It has been a while, but here is the next instalment in the collaborative sketchbook project I’m working on (at a slow but steady pace, across continents) with my friend Yoko [the preceding three instalments can be found here (3), here (2) and here (1)]

mujinotebook (amsterdam)

yoko followed on from my previous entry (above) with a line of
ghostly trees leading us deeper into the woods…

mujinotebook (amsterdam)

… with a turn of the page the moon has risen,

mujinotebook (amsterdam)

and in this magical forest wolf takes on the visage of a deer

mujinotebook (amsterdam)

from little red riding hood’s basket spring bursts forth,
to conquer the frozen landscape

mujinotebook (amsterdam)

but she keeps an apprehensive eye on this other woodland wanderer…

mujinotebook (amsterdam)

… wary of his bloodied paws.

(this is notebook [amsterdam] * – artwork by yoko hayashi)

" "

mujinotebook (tokyo)

my intervention with yoko’s previous entry in the second of the two notebooks (above) introduced a plump, purple caterpillar…
a juicy snack for the watchful crow perhaps?

mujinotebook (tokyo)

or can he crawl to safety, over the page,
and fulfil his destiny…

mujinotebook (tokyo)

… as one in a whisper of moths?

mujinotebook (tokyo)

I drew these moths with Indian ink and a dip pen, and was once again reminded of how tremendously satisfying the scritchy-scritch-scratch sound of a metal pen nib on brown kraft paper can be! I’m also rather partial to the unintended, random patterns that emerged on my ink blotting sheets (as seen in a couple of the frames in the ‘work in progress’ animated GIF below)…

mujinotebook (tokyo)
(this is notebook [tokyo] *)

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* notebook [amsterdam] denotes the notebook that started its life in Amsterdam, and notebook [tokyo] denotes the notebook that started its life in Tokyo.

Since Yoko and I began this collaboration I have moved from Amsterdam to Haarlem. But as the two cities are extremely nearby neighbours we’ve agreed to stick with the ‘Amsterdam/Tokyo’ label for the project to avoid confusing ourselves (and Yoko informed me that ‘Haarlem’ (NL) and ‘Harlem’ (NYC) are spelt the same in Japanese… which could indeed be confusing!)

Previous Amsterdam/Tokyo project posts: (1) (2) (3)

 

springbok skull and glassblown polar bear

In celebration of today’s vernal equinox – and the promise it brings of much more light to come – here are some of the sunlit critters currently keeping me company at home and in the studio…

puffer fish and finger lickin' cat

paper puffer fish… finger lickin’ good

felted owl by swig (swig-filz-felt-feutre.blogspot.com)

owl (elegant fowl!) waits patiently in his not-quite-pea-green boat… (but pussycat is apparently too busy licking his paws for nautical nuptials?)

seahorse mobile by flensted

gently floating seahorses

abstracted cat

abstracted cat

work-in-progress wolf drawing

an unexpected rainbow cast across a work-in-progress wolf drawing

what cd shall I play now?

precarious pile of CDs (my studiomate’s DJ-ing aspirations are foiled again by his lack of opposable thumbs)

gira waving
" "

credits (in order of appearance):

◈ the skull once belonged to one of these majestic creatures
◈ the polar bear was made by the clever glass-blowing ladies of blåst glasshytta in tromsø, norway (northernmost glass-blowing studio in the world, apparently!)
◈ the fish is a japanese paper balloon – i found him at roppongi in amsterdam
◈ the handsome owl was made by the amazingly talented felt artist swig (you can pop over to her website right now for a spring postcard giveaway!)
◈ the very soothing seahorse mobile was created by flensted
◈ the angry (or is he remorseful?) yeti silkscreen print was made by kronk

(not included in this list are my own wolf drawings and the pictures of my furry studiomate :)

plaid sky

early morning sky with vapour trails

When the atmospheric conditions are just right the early morning sky visible from my studio’s east facing windows can be a veritable web of vapour trails (I don’t see or hear the planes… but I guess they’re always there even when their trails aren’t visible). The patterns these trails create against the blue and golden gradations of a winter’s sunrise have a certain beauty and appeal and they got me thinking about, and playing around with, plaid / check / tartan patterns… made out of early morning sky, vapour trails and Photoshop. Fun!

plaid sky

source sky image #1

plaid sky pattern

pattern derived from this source

plaid sky pattern

turquoise & red colour variation

plaid sky pattern

red & turquoise colour variation

plaid sky pattern

red & turquoise detail (look at all those little crisscrossing vapour trails! :)

plaid sky pattern

variation: “blue neon”

plaid sky pattern

variation: “dark matter”

plaid sky

source sky image #2

plaid sky pattern

pattern derived from this source

plaid sky pattern

variation: “rose tinted check”

plaid sky pattern

variation: “indigo diagonal”

The below animated GIF (9 frames in total) gives some indication of the (Photoshop) processes involved in creating these patterns:

plaid sky pattern construction

plaid sky pattern

another variation on the pattern created in the preceding animated GIF

Producing patterns in this way is a great way to learn more about how colour and tonal variations can impact on a design, and it is endlessly entertaining – I could spend days wandering this rabbit hole… but I really should get back to drawing wolves and jellyfish (more on those in due course).

mark rothko exhibition @ gemeente museum, den haag, february 2015

“I am not interested in the relationship between form and colour. The only thing I care about is the expression of man’s basic emotions: tragedy, ecstasy, destiny.”
rothko speaking about his work

It had been a long time (too long!!) since I’d visited a gallery or museum, so I was very glad to be able to catch the last-chance late view of the Mark Rothko exhibition at the Gemeente Museum in The Hague last Friday evening (the exhibition ended on Sunday 1 March). I have always enjoyed looking at Rothko’s vast colour fields and pleasingly tactile, scumbled surfaces… exuding their shifting, ethereal inner luminescence. Even when his palette fades to black (on black) there’s depth and a remotely elusive glow to be found. For me his canvasses have the potential to envelop one with an effect akin to that of listening to music.

mark rothko exhibition @ gemeente museum, den haag, february 2015

[1] & [2] No.9 [details], 1948

mark rothko exhibition @ gemeente museum, den haag, february 2015

[1] orange & tan, 1954
[2] untitled [detail], 1949

mark rothko exhibition @ gemeente museum, den haag, february 2015

[1] untitled (seagram mural sketch) [detail], 1959
[2] untitled, 1969

mark rothko exhibition @ gemeente museum, den haag, february 2015

[1] & [2] untitled (seagram mural sketch) [details], 1959

mark rothko exhibition @ gemeente museum, den haag, february 2015

[1] & [2] untitled (harvard mural sketch) [details], 1962

Despite Rothko’s assertions that his work is never about “the relationship between form and colour” I couldn’t help, on leaving the exhibition, feeling more attuned to noticing the colour fields…

tilework @ gemeente museum, den haag

and (sometimes dizzying) abstractions in the 1930’s tilework of the museum’s stairwells and corridors.

tilework @ gemeente museum, den haag

'curiosity cabinet' fabric available @ spoonflower

Since making my ‘Curiosity Cabinet’ repeat pattern design and having a test length of fabric printed by Spoonflower w-a-y back in their beta days (2008!!), I have received lots of positive responses from kind folk, and requests to make the fabric available to buy on Spoonflower. I hadn’t been completely happy with my original test piece so before making it available for purchase I wanted to tweak the design to incorporate some different creature drawings, and to make some minor colour adjustments (for better light/dark contrast when printed).

'curiosity cabinet' fabric available @ spoonflower

I finally got around to making these changes towards the end of last year and was very happy with the new test print I ordered from Spoonflower. The fabric shown in the four pictures above is printed by Spoonflower on their ‘silky faille’ – I chose to test print on this fabric (despite it being 100% polyester – my preference ordinarily being natural fibres such as cotton and linen) because I was advised by another Spoonflower user that dark/light colour contrast works particularly well on it. And indeed it does! (thanks Chris, a.k.a. pricklymonkey)

You can find this design available to purchase, printed on any of Spoonflower’s numerous different fabric types, here >>

'curiosity cabinet' fabric, blue variation

I have also experimented with a dusty, teal-y blue colour variation (above), although this is not currently available to purchase as I have yet to order a test swatch (a Spoonflower ‘quality control’ requirement). If you’re interested in purchasing the blue (which you can find here >>) let me know, and I’ll do what’s necessary to make it available to buy.

And if you do make anything using this fabric I’d love to see some pictures of your completed project(s)!

hmmm... tasty, individually packcaged snacks!

hmmm… tasty, individually packaged critter snacks!
now… how do i get into this jar?

some of my work, available on etsy
support worldwide wild cat conservation

Photos on Flickr

'Octopus & Anemones' Screenprint

'Octopus & Anemones' Screenprint

'Octopus & Anemones' Screenprint

'Octopus & Anemones' Screenprint

'Octopus & Anemones' Screenprint

'Octopus & Anemones' Screenprint

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