Last Post – Sketchbooks

This photograph shows the front of one of my large Pink Pig sketchbooks. I have about a dozen of these A3 size books, in both landscape and portrait format, and I find the large size excellent for samples, drawings and design work. I like the coloured covers, which can be successfully decorated with collage or mixed media.

Or sometimes I just decorate the front page and add a title!

As part of my ongoing aim to declutter and sort this year, I thought I would attempt to fill up these books with all the loose pieces of painting and experimenting I’ve done, plus add in stitched samples and photographs that have needed a place to live. In essence, get organised! The spiral bound pages make it easy to add in additional pages – but also tear them out! I’m cramming a lot into some of them, so they barely shut!

As can be seen from the photo above, I sometimes put printing, photos and a stitched piece all on the same page! The pictures above and below show Sea Buckthorn, a coastal shrub, lovely at this time of year.

Sometimes I have spent a long time on something, and although I haven’t made use of it, I think I ought to keep it for future reference.

And sometimes, after all that preparation, you do something which you’re not pleased with anyway! So a piece can go in as a sample rather than throw it away!

It is useful to try things out though and I have always liked experimenting, both with art materials but also with ideas for textile techniques. The photograph below shows a very old sketchbook page, where I used three layers of felt to make pebbles and then trapped them under chiffon on a blanket base. The sample shows it stitched with hand and machine stitch, just trying out the effects.

As can be seen from the picture above, I like to annotate my sketchbooks. It wouldn’t take long for me to forget how I had done a certain technique or remember where a particular photograph was taken. Adding notes makes the sketchbooks seem more personal and they are only for my use anyway.

Sketchbooks are valuable when you are building up a body of work for an exhibition and one of mine that I like the best is Sea Urchins, which contains the material I got together for the group Raw Edge. We did so much preparatory work (the best bit!) that I filled an entire book – and my favourite colour turquoise figured heavily!

We did some really interesting ‘cut work’ on the paper pages at the time and I would really like to revisit this as it was a great way to extract very workable designs. Again, the large A3 format made it very easy to work in this way.

I also take on-line courses from time to time and it is nice to keep the work you produce as a reminder of what you have learnt. Occasionally stuff actually makes the wall! Below is a piece from a free course in lockdown from Etse Macloed, such a good course that all the work is filed in one of my sketchbooks.

I also have ongoing things, which I leave around, maybe with the pages open so I can muse over what I might do with them. Below are two pages based on a textile piece I would like to develop on the theme of ‘Fragments’.

So in the next few weeks I am going to continue sorting the huge amount of drawings, photos and samples I have amassed and I will be cramming them into my overstuffed sketchbooks. This year has been a busy one, but I am very pleased to say that I have achieved three of my textile goals set for after the pandemic. The first was to hold a fund raising event, putting all the ‘clearing’ to good use. Pictures, stitched items and paintings raised over £2,000 for charity. I also put together a talk that combined stitch with coastal walking – entitled ‘The Rambling Thread’ – which I delivered about a month ago. I even managed to put together a simple power point, so that I could show photographs of locations to compliment the textile pieces. And finally I was able to put together a new workshop and get a last chance to teach some of the lovely people I have met over the years. This will be my final post as I think you have to let things go while you’re still enjoying them, and then move on to all the other things you hope to fill your time with. I’ll still be stitching, but hope to do more painting, dabble in mosaics and maybe even learn to knit! If you have got this far on this very long post, thank you for reading and commenting during the last four years.


3 thoughts on “Last Post – Sketchbooks

  1. What a great post from a very special pal! I love your work Elaine and you should be hugely proud to have achieved such diversity in the use of techniques and inspiration. We must get that date in the diary for a bit of knitting xx

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  2. Thanks Elaine for sharing your journey. I wish you all the very best for your future endeavours. You have certainly helped me discover my hidden talents. Thank you.

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  3. Elaine, you blog blog amazing! Not only is your textile work beautiful but you take the time to share on this inspirational blog the development of your ideas through to the finished piece. Congratulations on achieving your three worthy textile goals this year. They reflect your willingness to share and encourage others in your workshops and now the exciting new talk.
    Your sale of work was a great success. Thank you for a wonderful blog which really lifts my spirit. Best wishes for all your future plans. Shirley

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