Wednesday, 4 April 2012

Sketchbook #1

The Sketchbook hasn't been going all that well. I am not good at drawing, but I am now trying to put all the mark making into practice, so the later additions are looking - not too bad! Trying not to worry too much about getting it right, just trying to get something on the page. I do believe that "hands on" is the only way to learn something - it's no good just reading the books.

This is my small (A5) sketchbook, that is for carrying around with me. 

Dried Orange Slices - graphite pencil and two coloured pencils. I like the top drawing on the right, I think this could be adapted to textiles.

Daffodils - I used the technique at the bottom for something else I was doing so did an extra one in my sketchbook, then tried looking at the daffodil heads closely. They looked a bit flat so I added some watery paint. I like the effect at the bottom of the page, this would translate very easily into stitch.

Sheep - I copied this idea from a book about wire sculpture. Sculpting in Wire by Cathy Miles.

Patterns & Feathers - Last week I went out into the garden and just drew patterns. I found two feathers so drew those as well, might try these in stitch. I think the little sketches are useful for inspiration as well - just not great drawings.

Bark & Rhubarb - Went a bit further afield, and draw some unusual bark, a felled tree and some forced rhubarb. All black gel pen and watercolours. Again not great drawings, but good source of inspiration.

Straight Stitch & Chain Stitch - After doing the first stitching exercise, I went round the garden looking for ideas for using straight stitch and chain stitch - found quite a few examples. Tried to draw them with the stitches in mind. They all look a bit thin, might need a bit of a colour wash?

Dried Poppy Skeleton - Found this poppy head skeleton in the garden, tried really hard to draw what I saw and not what I thought was there - not very good at fine detail though, prefer scribbling.

Dahlia - This was a left over from one of the exercises in project 1, but I like the image and I liked the effect of the pencil drawing, so saved them into my sketchbook.

Peppers - Snowed in today (an unexpected day off work!) so had a go at drawing a group of peppers. Decided to look at them as cuboid shapes and sketched those in first. This got the peppers in a better perspective, so will definitely be trying this again. This is a sketch just using biro.

Tried them again using the same kind technique, but used fineliner felt pens.

Tried the fineliner felt pens and went over the top with a biro. I liked this better before I went around the outside edge with the biro.

On a roll now, so did a big close-up with the block paints, then went over it with biro. I really like this drawing. A bit of success at last and good inspiration for stitching.

Mug - Liked the technique so much, decided to try it out on a drawing of my mug. It went a bit wonky at the top, but on the whole I quite like this.

Peppers - Couldn't quite stop drawing the pepper. Had another go with the biro and the block paints. Quite like this one as well.

Couldn't leave the peppers until I had had a go with my favourite technique - which is the scratchy pen, ink and coloured pencil. Again I am quite happy with this drawing, and again good inspiration. Finally I remembered I had wanted to try the coloured pencil in lines, so I just did a small portion of the pepper to try it out. I think this has worked well. I have really enjoyed this drawing session, lets hope the next ones goes as well.

Tuesday, 3 April 2012

Project 2 - Stage 2

Exploring Marks And Lines Through Stitch Techniques
I have really enjoyed doing this series of mark making using different stitches.  I chose chain stitch first because that is the easiest.  

With differing pink threads, I tried: 
  • straight lines in different colours
  • detached chain stitch
  • zig zag lines
  • lines of chain stitch in different yarns and threads
  • detached chain stitch in different yarns and threads
  • spiral
  • lines of chain stitch, close together in differing shades, mixed together where the colours joined
  • elongated chains
  • lines of chain stitch coming out of a central point
  • messy chain stitch
I like the detached chain stitch, the shaded sample and the messy chain stitch the most.  I think they all create a really good texture and the shading worked really well by mixing the two joining colours.

Next I tried running stitch, with green threads:
  • lines - close together getting wider apart
  • wavy lines
  • cross hatched
  • box in lines
  • running stitch with cross hatch
  • zig zag lines
  • running stitch in different directions
  • random running stitch to create tone
  • different threads 
  • basket weave type pattern
  • spiral pattern
  • running stitch with gold thread woven through stitches
  • running stitch with messy threads woven through stitches
I like the random running stitch showing tone, I think this could really be used to explore tone in texture.  I like the basket weave and the spiral pattern, but again my favourite is the messy weaving through the running stitch.

Lastly I tried out all the new threads I had bought.  I think this set of examples are the best.  I like all the techniques used here.  I am not very keen on the fabric I have used - I think it is a poly cotton and although it was nice and taut in the hoop, it is now a bit puckered.  I am going to try some cotton poplin next.  I also tried some stem stitch.  I don't usually have a lot of success with this - but I like the way the lines of different colours have worked out - it is like coloured pencil shading.
  • rows of chain stitch in different threads
  • back stitch with side stitches in variegated thread
  • single thread, varying widths apart to show tone
  • single thread in various shades
  • wavy line, chain stitch, grid
  • stem stitch shading
  • running stitch spiral
  • detached chain stitch, messy
  • zig zag back stitch
  • zig zag back stitch, metallic thread
  • lines of loose chain stitch, worked over each other
  • running stitch with messy thread woven through the stitches
  • zig zag running stitch
  • cross hatching
I didn't like working with the metallic thread at all, although I love the metallic effect.  I think all of these examples have worked well.

Project 2 - Stage 1

Developing Your Marks
Stage 1 - Preparation
Can't wait to get started on the stitching!

I had already made a series of colour bags - although I have accumulated so much stuff that they are colour boxes!  I don't have very much plain cotton in the colours required so I will have to buy some of those and I am going to have to get some new needles, but this is going to have to wait until I get to the shops, so I am just going to make a start with what I have got.

I am going to stick to hand stitching at the moment - I find it easier to just pick it up - wherever I am.

I had already bought a few new coloured threads last week, but as most of my embroidery cottons are very old and left over from other projects, I decided to treat myself to a few different ones this week.  I went to a lovely needlework shop near where I live and had a good look through all the beautiful threads that she stocks and chose a few different kinds - just to see what each was like to work with.

Project 1 - Stage 4

Working From Your Sketchbook
Having looked back through the work I had done so far, I chose four images to work from.  The underside of the funghi and the turkey tail from Stage 3: Exercise 3, the paper collage from Stage 2: Exercise 4 and a photograph from my sketchbook, of some unusual tree bark and plant growth.

Have you thought of working in this way before?
I have worked in this way before, not quite to this extent though.  I have never really made the connection between applying the marks to the drawings.  It wasn’t until my friend, having looked through the marks, said you shouldn’t have any problems drawing if you can make all these different marks.  The marks are easy though – they don’t have to look like anything, or be in perspective.

Were you able to be inventive about the range of marks you made?
At first a lot of the marks I made were very similar, but towards the end of the exercise I found it easier to be more inventive and discovered some surprising results.  I really like the wavy line using the three different media and the vortex in the tone exercise.

Did you explore a wide range of media?
I did explore a wide range of media – over the years I have acquired all sorts of different media and I am glad that I can now use them.

Are you pleased with what you’ve done?  Will it help you to approach drawing more confidently?
I am pleased with what I have done.  I am trying now to see my drawing as more of a mark making exercise, hoping that this will help me draw more confidently.  I am still not all that happy about my drawings.  I would like to be more relaxed - in attitude and style.  I find it very difficult to make myself do the work in my sketchbook, but have decided to just get on with it; if it doesn’t look like I expected it to look I am just going to carry on until it does.

Which exercise did you most enjoy?  Why?
I enjoyed the crayon rubbings, this was more successful than I expected it to be and very easy to get some interesting results.  But the exercise I enjoyed the most was block printing.  I really enjoy printing of all kinds – the results are so unexpected – you never quite know what you are going to get.  I would like to do more printing, especially on to fabric.

Which media did you most enjoy working with?  Why?
I enjoyed working with the charcoal and the graphite stick, although these are both really messy afterwards which puts me off a bit.  The marks made by the charcoal are very satisfying and varied, both in style, weight and tone.  The graphite stick was really smooth to use and I love the colour of graphite on the page.  Again the marks it makes are very satisfying.  The block paints (that I bought at school) are also lovely to work with, they can be used thickly or watered down and used as a wash, and once dry can be over painted.

What other forms of mark-making could you try?
I would defiantly like to try more types of printing – screen / mono / collagraph.  I have also seen “How to make a cola pen” on the internet; so I am going to try making one and using it with ink.  I haven’t tried using oils, applied with a knife or spatula.

How will these exercises enrich your textile work in the future?
I have found it a lot easier to relate the marks to different stitches, so I think it will make it easier to create specific textures by first drawing them – using the mark making techniques - then relating these to stitch.

Project 1 - Stage 3: Exercise 2

For this exercise I chose to look at four different objects.  The first one was a sea shell.  I made a series of studies using white gel pen on black paper.  I tried not to be too analytical about making it look like a real shell and just concentrated on the shapes and lines.  I like the spiral drawing and the curve going into the shell.  I think the gel pen on the black paper has worked well and has a translucent quality that is similar to the shell.  I also used coloured pencils on the black paper which I also like.  I think the different coloured lines and shapes are very evocative of the shell shape.

The second item I looked at was a snail shell.  I just tried to do really quick sketches and tried not to think to hard about it looking real.  I am not pleased with these at all, they all look a bit flat.

The third object was a leaf skeleton I found in the garden.  This was really difficult to draw.  It was very delicate and fragile and I am not very good at fine detail.  I think the most successful of these sketches is the biro and watercolour wash, but I also like the ink and coloured pencil one at the bottom.

The fourth object I looked at was a dried up corn-husk.  I thought the pattern on this was interesting and tried it out in various media.  I think the coloured pencil and pencil was the most successful.

Project 1 - Stage 3: Exercise 1

Using Marks To Create Surface Textures
I chose two images, one of funghi and the underneath of a mushroom and one of turkey tail.

I tried the funghi in various media
  • pencil
  • biro
  • coloured pencil and white gel pen
  • inktense coloured pencils
I think the biro is the best image, it has depth and texture and I like drawing with a biro.

For the turkey tail I used
  • inktense coloured pencils
  • oil pastels
  • block paints
I think the inktense pencils worked really well, I like both the techniques with these pencils, but I think the top stripey one is most representative of the image.