Summer Collaborations 2016

The spontaneous mindful drawing travellers, the yarn wrapping installations and stickers!

At the end of August I went on a little trip. First to the south of Wales in Carmarthen for a wedding, then to Staffordshire and Cheshire, UK, and finally to Antwerp in Belgium. I spent the whole trip with a good friend from University and the following collaborations were with her. Jessie Kopka, artist and student of mental health nursing (www.jessiekopka.com)


We are both passionate about the abstract zentangle style of drawing, or meditative drawing. A lot of repeat patterns, shapes, lines and colouring. We both enjoy the different dynamics of working outlines as well as colouring in. The joy of working on a spontaneous piece of drawing is that we respect each others' design choices without discussing it, and this helps to make the composition flawless. With this it can, at first glance, look like a piece done by one person (especially with the shared use of the same materials) and only we know which parts we made. In fact, we probably can't remember exactly but we definitely can identify each others preferred 'signature' shape repetition. 

We know by now how great drawing can be for bringing peace to your thoughts, and, for me, is one of the few tasks that I can truly apply a mindful approach to. When me and Jessie draw in this way we both go into a little trance (!) and actually I think it's important to identify (from my experiences) the respective benefits of mindful drawing alone or in a collaboration. 

Alone :
The limits are endless, all the design choices are yours. The relationship here is all about being comfortable with your own company, arguably the relationship that we all have to put the most work into over a life time. For the finished product, you can do whatever you want with it, keep it, gift it, throw it in the bin (but don't ever throw it in the bin!). Unless it's a commission or piece adhering to a brief, you can take the spontaneity as the motivation comes, this, I find, can create a greater emotive bond with drawing.

Collaborative :
I've already touched upon aesthetic and the more obvious reasons about working in a spontaneous collaboration like this, but now I'd like to talk about something that I've never given any thought to before.  For drawing alone I talked about the importance of the relationship you have with yourself, for collaboration there is a relationship with the other person/people involved, in regards to design choices and compromises, respecting others, but in a spontaneous drawing collaboration like this there are no real design choices. So where is the relationship? We had a limited amount of materials to use, of which played no part in a underlying meaning to the piece, I mean it had no meaning, it was just drawn for the sake of drawing. At uni, when we did group projects, it was discussion after discussion, a very theoretical, academic approach to making. Here, drawing with Jessie, the silent relationship throughout the process, both literal and figurative, drew little conversation but our collaborative experience spoke volumes; the importance of feeling so comfortable with another person/artist that it can heighten your own crafting confidence. The lack of a 'purpose' took away any expectations, any criticisms, any pressure to pull your own weight, everything you have drilled into you to be a good team player. We have found a way to be an awesome team player, and that is to do just that, play! Drawing like this brought a new meaning to the word language, not the talk you speak, not the conversation that a finished piece delivers but the dialogue created on the page during the process.


On to something  that really is just silly haha... the pound shop in the UK sell an abundance of stickers. Pictured below, Cat/Dog disocteque, and In the Jungle.




Earlier in August, Jessie had visited Boom festival in Portugal and was very inspired by everything they had to offer! They had some really larger yarn wraps, huge sticks or branches even, lay in a cross or start shape and wrapped with yarn. From the photos they seemed to work great as pieces there just to add colour to the desert or functional canopies. So we scaled it down and made our own. Love the technique, the colours, the composition but most of all the fact that it was a collaboration. I found the technique itself quite simple but it definitely has the potential to get more complicated as you add more sticks. Once it became more complicated I stopped being able to watch the TV and had to concentrate. It's a nice craft to practise being mindful with because it's repetitive to you do have to put in some effort to stop the mind from wondering, but it is fiddly.

The final piece had some beads, macramé, various sized yarn wraps and a big twig from the garden.




In Belgium I had my first go and drawing with henna. It's a lovely medium to work with. Because it requires a very steady hand, it is quite time consuming but I didn't mind. It forced me to slow down the pace of making, and with line drawing like this, I could do with practising slowing down a bit! As I draw quite often using the same motifs almost, I've become really good at producing things quickly, but sometimes that's not the point. So yeah, really like henna :)


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