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: 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:-


  • 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)


  • 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


  • 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


  • 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)


  • 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


  • 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


  • 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)

Key Aspects and Tasks for Part Two: Surface and Stitch

Key Aspects of Part Two

I will be selecting from, observing and analysing the drawings made in Part One, to produce paper and textiles samples and three textile Assignment pieces. The skills developed in this part of the course will help me to develop an understanding of the creative design development process.

Main Activities

The main activities are:

  • exploratory/experimental work
  • translating and interpreting surfaces, marks, lines, media, qualities and textures, from 2D drawings into 3D samples and larger pieces of work
  • sampling in paper and textiles (selecting, manipulating, transforming)
  • reviewing and evaluating
  • textile creation combining surface and stitch
  • recording reflections, process and decisions made in Sketchbook/Learning Log



Exercise 2.1 Selecting

2. Review textile and plant drawings from Part One. Select six that show variety and are appealing.

3. Write notes in my Learning Log about the interesting visual qualities of the selected drawings.

Exercise 2.2 Paper Manipulation Library

4. Decide upon substrates, base materials or surfaces to use (informed by drawings).

5. Choose papers to work with.

6. Produce 20 paper manipulation samples exploring a range of techniques.

Project 2: Drawing With Stitch

This Project involves investigating and applying stitched marks to the paper samples, using stitch as a drawing tool.

Exercise 2.3 Drawing With Stitch Onto Paper

7. Referring to chosen drawings, gather appropriate materials (needles, threads, yarns) to translate drawn marks into stitched marks.

8. Cut ten 10 cm square, or larger, pieces from the paper samples.

9. Use a viewfinder to isolate areas of interest within the drawings.

10. Make ten or more experimental samples using stitch on the paper samples.

11. Keep notes in Learning Log.

Exercise 2.4 Developed and Composed Samples

12. Evaluate the success of the samples from Ex 2.3.

13. Plan new ideas in sketchbook considering scale, composition and layout.

14. Select materials and processes.

15. Use two different drawings to make two larger (A4 – A3 sized)  stitched paper pieces.

Assignment 2 Stitching: Placed and Spaced

This Assignment requires me to learn how to build a strong design and development process. I will develop, building upon the earlier work,  three exploratory, A4 size+, stitched textiles (forming a small collection or series). The textiles should focus on repetition, variety of scale and include a placement design.

16. Research Point: research the work of an artist or designer who works with re-purposed textiles.

17. Review the work already created and select which pieces you will carry forward for development.

18. Choose the imagery and qualities to feature and accentuate.

19. Record and plan out choices in sketchbook and Learning Log.

20. Source and manipulate, or develop my own base textiles, making links to drawings/samples.

21. Select materials and tools to use in making the textiles.

22. Make notes and drawings in my sketchbook and Learning Log about the stitches, lines and direction of marks I could make.

23. Make exploratory samples experimenting with marks and lines.

24. Make exploratory samples experimenting with texture (consider techniques such as recessing and building relief).

25. Sketch out possible plans for my stitched sample (considering a variety of compositions with regard to design, placement, repetition and scale).

26. Repeat the process 17 – 25 twice more, evolving ideas from the first textile to produce the next, and then from the first two textiles, for the third piece).

27. Written reflection: 300 words on the strengths and weaknesses of the work in my Learning Log.

28. A review of my work against Assessment Criteria in my Learning Log.

Submitting Work

The date for submission of this work is 14 October 2016. I do have one week (and several odd days) away from home in this period, so may need to request extra time added.

29. Work to be submitted includes:-

  • work for Assignment Two;
  • work from Projects 1 and 2;
  • Learning Log url;
  • relevant sketchbook work; and
  • a review of work against Assessment Criteria.

30. Rework the Assignment with reference to my Tutor’s feedback.

31. Reflect on the rework in my Learning Log.



Reflections On Keeping A Sketchbook

Up to this point, I have mainly worked on loose sheets of paper if I wanted to do some preparatory work for an art project, and I have rarely drawn unless I have needed to. Some of the preparatory work I’ve done, I’ve kept for future reference, but many pages are thrown away. Starting this course, and working my way through “An Introduction to Studying in HE” has brought home to me the importance of a sketchbook (whatever form it may take), and the many reasons for keeping and using one.

I thought that I would make myself a ‘sketchbook checklist’ that would prompt me to try something new, if I was not sure what to draw that day. Here is the result, so far, although I’m sure I will add to it over time:-

Sketchbook Checklist

Library of responses to experiences = personal document. 1 page+ per day

Why Keep A Sketchook?

  • see your development as an artist
  • analyse the visual
  • examine, analyse, revise, rework, resolve issues
  • what interests and intrigues you -> future work
  • visual diary/record
  • travel record
  • imaginative drawing
  • personal development
  • resolve problems
  • explore line, shape, colour, tone, texture, pattern and form
  • experiment
  • practise drawing skill
  • reference
  • place to reflect
  • draw anything and everything
  • project plans, designs, compositions
  • record objects, places, events, everyday life


  • quick drawings
  • colour studies
  • important aspects of a subject
  • longer, detailed drawings
  • work in different media
  • different colour combinations
  • overlays/layering
  • photos/photocopies/fragments of images
  • different viewpoints/variations
  • observations and investigations
  • details that catch your eye
  • other people’s work (galleries, museums etc)
  • thumbnail sketches (in boxes)
  • negative space exercises
  • ‘blind’ contour drawing
  • scrapbook images that inspire you
  • mementos and evocative found objects
  • reflections on art, your work, others’ work
  • exaggerations/caricatures/cartoons
  • overlapping drawings
  • simplifications
  • shapes filled with patterns suggesting textures
  • draw or stitch over a photograph
  • close-ups (or magnified details)
  • repetitions/variations
  • patterns
  • emotional response to place/object/person
  • drip paintings
  • templates to mask off outside area – object filled with patterns (eg ink spots)
  • word drawings
  • primitive shapes and marks
  • sketches over a colour wash, or paper, or textile collage background
  • draw from your imagination/recollection
  • use limited/incongruous colours
  • start with random marks (ink blots, lines, brush strokes, found cracks or patterns) and see what they suggest
  • use your wrong hand
  • work from a photograph
  • be inspired by a famous artist
  • tracings
  • continuous line drawings (don’t lift your pen from the paper)
  • abstract drawings
  • child-like drawings
  • scribble drawings
  • copy things of interest from a book
  • design a poster, or an illustration for a book
  • print (using readymade, or self-made – carved potato/eraser, or found objects)
  • annotations/words – notes on colours, lighting, notes, measurements, targets, ideas, feelings, quotes, thoughts, moods, smells, sounds, textures, tastes
  • fabric, thread or yarn samples or combinations thereof (including your own samples)
  • technical investigations (eg notes/samples from fabric dyeing experiments)
  • timed studies (2, 5 or 20 minutes, eg)


  • collage (with or without drawing)
  • mixed media
  • holes, tears, cuts, scrapes or scratches
  • drawings over textured backgrounds
  • digital app drawings
  • fabrics/threads/yarns
  • inks
  • paints (oil/acrylic/watercolour/gesso)
  • charcoal
  • pencil
  • felt pens
  • words
  • eraser drawings
  • pastels
  • chalks
  • colour pencils/water soluble pencils
  • crayons
  • dip pens
  • scissors
  • found objects
  • materials for printing
  • all types and sizes of paper (from post-it notes or index cards to A1 or larger paper or card)


  • animals etc (pets, wild animals and birds, zoo animals, farm animals, monsters, insects, fish)
  • people, features, self-portraits, friends, family, out and about (100 faces project)
  • toys, objects with sentimental associations/personal history
  • ornaments, ceramic figurines etc
  • machinery
  • buildings/architecture (inside and out), factories, houses, castles, monuments, statues, sculptures
  • landscape (seascapes, mountains, rivers, rocks, city scapes, urban, villages
  • plants (trees, flowers, fruit, vegetables, fungi, gardens, forests)
  • food (plates of food, ingredients, cafés, fast food, packaging, cooking)
  • other artists’ work
  • museum pieces
  • your travels
  • inspirations from literature, radio, film, music, videos
  • still life grouping or a single object
  • your everyday experiences, feelings, imaginings, dreams


Open College Of The Arts Study Guide “An Introduction to Studying in HE” 2012

OCA Study Guide “Keeping Sketchbooks” 2015

Greenlees, Kay “Creating Sketchbooks For Embroiderers and Textile Artists” B T Batsford, London 2006 Reprint

Sonheim, Carla “Drawing For Mixed-Media Artists: 52 Creative Exercises To Make Drawing Fun!” Quarry Books, USA 2010

Research carried out for drawing for Textiles 1: A Textiles Vocabulary (page 21 refers).


I recently bought Kay Greenlees’ book (reference given above), and it has proved particularly helpful. In it she stresses that each person’s sketchbook will be different because of their own interests and style of working. She summarises the main uses of a sketchbook as being to “vision and re-vision”; and the practice of keeping a sketchbook as “pause, record, reflect, move on…”. By this I think she means that one should take the time to observe what is around us (or in our imaginations); to look, explore and capture the subject that interests us; to think about why it is important to us and what we can learn and/or incorporate from it into our own work; and then to repeat the process over and over again.

Introduction to HE: Reflection on The Course

It has taken me quite a long time to complete the Introduction to HE course: a) because I made lots of notes initially (see my folder of reference notes shown in photographs below); and b) because I had to wait for a chance to do my primary research for the related assignment (research into the work of Bridget Riley), and wait for a book that I had ordered to arrive at the library.


In retrospect, I think I could have achieved a similar outcome by printing out the course and highlighting the important key words instead of writing out some of it and highlighting that. I used post-it notes to make it easy to find specific sections of the course, such as ‘Research’, which is proving useful for refreshing my memory on certain points. I used yellow highlighter for key words, and green highlighter for noting useful actions that I would be taking, which does make it quite a good reminder, as I can skim the page and pick out the important aspects.

I made a couple of checklists such as the ‘Learning Log Checklist’ shown above, to summarise what I had learned.

I watched videos about other student’s work and experience of studying, carrying out the assignments and researching, which all gave useful pointers, for example, on how to present work for assessment.

The section on ‘Planning Studies’ has helped me to focus on what I am aiming to achieve; the tasks involved; prioritising and organising tasks, and adding them to a time-table.

The ‘Smarter Reading’ techniques certainly saved me some time by getting me to focus on the information that I required, rather than reading at random and getting sidetracked. I decided on the areas I wanted to find out more about before I started my Bridget Riley research. The use of a mind-map and key words helped with that task.

I need to practise more at succinct note-taking, and have printed off some A4 sheets with sections for reference source, notes, key ideas, my summary and connections to my own work, which should help with that in future research and note taking.

Having started the first assignment of Textiles 1: A Textiles Vocabulary, I feel that the Introductory Course has given me a good grounding for carrying out the various parts of the assignment:- such as summarising the learning outcomes and activities involved, carrying out relevant research and reflecting on how that research could impact on my own work; the actions I need to take to complete the assignment and how to record and reflect on my learning.

I am glad that I took the time to go through the Introductory Course thoroughly and will use it as a reference and reminder in the future.

Assignment 1: Research on Drawing

In my research for this Assignment, I have looked at the drawings and approaches of the artists suggested in the course, and a few others that interest me.

I find that I am having to even question what I think drawing is. (Before this research and this course, I would have said that it was mainly for producing a likeness of the object or scene being studied, or to make a preliminary sketch for a finished piece of work). I like Michael Ginsborg’s quote about “…the drawing attitude” quoted by Alison Carlier and used as the title for her set of conversations with artists on the subject of drawing. I think it means having at open, exploring, adventurous approach to drawing: experimenting, questioning what drawing is for, and why we do it and what it could be.

Thinking of how this relates to my work in this Assignment: my head is now spinning with possibilities. I will explore drawing using different approaches and media. I will try to explore a variety of approaches, different ones in each sketch: for example:- descriptive drawing, textures, feelings and emotions, pattern, close-up studies – maybe trying out a drawing app – all exciting prospects!

I have included my research notes and sources below.

Assignment One - Research 1Assignment One - Research 2Assignment One - Research 3Assignment One - Research 4Assignment One - Research 5Assignment One - Research 6Assignment One - Research 7Assignment One - Research 8Assignment One - Research 9Assignment One - Research 10Assignment One - Research 11Assignment One - Research 12

Assignment One - Research 17Assignment One - Research 18Assignment One - Research 19Assignment One - Research 20