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:-

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


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.

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Alicia Galer, illustration for House of Plants, 2016


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


Josh Blackwell Neveruses

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


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.”


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.




Websites:- Accessed 01/04/17 Accessed 31/03/17 Accessed 31/03/17 Accessed 31/03/17 Accessed 01/04/17 Accessed 31/03/17 Accessed 31/03/17 Accessed 31/03/17 Accessed 31/03/17 Accessed 31/03/17 (Chris Ofili exhibition) 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:-


  • 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)

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 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.


Publications/Websites:- Accessed 30/03/17

Younge, G (2010) After The Elephant Dung: Chris Ofili Accessed 30/03/17

Pitcher, J (2017) Are you a textile technique addict? Accessed 30/03/17 Sue Stone’s website Accessed 30/03/17

Key Aspects of Part Five: Building A Collection

This part of the course is laid out as three linked projects, with one research point, followed by Assignment 5. The key aspects of the coursework are to refer to earlier coursework and make new drawings, yarns and textiles exploring the source material with the knowledge gained so far on the course.

Visual evaluation of the source material through new drawings and sample-making will feed into the development process, along with contextual research of my chosen artist or designer. Documenting the process through reflection in my Learning Log (LL), keeping technical records, and taking clear photographs will be necessary for presenting the work.


Research artists mentioned in the course guide.

Introductory Task

Reflect in my LL about the ‘laboratory versus factory’ quote by Chris Ofili.

Project 1: Developing Visual Research

This project involves selecting drawings from my previous coursework, or new, related, inspirational material, to draw from, with the benefit of my learning in this area. The key tasks are:-

1 Review visual research from the Introductory Section, and Parts 1 and 2 of the course).

2 Reflect on the stronger and weaker aspects of the work in my LL.

3 Select a project from the three options provided, considering which will be the most satisfying to work with and build upon.

4 Email Cari with my choice and a brief action plan.

5 Describe how I plan to approach the project in my LL.

6 Make 10 new drawings in any media and any size. The emphasis is on generating new information (marks, lines, and colour palettes) and taking an experimental approach.

Project 2: Building A Response

In the second project I will be developing materials to enhance the information gained in project 1 in presenting a textiles capsule collection. Key tasks are:-

1 Observe the drawings from project 1, paint and present paint chip or stripe designs from one or more of the drawings. Give consideration to the proportions of colours in the palette.

2 Research 1 or more artists, designers or design companies that I admire. Compile a small research file containing both visual and written information. Reflect in my LL on what I can learn from this person/company, to influence my approach.

3 Create a series of 10 – 15 textile concepts using paper and other surfaces to develop ideas, textures and structures.

  • revise work carried out in Part 2 and re-read the course guide for this section
  • refer to my colour palette to guide investigations
  • translate the range of qualities shown in the drawings
  • source new materials to work with

4 Develop 8+ yarn/linear concepts, with reference to the techniques learned in Part 4 of the course. (Translate linear qualities from drawings into material explorations).

  • yarn designs should be combined with, and applied to, textile concepts
  • keep a sketchbook/workbook specifically for this project. Show developmental work/ideas
  • present key pieces and larger-sized pieces separately from the workbook

 Project 3: Experimenting and Taking Risks

This project encourages me to experiment and take risks with the translation of qualities in my drawings, through to the creation and manipulation of materials, and stitch exploration. Textile and yarn concepts will be developed into textile results.

  • revisit earlier processes if appropriate
  • select a focus for the experimentation (eg, a material or technique, different scale, colour, etc)
  • one experiment should lead to the next sample, including analysis and evaluation at every stage
  • be sensitive to the materials, processes and techniques employed, and learn from explorations

1 Make 10+ experimental textile samples.

Assignment Five: Your Capsule Collection

This assignment involves presenting my work to clearly show the developmental aspect, and to communicate the most interesting and attractive findings and outcomes.

1 Study and evaluate the work created so far in Projects 1 and 2. Decide which can be further refined and improved upon.

2 Make a capsule collection of 6+ related samples (minimum size 30 cm square). These pieces should show an increased perfection of technique and finish, building on the previous samples.

3 The capsule collection should be presented simply and appropriately on white/pale card. The order and unity of the collection should be considered. Samples should be attached by the top edge/top corners only.

Written Reflection

500 words reflecting on learning and development achieved; strengths and weaknesses; future work, added to LL and sent to tutor.


Performance against assessment criteria for this course (500 words), added to LL and sent to tutor.

Rework The Assignment

After feedback from Cari, I should rework parts of the work according to her guidance and reflect on this in my LL.


Formative Feedback: Part 4, and Reflection

Thank you to Cari for my latest feedback. Lots to take on board and reflect upon!


  • translation of aesthetic, material and structural qualities of samples into yarn concepts
  • range of shape, form, structure and material investigation in 2D and 3D
  • constraints in colour palette worked well for red, black and white drawings
  • strong crafting skills without over-precision
  • exploration of scale, however, delicate/intricate samples most successful
  • exploration of translucency with hints of colour (eg, ice and hair yarns)
  • interesting use of objects to form yarns (eg, jelly beans and coat hanger yarns)
  • some yarns combine materials into something new and interesting
  • construction and interior of yarn book, crisp and well-organised (minimal use of text)
  • thorough discussion of the journey of the project/decisions made and good evaluative summaries
  • strong drawing work (good use of sympathetic media/techniques to capture material, tactile and visual qualities; quality and nature of drawing varied according to role, eg, functional planning drawings, more fully rendered drawings of samples)

Needs Work

  • close up snake yarn sample felt inelegant and heavy (however, it works at a distance when overall pattern becomes clear)
  • some materials feel as if they are fighting each other, not working together
  • photographs: do they successfully capture and communicate samples? (eg, ice yarn – background of trees too busy)
  • cover of the yarn book not successful (too strong and not my own design)
  • too much technical information in learning log
  • ‘Research & Reflection’ sections confusing to navigate

To Do

  • consider how my samples read spatially and how the viewer may interpret them (eg, snake yarn) [ongoing]
  • reflect on how the materials have been transformed by my interventions when evaluating future work, eg, two intertwined materials – are they integrated and transformed into something new? [ongoing]
  • photograph samples sympathetically against a neutral background (show different lighting options and how they may change a piece)
  • present work in a visually quiet way, or use aesthetic details from the contents to hint at what’s within (redo covers of both yarn book and colour book)
  • use neutral grey for presenting light coloured work, rather than black [ongoing]
  • emphasise evaluative commentary over descriptive commentary (ie, more about the aesthetic/visual read of samples) [ongoing]
  • refer to evaluative summaries in learning log when working on Part 5
  • integrate research and reflection with the relevant coursework and assignment work in the learning log
  • move ‘yarn research file’ to the beginning of the Part 4 Coursework section
  • use more appropriate drawing media for proposed samples (helps to assess aesthetic qualities of resulting samples)
  • more sketchbook work for Part 5 (extensive drawing to capture samples, as well as planning for them; visual/theoretical/contextual research to underpin and inform the sampling)
  • keep working both inside a sketchbook and on other appropriate grounds outside the sketchbook (small sections of coloured paper can be stuck into the sketchbook)
  • view Cari’s Pinterest boards on sketchbooks, drawing for textiles and design research [my own Pinterest boards for sketchbooks and textiles inspiration have been updated with some of Cari’s suggestions, and some other examples that I find inspiring. I found this website through a link on Pinterest, which has a useful guide to making an art portfolio with some ideas of what to include in sketchbooks. Interestingly, I had just seem some excellent examples at Gracefield Arts Centre‘s exhibition of Advanced Higher Art Selection, such as the work shown below by one of the students.]

Megan Nodwell, development work for, and images of finished wearable art jewellery

Development Notes

A big area for future development for me is use of the sketchbook. I need to show in images (photographs, pictures from magazines, books and the internet, etc) and in sketches, where my inspiration for work originates, and how I have selected and refined my ideas, along with technical notes and experiments, samples, colour palettes etc. Then drawings for planning the projects, using appropriate media, grounds and techniques, and evaluative drawings of samples and finished pieces.

Another area for improvement is to present my work even more simply, with regards to the backgrounds in photographs (neutral and plain), and in the covers for my books (simple and plain, or more appropriate to the contents).

One of my first tasks will be to go back to the beginning of my Learning Log, and add links for the research to the relevant parts of each section of coursework and assignments, and to move the yarn research file.

In future written work, I need reflect evaluatively on the processes I have used and on the work produced, together with weighing its aesthetic appeal, (Rebecca Fairley’s article “How to look at textiles” will come in useful here). I need to write less about the technical aspects of the work: I will keep the majority of these notes in my technical notebook. I have re-read my summaries for Part 4 and made notes to refer to in Part 5.




Accessed 25/03/17 Accessed 25/03/17 Accessed 25/03/17 Accessed 26/03/17


Reflection on a book: Making & Drawing by Kyra Cane

Following Rebecca Fairley’s recommendation of Making & Drawing, I thought I had better get a copy, as I am coming to realise how important drawing is in the planning and preparation stage of a project, and also as a tool for analysing the finished work.

The author discusses the many reasons that artists draw, such as:- to stimulate ideas, to evaluate outcomes, to help in the creation of painting, or pattern making and as a starting point for making artworks. Drawing can be carried out in any media, including three-dimensional materials or collations of images. It helps to focus your mind on a subject, cuts out distractions and allows for close analysis, ‘looking’ and understanding.

Drawings can be a great resource to look back on for stimulating future work. They can be a record of an idea for future reference, recording the “experience of looking”, something which photographs cannot match, as they only record an instant in time of a particular viewpoint, as seen by the camera lens. The prolonged observation of a drawing enables the artist to fully explore a subject and select the information from it that is important for their work.

Kyra Cane recommends working from an original source (eg, an object, a scene, a sound, an idea, or a feeling), and making drawings, sketches, diagrams, photos or screen stills that can be brought together in a sketchbook or pinned to the wall as inspiration for a project.

The book is split into various sections exploring the way in which particular artists use drawing in their practice.

Drawing As Reference

Jeweller, Anna Gordon, draws in pencil, focusing on line, which is translated into linear forms in metal. Her drawings are made around a theme, with the lines describing form and the units that make up that shape. She is influenced by what she sees around her, including nature, the built environment and everyday objects. The jewellery is “a sketch to be worn on the body”.

Anna Gordon Jewellery

Anna Gordon, Twig on Enamel Brooch, 2013, Oxidised Silver, Gold Leaf and Enamel, 50mm x 35mm


Ceramicist, Kate Malone keeps scrapbook-sketchbooks, which lead to unexpected relationships, sparking new ideas. She keeps travel diaries and makes numerous drawings. These are used to create a visual proposal for commission work, including plans, working diagrams, technical details (fixings, installation etc) and full size drawings.

Kate Malone Page From Sketchbook 1

Kate Malone, page from Sketchbook 1


Jeweller, Laura Baxter makes botanical drawings to enhance her understanding of forms and recurring motifs. She works in pencil and watercolour, making the drawings increasingly simple and in line with her requirements for development in metal.

Laura Baxter, Brooch with Allium and Flyaway Dandelion Seed, 2009, oxidised silver & 18ct gold


Drawing As Planning and Design

This practice allows a maker to explore possible options without having to make a finished article. Concepts, forms, outcomes and thoughts can all be investigated. The design stage involves coming up with the solution to a problem: creating and inventing; while the planning stage is when the maker will work out how to do something.

Chien-Wei Chang is a Taiwanese silversmith, working in London.

Chien wei chang

Chien-Wei Chang, Drawing of Bamboo Containers, 2008 (left) and Bamboo Containers, 2008, silver (right)

Source:- Cane (2012), P 48.

Chien-Wei’s way of working starts with an idea, he carries out research, makes drawings, then paper constructions, then metal, sometimes combined with other media. At other times he will play with materials and forms in an exploratory fashion, allowing his work to be flexible during the making process. His drawings may be made to understand the nature of the subject, how the final piece will look, as visual evaluation or to explore a form in three dimensions.

Rory Longdon is a British knitwear designer. He uses pencil or pen to draw his designs over photocopies of figures or manikins. His drawings are working documents that may include textile samples, notes, alterations, etc, for his own use. They reflect his attention to detail throughout the design and making process.

rory longdon

Rory Longdon, Garment development and toiling, and sketchbook development, 2011

Source:-  Cane (2012), P 70.

Drawing and Surface

Decorating a surface began with the earliest cave paintings and can be carried out to:- beautify; to record events; to convey information; to celebrate the natural world; to provoke thought; to tell stories; document history or commemorate people.

Decoration is found on the early ceramics, metalware and textiles of all cultures. Local traditions have grown up, making use of local materials, dependent on the maker’s environment, circumstances and religion. Historical examples may be copied or adapted. Particular patterns may travel to new places, over time, but can persist for centuries. In more modern times, the maker’s own choices will be as important as the above-mentioned factors.

The book discusses two ceramic decorators with very different approaches: Helen Beard draws and paints figures from life in her sketchbooks, which she then draws onto the surface of her ceramics (domestic pieces, such as beakers).

Helen Beard, sketchbook/studio


Felicity Aylieff bases her abstract, blue and white decorated ceramics (vast in size) on careful study of the historical patterns and processes of Chinese ceramicists. She also combines stylised floral motifs with geometric patterns, which remind me of sashiko stitching.

Felicity Aylieff, Blue and White monumental Vase, 2011


Matthew Harris is a textile artist who explores repetition, pattern, line and image in his abstract cloth artworks. Sketches, notes and photographs inform his series of drawings. He pares down the visual information to focus on the essence of his subject matter. The drawings utilise paper in the same way that one uses cloth: layering, joining, staining and marking. He will look out for ‘happy accidents’ to include in his work. Waxed thread is used to sew the individual components into his chosen layout. Colour placement, types of mark and balance in the composition are resolved through drawing in this way. A cartoon is made to inform the work for the finished piece. This plan allows Matthew to work out how he will dye, stitch, paint, cut, piece and patch his textiles.

Matthew Harris cartoon for textile work

Matthew Harris, Factory. Cartoons for cloth. No. II


Drawing As Making

A similar process may be involved in drawing and making for some artists, such as using wire as a line to draw. The work of Jeanette Orrell illustrates this point.

Jeanette Orrell, Two Baskets, 2008, photopolymer intaglio print


Jeanette Orrell, Cages, 2005, mixed media (wire, wax etc)


The drawn lines made by this artist feed directly into her wire work sculptures.

Drawing As Thinking

Drawing can help:-

  • focus
  • clearer thought
  • articulate subconscious thinking
  • reveal the nature of a subject
  • solve problems
  • explore possibilities
  • sift ideas
  • refine concepts
  • with reflection before the making starts

Junko Mori is a Japanese-born metalworker, now working in Wales. She makes beautiful ‘doodles’ that are similar to, but are not plans for, her metalwork sculptures. She feels that drawing first would sap energy from the making process. The drawing is a warming up exercise that runs in parallel with her work. Her inspiration derives from trees and plants. In her artist’s statement she says “…No piece is individually planned but becomes fully formed within the making and thinking process. Repeating little accidents, like a mutation of cells, the final accumulation of units emerges within this process of evolution…”

junko mori

Junko Mori, Doodle Happa, 2001, ink on paper (left); Doodle Chaos 1, 1995, ink on paper (centre); Doodle Mitokon 1, 1999, watercolour on paper (right).

Source:- Cane (2012), P 162.

Junko Mori, 2012, Propagation Project; Sea Anenome, Forged mild steel, wax-coated


Drawing With Technology

Some artists use computers and software instead of hand techniques. This can save time in performing labour-intensive processes and can expand possibilities, enable faster research and the faster translation of ideas. Artists must still have the mastery of their chosen media and a way of manufacturing their pieces.


This lovely book clearly demonstrates the way in which different makers use drawing in their practice: some using it as a way to record and explore source material, or to work out ways of constructing their pieces, or they may construct a precise plan of what they intend to make. For other artists, their drawings are a separate stream of creativity. Alternatively, artists may prefer to work directly with their materials, once they have built up an understanding of the source inspiration and process they intend to use.

Drawing can:-

  • provide a connection between hand and eye
  • explore possibilities
  • extract information about a subject
  • lead work in new directions
  • be used for testing different compositions or scales
  • help with decision-making (colour palettes, suitable techniques, suitable media, etc)
  • be a means of recording travel, people, places, objects, colours
  • be a visual evaluation of completed work that feeds back into future work

A sketchbook can be a collection of notes, drawings, references, images and ideas.

Thinking of my own work, I have been working mainly on loose sheets, but I also have a number of sketchbooks ‘on the go’: one is a sort of scrapbook; I have a box file of cuttings from magazines and other images; not to mention different sizes of sketchbooks with drawings in them. I like the idea of a single sketchbook that contains everything in the order in which it was collected or drawn, but have not felt able to pursue that line because the coursework recommends trying out different media and different sizes and types of ground to work on. Keeping a sketchbook per project is something that I may try in the future, but will continue with the variety of loose papers in the meantime.

I find that drawing, for me, starts with trying to capture a likeness of the subject, which I then try to simplify and refine (sometimes through exaggeration of a particular feature, or through abstraction). In Part 4 of the coursework, I found that making drawings of the source material led to lots of ideas for making yarn concepts, and that it was quite easy to decide on the media and techniques to use, once I had drawn the idea, so I will continue to try to increase my drawing activity. As Kyra Cane says in her conclusion: “Making objects … is drawing in three dimensions.”

 Links to my previous research on drawing:-

Drawing Research

Assignment 1: Research on Drawing

What Is Drawing?



Cane, Kyra. Making & Drawing. 1st ed. London: Bloomsbury, 2012.

Websites:- Accessed 12/03/17 Accessed 13/03/17 Accessed 13/03/17 Accessed 13/03/17 Accessed 13/03/17 Accessed 14/03/17 Accessed 12/03/17 Accessed 13/03/17 Accessed 13/03/17 Accessed 13/03/17