Monday, 23 February 2015

Artistic Explorations: Creative sketchbook (2)

In my previous article about Creative Sketchbook I showed a few samples of how to fill blank sketchbook pages with various sketches and mixed media paintings. For a long time I also had the idea of turning unwanted books into a sketchbook. I regularly browse the charity shops in my local village and have found some beautiful vintage publications which I intend to use in the future. During one of my visits I saw this book which appealed to me because of the title "Highland Flora" and the amount of images.

Highland Flora by Derek Rattcliffe

Without any plan I started to gather some materials like dried flowers and plants, scraps of old drawings and paintings, (printed) papers and stamps. I enjoyed the process of creating an interesting composition of all the pieces and transforming the original into an altered book.

Front cover altered book © Fenfolio2015

Front cover altered book © Fenfolio2015

Then I flicked through the pages, looked at the images and text and asked myself "What could I add to this page that would complement what's already there?". For some pages it was easy so I started with these. Below are the altered book pages I have made so far.

Left: graphite rubbing and pen drawing
Right: gesso on top of old film and graphite rubbing
© Fenfolio2015

Left: Lace collage on published photo
Right: dried fern, pencil drawing and graphite rubbing

© Fenfolio2015

Left: gesso and pen drawing on published photo
Right: part of own photo print with drawing in conte
© Fenfolio2015

Left: two of my own photos printed on translucent paper with acrylics
Right: ink, acrylics and pen drawing on published map

Coloured and heated Lutradur fiber on top of published photo
with added pen drawing and some distressed ink on side
© Fenfolio2015

More experimental sketches will be added to the book pages whenever I have the inspiration and time and hopefully one day the original book will be completely unrecognisable!

Tuesday, 17 February 2015

Winter in the Scottish mountains (2)

A few weeks ago Jaap and I stayed at Braemar for the weekend. We had hoped we could go skiing  but on Friday it was stormy so we decided to go for a walk instead. We parked our car at Linn of Dee and walked through Glen Dee. The light was so flat I thought it would be better to take some black and white photos. I think it perfectly captures the atmosphere that day!

Linn of Dee bridge ©Fenfolio2015

Icicles at Linn of Dee bridge ©Fenfolio2015

River Dee meandering through winter landscape ©Fenfolio2015

Eerie landscape ©Fenfolio2015

The next day looked very promising for some skiing as we had some fresh snow overnight and there was not a lot of wind forecasted. It was Jaap's first day on the skies again and we didn't want to encounter any icy/rocky/heathery areas so we decided to go to ski resort Glenshee. Our luck was with us; once we climbed up our first hill we were able to ski down one of the groomed slopes which was not being used, so we had this run for ourselves! Some someboarders, who were waiting in the long queue to take the towbar, probably noticed our excitement as they followed us climbing our second hill.

Jaap skinning up to the top ©Fenfolio2015

Overnight the thaw set in unfortunately so a lot of snow was lost. Initially we wanted to go for a cross-country tour to Loch Callater but the track had become so icy that we changed our plan and had a walk in the snowless Cambus O'May forest instead.

The Cairngorms on the other hand hadn't lost its snow cover and lots more snow had fallen since that weekend in Braemar. Perfect timing because on the first weekend of February I signed up for a ski mountaineering course organised by the Mountaineering Council for Scotland to refresh my skills.

On Friday the weather was stunning and as I was on my own I went out for a cross-country ski tour around Loch Morlich and Glenmore Forest.

View across Loch Morlich to The Cairngorms ©Fenfolio2015

Line sand shapes along the bank ©Fenfolio2015

Cross-country tour Glenmore ©Fenfolio2015

A perfect winter day ©Fenfolio2015

Following the tracks ©Fenfolio2015

On Saturday I had an early start to be skinned up halfway Cairngorm mountain and meet the group for the course at 9am. After we split into two groups we went up the mountain and learned all about skinning techniques, avalanche awareness, snow quality, navigation and group leadership.

Having a good time on top of Cairngorm mountain ©Fenfolio 2015

On Sunday we went for a tour in the Monadhliath, West of A9, which I had never been before. Our plan was to skin up munro A'Chailleach.

The route we took up and down the mountain ©Fenfolio2015

We had some very fine weather, almost spring-like in the valley.

Taking our bearings ©Fenfolio2015

Making steady progress ©Fenfolio2015

Stunning views ©Fenfolio2015

Approaching the hidden ski hut, purposely built in the early 20's
©Fenfolio 2015

Lunchbreak in the ski hut ©Fenfolio2015

Room with a view ©Fenfolio2015

The ski hut is a wonderful building! ©Fenfolio 2015

More splendid views ©Fenfolio 2015
Only when we were close to the top the weather closed in and the wind was forceful again. Perfect again for putting our navigation skills into practice.

Good practice of navigating in poor visibility © Fenfolio2015

Only then I (or actually the course leader) realised that my Silva Expedition 4 compass was faulty. The black line, which should always stay on the top, was moving along with the dial when I was taking a bearing!

Faulty reading 1 ©Fenfolio2015

Faulty reading 2 ©Fenfolio2015

I'm so glad it happened in a relatively safe environment. The course leader is a volunteer with the mountain rescue team and was shocked to see this could happen. Thanks to her efforts I might get a replacement, even though my compass is out of warranty. Since this all happened I downloaded the app Viewranger on my mobile as my old Garmin GPS doesn't have the option to view a contour map and place a point on it to navigate to. I'll be practising with this together with my new compass so that I get more confident in my navigation skills.

I have learnt so much in these two days and had a great time with like-minded people. If you're a member of MCofS, do consider their courses. They are great value for money!

Sunday, 15 February 2015

Winter in the Scottish mountains (1)

Since the start of the new year I have been enjoying the snow on a couple of hillwalking and ski touring trips. I took many photos of beautiful winter landscapes which I can't resist sharing here with you!

The first trip was a 6-hour walk to our local mountain Lochnagar, near Loch Muick, Aberdeenshire. It was a beautiful day but quite windy at the top. The views were spectacular!

Selfie with Lochnagar in background ©Fenfolio2015

Lochnagar ©Fenfolio2015

At the end of January I went away with the ski touring club ESTC. It was an exciting journey as it had snowed a lot the day before meaning that the small road leading to our accomodation Slochd Mohr lodge off the A9 was cut off due to the piles of snow created by the snow plough. But with our snow shovel (essential part of our ski touring equipment), winter tyres and determination we managed to arrive just before it was dark. We had a short cross-country skiing trip in the forest in lovely powder snow with our head torches, very exciting!

The next morning we started our ski tour from the lodge. We were so lucky with the weather; blue sky, bright sunshine, below zero and no wind at all! Were we really in Scotland??

Slochd trip ©Fenfolio2015

A superb day for ski touring ©Fenfolio2015

Surrounded with beauty ©Fenfolio2015

Our group on one of the tops ©Fenfolio2015

Although a lot of snow had fallen the days before, it had also been very windy from the West which meant that many areas were icy and some areas were lovely (especially East facing). It was fine for skinning (no crampons needed) but it was difficult to find a good run downhill. All of them would end up in grass and/or heather. Almost at the end of our trip I found a section however that looked very promising. Although it was quite a short descent, it was heaven to float through the fluffy snow for the first time this year!

First track of the season ©Fenfolio2015

On Sunday I tagged along with a small group who were going to ski Dalwhinnie near Drumochter Pass. I had never been there and always wanted to explore that side of the country.

Ski route Dalwhinnie ©Fenfolio2015

The weather forecast didn't look promising with low clouds and high winds (up to about 40mph on the top) but that didn't matter because we were well prepared.

Skinning up in flat light ©Fenfolio2015
Sometimes there was a break in the clouds ©Fenfolio2015

I'm feeling  very cosy in my balaclava! ©Fenfolio215

Steady pacing uphill ©Fenfolio2015

Top in sight ©Fenfolio2015

On the top visibilty and snow conditions were poor. Now I knew for sure I was in Scotland! The wind was also ferocious so after quickly taking off our skins we carefully made our descent. It was hard going due the sastrugi and flat light but once we were halfway down it all got better and we could really enjoy our skiing.

Wednesday, 4 February 2015

Artistic Explorations: Creative sketchbook (1)

Collage and pen drawing ©Fenfolio215

In a few weeks time I'm going to run my new workshop "Creative Sketchbook" at
Woodend Barn in Banchory. Instead of making one mixed media art piece participants will be working in their own sketchbook(s) applying various materials and techniques such as drawing, painting, printing, stamping, collage and stitch to create a unique and personal book. The workshop should give them the opportunity to experiment freely on a smaller scale and to give them ideas to play with at home.

In preparation for this workshop I created many different examples in my own sketchbooks that will hopefully inspire them! 

Printed photos on Unryu paper with pen drawing

Birds in various mixed media techniques ©Fenfolio2015

Various samples of textures for painting "Rythm of the Sea" ©Fenfolio2015

Flower in various mixed media techniques ©Fenfolio2015

Lichen in various mixed media techniques ©Fenfolio 2015

Dandelion drawing ©Fenfolio215

Seedheads drawn with bleech ©Fenfolio2015

Leaf in 6 different ways ©Fenfolio2015

Front cover of my life drawing sketchbook (A3)