All my works originate in these books. I have a number on the go at the same time which span years as I keep adding to them until they are too full to take any more. Two or three are always open on my desk with a large one on the floor as I work. Over time they acquire nicknames, such as The Messy Drawer and Book of Materials. The Messy Drawer was the originator for my Confused Flags series for Artobotic’s Brexit Art Machine, the Book of Materials contains scraps of experiments with different media such as wax, inks, oils, metal leaf, and drawings made with unlikely instruments.
Which one would I save in the event of a fire? Fairisle+Form Ol’ Scruffy, so many beautiful memories and thoughts are bound in the pages of that book. They are all precious repositories; dogs, snow, loving people, wine and golden raindrops, the car breaks down and you meet a hero. I don’t know how I would begin again if they caught fire and I lost them. I would probably have to dig around in the ashes, retrieving anything recognisable and make the ‘Fire Book’ which would be resplendent with singed edges, scorch marks and visible mending with gold leaf, Kintsugi-style “golden joinery”.
It's Christmas- and birthday-card making season, which I always enjoy. An excuse to get out all sorts of crafting materials and have fun with rubber stamps, stick things together with the hot glue gun, play with spangles, blob around with paint and generally increase the peace. I never have a single idea what I'm going to do at the beginning, but something always happens. I began completely empty headed, but as soon as all the bits and pieces came out and I started playing with them the cards made threw themselves together. It's so satisfying to see the neat rows of finished, folded cards.
Benign Little Town
15 x 21cm, gouache, mapping pens and printing ink on Japanese tissue
This is the third work I submitted to the Open Eye Gallery’s On a Small Scale annual Christmas exhibition. This is just about my last work on Kozu Shi tissue paper, which ceased production about 4 years ago. When I discovered it wasn’t being made any more I rang my supplier, Lawrence Arts, who kindly dug out all their remaining sheets for me. Apart from two small pieces, these works for the Christmas exhibition have finally used it all up, but I have already found an excellent replacement from Lawrence Arts.
The entire exhibition will be available online this year, for the first time in its history, alongside selected works on show in the gallery. The gallery is open by appointment only at the moment, for details and contact details please visit the gallery here.
I haven't scanned or photographed the finished drawing yet, but here are four details from the drawing (WIP last week) which I finished yesterday. The work has been pressed now, so it’s not so wrinkly. It contains my frequently visited themes of the origins of Earth, with comets and volcanoes, weather systems, and unreadable text - and I decided to keep the loose thread on that little stitched cloud I talked about last week because it is suggestive of wind-blown rain.
The materials are Lawrence Arts oil-based relief printing ink (beautiful colours) and mapping pens on Kozu Shi paper. Sadly, production of Kozu Shi ceased around 2015. Apparently many independent paper makers in Japan are one-man bands, so when they retire or die the papers go with them. When I heard the news I rang around all my suppliers and bought up every last sheet I could find. I have enough left for one more series of small works like this one (h295mm x w245mm) and perhaps one more large drawing like Brave Oleander. I do have a good replacement lined up from Lawrence Arts - if that is still being made - it is almost (but not quite) indistinguishable from Kozu Shi, and just as strong.
... is a sheet of toughened glass, which my partner B also uses as a surface to muller his paints. He makes his paints by hand and for that purpose he constructed the wooden jig you can see surrounding the glass. This holds the glass steady, and he can put sheets of white paper underneath which can be changed when they get dirty. It is a clever, practical invention which works brilliantly for making monotypes, lucky me! Here it is on my work table, all freshly cleaned after I finished for the day.
I'm going to be busy at the weekend - my beautiful god-daughter (B's daughter, yes it's a bit Fleabag), owner of vegan The Beans Bakery on Instagram, and her fab YouTuber husband Ben are coming to stay for the weekend. We haven't seen Ben for nearly three years, and it's been nearly a year since we saw Molly, as they had both planned an Easter visit which didn't happen because of lockdown. We are all so excited about the weekend!
Next week I will be back on the monotypes and I'll maybe show the glass in action.
Meanwhile, check out Beardo Benjo on You Tube, especially if you are partial to a little spooky horror gaming!
Three more new templates works in landscape format. I made quills from birds' feathers to draw some of the shapes, mixing the uneven, splashy ink lines with the precision of technical and mapping pens used on others, collage, and areas of tone created with repeating lines. They are probably the lightest, most free work I have made for a few years and I was pleased that they seem to connect to my younger self at art school. One day when I was studying painting at Gray's School of Art I had exclusive use of a printing press, and I made about 20 monotypes based on landscape drawings I had made out in the Deeside country near Aberdeen. I worked them with loose paint after printing, and it was a simply wonderful day, a big favourite in all my years at art school. Today I am delighted that my new works are reminiscent of those.
The first two artworks made as a result of the templates diary. They are on ruled sheets of paper taken from a vintage Cameron's Register of Class Marks, R.H. The book had never been used; it belonged to my mother, who was assistant head teacher at a primary school in Rosyth for 40 years. The sheets measure 21x34cm, or 8-1/4 x 13-1/2 inches as it was back then, and are ruled in charming light blue, dark blue and pink.
This is the first template work on wood veneer, which I made for B's birthday card. It sports the letter B, and paired images to reflect the Pisces star sign as planned in the diary of templates work last week. It was more difficult to make than I imagined, although I made it in exactly the same manner as the ones in the diary of templates. I wanted to work with the wood to strike a balance between the collaged and painted shapes, and to allow the wood the illusion of coming forward in some areas.
This is where I am considering taking with the templates work. I made these paintings on wood veneers in the last week of February 2015 - exactly 5 years ago. Last May I was gifted a large box of veneers in a variety of woods, and I have been wondering what to do with them since; now, I see something suggestive in the quality of the templates work which is pointing the work in this direction.
I wrote a post about these particular veneers last April.
I cut out templates from paper this week and pasted them into the diary. Looking at them now, I think they look like tumbling clouds; which is no surprise considering Storm Dennis has taken over from storm Ciara this week. I have three old wood sash windows in my work room, which face north west, also a chimney which was sealed off in my room but is still functional in the lounge below. There is no escaping the wind rattling the glass panes and booming in the chimney, nor trees revelling outside - and I love it. The weather always seems to sneak into my work, no matter what the work is.
Thanks for visiting, see you next week!
As well as the work you see here, I illustrate under the name of Binky McKee (my mother's maiden name was McKee, Binky was every single one of my great grandmother's many cats!)
If you would like to visit my Binky website, please click the picture above.
Candle-light shadows. I set up little 'night theatres' in my bedroom. As darkness falls, I light strategically placed candles and watch the plays begin. A perfect activity for the darkest days of winter.
(Sorry the archives don't nest!)
A 2013 work book, still very much in use
Please note all images on this website are ©Heather Eliza Walker 2013 - 2020, and may not be used or reproduced without prior consent.