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 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


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.


Gouache painted colour stripes representing drawing #1.


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.


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.


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


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.



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.


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


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.


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.


Gouache painted colour stripes representing drawing #10.


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.


Gouache painted colour stripes representing drawing #13.


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.


Gouache painted colour stripes representing drawing #15.


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.


Gouache painted colour stripes representing image #17.


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.



Websites:- Accessed 14/04/17 Accessed 14/04/17 Accessed 14/04/17 Accessed 14/04/17 Accessed 14/04/17 Accessed 14/04/17


Part One: Observing and Capturing: Mark Making Drawings

Project 2: Recording and Capturing

Exercise 1.3 Making Marks

After my four-hour visit to Dumfries Museum (for which, many thanks to Lydia Cant, for being so helpful; and to the other staff for their welcome, coffee! and helpful comments), I made two drawings of each piece that I had chosen to study using pencil (the only medium permitted next to the exhibits). I decided to try out different marks within each drawing to try to represent the drape, texture, pattern etc of the objects.

1 The Rag Rug


Looking at the frayed border with its large loops of fabric, and a small patch of striped fabric ?ribbon. The loops were flattened into crazy-paving patterns that varied from loop to loop, yet still had a perceptible line and rhythm. I tried a 6B pencil, and graphite block on its side and corner. The blurry block-type marks were the ones I thought worked best.


Trying out wavy lines to represent the loops didn’t work very well. The simple lines showed the hooked pattern well, but not the loops. The top centre shows some shading made to represent the ingrained dirt on the rug.


Quick marks using side and corner of graphite block – interesting pattern but not much like the rug.


A3 cartridge paper, pencil, graphite.


This drawing is on A5, thick watercolour paper. I tried a contour line of the edge, quickly drawn, then experimented with different ways of representing the pattern and the individual, flattened loops of the rug: fuzzy lines, heavy strokes close together, a mosaic pattern (seen on the cat – didn’t work) and soft shapes made with the side of the pencil. The latter worked best to represent the fabric loops, and I could vary the pressure to represent the different tones present in the pattern. They had a nice ‘frayed’ look to them which was present in the fabric.

2 The Quilt


Looking at the pattern of the mixture of fabrics used in the quilt. Somewhat successful, but it would take hours to complete a drawing with this much detail in it.


This is a section of the reverse of the quilt, showing ?rust marks, hand quilting stitches, creasing to the binding and the hand stitches attaching the binding to the reverse. I think this section of the drawing works well in showing the sort of hand stitches and the meandering quality of the quilting that the maker of the quilt used.


A3 cartridge paper with pencil. This shows some of the blocks of the quilt with a section of the backing revealed.

A5 quick pencil drawing to capture the soft, draping quality of the quilt. The finer lines show the block placement. I quite liked this fast drawing and decided to have another, more detailed go at this sort of composition back at home.

3 Sanquhar Knit Pullover


A3 cartridge paper, drawing in pencil. The side of the pencil gave a soft line which represented the ribbing of the neck quite well, either singly, or two parallel lines. The knitting pattern itself was a somewhat harder challenge to capture. I tried fuzzy lines, bold, graphic, fast lines, but decided that the little V shapes looked most like the stitches present in the garment.


The zig zag lines suggested the ribbing on the cuffs worked quite well.


Trying out soft zig zag lines compared to cross hatching for the pattern – both methods might have their place depending on which aspect you wanted to focus on (pattern or texture).


The ribbed collar, stitching at the neck and part of the garment label. I liked this area of the drawing.


Overview of the drawing. The hairiness of the wool is represented by the small area of shading on the left shoulder.

A5 watercolour paper, pencil drawing. Quick up and down strokes for the ribbing, shuffly hesitant lines for the checked pattern, tiny looping circles or quick zig zag lines for the diamond shapes, overall shading to represent the texture and tone. I quite liked this little drawing as it made the jumper look puffy and hairy, except that I made the garment too short in the body.

Back at home over the following couple of weeks, I made some more drawings taken from photographs and with the descriptive words in mind. I made some tools for mark making that I thought might come in useful – pads of stuffing or wadding; frayed fabric attached to a paintbrush; thick card with notches in it etc

1 Rag Rug

I chose a chunk of corrugated cardboard (54 x 33.5 cm) to use as the base for this piece, because it seemed heavy, sturdy and matt in finish, like the rug itself. I used bubblewrap and a black ink pad to print a small section of the rug. I dragged the ink in the border to make it look frayed. Overprinting in the regions I wanted to appear darker gave some different tones. I could see that this had produced some interesting effects, but it felt a bit messy and not really ‘me’. It might come in useful as a technique for printing onto fabric, though, so I will bear it in mind.

A4 printing with knobbly wool binding a stuffed nylon pad with acrylic paint. I tried to capture the texture of the rug in this drawing. The fraying in the border was suggested, but not the loops or pattern. Maybe useful as a ‘distant foliage’ texture, though, for future use!

An A5 pencil and charcoal drawing with ink overprinting to add a dirty, gritty look to the image. I used a small ‘tremor’ motion to make the lines of the rug in this drawing, in which I tried to convey the pattern and texture of the rug. Although I got the dimensions wrong (the rug looks too deep front to back), it was one of my favourite drawings I made of the rug, I think this is because it accentuates the pattern, and the ‘comfort’and ‘utility’ aspects of the rug.

2 Patchwork Quilt


I made this drawing on white tissue paper (70 x 45 cm) to represent the delicate, fragile qualities of the quilt (and probably the damaged aspect before long, too!). I tried to capture the pattern, drape, and tone using large felt tip marker, pencil, and printing with various objects (a cluster of cocktail sticks, the end of a square lump of graphite, etc) using an ink pad. In some cases I just suggested a stylised version of the fabric, in others I tried to copy the actual pattern. From my point of view, this was my most successful attempt, because I liked the dark lines giving the structure and construction of the piece, mixed with the numerous patterns and marks, and it seemed to suit the flimsy paper.

3 Pullover

A3 size drawing, showing a detail of the pullover (the arm to body seam). I used oil pastel to make the V-shaped ‘knitting’ mark that I had experimented with at the museum. The rough texture of the canvas automatically made the marks look woolly and fuzzy, but I added another layer of marks with a toothbrush dipped in acrylic paint, used very dry. I thought that this showed the texture, pattern and thickness of the jumper quite well.

I found this exercise interesting and useful. I had not drawn textiles in such detail before. It really enables you to appreciate the differences between textiles, (construction, texture, surface, patterns, weight etc) and the work that has gone into producing a finished object made from those textiles, such as the hand stitching on the quilt. Drawing from the actual objects was invaluable and I took the time to experiment with different marks to see which worked best in representing the items. This allowed me to home in on the ones I felt had been most successful, when making further drawings at home from the reference photographs.



Assignment 1 – Final Drawings

For my final drawing for this assignment, I decided to do over-sized close-ups concentrating on one area at a time. I thought I would try to use masking fluid for the mark making, as it was something I had not tried before. I used a pointed, fine wooden stick (such as those used for vegetable kebabs) to apply the liquid.

On my first attempt, I started to put the watercolour wash over the masking fluid before it had properly dried, so it blended with the paint and pulled off more of the background than I would have liked in some places. I left some areas intact to give a bit more blackness to the background. I actually like this attempt best of the five I tried. I was working on red coloured paper to see what effect a different background would give to the marks. It fitted with the theme of ‘red in tooth and claw’ and the marks (although based on the fur knit scarf) actually looked like angry claw scratches in places.

I tried the scarf again, waiting for the masking fluid to dry more this time. I liked the areas that retained more paint and became darker, but it doesn’t have quite the impact and variety of the first attempt.


The feather on watercolour paper. I liked this one, too, but it probably would have had more impact with a darker background.


The twig on an old magazine page, with watercolour and felt pen in the background. The part on the white section with writing on it was quite interesting – it reminded me of Chinese brush paintings, but the paper was too thin and brittle and tore in one place and the image was indistinct over the sections of the magazine that had pictures on it.


The final drawing was of the buttons and beads, but I didn’t like this at all. The paint spatter that I had added, barely showed. The image reminds me of bits and pieces floating on water – might come in handy one day.


While I was doing this exercise, I thought it seemed a familiar technique, and it suddenly struck me that it was like the piece of batik work that I had done as part of my Art O’ Level (many years ago!). I will keep my eyes open for a wax heater and tools, and try this technique out on fabric because I like the effects that it produces.

Assignment 1: Drawings #7 – #10

#7 Black & White Acrylic Paint on Canvas – Large Brush, and Fingers

This attempt was half successful and half not. I liked the way the roughness of the canvas used with a fairly dry brush meant that the background showed through, for example in the ‘fur’ section of the sketch. I also enjoyed the splatter effect of flicking or pinging wet paint off the brush leaving a mixture of thick heavy splodges and fine, misty specks. The melon was smoothed over with my fingers to give it a more flesh-like appearance.

I think that the shiny, hard objects (knife and bottle did not work – the knife looks too dark and monotone and the bottle is again too dark, although I quite like the white edges where the breaks are). I liked some of the texture around the twig representing the lichen, but was less impressed by my attempt to show the gleam on the black and grey feathers. The white one was a slight improvement, with more texture and a lighter feel to it.

#8 Mark Making For Texture – Large Black Marker

I tried to make this drawing quickly. After pencilling in rough forms, I used a thick black pen to draw in marks that made me think of the objects: woolly and soft for the scarf; sharp and stabbing/cutting for the knife; soft, yielding and juicy for the melon; jagged and dangerous (I speak from bitter experience! I managed to cut myself while washing this ‘found’ item) for the broken bottle; gnarled and rough for the twig; a mixture of smooth and hairy for the feathers; hard, small objects for the beads and buttons.

I think this was an interesting exercise: to try and forget the forms and to concentrate on the feelings each item evoked in me. I would use this technique again to suggest textures or three-dimensional forms of objects.

#9 White Thread on Black Wool Fabric (Re-purposed Coat)



Inspired by my first attempt at this Assignment, at a blind contour drawing with a pen on paper, I wondered if I could do the same (but without the ‘blind’ bit) using a sewing machine’s sewn line. I tried a small sample first (lower two pictures show the reverse of this first attempt). As you can see, I had ‘fun’ trying to get the thread tension correct. Then on to the bigger piece of fabric (this had a couple of seams in it, but I thought I would just work over them). It was amusing to try, and I liked some of the textures achieved (the scarf, white feather, twig and scattered objects). The finished drawing reminded me of a scratchboard picture, albeit somewhat puckered and distorted. I was going to work in a round quilting frame, but couldn’t get it under the needle. The resulting work would probably have been flatter if I’d attached a stabiliser to the reverse of the wool, first. (However, the fabric was slightly shaped anyway because of its past life as a coat). I can’t say that I particularly enjoyed making these sketches, although I did like some of the effects achieved.

#10 Abstract Patterns Suggesting Textures – Black Fine Pen

A follow-on from drawing #8, looking at the items in a more abstract way with stylised patterns suggesting the textures. I liked some aspects of this drawing: the lines on the knife that were supposed to be fairly straight, but weren’t, interwove to form different densities towards the pointed end. On the scarf area, I tried spaced dots on the more distant area, closer together on the middle part, and faster, overlapping dots on the nearest part. The close dots actually look more like tadpoles, and there are some paler ones where the ink wasn’t reaching the ballpoint quickly enough. I tried to make the ‘feather’ area light and floaty, but it looks squirmy and moving instead. This was similar to the melon area – I was aiming for ‘yielding’ but got ‘wriggly’. I liked the claw-like twig with dark fine circles on it. The spiky form representing the broken glass, I felt would have been better if the whole shape was spiky.

I find that I like the abstract versions best and will explore this in future.