Portrait or landscape?

Back to the sketchbook today - I spent enough time working in a tiny format yesterday!

I'm thinking about another textile piece from my latest sketchbook (course link above) and have been looking at suitable work and have realised that I sometimes overfill my sketchbook pages. When I do a painting or a print on canvas or paper, I seem to instinctively use a portrait format; I can place a focal point etc more easily and it seems more harmonious. 

But in a sketchbook you can fill one page as you would a painting - say A4 portrait of a pear - but it's faced with another blank page, and I'm not keen on that! I like to have both pages filled which means switching to a landscape format, which I treat differently. Here's that pear again which I was happy with but will now have to connect it with the left hand page in some way - borders help to reduce the space needing to be filled but what would have been fine as a painting, I can't live with in the sketchbook. 

Interesting - well I agree, probably to me only!

Btw, I'm loving how I can suddenly translate the textures and print of my collages and sketchbook pages into textiles. A different direction for me and I wouldn't have got to this stage without doing my sketchbook course, so that's very exciting.


So what about the textile piece? Probably something along the lines of this one, a Robert Kushner inspired one! 

Or this one.

The Tip Field


Many years ago I had an idea for some work based on the life of a field throughout the year. I called it the Tip Field because its a small piece of open land next to the Tip and the sewage works. Sounds delightful doesn't it? The other sides are bordered by river and the railway line to Birmingham. It doesn't really have a name and is just known for the footpath that goes through the middle of it.

If you think about it, the inspiration and possibilities are huge. Think of all that flora and fauna in the field and river and the endless possibility for design from the shapes of buildings and transport infrastructure. 

I began but didn't finish and put the idea on hold as you do. I've been a bit crook lately with a bad back and have been keeping myself occupied as it helps enormously to do arts and crafts as a diversion and therapy. Takes your mind off things. I came across these little books a couple of days ago which were to be part of the project and which were going to be displayed as a "library" in the finished 3D piece. 

So, why not take up where I left off and see how I get on? I'm going to start filling out the books and will add more books too if I manage to fill these 4. I thought some of those atc ones might be cool! 
I'll leave the rest of my ideas for another day. Pace yourself Mrs R!

A larger version done ages ago A1 size on paper - much better than the tiny one above but you can't get the same detail in miniature.

And a bee!


Atc's or artists trading cards are 2.5 inches by 3.5 inches. 

I recently made a couple of small books using them as hard covers and wanted to make some more for friends but I need to research how you make a hard covered book with a spine. These are all acrylic - subtraction pears and acrylic pours.

In case you were wondering how you do tiny acrylic pours, you use a tiny disposable shot glass! I found I didn't get many cells this time which was a shame - I think the paint was too thick. 

Subtractive pear


The heavy machine stitch and washes behind these crosses make this feel very much like the textile equivalent of subtractive painting.

Subtractive painting is just taking away paint to show the underneath colours. 

I whipped up a quick subtractive pear this morning as there's a lot of gorgeous fruit around to draw and paint as we go into autumn.

A base layer of vibrant pink!

A layer of iridescent bright gold

A very thick layer of Phthalo blue. 

I used a palette knife, kitchen towel, paintbrush and cotton buds to draw into the wet paint. I would have liked more of the pink to show through - I obviously put the gold layer on too thickly.


The Quilt as a Canvas #4 finished.

Well, almost, it still has to have a binding. It's in the series The Quilt as a Canvas and is an experimental piece. It's not for exhibition or anything, just made for the fun of it. It will probably be added to the stash in the garage, but if anyone out there likes it, it is available for a donation to a bowel cancer charity. Email me on bellabow.studio@gmail.com if you want to know more. I thought about £100?? but open to offers.

It comes directly from a sketchbook page from the course that I'm on run by Linda and Laura Kemshall (link at top of this posting) and owes much to them, especially Laura's crosses! I don't normally sell quilts much but thought this might be a way of raising a tiny bit for a charity that I know is close to Laura's heart.

110cms x 90cms 
Cotton own dyed fabrics, heavy machine stitching, paint.

The quilt has now sold. Thank you very much!!! 

This quilt is slightly experimental. It's a translation of a sketchbook page into a quilt.

Here's the sketchbook page:

Here's some detailed shots.

Progress on quilt from sketchbook

This is proving to be a fun and relatively quick way to work.

The sketchbook work on which this is based is from a course I'm doing with Linda and Laura Kemshall, and naturally shares their techniques and some of their ideas!

Without giving too much away, Laura recently used a water soluble wax crayon to add definition to a sketchbook page involving crosses - similar to the ones you see on my page. I've translated this into the fabric techniques you see below, so in fairness I must acknowledge Laura's contribution to the look!!

The quilt as a canvas - series continues.

I was in the mood to do some sewing today, but my wardrobe is full to busting with home made clothes. I love this new found hobby but just at the moment don't need anything new.

Of course, there's always the quilting thing!! I have made a few quilts in the series The Quilt As A Canvas, and thought I'd do a quick make based on a recent sketchbook page. There is the possibility of making all the pages I've done so far!

 Finding a bit of white cotton from my stash.

Adding to the pile with this bit of screen printed fabric using thickened procion dyes loosely based on the theme of ammonites.

A bit of a quotation from Wendell Berry.

 So far, this afternoon's progress.

In My Dreams I Am Not 65

Original portrait in sketchbook using rubbed out graphite. Working back into it with collage of printed tissue papers, gesso, monoprint using Caligo ink, and wash using acrylic fast flow paints. 

Bees in sketchbook

Process: Stamp in white acrylic paint on white paper; wash of orange water colour. Paper stencils of leaves and bees cut on Xcut. Negative shape used to build vegetation and bee background shape, positive shape of bee then laid over background and paint sponged through. Final wash in fluid acrylic.

Seed pods continued.

I left the seed pod collage here, having painted and printed papers and stuck them into my sketchbook.

Here's the results. Mixed media page with printed papers, pods drawn with acrylic paint, water soluble wax crayons, pen and ink.

Sketchbook course - collage part 2

Sketchbook page based on a vase. This would transfer well into a textile piece.

Starting point - Poole Pottery vase.

Printed papers - black monoprint added when dry using caligo inks.

  • Collaging monoprinted papers into sketchbook. I'm trying to echo the sections on the vase. 

Adding some orange papers and water soluble pen.

Sketchbook course - Collage part 1

New day, new start. This blog posting is 1 of 2.

I needed some inspiration today as things hadn't been going to plan sketchbook-wise. I'm far too graphic for my own good. Something in me thinks that to paint photographically is amazing and it is certainly something that seems to wow generally. How often are we judged on whether something is a good likeness? So I try to remember Grayson Perry's words that go something like this......
If we all admire and aspire to paint realistically, and we all end up with photographic images which are perfect and the same, how do we improve and what makes art and makes our work stand out? The answer is our mistakes. It's our mistakes that make our work our own and give difference and are truly creative.

The nice thing about this course is that if you're feeling stuck or need some advice, you can visit the website and look at the supporting videos, ask questions, look in the gallery etc. Today I looked at a video on collage by Linda, so here I go, having a go.

I took a look around the house and found a vase that I like.  It's a piece of studio Poole pottery that I treated myself to a while ago. I loved the colours and shapes! There are no flowers, or animals, or a specific pattern - it's completely abstract but in a controlled way. It's divided into 6 with black lines, and some of the shapes are outlined in black too.

Next stage is to mix paints to match the colours as nearly as possible and paint some papers in acrylics to get a supply which I can cut into etc. Here's some that I have on the go. They're all printer paper, but I may mix them up with lighter papers from my paper stock pile.

Of course the idea is not to follow the vase slavishly but to use it for inspiration for my own piece of work. Copying is not very satisfying.

When they're dry, and I've had a bit more time to think about what I can do with this, I'll crack on in my sketchbook - which will be my next posting.

Tip:  I use Open Acrylics - there are several makes but I quite like the Golden brand (no affiliations). You can buy a wet palette for acrylic paints which is the tray and lid below. You are supposed to put a wet piece of blotting paper stuff in the base followed by a layer of tracing type paper. (You buy them cut to size for ease). Over a couple of days the water infiltrates the paint and it ends up as quite runny. I've found that if I use the tray as a palette without the papers, and put the lid on after I've finished painting, the Open acrylics stay useable for weeks and weeks. I put the same colours in the same places, and just top up when I run out. It's very very handy if you just want a bit of paint for something, as it's ready and waiting.

Printed circles paper in sketchbook

I really liked the circles paper I gelli printed and stuck in to my sketchbook, but may have overdone the emphasis a bit.
  • And I've bought a very useful tool for making neat holes in card etc. I want to use it when making those little ATC books. Using a bradle to make holes works fine but the reverse side of them is a little rough.