Mixing it up!

When I’m working in my sketchbook I like to experiment with lots of different mediums and techniques to get the most I can from a simple starting point. I find that variety of approach to the same subject can change the results quite dramatically and just by trying a range of things I inevitably get some effects that I like.

Take a feather for instance – here’s one I stitched onto the page after I’d drawn it. Obviously you can’t always put your inspiration directly into your book but a flat object like this is easy and better than a photograph in some ways.

Here are some more feathers looking rather sad after they’ve been used as masks and printing blocks. Still beautiful shapes though!

I love the immediacy of the marks they’ve made when I’ve simply placed them on the page and rolled over them with some artists’ acrylic paints. The texture you can see in the paint colour is made by the foam roller I favour to apply the paint. I’ve let the roller mix the colours on the flat tray palette for extra visual interest. I think a single colour can be boring and a mixture of no more than three is exciting – more than three is a recipe for mud! Perfect if mud is what you’re after of course!

Where the feather had masked the paint and left blank areas it gave me the opportunity to draw back into the white shape with pencil.

Cutting a feather shape from thin card gave me a mask to spray paint over and the mask itself took on colour and became a candidate for collage.

Thin card makes a great rubbing plate for frottage as long as the paper isn’t too thick. I use a solid graphite pencil on its side for best control and just pop the card shape under the page I want the image to appear on. If the card shape is already collaged to a sketchbook page I can often take a rubbing onto the page above it. I think it creates a narrative and I like the continuity of repeated images throughout my sketchbooks.

And when I’ve got a sketchbook full of imagery and lots of extra prints and rubbings on loose sheets, they can be combined to make more considered compositions unified with a bit of added paint wash. There’s no limit to the effects you can achieve and one thing leads to another so I’m never short of ideas to take further.

Enjoy your sketchbook – it’s one of life’s simple pleasures in a world gone mad!

Bye for now – Linda

  • Diane Cowell

    Thanks for this timely posting! I’m struggling through my design work based on ravens for my Advanced Textiles Diploma course. Once again, Linda to the rescue with some wonderful ideas for feathers! I already have a stash of crow feathers so I can get to work right away!

  • Jeannie Evans-Van Hoff

    As Diane said, this is so timely. I got out the 3Fold books, and Painted Quilt book to get me going on my goal for the year – to keep a sketchbook. It is one of those things I’ve always wanted to focus on, but let other things take priority. Not this year!

  • Tanis Conway

    I’m off to the woods to look for feathers! What a lovely selection of work – thankyou!