‘Interferred With’ Books

While I was in Japan last year I took to collage as a fast way to get new ideas out and into the world.


Image from ‘The Beauty Series’

I’d dabbled a bit with this approach, earlier in 2016, combining simple collages and watercolours in a concertina book.


World Watercolor Month, watercolour and collage

The latest manifestation, an ‘altered’ book,  has come into existence during the masterclass I participated in last week. I think it was apt when someone commented that my book was not so much ‘altered’ as ‘interfered with’.


An early entry in my ‘Travel Diary’

Zebras on the sketchbook savannah

Like many others I have signed up for World Watercolor Month in July, where contributors are asked to complete one watercolour a day. Of course I had to make things more challenging only because I saw someone else’s concertina book at about the same time as I decided to participate. Excellent! 

I retrieved some very ‘mature’ paper, that I had in my back room purchased in Tokyo 10 years ago. Definitely time to get it into use. A quick trot through our local recycling centre on the first of the month brought it all together.  There I found a hard-cover book of photographs of the Etosha Pan by Alice Mertens (1915-2001). I loved the way the herd of zebras crossed the back and front covers of the book, so I decided to use them for my book’s covers. The  predominantly black and white photos inside were so compelling that I will include them in my book as well.  

Two sketches and the back cover of my new book. 

So be warned, zebras crossing.

Cover Birds

I threw caution away last week and selected these two books to read solely due to their exquisite cover art.


Darren Gilbert, Black Swan, 2012, ink on illustration board. Cover design by Harry Williamson

Wright’s post climate change apocalypse, seen from the perspective of a seriously damaged individual, was a challenging read. In the end I couldn’t leave the world of swans and global swan mythology without seeing it through to the end.


Joushua Yeldham, Prayer for Protection – Hawkesbury River, 2010, oil and mixed media on carved board. Cover design, photography and art Joshua Yeldham.

I swooned and fell into Joshua Yeldham’s writing for his daughter Indigo. I’ve seen his work and this book is full of stunning examples of his art and engaging excerpts from his journal and life story. All I can say is more please!

Taking two lines for a walk

When I was at the library yesterday I found two drawing books that looked interesting. The one I want to touch on today is Drawing Projects: an exploration of the language of drawing, by Mick Maslen and Jack Southern (Black Dog Publishing 2011).

Drawing Projects by Mick Maslen and Jack Southern

Drawing Projects by Mick Maslen and Jack Southern

A quick first look through the book had me very excited. The book covers a wide range of drawing styles and suggests a variety of approaches to developing your own drawing techniques. Between reading the introductory sections, looking at the artist profiles and trying out the suggested projects I know that I won’t be able to take it all in within the loan period, so I’ve ordered a copy of my own.

I was immediately inspired to try the first project, drawing with two pens. The idea is to bind two pencils (of different hardness) together and with them draw a single object/person/self-portrait.  I admit that I went pretty much to my own version of the project rather than following the method precisely. This meant that I missed out on one of the prime aims of this project which is to get you making marks on the inside of the form and break the habit of “using line to draw the outer contour line first.”  I did at least manage the other purpose of the exercise, to wit, making interesting and varied marks. My first drawing was made with my Lamy Safari pen and a ballpoint pen that was just lying around, bound together.

My Cat, pen and ink and ball point pen, 18cm x 14 cm, 19 January 2014

My Cat, pen and ink and ball point pen, bound together, 18cm x 14 cm, 19 January 2014

I’m mentioning the size of the drawings because the book suggests that you limit this project to something no bigger than 30 cm. My initial reaction is that I would like to use this technique on a much larger scale where I think that the lines would be very beautiful, while the technique would be less obvious from a distance away. At this smaller scale it seems to easy to lose sight of your subject.

I had so much fun with the first drawing that I decided to use the same approach when I was at the cafe this morning. This time I used my Copic Multiliner and a Pitt Artist pen (Sanguine 188), held together in my hand as I had nothing to bind them with.

Van,  Copic Multiliner and Pitt artist pen, held together, 21 cm x 28 cm, 20 January 2015

Van, Copic Multiliner and Pitt artist pen, held together, 21 cm x 28 cm, 20 January 2015

What stands out for me in this drawing are the lovely loose lines in the body of the van. While I’ve achieved a good contrast between the van and the background, the background marks are all a bit same-y. It may have been a more interesting drawing if I varied those marks a bit more.

I couldn’t resist yet another drawing when, on my way home, I saw nearby Mt Tennant, with a cap of low cloud over it’s peak and the scar from the landslide in 2012, still visible. I chose to use two watercolour pencils held together. I varied the colours, between Faber-Castell Cold Grey V-234 and Cool Grey VI-235 with Derwent Watercolour Prussian Blue 35, Blue Grey 68 and Rexel Cumberland Derwent watercolour 17.

Mt Tennant under low cloud, watercolour pencils, held together, 24 cm x 32 cm on Canson Montval, 200gsm, watercolour block, 20 January 2015

Mt Tennant under low cloud, watercolour pencils, held together, 24 cm x 32 cm on Canson Montval, 200gsm, watercolour block, 20 January 2015

I think this last drawing is the least successful of the three, perhaps because the marks I made were too similar in style and lacked the contrast of the previous drawings, where I used two different types of pens. See I’m learning already.