Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Project 1, Stage 2, Exercise 3

Exercise 3 involved using other media to make marks - first in an exploratory way then coming back to the expressive way. 

I tried out all the bits and bobs I have - pencils, watercolour pencils, crayons, watercolour crayons, ink pens, felt tip pens, metallic pens, watercolour, gouache, acrylic, spray paint and chalks. I tried on a few different papers but had to limit myself a little bit. I knew there are millions of different combinations but I started to get a little bored so I moved onto the expressive marks. 

I enjoyed the expressive marks but making such a huge mess, tidying as I went and getting bits and bobs out and away again takes time! I felt drawn to some experiments and felt that others were just ugly! I find it strange that I find the 'sad', 'slow' and 'smooth' expressive swatches the most appealing too - I guess its because I like those colours and like the calmness. Sometimes I'd have an idea in my head, set to it and found that the result didn't really express what I was trying to at all - but I guess that it what its all about!

Book Thoughts - Contemporary Quilts: Design, Surface and Stitch by Sandra Meech

I really enjoyed this book. It is set out quite logically into Inspiration, Surfaces, Design, Colour & Stitch. I felt that the Stitch, Colour and Design sections were a little perfunctionary but the Surface section was full of actual how-to tips as well as lots and lots of eye candy and the Inspiration section prompted me to take notes in my sketchbook.

Like the last book review Sandra Meech did use a lot of her own work in the book but I felt like it was more to illustrate a point rather than self congratulation! Her work is beautiful but not necessarily my style (though I haven't quite got that nailed down yet...!) She uses lots of pictures transferred to fabric and is clearly inspired most by her travels. I like her more abstract work best, one piece called Spring Thaw had me staring for ages - first at the overall then into smaller and smaller detail. I love her quilting lines.
Spring Thaw
Colourwash-style quilt by Sandra Meech
photographic images and dyed, printed and commercial cotton

There are a few 'exercises' inside that actually make me want to do them, involving colour matching, magazine weaving and pattern repeating.

I get the feeling that this book could easily have been a tome and I wish it was! There are loads of images and its full of real eye candy. I'm sure I'll be dipping into it during the rest of my course.

Monday, 21 May 2012

Developing trees

I played around making vectors and patterns with some of the tree designs I explored in my sketchbook. These are all still a bit rough and only using one tree type (I started with 2 branches, 30 degrees, half length - thats explained more in the sketches here)! I uploaded the pattern to ColourLovers here and then my Spoonflower account here in these robin egg blue colours.

8 inch swatch size

Fat quarter size

Sunday, 20 May 2012

Sketchbook pages

Pattern seen on a background of an information board in the Best of British exhibition at the V&A (benefits of being a member - just pop into the other exhibitions just because you're there and it doesn't cost a penny). The second page is a sketch of trousers - I'm really trying to sketch fabrics as I know this will help in the future. And a little bit of doodling patterns and a lather button.

Saturday, 19 May 2012

Research Point - V&A Exhibition

I'm a V&A member and was lucky enough to have the time to go to the members preview of the new exhibition 'Ballgowns: British Glamour Since 1950' with a friend on the preview day on Friday 19th. I loved the exhibition and my friend loved it too. I bought some postcard booklets - one of selected items in the exhibition and one of images from the fashion hall. My idea was that when I got home I could select some of the items that I had postcards for and work from there.

This did not work for a few reasons.
a) The dresses I really loved were not in the postcard book (and therefor I had no image and no information on designer, fabric, year etc)
b) The dresses that I thought of selecting I couldn't remember detailing or techniques
c) I couldn't get the dresses I loved out of my head.

So luckily I was in London to meet another friend the next day, and after an enjoyable lunch, a failed attempt to get into the Da Vinci Anatomy exhibition at the Queen's Gallery (it was sold out) and a trip around the Royal Mews (complementary to the military, and my friend could come in for free too - we made up for it in the gift shop), I nipped to the V&A again!

So this time I went armed with my sketchbook, a camera for the fashion gallery (no photography in the exhibit) and a sharpened 2B. I was surprisingly not self conscious sketching in the gallery - I even saw another gentleman sketching and did notice a few glances from other strangers trying to see my drawings!

So answering the general questions posed:

Is there a theme?
Yes. Its is ballgowns since the 1950s. There were dancing dresses, red carpet dresses, evening dresses and dresses worn by royalty. On the upper floor there were contemporary dresses.

Is it well displayed?
I loved the way the fashion galleries have been reworked - especially the way images are projected onto the curves of the walls around the hall, enticing people to look up and see the architecture. The dresses were all on figures in fabulous poses, each appropriate to the era and style. There was also a video which fills you up with both humour for the 'way things were' and a wish that they were that way again!

Is the lighting appropriate?
Lighting always has to be slightly dimmed so that items aren't ruined but it was well lit enough that you wouldn't notice it was dimmed!

Is there enough explanation of the exhibits?
No! There were the occasional ditty but most dresses just had designer, year and type of fabric, occasionally season was included. One of the dresses I chose for my 'three' had a bit more and I wrote the whole thing in my notebook. More about the other dresses would have been really welcome. I felt a bit like the dresses were being treated like objects instead of real human beings* with a life and a story and a history of being worn by fabulous people to fabulous occasions and doing heroic acts... *I'm getting carried away but I did think more should be there for people who want to read about it!

Is it visually stimulating and interesting?
Definitely so. Especially the contemporary gowns on the upper level which had wonderful spheres all round the dresses which were open air so you could lean in and see every minute detail.

I actually chose 4 items but 2 were from the fashion galleries and not from the exhibit itself! But those 2 did have the advantage that I could take photos and they were both since 1950! When it comes to the questions all the dresses could be described as both functional, decorative and symbolic, dimensions are body sized and mainly abstract (though the graffiti style dress is representational of graffiti I suppose)!

To what extent to the pieces refer to tradition or another culture or a period of fashion?
What qualities do you like or dislike about the pieces?

Polka dot dress: Traditional, refers to 50s style (in 1957 so current) Love the pattern and how the fabric is sheer at the back and opaque at the front through clever layering. Love the twisted ribbon waist.

Printed latex dress: Refers to tradition in shape and the lace pattern printed on the latex but not in the fabric! Love the pattern and the technical way the dress is put together. I don't hate the dress in any way but wouldn't wear it myself without going on a starvation diet!

Appliqu├ęd ribbon dress: Very traditional dress, I don't like the way the skirt gathers but I love the colours, the way the strips are arranged on the dress and the shaping of the shoulder.

Punk dress: Traditional shape but deliberately untraditional style. Refers to punk fashion culture. Love the wool embroidery in every way, I don't like the way the zips and buckles seem to be forcibly introduced into the design.

Friday, 18 May 2012

Why make marks?

In these sketchbook pages I've looked at one last artist (Pollock) and I explored the question that I had been asking myself a little bit - Why make marks?? 

I had been thinking this to myself regarding the exercises as at first I thought it was just to get us 'warmed up' and to start becoming familiar with drawing tools but the more I've been working and also with reading I've realised that its so much more than that! 

a) Sketching and mark making is essential in gathering and developing ideas
b) Skills learnt now might be directly used in a final piece
c) Drawing is much faster than stitching so it is essential if you don't want to take years developing textiles!

I think this last point c made me finally embrace mark making - I've been specifically trying to draw fabric and stitching as a consequence of this. I've also got more enthusiasm all of a sudden as I think I've had that little niggling voice at the back of my head saying that the embroidery/stitching side of textiles is too slow.

Thursday, 17 May 2012

Project 1, Stage 2, Exercise 2

Exploring different ways to shade. I only did a few squares and stuck to one pencil. It was surprisingly hard to find different ways make marks to shade! I could have gone for a few more but feel happy with this selection. I also could have explored mixing different types of pencils but like the way I had to work harder with just one.

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

More artists and sketchbook pages

I had some new leaf shaped craft punches so played around with some old colour photocopies and silver packaging bits an bobs (a security sticker held down with clear film and the underside of a yoghurt pot lid)

Here are some sketches that I did during work - One thing I've realised is that I have to have a sketchbook or at least blank paper with me everywhere otherwise I end up losing ideas or I sketch on paper that ends up needing to be ripped out and stuck into a sketchbook later!

I liked how these pages worked - first I drew lines in various patterns, then coloured various spaces in different patterns for each. I then developed some further when I realised I needed to extend it to see where its going. I liked working in this way - it felt logical and I felt like I 'discovered' things that I would never have come across. I especially think some of the patterns that I drew larger (in green) might serve useful when I get to weaving.

Here I sketched my handmade flowers that I'm currently making for my wedding. I've been thinking how I'll use them afterwards and have been thinking of a wall hanging - so I was just jotting down a few ideas. On the right hand page I was trying to pin down exactly what 'textiles' might be. Its obviously a huge field so I just needed to brainstorm a bit!

Here are a few more artists that I looked at (Magritte, Renoir, Lichtenstein and Munch) - I wanted to expand past just the suggested three. I could have gone on forever but I have to reign myself in at some point! Some artists I just wrote a few notes but I drew/imitated occasionally. 
I like how Lichtenstein works with his comic book style - I was thinking in a textiles context and kept coming back to the idea of sequins to make that particular shading style.

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Looking at other artists marks & sketchbook pages

I figured I'd try to sketch some leaves and other images from a leaflet from Isabella plantation.

On the left is a chart I drew from 

Contemporary Quilts: Design, Surface and Stitch by Sandra Meech, from then on are pages where I've picked a few images from each of the suggested artists.

I've picked up quite a few things from looking at how Picasso, Klee and Van Gogh make marks. Rough marks contrasting against precise marks, marks creating movement and contrasts of colour within marks seem to appear in most of the images. I tried to make similar marks to get a feel for the overall style. I'm going to look at a few other pictures too to see what other impressions I get.

Sunday, 13 May 2012

Working with a camera

I took a lot of photos in Isabella Plantation yesterday - many of which I can now tick off against the category list. I need to take photographs for the same category but under 'man made'.


Overlapping grasses creating lines

'puckering' - the hostas look like they're quilted!


Overlapping leaaves

Beautiful bark

Delicate papery flowers

light and shade

Shadows cast by other plants

Sun shining through the leaves

I was especially lucky with the reflections as it was such a sunny day

looking up

I love these photos - they remind me of collapsing on the side of a road during a run or bike ride and taking a breather under a tree.

looking down

I like the circles made by the cutting interspersed with tiny green shoots

Well trodden gravel

looking through

Ornamental duck - beautiful colours

Looking through plants

looking into the distance

A few people doing just that:

And some gorgeous colours


variegated greens


different pinks

grouping of objects

clusters of Azaleas and (I think) Geraniums

other close up clusters