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

Part 5: Project 1: Option 3: Floral Compositions

Having looked back over my drawing research and drawings made in previous parts of the course, I looked at images on Pinterest and ello.co to find some inspiring drawings of flowers and foliage to inform this stage of the project.

Drawing Inspiration

Source: details about individual artists can be found on my Pinterest boards.

From this research, I can see that layering, mixing types of mark and types of media, simplifying forms and using carefully selected palettes are important for producing these enticing outcomes.

My approach was to use a wide variety of media and techniques for information gathering from the plant source material. The course guide stresses the importance of making new marks and sourcing new colour information to feed through to the development stage, so that was another point to bear in mind.

The source material was also to be varied, to provide interesting drawings to take forward. I selected a bunch of roses, a bunch of tulips and, taking inspiration from Elizabeth Blackadder‘s flower paintings: gathering inspiration from my garden: a chard leaf and views of plum blossom and a wider view of part of the garden.

I experimented with different backgrounds, lighting options and whether or not to include other objects, shown in the collage below are some of the experiments.

Coursework Part 5 collage

Another preparatory exercise was to make a mind map describing the flowers and making some associations.

roses mind map

#1

Gouache paint and chalk on watercolour paper. A3 size.

I wanted to start with something fairly ‘realistic’ and the colour of the roses suggested gouache paint to me as a medium – it’s chalky, opaque colour seemed an apt way of trying to capture the colour palette of the arrangement. I had added in the coffee pot as it made a good contrast to the bright colours, and I selected the sky blue wall as the perfect foil for the colour of the flowers. The colour of the flowers was echoed in the tea-towel and oranges.

I was pleased with the colour palette in this piece – although not identical to the original, I really like this range of hues from all round the colour wheel, with touches of brown and white. I think this looks rather old-fashioned (a quick Google search provides numerous examples of artists painting roses), but it could be simplified and rendered in other media, such as a print on textiles. Roses provoke associations with romance and love. The colour palette perhaps gives it a more modern vibe.

On the downside, the position of the arrangement on the paper was not good – the roses are all cramped up at the top.

P1290732

Gouache painted colour stripes representing drawing #1.

#2

Felt pen on smooth sketchbook paper.

In this drawing, I concentrated on the pattern and lines found in the flower heads and leaves. I thought that this was quite successful in capturing the pattern made by the petals and could imagine this line drawing layered over a patterned cream or grey background, or in red against a black ground to make a fabric design. Its simplicity means that it could work with a number of colour palettes. The fineness of the paper was perhaps more suited to the subject than the thick watercolour paper.

#3 and #4

#3: Pencil on cartridge paper. A3 size. (Two details shown).

#4: Pigma Micron pen and Aquarelle pencils on cartridge paper. A3 size.

Trying out a different, simpler arrangement, laying the flowers out like scientific specimens. One quick pencil sketch using a mixture of soft and hard lines. The second drawing is a simplified, version accentuating the form and features of the roses. I find that I prefer to make a realistic drawing first and then, having observed the source material closely, I can more easily identify the aspects that need to be included in the simplified version. It is a way of getting familiar with the subject. The simplified version is perhaps suited to illustrative uses, such as greetings cards or wrapping paper. The colour palette is ‘cute’ with pretty pastels.

#5

Pencil and gel pen on cream watercolour paper. A5 with 2.5 x 2.5 cm boxes.

Concentrating on tiny details, identified with a viewfinder. This exercise had been useful in Assignment 1, and I tried to highlight rose features that define the plant (leaf, thorn, petals, sepals etc.) The resulting snapshots provide some interesting patterns that could be developed in stitch. Tiny drawings in flat bright colour might be something to try on another occasion.

#6

Paper, textile, and mixed media, collage on mount board, 40.5 x 27 cm

A first ‘realistic’ attempt at this arrangement. The purple/pink blooms were already twisting downwards away from the main bunch. I used suggestions of walls and a table for the background with the painted lace fabric giving a cottage/’shabby chic’ feel to the piece. I also tried printing a background with lace, but that didn’t work well with watercolour, maybe with acrylic or oil paint it would have done. The stems alone are fascinating in the way that they twist springily out from the bunch and could probably be represented by couched yarn or similar. The colour palette of bright colours against a muted background is, I feel, successful. I can imagine these working well in a quilt or wall hanging. The placement of this arrangement on the page was more successful than the first painted roses drawing.

tulips mind map

#7

Wax on Khadi paper, size A4

This drawing explores the waxy quality of the tulips with wax applied with various tools to the paper. The drawing concentrates on the silhouette of the flowers and foliage. I experimented with pattern to represent the jug and background. The leaves and flower heads worked well with this media, but I’m not so sure about the rest. Using wax means that the paper becomes translucent when held up to the light where wax has fully penetrated the paper. This might be useful for free-hanging work. I like the monotone simplicity of this palette: shades of grey give it a subtle and sophisticated air – like a damask curtain fabric. One possible future development is to work on textile using a batik method, and to introduce colour.

#8

P1290568

Felt pens/POSCA pens on ‘marker paper’. A5.

Trying out a new type of smooth, coated paper, ideal for felt pens. It has a satiny sheen to it that suits the shiny texture of the plants. I used lines to try to capture the lines on the surface of the petals and leaves, and to show the way the light gleamed on them. The flower heads worked well in this drawing, and I can imagine using embroidery or machine stitch to recreate this linear pattern on textiles. I find the pink and orange of the flower at top left to be a particularly pleasing colour combination that would work well in fashion accessories such as scarves.

P1290728

Gouache painted colour stripes representing the palette found in drawing #8.

#9

Chalk and nail varnish on watercolour paper. A5 size.

It occurred to me that nail varnish had the right kind of colour and shine to it to represent tulip petals, so this was a quick experiment to see what it would look like. The viscous liquid is hard to work with, which means that only a rough approximation can be achieved. The shine is apparent on the finished drawing, but the smell of the chemicals is horrible, so I would probably not repeat the process. Thinking about it, one could probably make a whole picture using make-up (eye shadow, pencils, lip stick, blusher etc): a thought to bear in mind if the subject matter is appropriate.

#10

Acrylic paint on tracing paper. A4 size.

I wanted to try a close-up view of one of the ‘blown’ tulips looking at the details in the centre of the flower (inspired by the work of Georgia O’Keeffe), and using thick acrylic paint to try to capture the ridged, succulent petals in texture. The paper was really too thin for this type of paint (it wrinkled), but its waxy translucent quality did feel like a good fit for the subject matter. The simple colour palette of shades of red with touches of black and white was dramatic and could inspire eveningwear in the fashion world, or accessories such as an embossed, faux leather handbag. The thick acrylic paint did provide the most accurate rendition of the texture and weight of the petals.

P1290733

Gouache painted colour stripes representing drawing #10.

#11

Ink on watercolour paper; pencil on tracing paper; POSCA pen on cellophane. A4 size.

In this drawing I was exploring ways of layering marks and patterns (inspired by the work of Leisa Rich) and using the tulips to inform the created marks. Another link is Escher’s Three Worlds print in which a reflection of trees, the surface of a pond and the fish in the depths are shown. In my somewhat less accomplished piece, the eye is drawn in to notice the main top layer, and then the more faded and delicate marks beneath.

I think that this area is ripe for further experimentation: introducing colour, transparency and hidden areas; using cutaway areas; introducing texture. This could lead to dramatic artwork, ideas for printed and embellished textiles and free hanging layers which might be useful in home decor.

#12 and #13

Graphite block on cartridge paper; chalk and POSCA pen on Khadi paper. A4.

Exploring line in these two drawings of a plum tree. The first, graphite drawing concentrates on the lines and patterns made by the branches; the second introduces the additional layer of emerging blossom. I like the simplicity of these drawings and feel that the linear pattern of the branches could feed into textiles as a background pattern, or a close-up section (example shown at top left, above) could be developed into an abstract art work by itself. Black lines on a white ground look striking and austere. The introduction of blue and white gives the palette a Japanese feel.

P1290731

Gouache painted colour stripes representing drawing #13.

#14

Mixed media on cartridge paper. A1.

Inspired by Alicia Galer‘s wonderful drawings, brimming with mixtures of marks, I decided to try a distant view of part of our garden (most of the plants I have drawn so far have been in mid to close views). This also showed plants in a natural state rather than arranged in a vase, and was worked on a larger size of paper. I enjoyed making this drawing – using which ever medium and technique seemed suitable to the subject (eg, felt pen for the spiky chives, blended chalk for distant or indistinct foliage, sponge printed paint for the new leaves; splodges of thick white paint applied with a bunch of fine wooden dowels for the blossom). This method generated a variety of types of mark, including overlapping areas, that could be taken forward for development into stitch. The palette is restricted to greens, browns, and grey with a touch of yellow.

#15 and #16

#15 Aquarelle pencils and felt pen on cartridge paper. A5.

#16 Oil pastels on cartridge paper. A5.

Comparing fast and slow study of the subject: the Aquarelle drawing took an hour or more, the oil pastel drawing was completed in a few minutes. The first drawing captured more of the succulent texture of the leaf and stem, but there is something lively and recognisable about the quickly-made drawing. The colour palette of the first drawing is one that I like: cherry red, muted green, and purple with white highlights. The leaf quickly dried out and flattened, which is something to bear in mind when using source material that can degrade.

P1290730

Gouache painted colour stripes representing drawing #15.

#17

Photograph, metallic thread, beads on glossy photographic paper. 15 x 10 cm.

Inspired by the work of María Aparicio Puentes, whose work I had seen in some previous research, I took a macro photograph of a willow catkin and added stitch and bead embellishment over the top. I considered quite carefully the amount of stitch and the placement of the stitch, as well as the colour palette to use: opting for sparkly pink and silver to add an interesting extra layer of texture and contrast to the image, without overpowering it. The lines echo and extend the stamen and perform the function of highlighting the structure and pattern of the catkin.

I liked this technique and the outcome, and can imagine using it in collage work or as a way to add a layer of interest and texture to 2-D images. The colour palette of soft brown, yellow, white and pink with a touch of green is very Spring-like and delicate: the sparkle evokes a frosty morning.

P1290729

Gouache painted colour stripes representing image #17.

Summary

What have I learnt in this Project?

  • To make a quick outline to check the position of the subject on the page.
  • Begin with a ‘realistic’ drawing and use the information gathered to generate more simplified images.
  • Layering marks can give depth and interest to a piece and should be translatable into exciting stitch and textiles.
  • Mixing media and using colours and marks appropriate to the subject was a freeing way to work and generated interesting material for further development.

 


References:-

Websites:-

http://blog.aliciagaler.com/ Accessed 14/04/17

http://www.georgiaokeeffe.net/oriental-poppies.jsp Accessed 14/04/17

http://www.mariaapariciopuentes.com/ Accessed 14/04/17

http://monaleisa.com/archive/ Accessed 14/04/17

http://www.scottish-gallery.co.uk/artist/elizabeth_blackadder Accessed 14/04/17

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Three_Worlds_(Escher) Accessed 14/04/17

 

Part 5: Project 1: Option 3: Floral Compositions: Action Plan

I have chosen to pursue the work created for Part 1, Project 3: Picking and Portraying, which involved drawing and mark-making inspired by flowers and plants.

After reviewing the original drawings, and selecting any that I feel are particularly successful or interesting and/or offer further development, I will choose fresh source materials to create a new arrangement (or several arrangements) to draw from. I would like to draw tulips, and may combine these with foliage and flowers or blossom from the garden. I will experiment with different backgrounds and lighting options and additional objects.

I will approach the task by trying a range of possible compositions, and by trying to gather different information in each drawing. I will give attention to selecting appropriate grounds, tools and media to work with. I will make a mind map to suggest associations with the source material. I am aiming to combine densities and type of mark in this new set of drawings. In my initial research, I was intrigued by Alicia Galer‘s lively drawings of plants, and will try to emulate her range of mark-making in some of my work. I will try monotone as well as colour drawings. Paint, collage and mixed media drawings will be explored. I will also make simplified versions, and more abstract marks concentrating on smaller areas of the composition, or small areas of the initial drawings.


 

Reference:-

Website:-

http://www.aliciagaler.com/ Accessed 03/04/17

 

Part 5: Project 1: Reflection: Stronger and Weaker Points of My Visual Research

Having reviewed my drawing and mark making work so far on the course, these are my thoughts on what worked and what I need to practise and improve upon.

Stronger Points

I felt that I had been experimental with regards to the range of media used (traditional paints, charcoal, pencil, ink, felt pens, etc, and less traditional: mud, mown grass, slug trails and flour, flower seeds, glue, etc); tools (such as feathers, a boot, fingers, paintbrushes, a bunch of sticks, etc); and the types and sizes of grounds that I had worked on (3-D surfaces, digital screens, and everything from tissue paper to corrugated cardboard, 1″ square drawings to A1 size – larger for the lawn drawing).

I had explored various lighting options (daylight, to a dark room lit with a faint red light) and compositions (extreme close-ups to full views of the arrangement, drawings focusing on form, outline, texture, pattern, colour); and techniques (spoken word, digital drawing, blind contour drawing, blind touch drawing, both fast, and more detailed drawings, simple, printed images, abstract and more representational drawings, hand sewn and machine sewn, collage, etc).

Weaker Points

I did not always link the observed source to an appropriate ground and/or media.

Looking back at the drawings from Part 1, some of them were rather similar. This was partly due to the museum only allowing pencil next to the exhibits, but some of them were made later, at home – lots of pencil, charcoal, and ink on white paper – rather safe and boring, however, I may still find this a good starting point!

As well as using white or black grounds, Cari recommends using more subtle combinations, such as white media on grey grounds, which I have taken on board in more recent coursework.

Including more variety in the compositions is certainly something I need to aim for (close-ups, small thumbnails to test compositions, perhaps including some background or other objects to give context).

There was a lack of variety in marks made within one drawing. Standing back to get an overview of work in progress and looking at the scale and type of marks I have used needs more attention. Using different densities of mark and a mix of bold/strong/large marks with small/quiet/delicate marks combined in one drawing is something I need to work on.

The quantity of sketchbook work, developmental (eg, testing different compositions), analytical and evaluative drawing needs to increase, as does drawing for proposing potential developments of the work.

I have made a summary of reminder notes, covering drawing, in this article, which I will refer to in the forthcoming projects.

Part 5: Research

For this research, I will focus on the developmental work of these artists.

Jenny Ellery is a textile artist whose work explores the human silhouette as a format for presenting her art, which comprises machine embroidery, printed textiles and handmade textiles. It focuses on the work of the textile designer in fashion, and reminds me somewhat of Marie O’Connor‘s work in that it references the body as a canvas that can have the outline distorted and decorated in infinite ways. Coincidentally, I found these images in the newspaper today, which also show ways of ornamenting and changing the human body, which are perhaps part of the wider context for this idea, and for fashion, jewellery and make-up in general.

african photos

Mario Gerth, photographs of members of the Suri tribe, Ethiopia

Source:- scanned image from The Times newspaper, pp 38-39, 01/04/17

Jenny Ellery’s practice involves “Hands-on and intuitive experimentation…”, from which the artist can make new and interesting discoveries. On her website, she mentions working from 2D to 3D and back again, which echoes the advice in our course guide, and via tutor feedback, for drawing, sample making and more drawing in the developmental process.

Jenny’s tumblr account feed shows some inspiring images illustrating her developmental work.

Jenny Ellery RCA MA Textiles

Jenny Ellery RCA MA Textiles // dye tests

Jenny Ellery Source:- http://jennyellery.tumblr.com/

The artist’s practice seems to involve gathering source images on an inspiration board (prints of other artists’ work, for example), taking photographs, drawing, making samples including mixed media and stitch on textile, and making painted colour palettes. (This is sounding familiar as I work through the Textiles 1 course!)

Chris Ofili is a British artist, now living and working in Trinidad. He won the Turner Prize in 1998 and was one of the ‘Young British Artists’ to exhibit in the Sensation exhibition of 1999.

He has explored many themes, such as religion, black history, nature, high and low culture, through the medium of mixed media, painting, prints, drawings and, more recently, woven textiles.

He sees his studio as a laboratory, where he has experimented in the past with a variety of media (elephant dung, paint, resin, collage, map pins and glitter), and assorted techniques.

His practice seems to me to involve phases of interest, which culminate in an exhibition, before he launches into new fields of exploration. At one time, he made a watercolour painting each day (exhibited at the Studio Museum, Harlem in 2005), after that he moved to making more use of sketchbooks, and photography to record his environment in Trinidad, and drawing to test ideas that will become finished artworks. He describes this approach as giving his pictures “… a more automatic, stream-of-consciousness approach.”

Chris Ofili Studio

Source:- https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2010/jan/16/chris-ofili-gary-younge-interview

I have reflected on Chris’s quote about the studio being a laboratory, here.

Alicia Galer is a London-based textile artist and designer. Her development method is to make expressionist-style drawings, from which she selects marks and textures to produce further drawings and patterns.

In an interview with Grafik the artist describes deriving inspiration from travel, interiors, fashion, photography and graphic design. She draws one or more of her source inspirations, then simplifies elements of that drawing to develop further. Alicia favours oil pastels, marker pens, colouring pencils and acrylic paint as her chosen media.

Large 151cf0aa 660f 4f49 b6bd 84db1895d9c6

Alicia Galer, illustration for House of Plants, 2016

Source:- https://www.grafik.net/category/talent/alicia-galer

Josh Blackwell is an American artist and teacher based in Brooklyn, New York. The artist’s interest in the throwaway consumer culture led him to gather plastic bags from various sources, which were incorporated into his studio practice, working with mixed media, painting, sculpture, performance art and installation. The tension between convenience and excess being one focus for his work. Trained as a painter, his use of thread and textile to embellish the plastic bags shows similar mark-making. The finished pieces are transformed from a vilified and discarded piece of rubbish into a playful, colourful and highly textured art work.

Josh Blackwell, Neveruses (Siemensstrasse), 2015, plastic bags, wool, silk, twine, acrylic yarn

Source:- http://www.joshblackwell.com/index.php?/ongoing/recent-works/

Josh Blackwell Neveruses

Josh Blackwell, Neveruses exhibition (detail), 2016/2017 at The Museum of Arts and Design, New York

Source:- http://madmuseum.org/exhibition/josh-blackwell-neveruses-report-progress

On The Museum of Arts and Design‘s website, it describes the artist’s diverse influences as including Italian futurism, and the outsider art of the American South. In the image above, I can see drawings, collections of objects, patterns and the ubiquitous plastic bag, altered by having holes cut in it, hinting at the types of development work the artist undertakes. Other artworks have included lively and colourful drawings of children’s jumpers, cut out and attached to the gallery wall, Juniors (shown at Kate MacGarry, London, 2010).

Barbara Hepworth made numerous maquettes, drawings, screen prints and full size working models and prototypes of her bronze sculptures. I visited The Hepworth Wakefield on 22 March 2017 and was able to view this fantastic collection in person.

Over 40 plaster or wood, working models and prototypes at different stages of work can be seen. Barbara herself carved back many of these pieces to achieve the surface finish that would represent her ideas. Her tools and drawings illustrate her developmental process. The drawings could be simple, functional, small, line drawings, working out composition and construction. These 2-D diagrams are then made into 3-D models, allowing the artist to refine textures and test patinas before the final bronze sculpture is cast. One exhibit showed an assortment of patina samples that she had commissioned: the equivalent of our ‘sampling’ work on the course. She also made gouache and oil drawings, with pencil marks over the top. She made abstract drawings and drawings from life, such as a series made in a hospital. In quotations on the official Hepworth website, the artist makes it clear that carving was the most important part of the process for her. Once the idea had formed, she could choose the material, but it was the carving rather than the modelling that was important to her, as she could achieve so many variations depending on the material in use, and felt that it allowed her to put her accumulated experience and knowledge into the work. Her selection from the numerous types of stone and wood available, would influence what it was possible to achieve, and only by working with these materials over many years, could she master and exploit their unique properties, “… a complete sensibility to material – an understanding of its inherent quality and character – is required.”

Summary

It has been rather tricky to find details of some of the artists’ processes, as I suspect that they would understandably prefer to keep them private, having honed and refined them for their own use.

What can I learn from these artists?

Jenny Ellery’s ‘hands-on’ work with materials chimes with explorations that I carried out on Part 4 of the course – physically combining materials to find which worked well together (in colour palette, texture and scale). In Part 5 of the course, I will aim to emulate this through sample-making and drawing.

Her use of inspiration boards, colour palettes and drawings will also influence my process for the forthcoming coursework.

From Chris Ofili, I will take an attitude of experimentation and exploration of media.

Alicia Galer’s practice felt like a good fit for what I would like to achieve – making both realistic and more abstract drawings in a variety of media, then selecting and refining aspects of those pieces to take forward. I can imagine using a viewfinder to pick out almost abstract lines and marks from a drawing.

Josh Blackwell’s main focus on one material – plastic bags – links his artwork to the theme of consumerism. I will try to select appropriate grounds and media for my drawings and art work. His use of mixed and unusual media is another point of interest.

Barbara Hepworth gathered inspiration for her work through careful observation and drawing. Her total dedication to her artwork is an inspiration in itself, and I love many of her abstract sculptures with their variations of form, surface and colour. I will continue to derive inspiration from many sources and carry out more drawing and sample-making.

Barbara Hepworth’s intimate knowledge of her media and the effects that could be achieved with that material is something to aspire to. Spending time getting to know and understand my chosen media fully will be an ongoing process.


 

 

References:-

Websites:-

https://barbarahepworth.org.uk/texts/ Accessed 01/04/17

http://www.chrisofiliprints.info/biography.php?cur=EUR Accessed 31/03/17

https://www.grafik.net/category/talent/alicia-galer Accessed 31/03/17

https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2010/jan/16/chris-ofili-gary-younge-interview Accessed 31/03/17

http://www.hepworthwakefield.org/collection/the-hepworth-family-gift/ Accessed 01/04/17

http://www.jennyellery.com/ Accessed 31/03/17

http://jennyellery.tumblr.com/ Accessed 31/03/17

http://madmuseum.org/exhibition/josh-blackwell-neveruses-report-progress Accessed 31/03/17

http://www.marieoconnor.co.uk/ Accessed 31/03/17

http://www.nationalgallery.org.uk/whats-on/exhibitions/chris-ofili-weaving-magic?gclid=CP-F4MXdgNMCFQ8TGwodwmwGMw Accessed 31/03/17 (Chris Ofili exhibition)

http://www.tate.org.uk/learn/online-resources/glossary/f/futurism Accessed 31/03/17 (Italian Futurism)

Part 5: Review of Coursework and Feedback

Cari suggested that it would be useful to refer back to my summaries made in previous parts of the course to refresh my memory on points to incorporate into my practice in Part 5. I have a printed version of my Learning Log, so I scanned back through that, looking at my summaries, Cari’s feedback, the work created, and research into artists’ and designers’ work that I had carried out. I made the following notes summarising and incorporating useful pointers and ideas, to refer to while working on Part 5. They are very abbreviated, so will probably not make much sense to anyone but me, but here they are:-

Research

  • discuss work in terms of colour balance, scale, tone, placements, composition, texture and surface
  • also feelings evoked, technique, colour palette, why it appeals (or doesn’t)
    how it relates to my own work
  • From Rebecca Fairley’s article How to Look at Textiles:-
    study textiles, explore work, synthesise findings, make effective analysis
    Take time to look at work. What do you see?
    Materials? Techniques? Processes?
    Qualities (observed from different distances): Colour (balance, use of, contrasts); Forms (surface, structure, composition, scale – eg motifs compare to whole piece); Touch/Feel (tactility, drape, texture)
    Approach (“from and to”, ie historical connections to current and future uses)
    Context (historical, cultural, development from past work, contemporary fit)
    Meaning (personal interpretation)

Development Work

  • thoughtful research
  • drawing
  • mind maps
  • in-depth investigations into subject matter (eg, sketches, photos, visual document of first hand sources)
  • experimentation with media, techniques and digital processes
  • concepts, compositions, details
  • ideas behind the work (written notes)
  • context – historical/contemporary/social (ie connections to artists and issues)
  • annotated screen captures
  • more visual analysis
  • make painted chips to illustrate colour palettes
  • more sample-making
  • experiment with developments for patterns, textures, processes, materials
  • impose constraints – simplicity often leads to best outcome
  • keep technical notebook(s) (materials, techniques, processes, variations, ideas)
  • consider and show further developments (textiles, fashion, household decor etc)

Drawing/Sketchbook

  • draw to think, analyse, plan and propose (developments into (repeating) patterns, textures, processes and materials, different placements etc)
  • observational drawing, ideas, process and development work
  • preparatory, exploratory and documentation work (learn through drawing)
  • range of media, styles, art forms, techniques, grounds, scale, colour palettes and focus
  • variation in marks made, exaggerated scale of marks (large/bold with quiet/delicate in same drawing)
  • vary speed, pressure, movement, control, feeling of marks (eg expressive, loose, timid, violent)
  • link media to elements of the drawing (eg knife blade rendered in varnish)
  • give a sense of narrative, make emotional associations
  • more varied, well-balanced compositions (eg close-ups)
  • show an eye for aesthetics (eg through composition, backgrounds used, additional objects, use of seasonal materials, imperfections, mix of real and imaginary elements)
  • test compositions with thumb-nail sketches (use a viewfinder)
  • stand back to judge overall composition (scale of marks etc)
  • demonstrate creative and technical skills
  • show personality
  • demonstrate the ability to evaluate and make links
  • audio drawing, miniature drawings in boxes, outlines, forms, silhouettes, stitch as drawing, cutting into a tufted surface (eg my lawn drawing), 3-D printing, 3-D object, dense rubbed areas combined with detailed, delicate marks, collage, stitch/drawing over photograph or other image, varied lighting, lino print, symmetrical Rorschach test, block of colour = outline, blind touch, blind contour, layers or lines of textile, pastel picture cut into fragments, bold flat colour, machine stitched with or without thread, varied grounds, dark coloured papers (appropriate to subject matter, eg white chalk on grey ground), varied compositions, material embedded in another material (wax, paper?), printing, air drying clay, repeated patterns, motifs, varied directional marks, making forms, holes in paper, different colour palettes, repeated shape in different colours, different densities of stitch/couched threads, masking fluid, batik
  • importance of tone
  • notes on reverse of drawing

Sample-Making

  • exploratory sampling
  • combinations of media
  • altering materials
  • colour palettes
  • construction methods
  • possible developments
  • consider: how are you transforming materials beyond their original nature? Do two or more combined materials become something new?

Paper Manipulations

  • folded, cut, laminated, woven, dipped, tufted, crinkled, embossed, prodded, hooked, twisted, wax-coated, burnt, textile techniques with paper (eg cut, knotted etc), torn, holed
    + stitch
  • all white or cream version
  • wrapped/couched
  • wire with beads
  • paper cord
  • see p57 of course guide

Yarn-Making

  • look and feel depend on:- colour palette, proportions of colour, mix of high/low contrast areas, tone, scale, line and mark (thickness, direction, type, movement), proportion of elements, patterns (eg overlaid patterns), layers of interest
  • bear in mind order of construction, and flexibility (to use discoveries/accidents)
  • joining techniques
  • ephemeral work possible (but document well)
  • variations (colour palette, proportions of colour, contrasts, media, texture, scale, pattern – mix different scales of pattern)

Textile-Making

  • unify different sizes and shapes of image with a similar background element (eg Zoffany)
  • use a simple image with a geometric shape to make a repeated block pattern
  • explore different ideas in a series of work
  • bold, flat colour (eg Marimekko)
  • overlapping translucent colour
  • digital print
  • combined shapes, grid, chain-mail
  • layering – clear and opaque/different patterns
  • different colour palettes and proportions of colour and contrasts and tone
  • cut outs
  • mixed media
  • paint or bleach
  • deconstruction techniques
  • mix of scale on one piece
  • loose edges to give shapes dimension/stuffed shapes
  • stylised versions of source inspiration
  • blank areas mixed with decorated
  • muted background + bright foreground = depth
  • surprising additions (eg Timorous Beasties)
  • convey information, movement, narrative
  • consider further developments

Reflection

  • discuss my approach to the work
  • development process
  • colour palette/proportions of colour
  • thinking around projects (aesthetics, visual read, potential for further development)
  • how samples read spatially and how viewers may interpret them
  • summarise learning
  • discuss ideas
  • purposeful discernment
  • considered judgements
  • save detailed technical notes for technical notebook

Presentation

  • simplify
  • photos and samples presented on white backgrounds, or pale grey if appropriate
  • covers plain and appropriate to contents
  • A3 size (A2 max) sample file and /or presentation boards (fold larger pieces)

Part 5: Reflection on Chris Ofili’s Quote

The course guide quotes Chris Ofili, in an interview he gave in 2010, to Gary Younge:-

“The studio is a laboratory, not a factory. An exhibition is the result of your experiments, but the process is never-ending. So an exhibition is not a conclusion.”

At this stage of study, my workspace definitely feels like a laboratory: the various experiments and exploration; hammering; cutting; hot wax; combining different media etc, make me feel like a scientist making new discoveries. I have tried many new techniques and media so far on the course and feel that this broad range of exploration has helped to generate new ideas and directions.

I feel that getting stuck making the same thing over and over again is deadly for your creativity (having had a small taste of feeling like a ‘factory’ when one item I made became popular and I was requested to make numerous variations on the theme). Having said that, if you wish to sell your work, and people want to buy that particular item, then it can be both flattering and lucrative, (Andy Warhol’s The Factory springs to mind), but, in the long-run, I feel that taking your artwork in new directions is far more rewarding and stops feelings of stagnation. At my second study visit last year, the discussion turned to the way in which some of the artists had not progressed, but had found a style and subject that they were happy to repeat. Many of the students thought that it was rather lazy and boring to do that, and I suspect that such artists are less likely to be invited to exhibit, over time. Observation, information gathering, having views on topics, or stories that you wish to tell, filtering and selecting from that information and deciding how it will become part of your artwork are what I am aiming for in my practice. My main reason for starting the course was to learn and establish a productive and logical process for turning those ideas into art.

I believe that the two things are not mutually exclusive, as you can experiment and innovate with your art and designs, and have assistants or an actual factory making up the designs.

I was interested to see another view expounded in an article on the textileart.org website: Are you a textile technique addict? The article by Joe Pitcher discusses the problem of having no focus as a textile artist, trying numerous techniques and styles but not being able to find your voice. Through the work of his mother, Sue Stone, and other textile artists, he suggests that dissipating your energies in many directions doesn’t work, and that imposing constraints is the way forward, for example, mastering one particular skill and set of materials fully to give cohesion and depth to your work.

While this does ring a bell with me (having tried many arts and crafts over the years), I feel that I tend towards the ‘laboratory’ method for generating new artwork, while still being evaluative and reflective about which experiments I take forward. I have seen that constraints can be introduced at any stage in the operation to refine ideas and techniques. The cyclical nature of the process means that we move from research to experimentation to selection and reflection and perhaps repeat the process several times before producing a finished piece of work.

Regarding Chris Ofili’s comment that an exhibition shows the results of experimentation, but is not a conclusion: I would have to agree with that. Although an exhibition may show one complete collection, there are hopefully more ideas to be explored, worked up and exhibited in future. The exhibition is a time to put your ideas and technical achievements on display, and to receive feedback and possibly validation from viewers.

I hope that at the end of Textiles 1: A Textiles Vocabulary, I will be able to look back on all my coursework and reflect upon what I have learnt and can take forward into the next part, and integrate into my practice in the long-term. I have put an emphasis on experimenting with as many new media and techniques as I can, and will continue to do so in my own ‘laboratory’. I will also put my work forward for formal assessment, for which I aim to demonstrate my learning and the ideas that have come from my experiments. In the final part of this course, I hope to expand on the work I come up with, by suggesting further developments for the yarns and textiles created, which is a conclusion of a sort.

Chris Ofili has been back in his laboratory, as he has a new exhibition at The National Gallery, starting on 26 April 2017, featuring a handwoven tapestry art work, made in collaboration with Dovecot Tapestry Studio.


References:-

Publications/Websites:-

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Factory Accessed 30/03/17

Younge, G (2010) After The Elephant Dung: Chris Ofili http://www.garyyounge.com/?p=753 Accessed 30/03/17

http://www.nationalgallery.org.uk/whats-on/exhibitions/chris-ofili-weaving-magic?gclid=CLeRqdmB_9ICFcVAGwodSmkNlQ

Pitcher, J (2017) Are you a textile technique addict? http://www.textileartist.org/textile-technique-addict/ Accessed 30/03/17

http://womanwithafish.com/ Sue Stone’s website Accessed 30/03/17