Sketchbooks for textile artists by Lynne Butt
Lynne Butt inherited a passion for needlework from her mother who was a keen dressmaker. Having experimented with pottery, knitting, collage and crochet, to this day she continues to explore the properties and uses of new materials and techniques in creating textile art. Most recently she has turned to digital photography and electronic image manipulation and works by combining these with more traditional art forms to create dynamic and highly personal work.
Alongside this constantly evolving use of mixed-media sits the inspiration for Lynne’s work, which she finds in the conflict between the man-made and natural environment. Because of this, her pieces often feature fluid organic shapes and textures set against much more rigid and mechanical motifs.
Having been lucky enough to see Lynne’s work on display, we’re delighted that this talented textile artist has agreed to give us a glimpse into her process, by revealing why using a sketchbook for the development of textile art is so important to her.
Why sketchbooks are special
My sketchbooks are very special to me, they are works of art that can can be held, and felt and smelt!
They are never finished, I can go on changing them, adding to them or taking bits away. The whole book can be taken apart, rearranged and put back together in a different order or the pages can be incorporated into another book or even stuck together. Sometimes I can spend more time on my sketchbooks than on the finished piece of work! They contain ideas and reminders and lots of excitement.
Working with sketchbooks
I like to work on different types of paper, and often put a coloured wash over pages, I paste in scraps of paper to add texture to drawings, I like to use charcoal and pastels for drawing so that I can smudge them (it’s a bit messy though, especially when you’re out and about). I tear the edges of the pages and then carefully paint along the torn edge (giving an aged effect), layers of pages with torn edges are wonderful and I often photograph these sections using a macro lens which gives lovely blurred out of focus edges.
The Phoenix Contemporary Textile Group exhibition in 2007 was entitled ‘Women by Women’. We each took a woman artist as inspiration for our own work. The american artist Helen Frankenthaler interested me as she worked a lot on paper, and on her fiftieth birthday she began to work in a large blank book which she called ‘ideas’.
For ‘Women by Women’ I exhibited complete sketchbooks, but for the last 4×4 exhibition ‘Between a Rock and a Hard Place’ at the Menier Gallery, I produced three pieces of work titled ‘The Lost Sketchbook’. I wanted the pieces to have a worn distressed appearance as though they’d been separated from the sketchbook they were in, exposed to the elements for a while, found and stapled to a fence. I worked on distressed calico, using soluble paper, and beaten Kozo to make the torn edges of the paper, they were hand and machine stitched.
I am now experimenting with a sketching app on my iPad. It is amazing and very different, I am having a lot of fun with it (and fingers stay clean!). I like the idea of taking photographs with the iPad and then working into them. The possibilities are endless, but it could never take the place of something that is so tactile, the feel of the cover and the immense variety of paper, paint, ink, glue and any number of ‘found’ objects that find their way into a sketchbook.
For more information please visit: www.phoenixcontemporarytextiles.com
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