Reflecting on work so far – transferring marks into stitch samples

I am recognising that part of this creative block is probably due to the need to transfer my drawings and marks into stitch. I love stitch. I enjoy free motion embroidery. But was aware that the task was emphasising the practice of spending some time on hand stitch. I own and indeed enjoying reading and rereading my copy of “Slow Stitch” by Alice Kettle. I love the idea of it. I have thought about this and finally reflected that what happens is I have all of these ideas. I know what I want to explore, but hand stitching slows everything down so much, and then I once again experience this huge gap between what I am making and what I am envisaging. I guess because my time is so tight, I am a single mother to a two year old, and working too, I have very little time when I have the energy to focus on my own creativity. So I want it to be productive. I want it to have some pace and to feel a sense of achievement. If I think back to the Introductory assignment, I had a few drawings on the go at all times. I know I can get bored easily, so I have found a successful way around this in everything that I do, where I have lots of jobs on the go, where I can leave one task and put my energy into another so that I don’t spend too much time in some sort of unproductive inertia. I need to find a way of working with these stitch samples faster. I need to keep them on rotation and consider working in layers….

Paper Manipulation

I need to crack on and write these up. It’s been some time since I actually did the exercise of the paper manipulation – over 6 months ago! Luckily I did photograph at the time and wrote some notes, so this post is a quick summary – to bring myself up to speed.

I’ve found that sometimes, the process of writing the blog has slowed me down. It’s only recently that I have been thinking and having conversations about the creative process with different people – that I have to remind myself that the reason I am studying this course is for me – so it needs to be a pleasure and not a drag or a drain! I am conscious that I am writing some of these posts BECAUSE I am studying online, and for the ease of assessment and for my tutor to keep track of what I am doing. So maybe this sometimes struggles with my real working process. I have discovered, and this has surprised me; that I do have perfectionist tendencies and this can sometimes halt my progress completely. So this post is a letting go and an acceptance of my limitations and what I am able to do.

As a result it is less polished, and more a presentation of images and notes. This is important to me as I hone my blog as something that works for me…

PAPERS:

I chose a variety: brown paper, thick printmaking card like paper, carbon paper, sugar paper, tracing paperOut of the drawings and images I chose, I linked up papers that I thought might lend themselves to the qualities.

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Brown paper three ways: loosely scrunched, wetted, scrunched and punctured, punctured with needle and hammer. The idea was to emulate the gritty, but soft marks made by the drypoint.

The other images I chose (see Exercise 2.1 Selecting  for images):

My ‘dynamic’ collage – that had strong sharp direction – slashing/cutting/strong folds and diagonals were my focus

My large ink drawing of the still life flowers – these had qualities of boldness to them

My small watercolour square: there was a playful quality I wanted to create so I chose to puncture and scrunch many of my papers with a randomness

A small mono print: inky, linear, textured, patterned – I folded, cut, used tracing and carbon papers

The fine liner close up on watercolour: crispy, edgy hard lines

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Slow Progress…

I am chasing my tail with the blog. Weeks and months behind, doesn’t feel good.

I was speaking with a friend yesterday who has reminded me that the best way forward is to think of what will ‘feed me creatively’ instead of paralysing myself with my inner critic by continually listing what I haven’t done.

In that vein, I have slowed down and pulled right back. I seem to contract when I think of / walk past my little room cum art studio… I just don’t want to carry out the exercises. I think I have finally figure out why, but I’ve saved that reflection for my post on my samples.

So I have spent my one day a week that I do have to myself (and my only chance to get on with ATV doing other things. One of my other great interests is filling my house with plants, so I have been spending time reading up on caring for the plants I have, going to the garden centre and treating myself to a whole new lots of plants, and propagating and potting up some of them. Because of this, I randomly decided to research these two interests combined. This was due to having read a copy of “Steal Like and Artist”. In fact I had read somebody else’s blog (and apologies as can’t remember who’s it was!), who had been inspired by it, so I thought it might provide some light relief to my ongoing creative block! One of the suggestions is to go Google crazy. I like this idea. To make connections and expand and widen searches. To go down different rabbit holes.

So I Googled ‘Plant and Textiles’. Inevitably it produced a stream of websites, blogs and images mostly connected to dyeing plants / and eco printing. I am interested in this topic, and have it as one of my Pinterest boards , but it wasn’t quite what I was looking for. I don’t know what I’m looking for though obviously I seem to think I will know when I find it! This search led me on to looking for “Print Textile Artists” in general – because my background is in Printmaking, I thought it would be interest to widen my investigation into how these two mediums mix. Textile.org came up with a really good article on Cos Ahmet and a list of artists that I want to look at in more detail. I’ve also come across Joanna Kinnersly-Taylor and am interested in how she combines screen printing with textiles. I have recently got back into screen printing. The more I think about it, the more I think I am interested in the surface design aspect. I guess I need to play with mixing these ideas more?

Interestingly, just by breaking free and writing like this, rather than only using the blog to ‘write up’ my progress through the tasks feels better and more authentic.

2.1 Selecting

I thought this was a really good exercise to do at this stage. Although I didn’t have the space to hang all my drawings up around me, I did my best to lay them out. The importance of selecting and the ability to do it I think is key to being a good artist/creative.

It requires one to stand back and really consider what the intentions of the task require. I had to go through a process of keeping some drawings in my refined pile (which was about 18 drawings) before finally putting them aside, realising that I was keeping them in because I liked them, rather than because they would provide the most visual interest and act as the best stimulus for the next part of the project.

Because the majority of my work has been made out of a sketchbook I made notes on post it notes and stuck them directly to the appropriate image. In fact, I am STILL working out an effective system to use my sketchbook. I am still reluctant to write out too many notes in it only to copy them up on to my online log. Nor do I feel the need to take photos and both print them out for sketchbook annotation purposes as well as posting them online. I do like efficiency, possibly because I am so time starved in my life right now, but I worry that I am not ‘doing’ enough for the annotation/learning log aspect of the course.

I found it easy to gather about 10 drawings but it was harder to whittle these down to my final 6. I chose one of my large scale pieces, a monotype detail, my etching, another detail using pen and watercolour, a little square watercolour detail, one of my collages that had got feedback from my tutor as being dynamic. I thought it would be interesting to try and interpret these marks.

 

I then used post it notes again to describe each one before working out which papers I might assign to what in readiness to begin the paper manipulation exercise.

 

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.