Exercise 2.1 – Selecting
Laying out my drawing and mark making exercises again I am excited to start the next stage. I am looking for the most interesting visual qualities, variety and those that I will enjoy working with for this new work. I have to select 6 from my strange collection.
I have selected drawings that I find interesting and that will translate into interesting surfaces. Each one has been drawn using a variety of different mediums, tools and techniques. They are all drawings that I like either by the process of creating them or by the outcome.
Exercise 2.2 – Paper manipulation library
Laying out my drawings I can see that I need to create strong lines, soft lines, parallel and curved lines, spirals, blocks, holes, ridges and dragged lines. From the list of ideas I can identify folding, crumpling, creasing and cutting which I use to start my ideas forming. I have gathered a few different papers to play with but I start with copy paper as it is the cheapest to experment with and I start with creasing and pleating the paper. I have alread carried out some experiments with burning different materials so I get my soldering iron out and use this to burn the creases of my folded paper. I want to create holes so I experiment with pleating then use a hole punch through the pleats and further burn the holes with the soldering iron. I try individual burn marks to suggest the rows of my marks and I use a similar method to show a spiral of holes. I try a pyrography tool to puncture and burn paper to replicate the marks made with an Elderberry brush. Burning paper is quite hazardous and I do end up with a few burning a bit more than I required! This maybe useful in the future but not at the moment.
I am still pleating/folding and combining with cutting out holes, I know that I need to keep part of the paper joined or I will be left with a plain hole and I want to retain the cut piece. I try different combinations of this process and am happy with the outcome.
I think about what else I could use to alter the surface of the paper, I place tracing paper onto a rough concrete floor and rub over quite heavily with a stone this produces a good surface with a few small holes appearing which I like, they are random and there is no control of what happens. I combine this with specific slashed cuts. I use a sharp knife to cut curved slashes into manila paper removing some of the slashes to leave spaces. I think that this has lots of fabric potential along with melting techniques rather than direct burning.
I have some soft cardboard and I experiment with an electric sander to remove the surface in circular patterns, it creates lots of dust but although you can’t see from the photograph it has created raised areas not touched by the sander. This doesn’t work on paper, it has to be something with enough body and thickness to withstand the motion of the electric sander.
I am still using slashing and cutting to depict the heavy marks made to represent the solid stitching on the English stays. I cut slashes into some light card and then twist soft recycled paper into a ‘tread’ which I weave through the slashes. Luckily we had some lovely thick corrugated card from some furniture that we had delivered and I experimented with stripping away some of the layers to leave raised areas indicating the same heavy marks. I have kept this quite regimented like my mark making but both these could be used in a more random and relaxed way.
Some close up photos of my paper manipulation experiments; pleating, scrunching and rubbing – copy paper, baking parchment and tracing paper
Close up images of pleating, punching and burning experiments – brown paper and copy paper and recycled paper.
Folding & cutting – copy paper and handmade paper
Slashing, voiding and rubbing techniques.
I have really enjoyed this exercise, all these techniques have great potential to be developed in a much looser and more experimental way and I look forward to doing this in the future.
Recently I arranged a visit to the Warner Textile Archive at Braintree in Essex with my local branch of the Essex Handicraft Association.
The archive is housed in the original grade II listed textile mill. It is the second largest collection of flat textiles in the UK after the V&A and includes 10,000 paper designs in notebooks, sample books, rule papers, print blocks and ledgers. The archive is a wonderful historical tour of British textile design.
An interesting talk was given by one of the archivists on the history of the mill and then we spent some time in the Exhibition Gallery looking at a wide range of fabrics, design papers, printing blocks and photographs of the mill and workers in production.
Benjamin Warner bought New Mills in Braintree in 1895. New Mills was an existing silk mill that had gone into liquidation and Benjamin Warner moved his company from Spitalfields in London to Braintree, joining Courtaulds who already had a mill there. Other nearby areas known for silk weaving are Halstead in Essex and Sudbury in Suffolk.
Warner & Sons were a very successful company weaving silks and velvets for all the English coronations from 1902 to 1971 when weaving at New Mills ceased. In their height they produced fabrics for palaces, stately homes, ocean liners and royal residences.
Warner & Sons embraced change throughout their history moving from hand looms to power looms, they used renowned designers producing high quality silks, velvets and traditional chintzes. In 1927 they purchased a printing works at Dartford in Kent enabling to extend their range of fabrics further. During the war years they produced parachute silk and were involved with the design and production of utility fabrics.
Alec Hunter, Marianne Straub and Eddie Squires were some of the designers who kept Warner & Sons at the forefront of textile design.
Warner & Sons closed in 1990 and the brand sold to new owners. The historical archive was saved by various charitable bodies and individuals in 2004 and is now called the Warner Textile Archive.
Further information taken from;
Two Centuries of Creativity – a textile collection of national importance – Warner Textile Archive (booklet purchased from the Warner Textile Archive)
Researching my chosen archive was difficult because I was unaware of the restrictions in the V&A and with hindsight I would have chosen something more accessible. Not having the items to hand during this process was a hindrance, I had considered purchasing some vintage garments but the cost was prohibitive and items difficult to find. I tried to choose textile items that I found interesting and were different from each other in design, manufacturing processes and worn by women at different times in history. I enjoyed the research into my chosen textiles and it has certainly made me aware of all the things that I need to consider when using an archive to research from in the future.
I enjoyed the mark making process as I had not done anything like it before and I had to spend some time experimenting with different items and the marks they made so that I had a reference to use when considering my textile items. However I found it difficult to translate this to my textile archive and really struggled with this exercise.
My first attempts at collage have been painful to say the least, this is not something that I have found very easy and I spent too long worrying about what I was doing and getting very frustrated with myself. I hope that I can develop this technique as it is a popular way to develop ideas and designs.
I have enjoyed the research into other artists and designers, it makes me realise what a big world of art there is to discover and I am just scratching the surface!
I have really enjoyed Project 3, I felt more confident and I feel that I have consolidated my learning throughout Part 1 to produce a good folio of work to progress onto Part 2.
David Hockney was part of the pop art movement of the 1960’s. His work ranges from large pictures made up from multiple canvases depicting the Yorkshire countryside to images of swimming pools and houses in California and portraiture. His paintings have a clean, clear easy way about them, they are not fussy or overly detailed. His use of perspective is wonderful, his landscapes are huge from open countryside scenes to industrial landscapes.
His brush strokes are bold and the colours he uses are bright some are slightly psychedelic looking and remind me of a set of collecting cards I had as a child with images from the Yellow Submarine album by the Beatles, which I now understand were from an animated film, the artwork was designed by Heinz Edelman.
I find it amazing that David Hockney now uses his ipad to create his pictures, still experimenting with his art and happy to explore a new generation of media alongside printmaking.
web sites visited:
What do I believe ‘drawing’ to be?
I think that drawing is creating an image whether physical or imagined. Producing a physical drawing is done using medium like a pencil, paints, photographs and even light and shadow. You can also draw an image in your mind usually from reading a book or listening to music or the radio, when words or feelings can create a picture. In our introductory assignment we looked at the work of Alison Carlier who uses sound to create an image and when I visited the Turner Contemporary at Margate in Kent in February 2016, there was and exhibition by Joachim Koester – The Other Side of the Sky – where he was using flickering film projected on to a screen as a visual picture. I guess it is open to interpretation, if it works for you then it’s good.
I would like to explore electronic drawing on my tablet. I don’t have an ipad but I have found a drawing app which I have started to play around with.
Collage – I really struggled with collage in Project 2 so I would like to tackle this as it doesn’t seem to come naturally to me, I don’t know where to start and what I do looks complete rubbish.
I would also like to use some of the mark making experience that I have recently experimented with too.
Sources and media
It is now October and there are not many wild flowers and plants about, there are lots of leaves and fruits available in the hedgerows but I would like to use a flower. I can buy a flowering plant from a supermarket or florists but I like to get inspiration from the nature around me which I see when I am out dog walking or that I grow in my garden or allotment.
I have carefully considered what is available, there are still a few wild flowers about for example Bindweed, Wild Carrot, Yarrow, White Campion and Mallow. In my garden there is even less! I have an Abutilon still in flower, a few Dahlias and the herb Borage. On my allotment there are Dahlias and a few small Sunflowers.
I have chosen Borage or Starflower as it is sometimes known. I grow this herb because the bees love it. You can eat the leaves and flowers but I haven’t yet. The flowers are a beautiful blue colour, star shaped with protruding pointed black anthers but the plants are very prickly covered with small sharp hairs.
My first drawings I use to ‘get to know’ what I am drawing, so that I can see how it is formed and try to get the proportions and colours as correct as I can.
This is always going to be my starting point until I gain some confidence in drawing and finding my way forward.
I have tried out media that I haven’t used before, oil pastels, Inktense pencils and the sketching app on my tablet. Each produces a different result. The drawing app is fun but not easy to control, I found myself blobbing colour where I didn’t want it but I can see that I will use it to give me that slightly random, haphazard image in the future.
From my original life sketches I went on to consider how the plant is constructed to see if I could simplify the image to create a motif. This is where I am comfortable as it is how I process a drawing for my stained glass work. In the first image I cut separate elements of the flower and stuck them onto a piece of clear plastic, the pieces are just glued at the centre so they drape if you hang it up. The second picture is a result of closer observation of the flower which led to the last motif, cut from two pieces of paper and a circular center of card which is where it is glued together.
Here I have gone back to mark making on a neutral wash then using a plastic scourer and acrylic paint I have created a loose image of the flowers. The images have to be quite large otherwise they are just a blob of colour.
I have finally had the courage to tackle collage – I find this really difficult and I don’t know if I have been successful yet! I like the colours that I have used, the background is crumpled up thin paper glued to a backing paper then coloured with a blue acrylic paint wash. The motif pieces have been cut from newspaper photos using the same colour range with just a few brighter colours.
Going further than the last collage, I quite enjoyed constructing this one but I can’t do these quickly as I feel right out of my comfort zone, I spend too much time worrying about what I’m doing and whether it’s good enough or not! I hope I have developed in the right direction during this exercise.
The brief is to consider and research the Japanese concept of ‘wabi-sabi‘.
I have heard the phrase wabi-sabi but did not understand its meaning or concept.
Wabi-sabi represents Japanese aesthetics and a Japanese world view centered on the acceptance of transience and imperfection.¹
In modern Japan it is understood as wisdom in natural beauty.
Wabi – rustic simplicity, freshness, quietness, understated elegance
Sabi – beauty or serenity that comes with age, when the life of the object and its impermanence are shown in its patina, wear or visible repairs.
There are many different interpretations on the meaning depending on your discipline.
I like the example that the pottery used in the Japanese tea ceremony called Hagi-yaki is rustic and simple, not quite symetrical, the colours and textures emphasise its unrefined or simple style. The glaze will change colour with use (sabi) and the tea bowls are deliberately chipped or nicked at the bottom (wabi) when they are made.
The origins of wabi-sabi are from Buddhist teachings and are interpreted as desolation, solitude and the liberation from the material world towards a simpler life.
I understand wabi-sabi to be an appreciation of the natural world, to take the time to experience the wonders of the world away from the pressures that our man-made world imposes upon us. To accept the perfect and the imperfect things in life, a fabulous sunset or the rain that stops you doing what you planned outside. To learn from our life experiences and from those around us who contribute to our journey, to take the rough with the smooth.
Other websites visited: https://www.utne.com