One of the most important things to do in these strange new times is maintaining – and intensifying – communications with friends and family. So, it seemed a good idea to set more collaborations in motion, with no particular aim except to keep the artistic brain engaged and keep in touch. I have three in motion, one very local, one in the US and one on the other side of Sydney, a concertina book which I will begin today.
The first of these I began with a friend who lives just up the road from me. Pat is a very good artist, with long experience of working in a range of media, but especially watercolour and pastel. She is in that group that is strongly advised to remain indoors – this goes very much against the grain for her, she is very social and is out and about most days under normal circumstances, so I suggested this idea to her to help with the frustration of staying in, and she was keen to do it. I would drop a package into her letterbox on my morning walk, and collect them from there whenever she was ready.
I cut up 12 small panels of watercolour paper, 15 x 7 cm, some hot pressed (smooth) and other cold pressed (rough). Six I left blank, for Pat to begin, the rest I put marks on. Some already had the beginnings of a drawing on which for one reason or another had been abandoned, others I made marks on, using pen, watercolour and coloured pencil. I suggested to Pat she could do whatever she liked with them, find something representational in them or go fully abstract, use whatever materials she liked, or even cut them up.
Below are the before and after – I was absolutely delighted with the results. The thing about this kind of collaboration is that the other person makes choices I would never have thought of, one she has turned up the opposite way from what I had, so the transformations are magical! The next step will be for me to work on the ones Pat has prepared for me – I can already see things in some of them … that will be the next post here.
The next collaboration is an international one, with my cousin Anne-Marie who lives in Washington state in the US. Anne-Marie is an artist too, working in a range of media, and is academic and thoughtful in her approach. I decided to make postcard size (10 x 15cm or 4 x 6in) panels to share with Anne-Marie which will give us more scope to experiment. Once again, the approach is completely open, we can use any media we choose to, and break into the panels with cuts or stitching or collage if that is what suggests itself. Physical distance is much more of a challenge, sadly I can’t just drop them in her letterbox. The mail will take two weeks to arrive, so I have scanned the images I have prepared and sent them to Anne-Marie for her to think about before the real thing arrives. I used different media on each one : oil pastels, collage with Japanese papers, fine pen lines and punched holes, a pen and ink drawing and a piece cut from a ‘failed’ print. I can’t wait to see what she does with them, and what she sends to me for my input!