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.
Lynne has a City & Guilds in Creative Embroidery and is a member of the Embroiderer’s Guild, the Phoenix Contemporary Textile Group and the ‘4 x 4’ Group.
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
How do you use your sketchbooks? Let us know if you’ve enjoyed this article by leaving a comment below.
28 comments on “Sketchbooks for textile artists by Lynne Butt”
Really enjoyable and inspirational Lynne. I thoroughly enjoyed the article.
Hi Maggie – really pleased you enjoyed the article. I agree – Lynne has written a really beautiful piece. Thanks for checking out TextileArtist.org.
Lynne you are right about iPad you loose being able to see and feel the texture of work but great fun using it for Ideas.
Hi Di – thanks for leaving a comment. I’m not a textile artist myself but my mum is and I know she has great fun on the iPad too – great to be able to use a combination of traditional methods and modern technology.
Oh! how your article resonates with me, Lynn. I have not so far succombed to an iPad, but like you I’ve moved into photo manipulation in combination with many other paper and textile techniques, new and old. Aint life fun!
The ipad is so much fun, I’m amazed at what you can do with it! I’m learning new things all the time.
Great article, it’s so inspiring to see other textile artists work, especially how they work and their sketchbooks. I live in a rural place, so the internet is a wonderful way to connect, thanks for this newsletter, it too is inspiring!
Hi Emma – I think sketchbooks are so individual to the artist but i love the way Lynne has such a passion for hers.
Just joined this newsletter and already so impressed by the talent and appreciation of textile art ! I love Lynn’s work and her sketch book process ! Very inspirational !
Have just joined this site, Lynn’s sketchbook article is the first one I have read,found it very inspirational. This site seems to be just what I have been looking for. Look forward to exploring it. Thanks
Thank you to everyone for your kind comments. I am looking forward to reading Bren Boardman’s article, the photos are stunning.
This article by Lynne Butt really resonated deeply with me. I am a mixed media artist, and as I work constantly with sketchbooks, I seem to be going through quite a few. Inspired by “The Book Thief”, I an now re-purposing used, but much treasured magazines. Using paper remnants, drawing, painting and collage, I am blurring the pages, so that copyright is not compromised, and I can then make each page my own – the original pages are merely the canvas for further inspiration. Now any expensive magazines I buy are not wasted, but “moved on” to another creative life. In some of these re-purposed books, I write inspirational messages to help further creative journalling. And of course, the covers are given elaborate, textural finishes, to complete the creative sketchbook look.
I love your idea of using magazines!
Hello, have just finished reading your article about sketchbooks and iPad. I have to say I agree with you about using iPad, it is great for taking instant pictures , although I have an android phone (a Samsung Galaxy). It is also addictive to use. But there really is no substitute for the textures of various papers or fabrics.
I love the physicality of sewing and embroidery and playing with textures and creating fabrics with different yarns and threads. The fact also that the activities mentioned are portable (in most cases anyways) and conducive to an inner peace (almost always)
Thank you for an excellent newsletter and website. Very enjoyable reading and practical too ☺
What a great article! The creative process is often so mysterious and interesting. I love the way Lynne is including the sketchbooks in exhibits. It’s such a special treat when artist sketches are included in a show. It’s like you get a peek into their mind, love it! Thank you
I am struggling to get a sketchbook practice going, in part because I also want to use different paper and materials but need some way to group/hold/temporarily bind them. Like Lynne, I want to be able to take them apart and rearrange them, add and subtract, etc. So I have a very practical question — I need ideas on how to connect these pages into a re-arrangeable “book.” Clips have been unsatisfying. Suggestions?
I was wondering about using eyelets on a home piece and then threading ribbon through to secure
I was wondering about using eyelets on each piece and then threading ribbon through to secure