November 21, 2013

Project 5: Stage 1

I had another look through my fabric collection to identify what I thought would be appropriate for printing or painting.  Most of the materials that I had in my scrap bag I instantly knew wouldn’t be suitable as they are too shiny/stretchy/already very patterned.

The cottons and cotton-blends were those that appeared to be most suitable and I had a range of colours and different weaves, some very loose, some close.  I picked out some others to try just in case they produced some interesting results but didn’t hold out much hope.

November 19, 2013

In my sketchbook

As always I think that with my sketchbook work I “could do better” and certainly could do more.  But I have been doing some, and when I look back I am beginning to accumulate some source material.  Quite often I am noting things down as I think of them or drawing on images that I have seen in books, magazines or other source material.  This tends to give me more patterns, shapes and motifs rather than ‘proper’ sketches.  It does, however, take things a step further in terms of developing ideas that can be transferred into future design work.

Here is a gallery of some sketch and note book pages (click to enlarge).

I need to do more sketching out and about, looking at new things and translating them onto the page.  I still have a lot of ideas in my head but sometimes struggle to get them down on paper and so I would like to work at that as well.

August 23, 2013

Stage 3 & 4

Having read and re-read this section of the course and deliberated about what to do and how, I eventually decided just to go for it.  I’m guessing that there is really no right or wrong but it is important to approach it openly and creatively.

I looked through various sketches and images that I had put together so far to identify things that were inspiring.  I drew a few shapes from some of my images to get me started.




I then decided to work with the sketches that I had done in the previous stage.  Firstly with the peahen I pulled out some of the prominent colours and shapes.  I was particularly interested in the circles and the depth of colour in them.




I liked the way the watercolour paint blended from very dark to light to replicated the depth of the spots.  I worked with these spots, their colour and the shape of the feathers from the bird to create this patter.



I also worked with the flower image that I created.  I extracted the distinctive shapes from the flower and a colour range based on the original image.  I simplified and replicated these shapes to create a pattern.



I then abstracted it further.



Using a permanent black pen to create the strong scalloped shape,  I could overlap the delicate petal shapes in watercolour, retaining the fluid appearance and the mix of colours within each shape.

Once I got going this was an interesting and enjoyable process.  I wish I had more time to spend developing more images further.  I will try to do some more.

August 23, 2013

Project 4: Stage 2

I started this exercise by looking at a post card of a painting by Patric Heron which had caught my eye when I was at the Tate in St Ives last year.  I thought it would be an interesting piece to look at as the image is very subtle so it would give me the chance to explore it in more detail.


I made four line drawings using my view finder in different places.  As all of the lines now had the same colour and weight it made the pattern look very different, much more exotic.  I thought the top two were interesting as, in the one on the left the background of the image was very much background, were as in the one on the right the background became more of a positive space.  I coloured these areas in blue to help to draw this out.


My second image is very bright and bold with a lot of energy.


My first drawing actually ended up being quite calm with the spiral and the leaf-type shapes and what could almost be a fish at the top.  The second image is much busier with the swirls and different colours.


My third image is an extract from an oil painting by Robert Delaunay.  I first did a pencil drawing of a section of it to explore the different tomes, shapes and textures of it.  The more I looked at it the more complex it became!


I then did a watercolour of a section of it.  It lent itself quite well to a watercolour reproduction which is interesting as it is an oil painting which I tend to think of as heavy and thick, where as this is actually quite light and almost translucent looking.

I also looked at extracts of some images of exotic plants that I cut out a National Geographic magazine.  These ended up being quite bold, simple line drawings so I put some bold colours behind them.

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Exercise 1

I chose the last piece that I worked on, the oil painting by by Delaunay for this exercise as I thought it held the most interest.

Texture: despite what I said about the oil paint looking quite translucent overall, when you look closely you can see some of the brush strokes and the thickness of the paint in some areas.  Therefore I chose to use acrylic paint to represent the texture of the piece as this also has depth to it.  It was quite tricky to represent this exactly.  I also used some watercolour pencils to reflect some of the smoother, softer areas.


Overall these are interesting but I don’t think that they reflect the overall nature of the piece very well.

Colour: I pulled out a selection of the predominant colours from the painting.  There is a lot of contrast with cool greens and blues against warmer yellows and oranges with then hits of bright orange and deep red.  Just these squares of colour reflect the painting quite well.


Shape: I considered this to be an important element of the image as the painting is abstract and made up of a range of shapes.  Pulling out the different shape made it more abstract but obviously lacking the unity of the overall piece.  I used paper pieces to look at how some of the shapes fit together and the contrast between the sharp edges (cut) and soft edges (torn).



Exercise 2 & 3

I created three additional images drawing on the aspects of colour, texture and shape that I had explored previously.  I fitted together my own set of shapes from those used in the image but left a gap between them to emphasis the shapes.  I used the same set of shapes for each of the images.

The first one brings in the different colours from the piece for each of the shapes.


The second is monochromatic but explores the gradation of colour through the shapes.


The third brings in different colours within the shapes and attempts to bring in come of the texture of the brush strokes.


I felt that the first was the most successful and pleasing and the third the least.  The first images reflects the nature of the piece most closely with the colours and shapes but the separation of the shapes and blocks of colour give it a more modern, geometric slant.


I later came across some textile designs by … in a magazine that reminded me of this study I had done.  The geometric shapes and colours in this cushion reflect my painting quite closely.  It has a very modern feel through the shapes and choice of colour and has added interest with patterns within the different triangles.


Exercise 4

I went back to some National Geographic images to draw a ‘real’ object as I couldn’t muster up enthusiasm for any of the things around me (and seeing as the example in the notes was from a photograph).  I did a couple; firstly I picked this image of a type of peacock/peahen that I drew in pen.  I was attracted to its character and the colours and shapes in its feathers.



Secondly this image of a flower that I did in watercolour with a little bit of acrylic for the stamen in the centre.


With both of these I found it very helpful to do my own drawing or reinterpretation of the image in order to really look at it and explore it.  The pen drawing helped to pull out the shapes and tone.




July 16, 2013

Project 4: Stage 1

Here are my examples of static and more dynamic arrangements of solids and space.  Even thought my ‘static’ examples were also on an angle to the box, the alignment in relation to one another gave the space a sense of order.  A subtle rotation of a square could have a big impact.




I prefer the ‘peaceful’ arrangement of lines.


I am definitely more of a fan of the static, ordered examples.  The dynamic ones make me feel a bit uneasy!

I found this an interesting exercise, more interesting than I expected.

May 5, 2013

Project 3: Stage 5 & 6

I used the three primary colours on black fabric to experiment with different stitches.  Some satin stitch, seeding and cross stitch as well as some random stitches.  I tested blocks of colour against each other and blending of colours.

The colours are very bright against the black fabric.  I have to admit that I didn’t really get a sense of the impact of one colour on the other.  It all looks bright to me.


My favourite is the yellow passing through the blue using just one and two threads from the embroidery floss.  I think the yellow does change a bit as it passes through the blue.


The graduation from one colour to another is also quite interesting.


I chose to do the machine embroidery alternative exercise as I wanted to explore the technique and I had some water soluble fabric that I was yet to use.  I did two samples working across four shades of a similar colour.  Making sure to add lots of stitching using free machine embroidery to ensure that it didn’t fall apart.  I worked one colour into the next to create a graduation of colour.  This was really fun.  Even more fun was dissolving the fabric.  I was nervous that it was all going to fall apart, but it didn’t, it held its shape very well.  Here are the results:


Light blue to grey


Peach to rusty pink



Pink sample


Blue sample, I worked this one a little looser


I like how you can see the light through them


Whilst I didn’t do the exercise with the French knots due to time constraints I did find some lovely examples on Pinterest.  I like the subtle gradient of colour and the way the knots are arranged to that one colour blends into the next.  I would like to have a go at this some time.

April 3, 2013

Project 3: Stage 4: Part 2

For Exercise 2 of this part I decided to focus on and develop the ‘peaceful’ theme that I looked at previously.  The light green/aqua colours that I was using to reflect this colour were also a theme in one of the colour studies that I did for Stage 3: Exercise 3.  My source image here was a postcard of a painting by Kurt Jackson which I felt also had a sense of peacefulness.

Jackson paints a lot of seascapes that pick up the range of colours within the water and the refection of light on the surface.  This image (Vean and Veor) is more muted than many of the others with the sense of a clam, if somewhat misty, sea.


I had already been through my images, magazines and papers to build up the colour study for Stage 3.  I couldn’t find any more images that matched the colours and theme within my stash so I did an online search and put together a few images on a Pinterest board about the colour theme, here.  It is a bit harder doing the colour matching on the computer screen, I much prefer doing it in real life but it was quite an interesting process.

I then went through my fabrics and scrap bag to put together a colour bag based on these colours.  Here is what went in to it.


I managed to find a few very pale green and blue fabrics as well as some cream and neutrals.  The sheen and texture of the fabrics were also a consideration.  I picked some shinny pale satin and some organza which was a nice contrast against the rougher texture of the raw silk, calico and wool.

I debated whether to include the dark brown or not as it was not really part of the peaceful colour palette but it provided an interesting contrast so I put it in.  Here is the colour bag.


This was quite fun, but a little bit limited by the materials you have available.  I am interested to see how the colour bag will be used in the future.

April 3, 2013

Project 3: Research Point

I struggled to think of/find something to use for this research point.  I don’t have any  textile pieces of great age or sentimental value so it was difficult to know what to use.  I do, however, have a wall hanging that was given to me as a present that I thought would fit the bill.  I had this hanging on my wall for a time but since I moved house it has been away in a cupboard.


I believe the wall hanging is made from old sari fabric stitched onto a background calico fabric.  As such I assume that it was made in India but I am not sure as it was brought in this country.  It is approximately 40cm wide and 80cm in length.  It is made up of a number of different fabrics all of neutral and bluey-grey colour.


The pieces of fabric are so embellished that it is difficult to tell in some places what the base fabric is.  There appears to be a mix of cotton, net, silk, and another fabric that I can’t identify.  The embellishments are in cotton thread, metalic tread, sequins, small mirrors and a range of beads.


A range of techniques have been used to decorate the fabric.  Hand embroidery stitches include chain stitch, satin stitch, french knots and couching.  There are also areas of machine embroidery and areas that have been cut away.


The purpose of the piece is now decorative although I presume that the fabrics would once have had another purpose as clothing.

As with much of the art and textiles I like, I like the level of detail in the piece. Whilst the colours are quite muted, it is rich in detail and texture with the shine of the beads and sequins in contrast to the dull nature of some of the fabrics.

Maybe now I have got it out again I should put it up somewhere.

March 31, 2013

Duncan Johnson

I recently came across the work of Duncan Johnson on the internet.  He is an American artist who creates his art pieces from discarded wood that he finds close to his home.  He assembles different pieces of wood that he has cut into uniform dimensions into an overall composition.


The pattern and colour of the wood as it is originally found is retained and so the resulting piece is a patchwork of different colours and textures.  Many of the pieces, such as the one above, I feel have a landscape quality to them.  The colours and composition give the sense of a beach or coastal scene that has been pixellated.  Some of the blocks look like sand, others sea and others structures such as beach huts.


The bright colours in some of the pieces give them a modern, graphic quality and I like how these bright colours work against the natural colours of the other pieces of wood.  The colour of the pieces was one of the things that first drew me to them.

What I also like about Duncan’s work, and much other art that I appreciate, is how the piece is striking and attractive from a distance but, as the viewer gets closer, they are rewarded with further detail and texture.  I really like the simplicity yet detailed nature of the piece.

I suppose there could be undertones of meaning or commentary on the modern world; decay, waste, abandonment… What I do know is that I like it.  Achieving a similar effect with fabric could be achievable.  Patchwork is the obvious application but how to achieve the depth of interest and texture is the challenge.  I would also be keen to follow some of the colour combinations for a natural yet modern look.

March 30, 2013

Project 3: Stage 4

I had to psyche myself up for this part of the project.  I know what colours and colour combinations I like and don’t like but I don’t really think to much about the feelings related to this let alone picking a feeling/mood and matching a colour to it.  It is not an exercise I would have chosen to do but that’s why the course content is there, to look at things differently.

Here are my pairs of opposite words:






I thought these worked quite well.  I particularly liked the peaceful, but then I like that colour anyway.  I suppose I like fairly peaceful colour combinations.  I developed this a bit further using wave marks.



I used watercolour pastel and watercolour paint and sprayed with water to get the soft, waterly appearance.

I also quite liked the moody colour and I also had a picture of one of Turner’s paintings of clouds in front of me which was also very moody.  I thought I would combine the two to see what effect would be achieved.  I used watercolour pencils in blue, purple and black  to create the cloud-like shapes.  Firstly on normal paper:


And then on acrylic paper:


I think the second one is more moody than the first.

I then thought I would try the same but with brighter colours from the yellow-red range to see what type of mood this evoked.


It changes from being a moody image to much more peaceful, happy image.  I think this may have a lot to do with what we associate these images with.  The first is like angry, bad weather storm clouds which I would associate with being moody, while the latter is like a sun set that I associate with happy feelings.

I also had a go at doing something ‘fresh’.  I used bright, natural colours and splatted them onto the page.  I really like this effect.



This turned out to be quite an interesting process and I am fairly happy with the results.

I have also put together a “Colour” board on Pinterest of colour combinations that I am interested in.  Link here.