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The beauty of artists’ workbooks

We recently shared an image on our Facebook page of an artist’s notebook by Bridgette Guerzon Mills, a mixed media artist from the USA.  The particular page shown (see below) was entitled ‘As it is on Earth’ and the technique was described as “a gel transfer background, inkjet print, dipped in encaustic medium, oil paint”.  Doesn’t that sound so interesting and isn’t it fascinating that a notebook could be so beautiful!



And what is an Artist’s notebook or workbook?  It seems that it can be many things depending on the intention of the artist.  Some see it as a means of exploring an idea or concept, to make visual notes, rough sketches, visual details such as colours or shading experiments – a road map to how a final piece of art might work.  They can include notes and reminders, photographs or good ideas not to be forgotten.   Some notebooks can be a visual diary, a story or narrative illustrated by drawings, clippings, collage – a visual and written journey for the artist.


How about this one by Dorothy Caldwell, a Canadian textile artist? So much interest and texture created on one page with minimal colour!

Some artist’s notebooks are an art piece in their own right.  Pages have been removed, reshaped, remodelled, altered.  The interest lies in the techniques and media used (paint, stitch, ink, paste) the effect created and the reaction evoked.

As it happens, some of our group are very proficient at producing notebooks and have participated in the Kildare Artist Notebook project which is a permanent touring exhibition of 100 artist’s notebooks.


A page from one of Rose Mary Cullen’s notebooks

The majority of us are less proficient in this area and we recently invited Rose Mary Cullen to give a two day workshop on notebook work.  We each brought a source of inspiration and a blank notebook and Rose Mary led us through continuous line drawing, drawing the negative, timed observation, detailed attention to texture and surfaces and much, much more.

Here are some photos from our first day – we are so looking forward to the second session where we will look at surface and manipulation techniques using fabrics, threads, bondaweb, paper, tissue etc!


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