I’ve been mad about pattern since I discovered Matisse at school and I especially love his still lifes and studies of his studio with lots of different fabrics and textiles sitting together in the background. I love one pattern ending and another beginning.
Last weekend I spent some time in Sussex and visited Charleston, the home of artist Vanessa Bell and hang-out of the Bloomsbury Set. It was so inspiring; lots of beautiful textiles, very ahead of their time, hand-painted patterned walls instead of wallpaper, curtains made of 2 different fabrics then sewn together, it was all completely breathtaking. Since then, pattern has been at the forefront of my mind.
Above is an example from a wonderful book I have called Writing and Writing Patterns by Marion Richardson, first published in 1935. The patterns are slowly working their way into my work.
And while working on my last piece, I was collecting all the off-cuts and suddenly saw how pretty they looked together, so I am also playing around with these dots.
I'm using all this new pattern inspiration for some new work including a book inspired by my old ‘getting along book’ from nursery school. I love the simple graphic pictures and words so I want to take them and put my own spin on them.
And here's a snippet from another larger piece (wretched birds...they won't leave me alone!).
I have realised recently that I have two different styles; one is quite illustrative and one is very simple and graphic and these last two books (the one with the 'badly drawn dog' and Snow) really illustrate that. While I love the intricacy and delicacy of the antique doilies I've been working with, they are jarring with my sense of bold pattern and colour and shape.
So with that in mind, this is how Snow is progressing; I've been playing around with it for a little while and it has finally been broken down from a doily landscape to a series of shapes.
Working on this book really put me in mind of what the lovely Heather said in her Crafty Synergy interview about pushing through the point when you want to throw in the towel and trusting your instincts.
I'm not sure what this is yet, but I thought you might like to see what my 'badly drawn dog' was up to. I'm just playing around with Surrealist Art (the book, not the art movement) at the moment so this may or may not end up as a page. My beautiful antique paper doilies arrived today so I'm looking forward to tomorrow where I get pretty much a whole day to work.
As you can see I'm not very good at drawing animals, especially from memory. I seem to have given this dog cat's legs, and it doesn't help that he's not any particular breed. Anyway, I'd like to use him (or a better drawn dog) in another book I'm working on (I've had to put Snow on hold as I'm still waiting for my antique paper doilies to arrive). I found the perfect page in Sarane Alexandrian's Surrealist Art. I just opened it at a random page and
popped out. Then
Sometimes that's all it takes to get the images darting around in my head. I love the word 'constellations' and what it evokes, especially when it is printed in italics for some reason.
I am also working on Granny's recipe book, inspired by another 'book from my bookshelf'; a notebook containing some of my granny's recipes. The recipe however, does not involve apples so I may have to use my artistic licence for this one. As you can see, the snowflakes from Snow are creeping into this book too.
Not strictly from my bookshelf (my son's at least) and not very seasonal I admit, but this is the book I'm working on at the moment: Snow. I think the lovely 60s fonts and illustrations attracted me. So far I have just one piece of text:
In my sudden spate of finishing books, I have also completed Cinema Eye, Cinema Ear; another 'Books from my Bookshelf' book.
I took all the text from pages 102 - 105, in a chapter about the films of Luis Bunuel; it's nice sometimes not to labour too much on finding the right text and just go with your instinct. Some of this text jumped out at me because it immediately inspired me visually (such as Katharine Hepburn and the butterflies), some of it for the numbers (I love numbers) and some for the brackets (I particularly like this punctuation!). Also I just like how peculiar it is and how, strangely, it all seems to work. By the way, I found the picture of Katharine Hepburn knitting before I spotted the related text...another happy accident.
Again, I've used some of my lovely papers to create more texture, the ball of wool (actually a found image of a doily) is printed onto some wool paper and I've sewn straight onto some thin tracing paper to create the trail of wool.
I've finally finished The Go-Between little wooden book. Not so little actually, it's a 4 page book and each page is 12cm x 9cm so size-wise it's in between my little wooden books and my 3 block pieces. I tried to choose text that in some way evoked the atmosphere of the original book, while also creating a new, quite abstract narrative.
It's hard to tell from the scanned images but I've used a few different papers in this book including some of the gorgeous natural Japanese papers I found at Paperchase.
I design my books partly on paper and partly on my mac. Then I copy all the elements onto a separate page and print onto the different papers I'll use to make the final book. The above is such a page and by happy accident it made a lovely image all by itself. I may even make a print of it. I like it when that happens!
This is one of the non-fiction books from my bookshelf I'm going to be using in my new project. I can't deny I bought this book partly because of the cover design which features a still from Jules et Jim and also reminds me of Saul Bass titles. It would be nice to work some of this cover into my book.
I'm working on a new project taking random books from my bookshelf, picking out sentences and making some new books. I say random, although so far I have chosen some of my favourites including The Go-Between by L.P. Hartley (the above is a first draft of page one).
I'm going to pick a good variety of both fiction and non-fiction. I think the non-fiction will be interesting (and maybe easier) to work on because I won't already have a picture in my mind of the story or characters. With The Go-Between for example, a book I know very well, I started drawing a little boy and creating a scene for him but I scrapped that because it was too literal. I want these books to be inspired by the words I choose, not the story I already know.