Saturday, 30 November 2013

Project 3 Stage 6

Wow. This was the longest exercise ever. Not only are French knots slow but they are BORING, so when combined with the procrastination they are even slower. I took about 2 months doing this one sample and then ended up not doing any course work for several months afterwards.

This stage consisted of exercises with primary colours, muted colours and working a sample in French Knots.

Here are the finished samples:

I'm really really pleased with the overall effect of the bottom sample - its exactly how I imagined. I wanted the sky to look pretty stormy with all those colours.

The course asks for a review here:

Were you able to mix and match colours accurately?
I think so yes. I definitely did better than I thought I would. At first I thought only really skilled people could get an exact colour match but I actually found it quite easy tweaking nearer and nearer to a colour - I just needed time and scrap paper!

Were you able to use colour expressively?

I know the colours work to express a feeling for me, but I'm not sure that they would evoke the same reactions in others.

Can you now see colour rather than accepting what you think you see?

This was the biggest learning point here for me. I was pretty surprised when I really looked at the colours.

Did you prefer working with watercolours or gouache paints? What was the difference?

I prefer the look of watercolour but found working with gouache easier. The gouache stayed wetter longer so the colours mixed easier.

How successful were the colour exercises in Stage 5? How did they compare to the painting exercises?

Obviously the hand sewing is slower! And the colours have to be blended together with fine blended stitching rather than mixing together into a consistent new colour. However I really liked the effect of the stitching.

Is there anything you would like to change or develop?

The standard answer here is that I'd love to have more time to try different colour schemes and different ways of doing things - especially with the stitching. But there is only 24 hours in each day and I'm happy with what I've done for this stage, and what I have learnt along the way.

Thursday, 25 July 2013


So I've hit a rut. 

If you are kind enough to subscribe/follow/link from the OCA textiles blogroll/stumble upon my blog regularly then you might be thinking 'what the heck' there are loads of posts dating months back that I haven't seen...?

Thats because blogger allows you to backdate posts and I'd rather present my learning blog in the timescales sketches/work/visits happened. I've also let the updating mount up until it became a bit of an elephant in the room.

Two other sticking points

1: I dislike French Knots. The stitch itself I have become more proficient at and more appreciative of. I have however come to the conclusion that when working french knots in large quantities they are a phenomenal waste of time and I do not have the patience to be dealing with them. I have been working on that "sample based on imagery" at the end of Stage 6 for about a month. Because I get bored of it and always have something more pressing or exciting to do

2: As well as my main job I 'moonlight' as a design company. I will hopefully add textile based design in amongst the other types of design I do, including websites, applications, interiors,products and bespoke design for companies needing anything and everything. But right now I'm working on quite a large contract that will double my 'main job' payslip for a good few months. Thats a large chunk towards the elusive house deposit... so as ever poor textiles takes a back seat.

I've still been sketching many many times a day, but they are not really related to textiles as the little note at the bottom of this sketchbook page shows - I'm kind of admonishing myself here!

I can reveal that I finished the french knot sample based on imagery (whilst at work) about a week ago.

I have caught up with my blog posts.

I know what I'm going to be looking at for my research point.

I am re-inspired after looking at all my work.

I have not done any of the following that I should be doing at this point:
  • Note down colour combinations that seem to have a special energy for you: use any medium available i.e. paint, crayons, coloured papers, fabrics and yarns*
  • Record your colour responses to changing moods and feelings
  • Add to your collection of resource material with focus on colour
  • Put combinations together i.e. yarns/fabrics/coloured papers
  • Try out your colour media for use on textiles (though I have researched and gathered them at least)

*With a small amount of humility I will say however that I do regularly 'pin' images that appeal to me in terms of colour and they are on my 'Colour' board. When I look at this board as a whole I feel tranquil, calm, amazed, inspired, blissfully happy, almost aroused - is that safe to say?! Does anyone else feel that when they look at the colour combos they love?! 

And is it OK that I'm using a modern, technical, online way of recording my notes rather than traditional paper and glue? Is it too fast? Does that mean I don't have the required time to absorb each image, to process it, to learn from it? Yes and no!

Saturday, 8 June 2013


I did a bit of zentangle work in my A3 sketchpad - I really enjoy working with the patterns and think the combinations of patterns (or 'tangles') look really nice. The details are fascinating.

I can see how these could be worked into fabric pattern design, or inspiration for other textile work.

Sunday, 19 May 2013

Exhibitions and Sketches

First up, sticking things I found pretty on paper and exploring them. Then getting distracted by a bird I saw as I was making vectored birds for pattern design (perhaps more on that later). Also a bit on combining the Southbank centre line style I liked with Audrey Walkers stitching technique combined further by exploring stitching on paper.... I'm liking how much I've learned already - I'm pretty sure thats a big part of this learning process right there!

Can you guess which exhibition I went to?

This is a bit of a combination of the colour theory technique application I read about in Colour Index 2 (see my review: Book Thoughts - Color Index 2 by Jim Krause) and seeing Lichtenstein apply that technique! Lichtensteing does not use the right colour for the lady's skin but he does use the right value which is why our brain doesn't scream 'its wrong' at us.

I'm really pleased with this page. I saw 'Sunrise' 1965 and could not figure out during the exhibition itself how he managed to make the layers 'pop out'  - at first I genuinely thought the clouds/mountains were on a separate layers of clear acrylic in front of the rest. So I bought the postcard to explore later. I thin figured out the extra thick lines at the bottom in comparison with the thinner lines at the top trick the eye into seeing it as perspective. So I tried it on my bird from 3 pages up /\ /\ /\. In combo with some   desaturated benday dots and more of my Finland tree obsession in the background with even thinner lines (desaturation is also a perspective trick I've read about in 'the artist' magazine) I think it was very successful in making the bird look like it is projected upwards from the paper. I'm also please that this uses just 4 colours so it could be a very successful way of doing fabric pattern design doesn't necessarily have to be photo-style printed.

I bought postcards of the images I loved the best so that I could explore them and figure out why I love them so much,

I then tried to explore them by either imitating the style or exploring the technique.

Wednesday, 15 May 2013

Some more sketchbook work

So I was having a look at the suggested reading in the learning folder and decided to look up the UK Fashion and Textile association If you go to the 'business' tab and select 'publications' you can find a document that they publish (I assume every year) called the British Textile Colour Card. Which is a collection of colour schemes that are, forgive the Zoolander phrase, 'so hot right now'. Not just the colours but a lowdown on the mood that they embody and also some close ups of some amazing current textiles that blend into that theme. So heres also a link direct to the British Textile Colour Card 2014[pdf].

This was my attempts to get down on paper ideas I had buzzing around my head inspired by combinations of Pinterest, the Southbank Centre's light show exhibition and architecture/interior sketches that I'm doing all the time separate from textiles course sketches. It is a sad looking piece of A3 mainly due to the lack of resources I have in London with me in my little uninspiring room! I can however say with perfect certainty that I know exactly what I am taking about here, have figured out the proportions I would like should this be done in the future, and most importantly, the obsession buzz was quietened by getting the idea out on paper.

I was also attempting to use A3. Not loving it so far...!

Again with the forcing A3, this was me planning out my final section of Stage 6. I'm rotating back to the landscape, stormy colours and trees theme that has been running through my sketchbook work to "develop in terms of image making". So this is me working out my idea on paper first with colour pencils before making may sample based on that imagery. I love the yarn wrapping - I'm using the techniques I've learned to develop my work. After the slate sample I wasn't happy with in assignment 1 I'm glad I did this so I know my colours and threads look pretty darn good together.

I also used MS Paint to kind of 'pixellate' my image since I was working with french knots, and also drew the silhouette that will be the background fabric showing through the stitching. I'm still not loving working with A3. I write and draw so small - need to work on that so that all that white space doesn't look so lonely!

I was going to introduce this sketch by saying "in a book unrelated to textiles..." but that wouldn't strictly be true because its a design book. So: In a design book "Creative Workshop: 80 challenges to sharpen your design skills" by David Sherwin I was reading how sometimes the best creativity comes by making fast decisions and throwing out all kinds of ideas. The 80 challenges give time frames that range from 30 minutes to 2 hours and he makes a point that you can do great things in such short timespans. So I applied this and tried it out with some colour combos. I set a bleeping timer on my phone to remind me to think quick and move on!

I noted my favourite combos on the right and plant to revisit every so often to see if my tastes change with the seasons/fashions/my own learning.

Tuesday, 30 April 2013

Feedback from my tutor!

I received feedback from my tutor :)

I'm pretty happy with the feedback, there was a lot of encouragement and assurance that I was on the right track - I'm really glad! There were suggestions on what I can do to improve that I extracted and rather than post the whole thing up I'll extract what I think I should work on:

  • Try techniques on a bigger scale e.g. large paintbrush to show effect of different surface textures
  • Utilise skills learnt and continue to be experimental
  • Consider looking at the works of Audrey Walker and Alice Kettle who both use stitch in their artwork, hand stitching and machine stitching respectively. From this I also feel perhaps I should explore textile artists further.
  • MORE MIXED MEDIA, not just pen and pencil. Try collage, wax resist & painting more
  • Try working larger, try out A3 size sketchbooks

So to summarise... 


Wednesday, 24 April 2013

Book Thoughts - Color Index 2 by Jim Krause

So this book was part of a three book set all to do with design. It came in an orange box and I think the others were about typography and design basics. I've had the set for years as one of my mums cast offs but never really sat down to read them. I read this one since I was on the colour chapter and I'm so glad I did. Jim Krause explains the basics really well and has some beautiful crystal clear diagrams to show what he's talking about. He doesn't just talk about the fundamentals but explains how to use them in design. I especially liked his section on Value vs colour and I pretty much copied his examples into my sketchbook/workbook.

Here are a few pictures but at a low resolution as I don't want to discredit him!

After the short but learning filled intro you have hundreds of pages with tons of colour combinations. They are sorted first by main colour and then by the type of colour scheme i.e. monochromatic, triadic, analogous & complementary. A beautiful book which I have found SO helpful now that I appreciate it.

Each colour scheme is presented in a page wide vectorised image or pattern - great for comparisons, but also varied enough that you don't get bored of the same image repeated so many times over.

p.s. did I mention he gives CMYK and RGB codes for each colour? Its also worth properly reading the intro and 'how to use this book' section because it explains about expansion palettes, observing colour as an artist and how the colours are laid out to show which colours 'belong' to that section.

p.p.s. I believe Color Index 1 is similar but with schemes made up of 2 & 3 colours where as this is 3,4 & 5 colours.

Tuesday, 23 April 2013

Project 3 Exercise 5

Back to stitching! Heres Exercise 5 - an exploration into coloured stitches using two primary colours. Again with the brightness! In varying proportions and distances to show the different effects. I made notes of observations on paper and they are included in the last post 'Sketchbook Pages'

One of the things I did try to do was blend the two colours somehow to make a third. My weaving stitching at the bottom right was a somewhat unsuccessful attempt - even looking from far away! I guess too much contrast just does not work for blending.

By far my favourite section was the colour wheel which used varying tones of the primary colours. When placing the colours I tried to put saturated yellows next to desaturated blues and vice versa, as well as try the desaturated colours together and the saturated colours together. In this way I feel like the stitching started to look realistic and almost 3d - like the wheel of colour 'shone'. I was going for an almost coppery metallic effect and I think it was successful. Very happy with this.

Friday, 19 April 2013

Sketchbook pages

 Notes on colour schemes and planning out Stage 5's embroidery. I'm also really thinking about going to the Tate Modern's Lichtenstein exhibition!

Here I've been pretty inspired by the views from my work (I'm an air traffic controller and sit in a tower, looking out of windows all day). My colours were mainly decided by the pens I had brought to London with me! A repeating theme in my sketches has been tall thin evergreen trees which were a large feature in our honeymoon to Finland. I used to think that fat wide christmas trees were the best proportions but our week in the arctic circle surrounded by such beauty changed that! On the right are emerging observations from my blue and yellow stitching I'm working on for Stage 5. I'm really not loving working with primary colours as I find it hard to look through the brightness to properly see the effects! 

This is some sketches from visiting the South Bank Centre where I became a member. The theme of the month was the 'Alchemy' festival which was celebrating South African culture. Again, bright bright, primary colours which were deliberately being clashed..! But lovely watching some traditional dyeing, looking at the patterns and admiring the quilting.

 Starting to become more and more tree obsessed and even more looking forward to Lichtenstein...

 I went to see the light show at the Southbank Centre and was absolutely mesmerised by some of the exhibits. This page was however showing some sketches of the side exhibition: Aura Satz: Impulsive Synchronisation. It was a projector on a screen which had morse code/computer code holes punched in it. The projector pulsed an image on it in a pattern which was also mesmerising. I loved the light and the layers building up a 4d texture. I also started planning a massive day trekking around 4 museums in a day (I only managed 3)

And this was the result of some of that museum filled day. Not much sketching to show for it all but I was certainly inspired!

Wednesday, 17 April 2013

Wednesday, 10 April 2013

Project 3 Stage 4

This stage was all about associating colours with moods or emotions - studying colour psychologically. I'm definitely of the opinion that everyone is different! Where I see muted colours as calming and restful, many see them as depressing! For example I've chosen a muted green as 'happy' where I'm sure most would associate yellow or pink or purple as 'happy'. I've used pattern as well, revisiting some of the very first exercises of the course!

Exercise 2 was to identify a colour mood or theme that I feel really drawn to - I chose a stormy sky and tried to figure out the things I was supposed to notice...
Close tones within any one colour - teal/turquoise/blue/green colours all range from darks to lights but I guess I could pick out the dark tone group as one set and the light tone group as another - the mid tones are kind of seperate perhaps!
Complementary and contrasting colours - Yes, where as the majority of the colour theme is blue/green, I am drawn to the flash of amber and the wooden colours - all tones/saturations of orange which is the contrasting. The blue moving through to green is complementary also. So I guess this is a triadic scheme.
Saturated and unsaturated - There are flashes of saturated teal and I would also say the amber. The unsaturated are all the wooden/slate colours - lots of greyed tones!

Tuesday, 2 April 2013

Project 3 Stage 3

Matching colour time:

Lots of testing and getting used to the paint mixing... I definitely get a bit better later on! I tried to keep notes but I found it hard to make it so scientific! I tried to at least note the base colours I used.

 camera work flattened out the shadows a bit...!

I'm pretty happy with all these! I liked the fact I was just trying to focus on colours and not copy shape or form - they turned out pretty nice anyway!

Saturday, 30 March 2013

Fist post after colour lacks colour

So to make matters a bit more complicated. I move jobs. Being in the military I am posted every few years. My new job is within what I consider to be 'London' and though sometimes I'll be able to commute, most of the time it won't be worth it due to the time to plow through the dreaded traffic.

So I have some faceless accommodation to live in and I had to plan ahead a little. When I have a craft room at home (also something that delayed my studies considerably, after getting married and moving house of course), I've gotten quite used to having everything to hand. 

Heres my list of things to take with me to my new room. I got some odd looks moving in with all my craft stuff!

But of course I am now in LONDON so its a small matter of hopping on a tube to go see and do cultural things. My first was to go to Camden Arts Centre to look at the two small exhibitions there and see a free presentation of 4 artist's videographer 'self-portraits'.

I'll tell you that most were pretty boring... but I think that was the point of them! To show the monotony of life perhaps?! One showed possessions and sort of 'boasted' about them but I believe the point was that possessions do not make you cool...

My favourite was the last one where a series of photographs were shown slowly burning on a camping stove. Each photograph was narrated but the description didn't make any sense at all in relation to the image on the screen. After a few I worked out that the artist was describing the next photograph, as if he was holding it in his hand whilst describing the content whilst the previous photo burned. I like the puzzle, but I also became a bit mesmerised by the photos burning in the pattern of the stove metalwork.

In relation to textiles, it probably wasn't an amazing research trip. Though I did start to see those burning patterns looking good on a calico type fabric.

Friday, 29 March 2013

Project 3 Stage 2 - Colour!

On to Assignment 2! We're now on building a visual vocabulary and step 1 is Colour.

I really liked the quotes in the learning folder by Johannes Itten:

1: "He who wants to become a master of colour must see, feel and experiene each individual colour in its many endless combinations with all other colours. Colours must have a mystical capacity for spiritual expression without being tied to objects."

2: "If unknowing you are able to create masterpieces in colour then unknowledge is your way. But if you are unable to create masterpieces in colour out of your unknowledge then you aught to look for knowledge"

I've visited basic colour theory many times in various courses, most recently when getting a diploma in Professional Interior Design. Each time I have half boredom from repetition and half enthusiasm for revisiting the simple concepts concerning colour.

NB, I've noticed through looking ahead that we look into colour aesthetically (colour block exercises), psychologically (use colour to express a mood or feeling), and scientifically (mixing of colours to create others) but I haven't seen symbolically.

I do know a little about symbolic use of colour - purple for royal for example, but if the course doesn't force it in an exercise it might be worth exploring this on my own.

I tried different versions of mixing. The biggest issue in paints of course is  that an equal mix of colours does not give you the 'theory' colour - red and blue does not make purple for example! Thats why an artist doesn't set off to create a masterpiece with red, blue, yellow, black and white paints!

Next comes Exercise 1 & 2 where there is lots of cutting and sticking. I feel that the process aims to do three things:

1: Show that the higher the contrast in colour, the more the small square 'jumps out'.

2: Show that though red, yellow and blue are primary colours they are not 'equal' - yellow is the lightest, then blue, then red. At least in my perception.

3. Help you to see which colour combinations 'sing' to you. In my case, very little did. I believe this is because I prefer muted colours and so every combination looks to horribly harsh to me, apart from those using white/grey/potentially black. Again, perhaps I should revisit this with muted shades, with both muted and bright little squares.

Exercise 2 used grey squares. This is where I find the difference between the apparent darkness/lightness of the primary and secondary colours the most.