Assignment 2: Written Reflection and Review against assessment criteria

I began work on Part 1 18months ago and Part 2 last November so in the first instance I acknowledge that this assignment  has taken me a very long time to complete.

Here is what I have learned over the projects:

  • The importance of tutorials and having a dialogue about my process is of huge importance and heavily influences my work output.
  • I like to go into ideas and processes, exploring materials and techniques with more depth than I had given myself credit for.
  • It’s better to keep turning up and working on tasks, ignoring my inner critic and focussing on what I am doing rather than all the things I know I am not doing!
  • For Part 2, I particularly enjoyed the paper manipulation and sewing into the smaller samples. My interest waned when working on the more composed larger pieces. I think this is due to the pressure on myself that I had to create a focussed almost finished piece. On reflection it would have served me better to take the task less literally and work on however many more developed samples I wanted to. This would have probably kept my interest going. This is why I liked working on the paper manipulation library, the stitched smaller samples and the textile preparatory samples I made for Assignment 2.
  • Drawing and planning ideas out can be done in a variety of ways apart from literally sketching ideas. Using photos, layout and pinning up samples, selecting ones in particular to juxtapose together are also ways of drawing. I discovered taking photos of some of my inboards a good way to show my planning stages. These also influence my watercolour drawings where I make attempts to combine some of my selected images together.
  • I needed to break up the leap from paper to textile even further, spending a long time on playing with textile samples.
  • My understanding of drawing and recording has developed: I find that observing and looking at something, needs practice and for me sustained engagement. My drawings improved the more I got to know my subject (sounds obvious now!).
  • I do spend time thinking about my process and approach to my work and draw on my observations of this.
  • Folding and pleating fabric and making it go where you want it to go is so much harder than it looks!

My strengths are that I do have a strong aesthetic and can create samples and outcomes that show dynamism and delicacy. I do feel that there is energy behind the work I make and was very inspired and excited by the assignment. I recognise the importance of sampling and trying things out.

I certainly felt a frustration that I didn’t have the capacity to address all points, tasks hints and tips (that are in the course booklet) with the depth and focus I would ideally like to give. So much of my learning with this project is getting to know what my capacities are, how to make decisions and selections and where to prioritise my focus. I would like to spend more time further addressing the following:

  • Using a wider range of marks and tools in the same image/drawing sample
  • I also felt that I missed some of the point of the assignment and found myself not being very experimental with different forms of stitch? I think I might have stayed too ‘literal’ in interpreting the pieces as images rather than as textile samples.
  • Spend more time playing with layout and scale
  • Stop and look at what I am doing and ask questions half way, look at the back of the textile piece and be open to searching and experimenting with different stitch techniques – keep looking for different solutions to create textures with stitch
  • Annotating and articulating my reflections and thoughts through writing and the blog
  • Being open to drawing and designing ideas in different ways at the planning stages
  • Reading and looking at more artists, in more depth to gain a deeper understanding and to cultivate a better sense of enquiry and finding way to make links with my own work
  • Folding and pleating fabric and making it go where you want it to go is so much harder than it looks! This is an area I would like to explore and master more.

Review against Assessment Criteria

Demonstration of technical and visual skills

I did employ a variety of drawing techniques in Part 1 and drew on my printmaking knowledge. I was pleased with much of my observational work although recognise now that I could have extended my marks and worked with a wider range of them.  I had only used dissolvable film and discharge liquid once before as a quick experiment so was pleased in how much my technique improved with each use.

I do work naturally and intuitively with my materials and processes and feel like my formal art background helps with the basics of colour, texture, line, composition.

Quality of Outcome:

This is possibly the hardest to evaluate and critique since I feel that the assignment needs further work. However I am pleased with what I have achieved so far. My last very unfinished sample still excites me with where I could take it, and I am pleased that I have had the boldness to value it enough as I could have easily finished it ‘for the sake of finishing it’. I feel this way there is a better chance of creating something of high quality.

What I need to work heavily on is drawing connections and noting my observations as I go in a more obvious way. I do use the blog more that just to log each exercise so I hope that with time I use images of my work and words to connect my thoughts together further. I know this will help me to refine and formulate new ideas.

The way I work is partly due to time constraints and I would rather ‘keep on top of it’ by posting more regularly. The flip side to this is that my posts sometimes lack the depth. They don’t articulate my decisions clearly. The blog behaves more like an online journal of thoughts in which I don’t spend time editing and adding to a post in order to make it ‘readable’ or to make sense?

I would like pin more of my work up and take photos of these. I feel this would be a good way to solve the problem. Then I can show drawings and samples and images which I feel all connect next to each other.

Demonstration of Creativity:

I think I have been up and down with this. Most of my paper samples are nothing groundbreaking and remain relatively simple in concept. My use of base textiles is varied and I think I did explore different possibilities – reaching the conclusion that both velvet and organdie can create soft/gentle/delicate outcomes.

I feel like I could have pushed the materials further, and I think this is one of the reasons why I stalled on my last piece. Trying to find the edge, and to take more risks.

I think some of my personal voice does come through – there is a playful and energised attitude that is beginning to emerge.

Context:

This is still a weak area of mine. Partly to do with the pressure to verbalise, articulate my thoughts and critical thinking. I know I do it, but it’s all in my head and I have not yet found a process or the tools that would work best for me to create a habit of putting it on paper/blog. I have a strong sense that this is very much linked to what I have previously communicated about keeping up a dialogue of my work. Hearing myself speak out loud to someone makes more sense to me. It is then so much easier to put some of these findings into words.

I am also conscious that I am a critical thinker but this has in the past also inhibited me from actually getting any making done, and it is vital to me that I establish  strong art making practice.

 

Assignment 2 – Final samples

** UPDATED – I don’t know how I have done this, but cannot find any photos of my final samples and they have already been packaged and sent **

Piece 1

Influenced by the collage drawing of a vase of flowers, I zoomed in to a random pinky/red part of the collage.

I wanted to explore how to create this sense of fibres, tone, transparency and found using dissolvable film a way to focus on creating a whole piece of fibre, I intertwined wool and cotton threads. Once I had washed it and dried this I pinned and sewed this on to organza to mimic the thin tissue paper I had used in the collage.

I went back to this piece later on and added little ochre stitches close together to create small patches of tone.

I feel that this sample needs more work and revisiting, especially since I didn’t manipulate my base material!

 

  • I revisited this by photocopying and then playing with adding colour, just little splashes of ochre. I then continued to stitch into it further following my drawing.

 

Piece 2

The second piece was a culmination of looking at the 3 images I had chosen in particular to inform my decisions, and the words that describe the watercolour drawing I had made. To find ways to create

I had experimented with denim and then found a linen that looked like denim but was less robust and moved a little more freely. I punctured this with a needle, similar to one of my earlier paper manipulations. I also spent some time fraying the edges as I wanted to create a torn effect a little like the collage I was using as one of the main pieces to inform the sample.

I folded and pinned this and focused on making light stitches, angular with ochre coloured threads. I used a range of cotton and yarn, sometimes doubled up. The randomness of the stitches create a light, playful look.

This piece developed and my focus was influenced by my research on Celia Pym, where some of my stitches hopefully began to mimic.

I then used a combination of even smaller stitches and French knots to create the overlay of redness, to create a sense that there is pink/red everywhere but yet translucent.

Again, I think I could overlay even further with more stitching on this piece.

*UPDATE – I revisited this again, photocopying what I had so far and painted on the photocopies. I decided to add more stitching over the whole piece, to bring together the different parts adding more red/pink and yellow stitches.

Piece 3

My final piece was a development from the second where I became increasingly focussed on how to create movement but also influenced from my first piece and the collage image of the flowers. I found using velvet connected with the words I had chosen to describe my image selections and an answer to exploring soft/delicate against heavy and bold. Velvet is a weighty fabric yet has connotations of elegance and is very tactile.

I used discharge to make marks and echo triangles to keep the fabric more playful. I also folded and pinned the velvet accentuating the triangle concept.

I tried out different ideas and samples, I thought I would go back to the first sample/drawing and investigate the pink/red mark making as an overlay. I also experimented with machine stitch, french knots but nothing was coming up so I have chosen to send the sample as a final piece to my tutor. I hope that with some distance and feedback I can find a way forward with this piece that remains very much unfinished.

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UPDATE: I looked into smocking and created a much more formal smocking piece, into which I used mainly yellow embroidery threads to highlight the triangular tips. This piece out of all of them was the most consistent in overall look and feel.

Making connections

In the run up to sending everything off for this assignment I am writing a post to show clearer connections between my choices of fabric/textile base manipulations/stitch and yarn with my previous drawings.
I have mainly worked on folding, puncturing, slashing and markmaking through discharge as a follow on from some of my earlier paper manipulations.
The images below hopefully illustrate this better:

My textiles choices have been based on a selection from what I already had in the cupboard.
I opted for a selection to start:
Muslin, organza, linen, denim, velvet and a thicker woven cotton used for upholstery.
These were chosen as I felt they would both emulate the following qualities to work with:
Playful
Dynamic
Strong
Fragile
Delicate
Movement

I have become more and more focussed on the ‘triangles’ ‘that are evident in some of my earlier drawings and then emulated through puncturing and folding the paper with angles.

Research Point 1: Artists working with found, recycled, worn or discarded materials

 

For this research point, I did spend some time looking at other artists and designers however my interest went back to Celia Pym, which I put off looking at merely because it seemed like an obvious choice, however I have known of her work vaguely for a while, and then having listened to her interview on Woman’s Hour having been selected as one of the finalists for the Woman’s Hour Craft Prize I decided I was so drawn to her work that I would focus on her.

I like what she has to say about understanding people and how they might live their lives by engaging in more depth with their clothes, the worn ones. Interesting to hear that she has found how people place value on their clothes and often the items they want to have mended are not always the expensive ones it is their favourite item, the one they feel most comfortable in and that they count on. She selects the work based on what people give her, however she stresses in her interview that she is not a ‘recycler’.

This interests me in the way I might select my materials. I have chosen not to buy any new fabrics for this project but to choose from what I have a round me. This is partly a way of keeping myself in check and to help with decision making (see this post where I discuss how a dialogue with my tutor reminds me to keep a limited ‘palette’)

Something about the darning and the way a problem like a hole is solved through delicate stitching is beautiful. Again, this links to theme of Wabi-Sabi.

This influences my decisions with stitch, and how I can relate this to some of the drawings and paper manipulation samples that I am using in particular to inform my final pieces for this assignment.

y interest went back to Celia Pym, which I put off looking at merely because it seemed like an obvious choice, however I have known of her work vaguely for a while, and then having listened to her interview on Woman’s Hour having been selected as one of the finalists for the Woman’s Hour Craft Prize.

I like what she has to say about understanding people and how they might live their lives by engaging in more depth with their clothes, the worn ones. Interesting to hear that she has found how people place value on their clothes and often the items they want to have mended are not always the expensive ones it is their favourite item, the one they feel most comfortable in and that they count on.

This interests me in the way I might select my materials. I have chosen not to buy any new fabrics for this project but to choose from what I have a round me. This is partly a way of keeping myself in check and to help with decision making (see this post where I discuss how a dialogue with my tutor reminds me to keep a limited ‘palette’)

Something about the darning and the way a problem like a hole is solved through delicate stitching is beautiful. Again, this links to theme of Wabi-Sabi,

This influences my decisions with stitch, and how I can relate this to some of the drawings and paper manipulation samples that I am using in particular to inform my final pieces for this assignment.

Continuing Placed and Spaced

What also came up was a strategy that would help my way of working – where I have many ideas but often get caught up in not managing to realise them, is to decide on a certain restriction for myself when approaching the final section of Part 2.

Either based around the choice of source image (s), or colour palette, yarn, or material. Imposing a limitation will give me a better structure from which to work around.

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These are the three images I chose to inspire me. I wrote post its with what qualities each one had that made me select them:

Flower collage: dynamic, sharp, contrast, soft, delicate, fragile, strong

Detail collage of blanket: colour palette, torn edges, lines

Square watercolour drawing: playful, movement, little marks.

Since I had already begun on the dynamic collage, following the discussion with my tutor I decided to get even more focussed on the aspect that interested and excited me the most- the red detail.

I experimented a lot with different pink and red coloured threads and used free motion stitch and dissolvable fabric, Muslim and organza.

I felt these fabrics best replicated the delicacy and fragility of the piece that I wanted to capture.

Beginning Assignment 2: Placed and Spaced

Although the handbook talks about planning this stage, maybe drawing and looking back  at previous samples etc, I really had the urge to get on and make, get some of my ideas out of the way.

I knew I was interesting in pursuing making a response to one of the ‘dynamic’ flower collages. I also looked at some of my paper samples and stitches to guide my mark making. I was particularly interested in exploring the line and the random, red part of the vase:

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I find that my planning happens more in the making, I have to physically try things out and experience them first hand in order to decide whether the idea is worth pursuing.

I brought this up in the online video call I had with my tutor. Many of my concerns about my process are fears of not doing  the tasks properly or in the right order, not finishing what I’ve started. My tutor was so helpful and suggested making my samples smaller if needed, or to accept the space around the sample. There is a question that arises here (and will continue to rear up): what is overworked and what is underworked?

With that in mind I didn’t spend too much time working out a base material. I knew I wanted to capture a fragile dynamism (oxymoron?) that the collage communicated. I chose a very thin muslin and wadding and referring back to my earlier paper stitch samples used a simple embroidery stitch for the brown ‘bark’. The red part I found using all sorts of yarns and cottons and wool in a much more random way.

I began to introduce a green wool I had dyed last year, to follow more of the collage but as soon as I put it in I felt it didn’t work. I took it straight out again. It affected the focus of the work – too much going on. This was my first real action in realising the strengths of limiting one’s palette.

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What also came up was a strategy that would help my way of working – where I have many ideas but often get caught up in not managing to realise them, is to decide on a certain restriction for myself when approaching the final section of Part 2.

Either based around the choice of source image (s), or colour palette, yarn, or material. Imposing a limitation will give me a better structure from which to work around.

 

 

 

 

Assignment 2, Stitched Samples

 

As a follow on from my previous post – these are the images, some of work in progress others that are complete of my stitch samples. I struggles with these because I found it hard to keep up the focus in order to capture the marks.

I think I was still working (still am!) in a ‘literal’ way of trying to recreate the marks themselves and this means I sometimes lose sense of the aim to capture the actually qualities of those marks.

In the end I have had to accept that this is not my strong point but I have had to move on as I felt like I came to such a state of inertia with it!

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I did select from a number of threads (see title image), but when it came to it worked mostly with the black. I gathered black wool and different cottons and black threads. I doubled them up in some instances.

As suggested in the course book. I did indeed like the back just as much as the front of many of the samples!

I did select from a number of threads (see title image), but when it came to it worked mostly with the black. I gathered black wool and different cottons and black threads. I doubled them up in some instances.

The irony is that I really like the aesthetic qualities of these samples! Maybe they are ‘unfinished’ but I like these. I liked leaving all the threads on, especially with any machine stitching I did. They add another layer, a delicate and fragile quality to the work that I feel suited the images and close ups I chose.

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Consolidating a folio of drawings and a written reflection on Part 1

I chose nine drawings to send to my tutor for ongoing feedback. Five of them were from the work I did in Project 2, drawings of the blankets from the archive. I chose a mixture, ink, drypoint, collage and watercolour/pen ones:

I found drawing the blankets from the archive quite a challenge. Trying to record the textures, patterns on a cloth was hard and required a few different approaches. I learnt that I needed to be a lot more focussed and selective when drawing, as it’s almost impossible to process and respond to all the information I am taking in at once, I found it better to make decisions about my drawing. So some I focussed purely on the marks and patterns I could see. Others I found rearranging the fabric and not having it laid out straight was more interesting compositionally. Translating these marks into collage also required me to think differently. How to portray such fine textures and details? I had never thought of using collage in this way. I’ve only ever thought of in terms of shape and form. I have also turned to colour more, and investigated printmaking a bit.

I selected four from Project 3 looking at my flower studies.

Although I enjoyed collecting and arranging my own sources to record from. I don’t think I pushed myself as much in Project 3: Picking and Portraying. I had lots of initial ideas of really playing around with print, pushing the ideas of composition as suggested in the file, but due to being ‘on/off’ with my study time at present I found it hard to keep up the momentum. I think I played it safe/easy in terms of materials.

I really enjoyed looking at Blackadder and Askey in particular – but wondering how I could bring in some other elements. From the research points, I noticed how often I was drawn to and picked out the elements of composition as well as when artists made a bold visual response.

 

Research Point 3: David Hockney

David Hockney oeuvre is broad and wide ranging; through the subjects and themes he investigates and his varied use of media and style.

What I found particularly interesting was how different his black and white charcoal drawings of trees look compared to the rest of his vibrant colour work. I think this is because I have also known him to engage with colour so much, whether in his paintings, drawings, stage design or photographs. The charcoal drawings show more textures. I really like the “Guest House Wall” which showed a wide range of tones and mark making, and exploring how many different marks and effects one can create with charcoal.

His computer drawings, “Autumn Leaves, 2008” could almost lend themselves to a design for a textile pattern.

His other drawings and paintings, using crayon, watercolour and oil paint are bold, bright – many seem almost stylised, but depth is created, not only through perspective and composition, but his search to make different marks. Lines, squiggles, dots…

He inspires and reminds me to not be limited by media or one type of line. He pushes the boundaries and is fresh about it.

 

Research Point 1: Notes on Wabi Sabi

I have known of the Wabi Sabi concept previously, but was glad to be reminded of it.

Wabi: Freedom from attachment / Subtle / Profundity / Simple / Humble

Sabi: Austere / Sublimity / Asymmetry / Weathered

Wabi-Sabi: Simplicity / Tranquility / Naturalness / Grace

This quote,  “wabi-sabi is the art of finding beauty in imperfection and profundity in earthiness, of revering authenticity above all,”

and from the same site:

Wabi-sabi reminds us that we are all transient beings on this planet—that our bodies, as well as the material world around us, are in the process of returning to dust. Nature’s cycles of growth, decay, and erosion are embodied in frayed edges, rust, liver spots. Through wabi-sabi, we learn to embrace both the glory and the melancholy found in these marks of passing time.

Robyn Griggs-Lawrence, Wabi-Sabi: The Art of Imperfection

I find these notions life affirming, and helpful not only in creative making, but approaching living in general. It makes me think of not fighting against something. To live with surrender, it eases the need to assert/prove oneself. It is about accepting things, and realising that true beauty comes from the ability to recognise the beauty, the good everywhere.

Leonard Koren discusses the relationship between Wabi-Sabi and the notion of beauty, “the condition of coming to terms with what you consider ugly…that beauty is a dynamic event”.

This concept of ageing, that that beauty is not static and cannot be found in something not changing.

Sabi things carry the burden of their years with dignity and grace: the chilly mottled surface of an oxidized silver bowl, the yielding gray of weathered wood, the elegant withering of a bereft autumn bough. An old car left in a field to rust, as it transforms from an eyesore into a part of the landscape, could be considered America’s contribution to the evolution of sabi. An abandoned barn, as it collapses in on itself, holds this mystique.

http://nobleharbor.com/tea/chado/WhatIsWabi-Sabi.htm

On reading this, I immediately took my camera and ran out to my garden, and behind my own sheds there is a field, in which there is that type of abandoned barn, collapsing in on itself. I look at it everyday as I park my car near it, and am always drawn to it, never really knowing why. Apart from maybe, thinking, when is it going to fall? Or will it do so, so slowly that I won’t even notice? Photographing it today, I noticed how much more it has crumbled and fallen since i originally moved here. And yet I see it every day? So I didn’t notice.

Wabi-Sabi seems to be about the art of balance. Of noticing how far you can go, or how little you can have, or  how ruined, how old, how minimal, how unfinished, how incomplete. It seems to be about having a peaceful relationship with time. With anything that is dynamic actually. So, relationships and creating come into this too.

Sources:

http://www.utne.com/mind-and-body/wabi-sabi.aspx

http://nobleharbor.com/tea/chado/WhatIsWabi-Sabi.htm

http://www.touchingstone.com/Wabi_Sabi.html