Mussels

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These mixed media tags are today’s effort for the Page A Day Sketchbook Challenge I am taking part in with eleven other textile artists. It was set up last year, and the idea is that for one month – February – you ‘do’ something in your sketchbook and post it onto a designated Pinterest board. It’s very loose, there’s no theme and you can spend as much or as little time as you like on each contribution. It’s a wonderful way of sharing work and encouraging regular sketchbook practise. This year we put a slight restriction on our work, just to make it more interesting, limiting our palette to four colours (plus black and white) with the proviso that one colour had to be used on every piece all the way through the challenge.

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I began with an observational drawing of mussel shells, using inktense pencils, not dreaming that I would continue using the same source material all the way through. As the challenge went on I found it easier to keep to the same theme as it cut down on thinking time, I had my box of materials in the limited colours to hand and I was able to produce pages very quickly. I liked the feeling of not having to keep a ‘perfect’ book and some of my best pieces were produced in ten minutes – a great encouragement to keep using a sketchbook regularly!

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There is no restriction as to the media we use and textiles are often incorporated into the challenge. Above are some bleached linen mussels bonded onto a stencilled background.

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It’s clear to see how the pieces link together and how one idea suggests another when you are doing things on a daily basis.

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Torn paper strips are a good way of getting some texture down but as I am posting this and looking at it I have the idea for tomorrow’s page – replicating this in watercolour, just strands across the page with the colours and patterns suggested with the paints.

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Some more collage work above, using bleeding tissue and paint to make more formal mussel shapes. Bleeding tissue is lovely once it’s been used as the colours merge together in a lovely watery way.

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As you can see, the tissue paper collages were inspired by this page – mussels drawn with black ink and bamboo pens, with the colouring done with brusho inks and then bleach.

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Again, another link from page to page – these mussels were completely drawn with bleach. I purchased a bleach pen to try to get more control on my drawings but the type of bleach in the pen didn’t work as well as usual household beach, so I then drew the outlines with a small, stiff paintbrush. I’d had prepared the background in advance, brusho that I had left to dry with bubble wrap on top, and then the bleach took the colour away. After the bleach was dry I added some gold paint and a little bit of Sharpie pen.

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I also did some resist work, drawing the mussels with a white wax crayon and then infilling with coloured inks. The photograph below shows the same technique but with a gold wax crayon initially and then much more vibrant acrylic inks to add the colour – this picture just being a segment, close up.

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4 thoughts on “Mussels

  1. All beautiful! The bleeding tissue speaks to me, I think it’s the added delicate texture and the amazing, rich, purpled blue which is so true of damp mussel shells.

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    1. Thank you for taking the time to comment Amanda. I think that bleeding tissue is a rather under-rated product – in fact, I don’t think many people know about it. I have found it makes beautiful backgrounds on paper but then the dried pieces of tissue can be used in their own right, either for collage or even as another alternative background. It can even be stitched into provided a stabiliser is used.

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    1. Hi Lesley, Sounds like a good excuse to collect shells, feathers, sea glass. postage stamps, rusty washers, you name it ………………….

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