Category Archives: Creative sketchbooks with Linda Kemshall

More work for module 4


Apples – I had only worked on the right-hand page so felt it needed something more.  The heap of apples is stencilled in using pastels.  I used a stamp made from funky foam for the ‘branches and an expanded foam stamp for the leaves.  I also used some gesso on the top part of the phot to blend it in better with the page.  I am not toally satisfied with the page – I’m not sure it really hangs together very well.

Charcoal sketch. This is just a quick sketch of the hedge next to the house to try out the charcoal with some added pastel.  I like the medium.

Stencilled jugs.  I made 3 more lino cuts so as to have a different one for each jug.  The shapes were not distinct enough so I added a bit of wash over each jug.  I then used bubble wrap and sequin waste to add pattern.  The original page had been gessoed over something I had tried and rejected and then a watercolour wash added.  I like the textural quality of this page  and I love the patterns formed by the bubblewrap  – like roses!

Vases.  The pastel drawing is done on a fairly absorbant piece of coloured paper, the photo is one I had used bleach on in the earlier module and didn’t use and the vase on the left is a monoprint with added pastel.

Fly, fly, fly.  I stuck the funky foam tree shapes on transparency film and inked over the whole sheet as a monoprint on both pages.  The right hand page is a fern print I made a while ago.  As it is on heavy paper I cut out the original page and glued it in.  I cut a hole in a paper doily for the sun and used a sponge to apply the acrylic paint.  The outer pattern from the doily is rather faint.  I added yellow wash in places.

This is work in progress.  I liked the way the pattern of the ferns shows through from the previous page.  The green strip of trees is glued on, the right hand page is a stencil with the paint rollered on.

I wanted to pick up the way the image of the fern showed through from the previous page, so I used a sponge roller and acrylic paint over some dried ferns to create the negative  prints.

I have been experimenting with adding leaves to the plate, repositioning them, using them as masks etc.  These two are the best so far.  The second is on Japanese rice paper.  Lots more experimenting needed!

I wanted to continue the fern imagery.  This is just the background so far – some torn strips of fern images with layers of coloured wash, some negative fern prints again using the sponge roller, some gesso, scratched into in places  and further watercolour wash.  The challenge now is to bring some contrast and 3-dimension to the piece!

So, to finish this piece, I printed out some fern shapes onto transparency and transferred some of these using acrylic medium, also adding some small images along the right hand side.  Finally I drew fern shapes with a black brush pen in the foreground and added a bit of red acrylic rollered over with wire wound over the brayer.  The writing is done with a white gel pen.
I think this last piece is the most complex I have attempted as it has so many layers.  It took me a long time but I am pleased with the finished page.  Drawing the ferns at the end gives the 3-dimensional effect that I was looking for – of looking down into a shady secretive place.


A stitched book

I still have lots of unused papers so had a go at making a stitched book.  The inside pages are in two sections, each stitched to the spine separately.  The cover is made of card, covered with decorated papers inside and out, with some narrow ribbon glued in for the tie.

Inside cover:

Some of the pages:



Bringing it all together

This final module introduces the techniques of stencilling, the use of pastels,  pockets, extensions as well as ideas of how to put everything together.

After a wash of colour on  the page, I used my provençal jug as a pocket to hold the card cutouts I used for rubbings.  I like the way the lettering shows, especially on the spoon I eat my cereal with. 

Tree landscapes.

First page

Stencil, both ways (within and outside the shape) using pastels gently rubbed from the cutout onto the page, over colour wash –  trees and leaves. Collaged leaf ‘footprints’ which go over the page when the flap is closed.

Second Page
I liked the remaining tree shapes so cut more out, coloured them with more pastel and used them as collage.  I initially had more leaf prints over the head of the trees but this looked wrong, hence the gesso and more paint. I made a sponge block similar in shape to the leaf collage and faded out this print along the bottom of the page.  The collaged leaf (used as a stencil on the previous page) leads the eye to the right.  I used the piece of green paper left over from cutting the flap to echo this shape.  There is a small arrow shape cut into the border bottom right (not very visible in the photo) to lead you into the next page.

Third page

Blue momoprint of abstracted tree shapes , a photo of tree bark and moss on the right with a drawn tree shape and stencilled leaf. The three leaf shapes over the monoprint are actual skeleton leaves from the garden glued on and covered with acrylic gel medium..  Collaged trees along the border at the bottom.

Fourth page

Pastel drawn tree on left hand page, splattered paint leaf shapes.  Monoprint on right hand page and an additional sheet of hand made paper over net stitched to the edge.  There are actual slithers of bark in the paper.  I then printed leaf shapes onto this side and the reverse and trimmed the bottom to but up to the printed block border.  ‘Oak’ is printed throughout.

I really like the first three sets of these tree pages.  The final one is the least successful, lacking the depth of the previous work.  I wanted to try pastel but I don’t think it has worked very well here.

Concertina book
The covers

Pages within the book

I loved making this book from left over sheets from various experiments.  I need to find ways of adding to it and I’m sure I will make many more books.  I have yet to experiment with sewing the pages together and in general have some more work to doto complete the module.

Creative sketchbooks Module 3

This module focusses on printing.

Leaf border

Here I added a border of leaves printed using compressed sponge to a previous painting of beech leaves.  I think the border adds more interest to what was quite a stark page.


Leaf shapes

I cut positive and negative shapes out of the compressed sponge, printing on to a page covered in blue wash.  I don’t feel this is totally successful – I don’t think the shapes are crisp enough to stand out from each other, or maybe the colours don’t contrast enough.  After I had done it I thought I don’t like this and put it to one side, but I probably should experiment more.  I love the effect the sponge gives.


Positive and negative shapes overprinted with a smaller bottle shape, with some copper markel rubbed over some areas.  As a patterned page I think this is quite effective.

More bottles

I’ve used a photograph I took at a friend’s house of these bottles on a windowsill.  I’ve used a bit of gesso to soften the edges.  A lino print on the right and I’ve used watercolour within the shpes.  The pattern at the top is a wooden block print which I felt echoed the pattern in the net curtain and the sponge prints give a lightness to the solid forms above.  I like the way the green bottle stands out and I had the idea to follow this up with something along the theme of ’10 green bottles’, but I haven’t yet worked out how to do it.

Jugs 1

This monoprint was done using method 2 on to tissue pape and I love the shapes formed by the paint touching the paper.  There was too much white space in the middle jug so I added some blue oil pastel.  The 2 jugs on the left are rubbings on tissue over textured jugs I had used on an earlier page, the smaller one darkened slightly with blue wash.  I also darkened the wash around the base of the jugs so they wouldn’t look as though they were floating in space.  I drew lavender type flowers and stems in the left and right jugs of the print though these are not very visible.  I wasn’t sure if the border print was right to cover the little jug, but when I cut another jug shape and overlayed it, it looked worse so I have left it as is.

Jugs 2

This monprint was made using method 1 and just laying the tissue paper over the plate with no re-inking after the first print.  The lines of the jugs were not strong enough, even after the orange wash, so I drew over these with pen.    I had written a page with the words jug in different sizes, scanned and enlarged a section, cut this into strips, glued down on the right and overlayed with more jug rubbings.  I felt the page didn’t need anymore colour adding to it.

Room with a view 

May Hill is a landmark clearly visible from our house and at midsummer the sun sets more or less over it. Doing something with it has been simmering in the back of my mind as a project for some time.   The photo is small but  because of its intensity draws the eye immediately (I hope).  I’ve used a monoprint of the view top right, with a sunset painted in and a lino print on tissue paper bottom left.  Photocopied map, image and words complete the picture.  A wash was selectively added afterwards, with acrylic gel and some salt crystals adding  texture.  I am pleased with the result.

My house

This is work in progress as it needs something to give it movement and energy but I am not sure what.  I found a letter a friend had sent my mother just as I was about to move into this house.  At first I just thought I would use it as I liked her handwriting but then noticed I could make something of the words themselves.  I used the same phot as in the previous work, made a monoprint of the front of the house and these lie over a monoprint of abstracted plant stems.  Along the top is a double print from the lino block.  As it stands at the moment it is too monochrome.

Here is my take on ‘Ten Green Bottles’ :

I made some monoprints using two sheets of glass and twisting them round so as to get what I hope is a  watery wave, droplet look.  I stuck these down across the page, adding a light watercolour wash.  The colour was a bit bright so I knocked it back with some watered down gesso.  Then I added each bottle with just a strip of glue so they can be folded back. They are in order : 1) photo,  2) collaged monoprinted paper, 3) rubbed away graphite with added watercolour, 4) lino print,  5) collaged tissue paper that had been printed then rubbed over textured paper,  6) graphite rubbing over card with added watercolour, 7) monoprint, 8) oil pastel with watercolour, 9) collage, 10) graphitint pencil.  There is a sponge print on the back of each which I wanted to be like an echo print.  As you fold back each bottle you see the number (foam print) of the remaining bottles. Below is a patterned monoprint to represent the wall.  Above is the rhyme itself.  I know I have left one bottle standing so to speak but I feel this is graphically more satisfying.  I was worried the bottles wouldn’t stand out enough against the background, but I didn’t want to lose the watery texture and I think in the end it works OK.

On reflection, I feel that the text pieces should be more muted so have added a wash to the images below.  This is much better and looks more integrated.

More work for module 2

 Some more watercolour studies

Spartan apples

Beech leaves

Red cabbage leaf and tea towel

A series of collages

I was looking through some old photos and found some drawings my father had done of stylised birds.  I had done a page of wash, using some salt crystals and thought I could make an imaginary bird landscape.  I used a piece of paper I had painted and used cling film on, copied the 3 bird shapes at the bottom and on the right on to glossy paper, traced the other flying shapes on to painted papers added a drawn bird and a little more wash.

I took inspiration from two plates with fish designs to make the fish collage, using a variety of painted papers.

Using photographs and collage

I used gesso on the 2 jug photos and sandpaper on the pot one.  Further gesso was added to the page before the wash of colour to give some texture.  The other shapes were traced from photos and then painted.

The rubbings are done from wire shapes using oil pastels,  the collage shapes cut from a variety of painted papers, some enhanced with gold markel stick.

These rubbings were done using tissue paper over the shapes above, which I then glued on to the page with acrylic medium over a pale wash.  There is also a green rubbing of a lovage seed head in two of the pots (this perhsps could do with strengthening with some pencil lines).  I then went over the whole page with more wash.

I love my Provençal jug which sits in the sitting room filled with lavender.  On the first left hand page I collaged a photo of a piece of work I did using silk paper, scrim, net and stitch.  I used gesso to soften the edges, but this didn’t take the watercolour paint as much as I wanted so I used oil pastel to knock it back.  The jug shape on the second page is the cut out shape.

Module 2 – Colour

So many ways of using colour, so many things to try!  Here is my first work for this module.

I  decided to add some colour to this image from Module 1 in order to try to better integrate the photo into the page.  Watercolour wash, a collaged mug and oil pastel.

Watercolour pencils

Watercolour paints

A study of apples, pears and leaves using watercolour paints.

The garden falls into Autumn

I decided to get a bit more adventurous with this next project where the first page is cut away to show the pages underneath:

First I put a wash over the whole first page spread – green first, then a bit of brown and used a scrunched up paper towel to add texture.  I’d done some watercolour studies of leaves on watercolour paper which I cut out and fixed to the left hand page with gel medium.   The pear is painted using watercolours.  The leaves on the right hand page are drawn with water soluble pencils.  I cut away a shape to reveal the pear underneath which is painted.  The one on the right is collaged, as is the leaf on the reverse of the cut away page.  The rest of the leaves are painted.  Finally I added the words.

Oil pastel and watercolour

Oil pastel was used first as a rubbing on card shapes and wire, watercolour was added to the forms and the oil pastel below the line.  Finally a wash was added to the rest of the page.
Oil pastel and watercolour 2. Same technique as above.

Watercolour wash

 I did this on watercolour paper and had the page at a steep angle.  First the blue wash to which I added some salt, then I turned the page upside down for the red wash.  I added some soft graphite pencil once it was dry.  I love the unpredictability this method gives.

Watercolour and clingfilm


While the paint was wet I crumpled clingfilm over the whole paper and waited until the paint was dry to remove the film.  This has a landscape feel to it so I intend to add other marks.

Creative sketchbooks – Module 1

We start with home as the place of inspiration for this module.  This is an initial piecing together of a few images that I hope give a feel of what my home feels to me.  The flowers are dried poppies that I have stuck down with acrylic medium, both underneath and over the flowers.

Into the kitchen

I photographed my cutlery drawer and did some drawings of spoons, looking at the way the light fell on them.

First attempt – didn’t fill the page.  Second attempt below, did fill the page and is a better drawing I think.

Now for some tracing…

minimum linea bit more detailed line
takr a line for a walk
tonal values

Rubbing away – I covered the page with graphite, used the eraser to work into this for the shapes, then added more detail with the pencil.

Adding pages… image on the left, one layer of tracing over the entire photo, on the right, a second layer on the left hand side, slightly offset.


Finally, the last piece of tracing on the left hand side of tonal values.

Rubbings over shapes cut from a cereal packet…

Rubbings over wire shapes…

Using water soluble graphite pencils… water added to the shadows on the spoon in the image on the left, to the shadows on the right.

Cutting away page edges… three spoon shapes cut from the page, left attached at the spine of the book, with the photo laid beneath two of them.  A rubbing of wire spoons underneath, laid hapharzardly to represent the way they usually are in the drawer.  An additional tracing of more spoons laid over this in the image on the right.

Combing phot with drawing … an attempt to seamlessly meld the two.  Koh-i-noor wash over the backgrounds, a line added to represent the edge of the table and some graphitint used for some of the shadows.

Putting different techniques together… an imaginary composition.

A hole was cut into the page in the shape of the mug to see to the page below where I stuck in the photo and painted the background with a pale black wash.  Then I added a piece of tracing paper with overlapping outlines of the mug over this.

Below is the other side of the main page where you can see the blue mug which is a photo stuck on to the previous page.  This reverse side probably needs a bit of colour too.