Friday, 19 December 2008

Two New Mole's Arrived in Chicago

This is Lorraine's unique and wildly creative contribution to Gesa's Line book. Lorraine has attached mini dress patterns from festive ribbon hangers and sewn THE ACTUAL PAGES! This is a lovely and inspiring interpretation of the theme and I'm going to have some fancy thinking to come up with my own ideas.

And here is Brian's serene, beautifully textured contribution to Vivien's book. This peaceful, idyllic scene is entitled "Hell's Gate, East River,NY" It's hard to see all of his rich pastel strokes built up on the surface. Very rich addition!

Saturday, 13 December 2008

Stretch Sketchbook Returns Home to New York

After its long trip abroad and to the Midwestern United States, my sketchbook has returned home. It's a little dog-eared and certainly more world-wise but otherwise in excellent form and filled with beautiful stories to tell from each of you.

The latest is Lindsay's addition - a fun, bold drawing in black and brown of the end of four pens (the writing end of two and the clicking end of the others). Lindsay's pens echo very nicely the vertical line work of Steph's trees on the preceding pages with her gorgeous fluttering leaves. The writing implements in close up seem a fitting conclusion for this book's journeys now that it has so much to tell. Thanks, Lindsay, for this lovely work and for the chocolates you sent along as well!

And thanks, each of you, for the wonderful work you've done in my book. It's truly a pleasure to see each drawing in person and an honor to have something from each of you here. The theme of my book was "Stretch" but I frankly feel I've stretched myself more in all of your sketchbooks than on my first drawings in my own. The book does have three or four empty pages left, though, so perhaps I'll bring it full circle and add a new entry myself.

Sunday, 7 December 2008

Gesa's moley

Gesa's moley has gained a little weight, but it's ready to go.

Casey sent it to me but, neither Lindsey nor Brian have worked in it yet. So, before it goes to David, do either of you want it?

Sunday, 30 November 2008

Close, home safe and sound.

Just the other day my moley made the last leg of it's journey from New York to Northern Ireland.
What a lovely surprise!
Here is Brian's contribution, three stunning close studies in pastel. Brian, you really amaze me how you can get such wonderful textures with pastel! I'm afraid I didn't do your work justice here.
This little sketch book is such a joy, I can't stop looking at it, I keep finding new things to enjoy. Thank you all so much for sharing your creativity with me. I will post a slideshow of it as soon as I've worked out how to do this. In the meantime I had better get cracking on Gesa's and Davids moleys.
The dates for the exhibition in Belfast have now been confirmed, 23rd February 2009 to 23rd March 2009. I'l have more details for you all closer to the time.

Missing in action

Here is the entry I did in Gesa's Lines & Lineages Moley. The image isn't very good, as it was taken in a rush before posting it on to Casey. Unfortunately Casey didn't post about the entry, so it's a missing piece which followed Vivian's work here. I don't think it stands a a piece on it's own but maybe what Lindsay does to follow will help tie it all in. Remember, Lindsay, you're welcome to draw, paint and obliterate what I've done, and with this piece, I don't think you can do any harm. I'm not being self-deprecating here. I'm happy with a lot of the work I've done, but I'm not satisfied with this one. Maybe David could send the book back to me to work over it before Gesa gets it?

Saturday, 29 November 2008

Landscape by David

Here's David's beautiful addition to Vivien's "Landscape" sketchbook. Vivien suggests that each artist provide a landscape from their "local area - country, city or your backyard". David responded with an interpretation of the three ancient standing stones at Machrie Moor on the Isle of Arran. He uses a rich analogous color scheme of purples, blues, and green with a complementary surge of red and orange slicing directly across the composition at the eye level of a visitor contemplating the stones. This bright line that renders the drawing neatly in half is made even more compelling because it seems to emanate directly from the corner of the roof of Penshaw Monument in Steph's contribution on the previous pages. David sets up a wonderful interplay of warm and cool colors, giving his landscape a dynamic charge that lends itself exceptionally well to the mystical nature of this prehistoric site.
It's interesting to me that - following Viven's lovely field of flowers - Steph and David both contributed stunning landscapes with historic elements that are awesome in scale and symbolism. I'm looking forward to working in this book and am planning an addition with a very local subject. Hopefully, I'll be able to maintain the richness and vibrancy of the work by Vivien, Steph, and now David - this is a dauntingly beautiful book!

Wednesday, 26 November 2008

Steph's Work in Brian's Mole

This is Steph's stunning mixed media addition to Brian's Stretch Mole. Brian, you might just have to pry my hands off this journal to send it on back home. It's really lovely and I hope you post it as a slide show when it's landed.

Steph has used ink and collage and watercolor(?) to give her watery Autumnal contribution some real graphic punch. Lovely combinations here. And sorry it took so long for me to post. (S, thanks for the little addition! I might just pass some of that on in the form of an addition to this book!)

Monday, 24 November 2008

Gesa took this Moley travelling with her on the London Underground to people-watch. Then on to a friend's house in Germany, and lastly to the airport heading home. There's loads of detail crammed in and I especially love the image of the dining room, glimpsing rooms beyond doorways. Gesa's pen-work is strong and sure here. I know you'll love it, Lindsay.
When you get it, don't forget to rummage in the pockets.

Sunday, 23 November 2008

Story tellings

On Thursday I got my latest Moley Fix: Casey's Freedom moley is now here with me after David's session.

It's pretty full now - as with Lindsay's Maps/Destination - my entry was #6.
It's intriguing stories, these sketchbooks are telling: in terms of the images and entries, but also with some of the ephemera.

E.g., I like Lindsay's little pocket for leaving/taking entry tickets and various found papers; how she and others stuck some stamps on it (sorry, Lindsay, I had one from Israel for you, but had temporarily misplaced it and only found it again after I had posted the book on); the little thoughts, ditties, comments some have written on the back.

With Casey's moley I liked the continuity of medium - and how everyone ended up putting some protective paper around their sketches.

The images tell stories too. And this was what struck me. I am not much of a story teller with images - that's why I think I can never quite cut it as an illustrator, the art of cartoon and visual novels or even storyboards for film is beyond me. I think as far as storytelling in painting/drawing goes for me, it's the work process. I like the layering of collage and mixed media. Of adding stuff to a painting. But 'stuff' is usually all there is, it's not straightforward.

I've seen quite a few of Lorraine and David's sketches now, and both of them are great storytellers with a single image. Though very different in style, their image is a message. And with this moley, David surprised me. From the sneak preview I was fairly certain it would have been an abstract in oil pastel. He had already said that it was neo iis, but I was struck when I opened it to find a hand reaching through bars for a wild blue bird.

Here, have a look for yourself at his commentary on freedom.

David's addition in Casey's Freedom moley

I had a bit of a free imagination and already continued. Who wants it next? Vivien or Steph???

Monday, 17 November 2008

Two for the Price of One

Right, I've got two moley's here primed and ready to go. Would anyone especially like to receive one of them first?
Detail of my contribution to the Freedom Moley.
Detail of Local Landscape Moley.

I'll wait a couple of days and if there are no other takers then I'm sorry Gesa it will be you again!

Sunday, 16 November 2008

And, en route again

Worry not, Steph... yours will be the next destination of Lindsay's moley... in the post asap as I decided that I am finished with it :)

What I did with it? Travelling...

Gesa's entry in Lindsay's Maps & Destinations

And my moley?

... where is it? Please? Everyone's seem to be somewhere but where on earth is mine?

Thursday, 13 November 2008

Where on earth.....?

Hiya all, here's the list of Moleys. I've noted where some are, so can you 'edit' my post and record where the others are right now?

Brian - Stretch - in the post to Lindsay
Lorraine - Close - with Brian
David - The Dance - in the post to Lorraine
Gesa - Lines - with Lor Lor
Vivian - Landscapes - with David
Stephanie - Genesis - with Brian
Casey - Freedom - with David
Lindsay - Maps & Destinations - Gesa has it

we could add a tab down the side with this info, and each of us could update it when they receive a book? What do you think?

November morning

details of Steph's work in Brian's STRETCH bookI emailed Brian earlier in the week to say I'd have a look at his Moley, which I think I've had for 2 months or so, and work on it this week. As I mentioned in the previous post, these little books seem to have taken on a life of their own, and as soon as I opened it up, I could see themes of shapes and colours running through this one. A few hours later, and I was done, letting it dry in a safe corner of the kitchen.
I'll post it on to Lindsay this afternoon and, as there's seven pages left, Brian will get to work in it to bring it full circle. Will this be the first Moley to cross the finishing line?

A change in the line up

Hiya guys, Vivien has mailed me to confirm that Casey has had to drop out of the exchange. He has forwarded on the books that he'd received without working in them, which is such a shame because he' such a fantastic artist and I was really excited about seeing some of his work in the flesh. Not to worry.
Making an executive decision, I think we should continue to circulate and work on Casey's Freedom Moley, and include it in Lorraine's exhibition, before returning it completed to Casey. To tell you the truth, when I get the Moleys I'm not thinking about who originated them, as they each seem to have taken on lives of their own, if you know what I mean.

Sunday, 9 November 2008

Genesis by Lindsay

Hot on the heels of David's post with work by Steph and Lorraine, I'm adding Lindsay's addition to Steph's Genesis sketchbook. These spanners are captured so convincingly, you feel as though you could lift them off the page, and - despite the difference in subject and scale - Lindsay's composition complements Steph's work very nicely.

I've now got two sketchbooks here - Lorraine's "Close" and Steph's "Genesis" - and I'll work to get them on their way as soon as possible. Steph's book only has these two contributions (shown above) so far so it still needs to make most of the rounds. Lorraine's book is nearly finished with only Casey and I left to go. Both books are looking great and I'll do my best to keep them that way!

Just Like Busses.... wait forever on one, and two come along at the same time!

So, I'll take the first one part of the way then change to the second for the remainder of my journey:

Steph's brooding northern edifice, seen contre-jour from a low viewpoint, is pieced together with creative collage and full of painted textures. A monumental moley masterpiece! Great stuff Steph, and in stark contrast to the gentle rolling summer meadows of Viviens southern landscape. Bronte's 'Wuthering Heights' meets Vaughan-Williams 'A Lark Ascending':

Jump off one bus, and onto the next (it's just as well I have my Auld Git's Travel Card!):

Flying high with Lorraine's multi-coloured kite looking down on sandy beaches gives a great sense of a blustery day at the sea-side. I believe one of the two "edjits" with the dog may in fact be Lorraine herself loving the freedom and pleasure a deserted beach brings us!. Well done Lorraine - it makes a great spacious image:

I will need to fly this kite for a while up at Penshaw Monument to see if I can achieve similar enjoyable lift-off's!

Thursday, 30 October 2008

Close by Lindsay

Lorraine's sketchbook is a real treat from beginning to end with great work by everyone. Lindsay's addition is a quartet of richly colored miniature landscapes set into small square frames. Looking at each of these images is like peering through a window into an open expanse alive with light and color. The matted format and expanse of paper suggests a calm stillness, contrasting nicely with the energetic flow of Steph's work on the preceding pages. The bar has been set very high by all of the contributions to Lorraine's book - I hope I can keep it going!

Wednesday, 29 October 2008

Linday's Finished with David's Dance Book

Who is the lucky next person??? Just let me know where to send it.

Sunday, 26 October 2008

David's Book

Well, here is Brain's contribution to David's dance book. Brian this is really lovely in person. My family admired your work too saying it was very romantic. Did you use pastel pencils to get all those wonderful details in?

Now I have TWO books to work on and send along. No pressure here!

I'm still in the land of the living.

Hi Folks
I've really missed being in contact with you all and apologise for not being in touch. And no, I didn't get lost in Donegal. It's been a crazy few months of University work, freelance work, and resuming my own studies for a master's degree. Along with a banjaxed camera and a broadband connection with a mind of its own, life has been, to say the least, interesting.
However, I can now send Casey's Freedom sketch book on. Any takers?

Sunday, 12 October 2008

... and she makes splash!!!

Vivien's Splashdown in Lindsay's Moley, Part 1

Just when I got Vivien's wonderful Seascapes book and was itching for more than reproductions, she returned Lindsay's moley to me... jippieh! Some beautiful wild seas in real life - oil? - sketches. One's a close-up, one's more land-, oops: seascapey. Both of them are richly worked, reworked, with lines, markings, scrapings and scratchings. There's plenty of whites used, and done so very well. It will give me plenty of look at, think about and play with - for my own seascapes, but also of course where to go next? If Vivien made astronaut David arrive, what's gonna happen next?

Vivien's Splashdown in Lindsay's Moley, Part 2

I think that will require some consideration...

Many thanks, Vivien - and I'm sure everyone who'll get if from here on will love the way this moley has been developing. It could well be the one with most entries yet? It has five so far: Lindsay, Brian, Lorraine, David and Vivien.

Thursday, 9 October 2008

where are we up to now?

where are we up to now?

Who has which books ?

it's gone a bit quiet

How many are completed in each of the books - could we all update? like x has y's book which now has 5 entries and is on it's way to z????

I haven't got a book ......

I want a book!!!!!!!!!!!

Sunday, 5 October 2008

Dance by Steph

Here's Steph's contribution to David's "Dance" theme. We transition from Vivien's delicate blossoms scattered by a late summer breeze to Steph's energetic dancers kicking, jumping, and stretching across the page. The figures are drawn with wonderful efficiency and vigor, suggestive of the dynamic motion of dance while complimenting the light, floating feel of the red blossoms. This book is a real treat with great work by David, Gesa, Vivien, and now Steph - hopefully I can keep it going...

Lindsay's book with David's addition

David's work in Lindsay's book - Maps and Destinations

Sorry for the belated posting - life keeps getting in the way :>(

This is the fabulous addition by David, following on from the lovely maps by Lindsay, Brian and Lorraine - he took it off into a slightly different direction!

Note the Scottish Flag of St Andrew on the sleeve and the intials DC on the suit - wishful thinking David?

I really love this - the idea, the composition - it just works so well!

He's in for a rather damp splashdown on the next page - I decided to go for the destination as there were lots of maps .... but Gesa can show you that when it arrives :>)

I'm sending it to Gesa so that she gets to see my scribbles for once IRL and then it can go back on track and it can go to Stephanie next I hope that's ok?

Casey have you sent a book to me? you can if you have one :>)

Thursday, 25 September 2008

Dance expolsion

Wow, what a night. I mean..! Oh wow. Matthew Bourne's Dorian Gray. Tense, violent, arousing, grotesque, dark. So this morning I grabbed David's moley, and started scribbling.

Who wants it now? Casey, Lindsay, Brian or Lorraine?

Wednesday, 24 September 2008

question for Casey

Casey ............. confess! how many sketchbooks have you got? we seem to have come to a bit of a standstill!

Hope you are OK?

Tuesday, 16 September 2008

Hands up....

.... if you want Lorraine's Close sending to you. Casey, Lindsay and Brian haven't had it yet. It's in a jiffy, waiting to go.

Sunday, 7 September 2008


Stretch by Vivien "Strive for emotion - I hope some of the love I have for the coast comes through". detailVivien, it really does. On the back of the artwork she explains how she's re-worked a previous lino print... I won't say any more as she explains it all.

Vivien has a great sense of composition, arranging these slices on the pages. For the time being I'm not thinking about what I'll do to follow, I just want to spend a little time looking through everyone else's work and absorbing the journey. And I probably won't get to see what follows after I send this on, except seeing photos online. It's a shame because I love to fondle these Moleys; sometimes I sit and open them gradually, so that I can only view a small section at a time. OStretch panorama Sept 08ther times I'll lay them flat on the carpet and let my eyes wander.

Close - the story so far

... not including my addition, because it's a secret until the recipient gets it. There are 12 blank pages left, and three people left who haven't contributed.

Saturday, 6 September 2008

... and off into space

... is where David's entry is taking us as current destination in Lindsay's moley.

What a good idea... guided by a few stars towards the sun.

Take a look yourself.

David's contributionn to Lindsay's Moley

And: where to go next if the sky's already been the limit???

Friday, 5 September 2008

Vivien gets Close

Vivien's work is so wonderful that I am privileged to premier her work in this exchange. In this Moley she's depicted a number of things; a feather, the coast, and trees. On the back of the pages is written "....the edges, where one thing becomes another, clearly defined or lost edges......"

First, her feather is drawn in minute detail with a technical pen. The fine lead has allowed her to draw each individual strand, which would have been near impossible with a regular pencil even with repeated sharpening. Some areas are fine, some whispery, it looks like if you blew on it it'd float off the page.

Next she transforms a view of her local coast from a standard landscape to an abstract view. I remember reading about Monet's waterlilies being revolutionary at the time because he cropped the view.

Here is her close study of trees and bark. There are greys and purples and ochres in there, and I think she's scratched into it. I keep discovering things each time I open it up. It's just wonderful to see. In fact, I think this would look great tree-sized, maybe eight feet tall. It was hard to capture the texture and the subtlety of colours in this photo. In fact, Vivien's written to one side, so I'm wondering if it's meant to be viewed from the side? Maybe it's both, because both angles look great in the flesh so I've posted two photos for you to see and decide. These Moleys are damn tricky to photograph, don't you think?

I have painted my interpretation of Close in it now, and I'm ready to post it on. Here's a half inch piece of it. Next on the list would be Casey, but if we want to mix it up a bit, there's still Lindsay and Brian yet to work in it. So shout out whoever wants it next and I'll pop it in the post.

Thursday, 4 September 2008


Can I apologise, as I received Lorraine's Close Moley, and Brian's Stretch Moley a few weeks ago, and I've had David's Dancing book a while. But, apart from Vivien's poppies in David's book I haven't published photos of what I've received. Sorry people. You'll see from my blog that I've been out of the picture during the holidays (pardon the pun) but I'm back now and normal service will resume.
The good news is that the battery for my digital camera is recharging as I type and photos will follow. Soon. I promise. I was working in the Close Moley last night and am all fired up and excited again.

Sunday, 24 August 2008

Casey's moley in Ireland

Hi moley mates, I'm sorry that I've been a bit tardy in posting this moley.

Casey's moley arrived safely in a very wet and miserable Belfast on Tuesday, and now on Sunday evening I have time to really enjoy it's contents.

Casey started the "Freedom" theme with a lovely freeform expression of colour and texture in soft pastel. Casey did you use Unison pastels for this?, because if you did I'm beginning to see why they are so popular among soft pastel artists.

Then Lindsay threads some of Casey's colours into her dynamic mixed media landscape, using oil pastels and solid blocks of colour. I'm going to have a go at using oil pastels, I love the almost liquid effects that Lindsay has achieved with these.

Next, Brian's interpretation of "Freedom" introduces us to a very serene scene in soft pastels of a disused jetty, with lovely soft waterery effects and what I think is becoming Brian's trade mark greens.

So, what will I do?

I think that I will continue the pastel tradition already established in this moley, however as to subject. Well we will see.

Thursday, 21 August 2008


FYI: Lindsay's Moley is off on the road again and who knows where it will take us. Apart from stopping at Gesa's first!

Saturday, 16 August 2008

Our moleys... where are they?

I keep checking the blog to see what's where but must admit, I've got a bit lost as to the whereabout of our moleys...

As far as I can see:
Vivien has't got any, I don't have any, Lorraine is looking forward to get Casey's moley from Brian, David has Lindsay's moley.

Which leaves Steph and Casey? Casey, did you receive Vivien and my moley?

Do we want to stick with the previous order or mix the cards anew as Steph suggested in the previous post? I personally don't mind either way, am just looking for some reassurance that all the books are somewhere in someone's safe hands :)

Thursday, 7 August 2008

Vivien's Brainwave

I've just been catching up on people's blogs (kinda) and found that Viv's had a cool idea -'s a shame that we miss out on seeing much of some people's work - it maybe needs a mathematician to arrange a future exchange and work out permutations to change the order of sending the books a little? making books criss cross - making people partners so one time the book goes to A and the next book to B, winding in and out in strands so that the books keep moving ..... don't think my maths is up to it!......
I have no idea if this could work BUT I do think it's a great idea. It would give us the chance to see other people's work, and it would mean that we're not always following on from the work of the same artist each time. So, I have a suggestion. If we each look at which Moley's w have in our possession at present, and make a note of who is left on the list for it to be sent to (the original postal list is on the blog's side bar) then choose who you feel lie posting it onto, and send it, maybe putting a copy of the list in the handy pocket at the back of the Moley, and crossing out who's had it, so the recipient can see who is left on the list for it to be sent to. This may cause bottle-necks but I know I myself had 2 Moleys at once. Also, if anyone isn't inspired to draw int the one they have they could send it and add their name to the list in the back to get it again at some point in the future. So that way, everyone gets to paint (draw, whatever, you know what I mean) in each Moley, but we just jazz up the order.
I suppose people can post on the blog asking for a Moley if they have none at the time, or to say WAIT, I'm up to my neck in Molies (that spelling looks wrong).
Anyway, how do you guys feel about that suggestion?

Vivien's Brainwave

Sunday, 3 August 2008

An exhibition of our sketchbooks

Right take a deep breath!
Ohhhhhhh! I'm soooooooooooo excited!!!!!!!
Oh behave!

I have an announcement to make.


The library on the Belfast campus of the University of Ulster has agreed to exhibit our sketchbooks when they are finished!!!!!!!!

This is a long story, but this is how it goes. I was walking in to work (I work in the Textiles and Fashion Dept of the school of Art and Design based in the the Belfast campus of the University of Ulster.) one morning when I met the chief librarian.
Anyway Marion and I got chatting about how our summers were going and I mentioned that I was engaged in our moly exchange.
She was really interested and said,(God bless her wee cotton socks, I hope they turn to wool) that the library would love to display our sketchbooks.

Sooooooo, what do you all think?
Obviously, there is a bit to think about, timing etc. However, I thought that we should all have our original sketchbooks back around Christmas and if the exhibition was scheduled for, say February, we would have a month to enjoy our sketchbooks before they would be sent to Belfast for the show.

Please let me know what you think.
Best thoughts and regards

Wednesday, 30 July 2008

Oh' the wanderlust is on me....

...And tonight I strike the trail, And the morning sun will find me, In the lovely Carrick vale...

Chorus (now youse'll a' sing along wi' me!):

"We'll swing along to a hiking song, on the highway winding west, Tramping highland glens and bracken bens, to greet the Isles we love the best".

It was a real pleasure this morning to hear the extra weight of a moleskine plopping through the letterbox. And even better to open it and read the continuing story of places and destinations with maps to show me the way!

Hedgelea Park looks a wonderful place to live out there in the countryside, but no matter where we live we all can still be part of a (virtual) artistic community.

Now how on earth do I follow Lorraine's pastoral peacefulness? Ha - there's the germ of an idea!
Hold onto your seats for we may be about to take a bit of a detour to another destination!!!!!

Sunday, 27 July 2008

Lindsey's moly on the move again.

Lindsey's moly will be winging it's way to David in East Kilbride, first thing in the morning.

Here is a sneak peak of what I've done.

Saturday, 26 July 2008

Brian's book - theme: Stretch

Gesa Helm's work in Brian's book - theme: Stretch
Brian's book contains coloured pencil sketches of his local landscape, followed by the same of Ireland by Lorraine, a visit to the carnival with David and continues with these fabulous sketches of the Isle of Eigg by Gesa.

hmmm sorry Gesa - that looks rather too blue onscreen - imagine it greener please everyone!

I really like the loose gestural marks, catching the feel of the scrubby highland grass, old stone wall, rocks and scree. There's an interesting write up on the back as well about how the mist controlled how much could be seen - how far the horizon stretched - just to the stone wall? or to the cairn? always changing.

I love wild places. I travelled a lot in Scotland as I lived there for a few years but I never made it to the islands and always wanted to.


Lorraine's book - theme CLOSE

Gesa's work in Lorraine's book - theme: Close

This book is looking so good! it starts off with a coloured pencil drawing by Lorraine of her beloved garden, closely followed by a loving couple in the undergrowth by David and then this lovely Joan Eardley inspired image by Gesa over 4 pages.

I love Joan Eardley's work - both her Glasgow tenement children and her lovely abstracted landscapes.


These are so lively and the photos don't do them justice - the mix of collage and painterly marks, glazes and scumbles of paint need to be seen in real life.

I'm going to have to wait ages for the next one I think :>(

I can't wait to see what else has been happening to mine :>)

and on to another post about Brian's book ....