Coursework Part 5: Project 2: Building A Response: Research

I borrowed several books from the library featuring the work of David Hockney and Vincent van Gogh because I admire the lively and colourful way that those artists depict flowers in their artwork, but felt that their work did not really represent the direction that I feel drawn to, of simplified or abstract landscapes and plants based on observation. I therefore identified a few artists and a jeweller that I feel are working in a way that I feel empathy with. So although these artists do not all depict flowers or plants, their way of working is something that I wished to examine.

Sarah Symes is a Canadian artist, who has also lived and worked in the UK and USA, but is now in Squamish, Canada. She trained and worked in graphic design before becoming a professional artist.

Sarah Symes (titles added to each image)

Source:- http://sarahsymes.com

Sarah works by cutting textiles into the shapes she requires, pinning them to a base textile, before machine sewing the pieces into position. The image shown at right, above, was digitally designed and printed onto banners and was one of three award-winning designs that she produced for display in her local town.

The artist describes her working process as beginning with sketching. She then selects forms which suggest the landscapes she is depicting and aims to depict feelings, memories and emotions through her chosen colour palette. Textiles are purchased, washed and some are hand dyed to suit her requirements. The finished artworks are built up in “… an improvised process, like painting or collage, enabling the gradual build up of colour and texture.”

I like this artist’s work because the pieces are very evocative of the subject matter she depicts, but allow the viewer to bring their own associations to the shapes and colours she uses. For example, I can see buildings and windows in the Havana piece, and the colours evoke brightly painted buildings, dry earth and sun to me. Others may see something quite different.

 Leisa Rich is a Canadian artist whose work I had seen when researching drawing for this part of the coursework. Her layered work and experimental combinations of media are of particular interest to me.

Leisa Rich, titles appended to each image

Source:- http://monaleisa.com

Leisa takes an experimental approach to her artwork, but states that her favourite techniques are 3-D printing, and free motion machine embroidery. She mentions an interesting, heat-sensitive base material that she enjoys working with, called ‘Fosshape‘, (which I see is out of stock with the UK supplier, but is worth noting for future experimentation). Other materials used by the artist include:- thread, plastics, fabrics, mixed media, and re-purposed waste materials.

The framed pieces shown above are made from two or three layered frames featuring plastic with cutaway areas, stitch and paint or other media. The frames can be recombined in different configurations according to the viewer’s whim. The layering gives an added dimension to the artwork, and I like the simple method of presentation, and the technique of building an artwork out of smaller units.

Her artist’s statement has a touching story of how she came to make art. In it she says “… it is art I come back to, to notice, to capture, to recreate that feeling” [of a peaceful childhood in which she noticed everything]. Tiny objects which are often ignored are recreated in her art, through suggested structures, forms and textures.

I came to see Anna Gordon‘s jewellery through reading Kyra Cane’s book “Making & Drawing”. Stylised versions of plants, with abstract additions in some cases, have lingered in my memory.

Anna Gordon

Sources:- http://www.annagordon.com and Cane, 2012

Anna draws on all sorts of sources in her environment for inspiration, including nature and the repeated motifs found in textiles such as Japanese silks. She sketches her ideas before making the pieces by hand, trying to capture the quality of her drawn lines. Thought is given to how the “sketch” (ie, jewellery) will appear on the body, causing light reflections, shadows, movement and contrasts. The artist works with simplified organic and geometric forms in metal, combined with natural media, gemstones and/or enamel.

I find these reinterpretations of natural forms very successful, and the strange little additions give a moment of added surprise. The artist’s method of development, trying to capture the nature of her drawings in a new media is particularly pertinent to the forthcoming projects in the coursework.

Philip Hughes is an artist interested in landscape and the affect of man on that landscape. His work includes paintings, drawings, murals, rugs and tapestries. I recently discovered his work in the form of a book called “Patterns in the Landscape: The Notebooks of Philip Hughes“. I was captivated by his drawings and notes made in situ, showing landscapes in the UK, Australia, Iceland and the USA, amongst others. He worked, at that time, on recycled brown paper sketchbooks in pencil, making linear, contour drawing-type marks to describe the view in front of him. Small amounts of painted colour are added for later reference when making the finished artworks. I loved the look of the flat colour and pencil lines on the textured brown paper so much that I have ordered a kraft paper sketchbook (which I hope will be similar) to try for myself (and the paper seems appropriately ‘earthy’ in texture for representing plant life upon). In Philip’s drawings, some of the land forms are quite recognisable, but others evolve into abstract patterns. The colour palettes are very evocative of the particular country (or area of the country) depicted, and together with the artist’s notes (which might mention the weather, an animal seen, or details about the location) make a fascinating journal of his travels.

Philip Hughes

Source:- http://www.philiphughesart.com

Colour palettes and carefully observed forms in the landscape seem to be key to this artist’s work.

Yesterday I went to the New Quilting exhibition at the Rheged centre in Cumbria. The work of textile artist, Janet Twinn was particularly relevant to this part of the coursework. For the art quilt shown below, the artist made a number of drawings and took photographs of garden plants to inform the shapes she would use in the piece. She then considered the colour palette. Janet dyes her own fabrics and/or paints or prints them, and keeps records in a separate technical book. In her artist’s statement, Janet says that colour is the most important aspect of her work, and that she is interested in its “… emotional effect on our senses and in how it can convey mood and atmosphere.”

Janet Twinn, Green Blooms, and developmental work for the piece

I felt that this art quilt was successful in conveying a sense of vibrancy and growth both in the use of colour and in the suggested plant forms. The palette used has analogous greens, including muted shades, combined with contrasting orange and purple from the secondary triads of the hue continuum. The use of hand coloured and decorated fabrics allows the artist control over the pattern and colours she creates.

Summary

What can I learn from these artists?

Sarah Symes – begin with sketching from first hand source material. Consider the forms used (representative of the source material), and colour palette (what associations does it evoke?).

Leisa Rich – take the time to notice small details (through use of the sketchbook and careful observation). Adopt an experimental approach and consider using new technologies and novel methods of presentation. Build a large artwork from smaller units. Consider the possibilities offered by layering and compositions that can be reconfigured.

Anna Gordon – concentrate on drawing from source material, then capturing the nature of that drawing in the new media (ie, paper, yarn and textiles, for me). Consider mixing unexpected elements with natural forms, such as geometric shapes.

Philip Hughes – make carefully studied drawings from first hand observation of source material. Keep notes and colour samples for future reference. Develop abstract forms from accurately rendered sketches.

Janet Twinn – use drawings and photographs of directly observed source materials. Use further drawing and painting to simplify and develop designs and colour palettes. Consider altering materials to your exact requirements.


References:-

Books:-

Cane, K Making & Drawing, 2012, Bloomsbury, London, pp 14 – 17

Hughes, P Patterns in the Landscape: The Notebooks of Philip Hughes, 1998, Thames and Hudson, London

Websites:-

http://www.annagordon.com/gallery?dsc_0109-jpg Accessed 18/04/17

http://www.janettwinn.co.uk/artist.html Accessed 19/04/17

http://monaleisa.com/ Accessed 18/04/17

https://www.parkinfabrics.co.uk/fosshape-300r.html Accessed 18/04/17

http://www.philiphughesart.com Accessed 18/04/17

https://www.rheged.com/event/new-quilting/ Accessed 19/04/17

http://sarahsymes.com Accessed 18/04/17

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