Kitchen Table Art Project - Fiona Wilson

Chatting with Nicholas Wilton on Art 2 Life Kitchen Table Art Project

Last night was an exciting evening for me, as I had been invited to appear as a guest artist on the ART2LIFE weekly Kitchen Table Art Project, (or KTAP for short) video call. The theme was Slowing Down and was all about our relationship with gardening and how we notice and live with nature in our daily lives. More specifically we spoke about ways in which we could use these things as inspiration for our new art works.

After posting a picture of my recent Seawhite of Brighton Sketchbook, I was invited to share more with all the viewers. Not only was I going to be showing my work to thousands of people, but I was also going to be chatting with my virtual art mentor whom I have long admired, Nicholas Wilton, founder of ART2LIFE. I’ll admit that I was pretty nervous so I spent a while beforehand looking out a large selection of my travel journals and sketchbooks, particularly my recent experimental books, based upon trying to capture the fleeting beauty of the garden that my photographer husband Trevor is lovingly resurrecting after years of neglect.

Everyone seemed really excited about seeing the books online (something I shall be working on for my website in the next few weeks in fact). Most of the questions were about what books I use, what pens or what paint. It’s great to get recommendations and I am always delighted to teach others but I think the only way to truly find what you like is to just try something out. I am constantly experimenting with new media and have made so many great accidental discoveries that I thoroughly recommend you give anything a try. Below I have popped some images of all the materials and tools I mentioned in the Kitchen Table Art Project interview, plus a few more things that I like to use in my plein air sketching, whether at home or abroad.

My husband and I travel as much as we can, both at home and abroad (see my latest India work), so I have been able to really hone down the tools I know I will need for each adventure. I’m often travelling very lightly with a backpack, so small containers and multipurpose items are great. One person in the interview asked ‘Are there any pens you wouldn’t recommend?’… well that would be the one that leaked all of its ink in my carry on luggage due to airline cabin pressure. I’m sure you can imagine how delighted I was when I discovered that small disaster!

There were suggestions of publishing my travel sketchbooks which is something I have often thought of and my husband is actually busy photographing them all as I write this. I plan to add them to this website very soon (remember to subscribe using the box at the bottom of this page so you can be the first to see them). I am going to begin to teach others to make these journals in the very near future as I see mine as invaluable treasures full of memories, notes, things collected and sometimes even smells from a place. In this time, during the COVID-19 lockdown when we cannot travel so easily, it becomes an essential library full of wonderful (and also sometimes stressful) times. A visual and written record of stories told and of friends met.

Just remember that when you are creating your own journals you can use anything! I’ve used lipstick on a napkin if I really wanted to record something. The beauty with any sketchbook is that it’s only paper. If you don’t like a bit then just paint over it, glue on some collage, scribble all over it or even remove that page and throw it away.

Don’t be too precious about your sketchbooks, have fun, and get journalling! And remember to tune into the Kitchen Table Art Project next week too as it is an invaluable and inspirational 90 minutes of discussion about art practice – I love it!

I have prepared a list of my recommended materials for sketchbooks and you can take a look through that here. If there is anything you think I have missed off of the list I’d love to hear your suggestions in the comments box below!

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