Happy Holidays friends,
If you’ve been wondering where I’ve been, here’s where we can catch up 😉
This year’s contribution to the Brooklyn Art Library’s Sketchbook Project got filled with a great outpouring of ideas in the final couple of weeks before the deadline.
The book itself had been sitting on my desk, quietly waiting for months. Since the start of this year I got waylaid from almost everything else in the studio by the epic paper dying experiments.
I knew, as the weeks ticked by, that I’d be spending those last days in a flurry of paint and collage bits, stitching in new pages and sequins, hidden notes, and whatever else was flooding out of my thoughts onto the pages.
My first idea was to extend my ink dying experiments directly into these pages, but the paper of the sketchbook doesn’t absorb the ink the same way and it just wasn’t working how I wanted it to.
So instead I adapted the ink splotches, like finding patterns in the clouds, I found faces and magical made up animals in the splashes.
For all you folks local to New York (or passing through) – this book can now be found on the shelves of the Brooklyn Art Library, with a call number of: 360.55-6
In a few weeks time my book will be scanned and digitised to see online (like last years, which you can see here).
But you really need to see in her motion to get a sense of her cut out pages, her frills and flounces…
Because sometimes ink blob people and creatures aren’t enough…
Sometimes you need to stitch in extra pages, fold out bits, with secret notes, meaningless messages and nonsense.
So the next best thing to a trip to Brooklyn to meet this creation, is this little filmed flip through I made you.
(If you already saw the first flip through – this is a longer version – with close ups and all!)
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Since last summer when it arrived, I was chasing my tail with ideas for this project. Three days before the deadline I declared it finished and posted it off to its new home in Brooklyn Art Library.
You might remember my first ‘best laid’ plans disintegrated along with the pages of this book on contact with watercolor.
Having decided to rebind the book in delicious watercolor paper I went off track from my plan and ended up making a bunch of pretty doodles in watercolor, that were fun to make but missed the point of what I wanted to make, and the rebound book sat on my desk for a while in a state of finished-but-no-finished.
Something didn’t feel right.
I couldn’t get myself to film a flip through until when I finally did the edit went all catawompus. I was standing in my own way to package it up to post, to take those last steps.
It felt too mimsy and not very Mixy.
I kept coming back to the thought that if this is going into a collection that can be seen by anyone and possibly by no-one. In a library of + 36,000 books it should, nonetheless, be representative of what I am.
It should be more me.
A little over a week before the deadline to post it off I was awoken by vivid dreams telling me to begin again: Go back to my first idea. Do it now.
I got up that morning and tore out the fancy watercolor paper pages.
For reasons unknown to me up until then I’d kept those first pages. The original paper with holes where the paint seeped through, with scratchy ballpoint lines and un-erasable pencil lines underneath.
The voice in my dream was saying IT’S A SKETCHBOOK. It’s meant to be sketchy. It’s meant to be about ideas, not nice paintings.
I needed to work around the worn through holes, paint over and collage around the layers of ideas. I needed to fill the book with the thoughts and words and shapes that were torrenting around in my head. That’s the point of a sketchbook. That’s what sketching is.
I spent that weekend sat on the floor of my studio, surrounded with collage cuttings and clippings, paints, pens and inks.
I doodled my little heart out.
I sewed in sequins and crocheted page edges.
I rebound the old pages along with drawings I made decades ago. I poured in words that floated through from podcasts and song lyrics as I went.
If you’d like to see a full flip through of these pages, hop onto my email list here for an exclusive preview next week.
The in-between is the place I love most.
The transient, the liminal,
The dusk and the dawn.
The turning of one into the next,
The edge of the fold.
The place of contention, conjecture,
Not either. Both.
The place where the horizon touches.
The moment in between.
Fuelling the feud against the resolute absolute, the tightly defined.
Why are we still doing that anyway?
When instead we could butterfly between the two,
Share the energy,
Dance in the gap in between.
The illustrations in this post come from my 2018 Sketchbook Project book which is so nearly done! I’ll show you the finished book very soon!
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It’s been a while since I checked in with you guys on this project, I’ve had to overcome a few obstacles along the way.
I had a really clear idea what I wanted to do with this book from (almost) the outset last year – a rambling whirl of doodles, a stream of consciousness running through the pages. Then I got ill, and the heavy duty pain medication I had in hospital inspired me with a really clear visual I wanted to recreate. As best I could, two-dimensionally on paper.
I began the line work back during Inktober, and looking back I remember at the time being aware of just how thin and flimsy the paper is in the book. I mean, super thin. It would hold up well to gentle care but I’m heavy handed and (because it’s all I had to hand and impatience is my biggest motivator in all I do) I used ballpoint pen. So my pages were already crinkling from the indentation of the lines.
That’s cool – it adds character – it’s my ‘style’ – go with it, I thought.
I delayed the coloring stage until I finally got my new watercolors I’d been so eager to use.
Then the holidays, then life, then I finally began.
Oh. My. Days!
You do NOT wanna use watercolors on this paper. Of course if I hadn’t been so hung up on the combination of:
This Sketchbook Project + These Colors + These Paints = Exactly What I Want To Do
then perhaps I wouldn’t have been temporarily blind the reality of:
This Medium + This Paper = A Certain Soggy Mess.
Ok, I’m an adaptable kinda person, I pride myself on being able to change direction, to adjust and adapt.
Acrylics, I thought. Acrylics are the answer. They will sit on top of the paper and give it a bit more substance as well.
Nope. Not only is it a streaky mess, but the pages are actually curling up in disgust.
What do they want from me? light, delicate pencil? Do they know me AT ALL??
I heard a distant memory jangling about in the back of my mind – are there rules on what media we’re to use? – checking the website: sure, acrylics & gesso are discouraged because the pages get sticky and … yes, yes, I know all this…
So, my first plan of watercolor was back on the table – because, when I read on – we are allowed to rebind the book. I can use actual watercolor paper!
Now that time was getting squeezed, that forever-away-distant deadline was getting closer… I decided that keeping it simple was the best way forward. The elaborate plans I had to begin are on hold for a separate project later in the year, meanwhile I’m back with what I know best for the pages of this book: the idea that is fuelling my creativity and has done for a long while now: an adventure in 12 colors!
After all, it’s my thing, right?
My pages are complete and ready for binding, I’ll show the finished book as soon as I get some good light for photos – then it’ll be winging it’s way off to Brooklyn Art Library
If you want to be first to see what I’m making, and get exclusive discounts on these things, clickety-hop aboard my email list right here.
(and I’ll send you my ebook A Year full of Color as a thank you for joining)
Your email is utterly safe to me. It will be wrapped up snug and nestled with a hot water bottle & a kitten until the spring arrives.
Y’know about the Sketchbook Project, right? (If not, and you’re intrigued, I wrote a little about it here.)
All through this month I’ve been prompted and nudged along by Inktober, seeing daily reminders to keep inkdrawing from the good folks of the youtubes & the instagrams. They kept me company as developed this stream of consciousness doodle running through my sketchbook-project-sketchbook, leading from one page to the next, a little like this (also like this)
(the shadows and hiccups in continuity show the folds in the book or the turn of the page… this is just 3 pages, it would be too wide to show it all like this, you get the idea tho’)
And now it’s ready to begin coloring. Which I plan to do throughout November.
I’ll give you a moment if you fell off your chair at the news I’ve not added any color yet …………… ok? ………….before I tell you that the coloring won’t begin straight away either.
For three reasons:
Now I’ve eked out all the enjoyment, focus and concentration I can from the black and white and inking stage, and I’d like to report back: I kinda like this new strategy. It’s still got an edge of impetuous childlike impatience as a driving force, but my inner adult is developing her voice, taking moments of authority, even making some of the decisions.
How will this play out? check back over the next month and I’ll show you how it’s going. Or hop aboard my email list for updates direct to your emailbox every month.
I’ll send you a copy of my (newly updated) eBook ‘a year full of color’ as well as exclusive discounts for my ecourses.
Your email is utterly safe with me. I’ll sing it to sleep and bring it tea when it wakes up.