printing on fiber paste.

I used a cheap sheet of A5 copy paper and skimmed a very thin layer of fiber paste over it with a wet palette knife. I let it dry for a couple of hours and prepared 2 photos in Photoshop ready to print onto the fiber paste. Now, my printer has been a bit temperamental of late so I wasn’t too sure how it was going to react to having Fiber Paste put through it – I was fully prepared for a paper jam, print errors and that nasty little flashing red light on the front of the printer. But to my surprise fiber paste went through the printer fairly easily…

Week 9 - Fiber Paste - Mussels - NB
Mussels Print on Fiber Paste

Fiber paste has the feel and texture of hand made paper when it’s dry – it’s lovely! The prints printed out slightly softer and lighter in colour than they would had they been printed on photo paper. If you click the images to view them larger you can see the texture of the fiber paste through the prints.

Week 9 - Fiber Paste - Barnacles - NB
Barnacles Print on Fiber Paste

The fiber paste ended up making the cheap copy paper very strong and flexible once the paste had dried. It is a lovely surface to paint on, draw on or stitch into. I LOVE fiber paste and I’m very pleased with how my fiber paste prints turned out! This is how they appear in my STW Sketchbook:

Week 9 - Fiber Paste - Sketchbook 1 - NB
Fiber Paste Prints in Sketchbook

 Next I simply painted a watercolour wash over some fiber paste:

Week 9 - Fiber Paste - Watercolour 1 - NB

The watercolour paint has highlighted the texture of the fiber paste quite well but here’s a macro view for more detail:

Week 9 - Fiber Paste - Watercolour Macro - NB

You can really see the texture of the fiber paste in this image! Next I did another watercolour wash over fiber paste but this time I overlaid it with some pearl mica once the watercolour had dried:

Week 9 - Fiber Paste - Watercolour 2 - NB

And I also did a macro view too so you can really see the texture of the fiber paste in detail:

Week 9 - Fiber Paste - Watercolour Macro 2 - NB

In conclusion the end result of this weeks Surface Treatment Workshop is that I LOVE Golden Fiber Paste! I especially like printing on fiber paste. Once you’ve printed on fiber paste you can easily incorporate the fiber paste print into mixed media art, paint on it, draw on it, stitch into it – anything really!  I will be doing more fiber paste prints…

Carolyn should be posting all her workshop samples this week so please do pop over and have a look! Next weeks workshop is focusing on drawing grounds, so I need to get my drawing head on….

Surface Treatment Workshop

Surface Treatment Workshop – Week 3

week-3-aluminium-foil-shapes-nb

The focus on this weeks edition of the Surface Treatment Workshop is Aluminium Foil.

It sounds very simple but in practice I found aluminium foil is not very easy stuff to work with. The good points are that it’s very easy to create texture and patterns with foil but the downside is that it’s not so easy to paint over. The paint doesn’t stick to the foil very well. Using a layer of clear gesso first helped but it still takes several layers of paint to cover the foil and when it dries the paint scratches off very easily. So I’ve got misgivings about it’s archival quality.

I have only one sample for this weeks workshop – pictured above. The foil I used were the foil wrappers from some stock cubes! Four wrappers were needed. And I simply coloured in the existing shapes and patterns in the foil. I used acrylic paint, oil pastels and stuck on some small rusty bits of paper left over from an erosion bundle.

I like my sample above, I like the textures shapes and colours. I’m not quite sure this sample is completely finished yet – I may work into it some more – but I like it so far!

The conclusion of this weeks workshop is that I don’t think I will be using aluminium foil in mixed media art to any great degree but it may possibly have small uses here and there… ! Next week the focus is on Masking Tape – looking forward to this!

Surface Treatment Workshop

Surface Treatment Workshop

Starting on Wednesday 1st February 2017 I will be starting a new 52 week project with Carolyn Saxby which we’ve decided to call “Surface Treatment Workshop” (STW). We’re going to work our way through this book:

surface-treatment-workshop

This book is full of great imaginative ideas for creating texture and interest on all kinds of surfaces. Some of the techniques are very simple and basic, others are more involved. We’re going to start at the beginning of the book and work our way through each of the 46 techniques in order. And we’re also going to do the inspirational projects at the end, or at least our own personal interpretations of the inspirational projects.

We will post  our results every Wednesday, starting with the 1st of February 2017. I’ll post my results here on my blog and on Flickr. Also I’m going to stick my weekly results into a dedicated sketchbook I have especially reserved for the project.

I’m really looking forward to this – it’s going to be fun… it’s the kind of project where you’re only limited by your imagination…