Portraying by Drawing

Traditional mediums – experimental approach with these – use of white spirit to create unusual effects.

To create more variety of mark making soft pastel also used. Introduced some pressed flower heads, collected when abroad last year. Part of a previous textiles sketchbook of ideas. Soft pastel capturing qualities of the pressed flowers, having browned slightly,  creating a haze. Soft pastel layered up.

Research into both Ellsworth Kelly and William Morris, encouraging me to introduce  a botanical quality to some of my drawings. An interest in bold floral prints of the 1970’s, commonly associated with duvet cover sets, curtains, patio sun loungers, Inspiring me to produce two drawings, not particularly strong as drawings but with substantial stitch potential.

Interested in experimenting with wood block printing after conducting research into William Morris and his exploration and use of this printing technique.

A series of small drawings produced, although varying the medium used, they work as a series purely on their size. Having planned to keep similarity, consistency in style, a decision then made to introduce pressed flowers and soft pastel, stitch potential limited otherwise and the drawings were considerably lacking in strength and variety. A good decision, results proving so.

Confident working with colour, always going to include colour in this folio of drawings – stronger as a result. Colour juxtaposed with the monochromatic.

When planning ahead – textile design – Repetition – Motif – Pattern – Movement – scale considered. Pattern repetition with wild flower study – closed flower heads. With buttercup loose drawing – 1970’s print influence. Fern, an effective motif, experimenting both with print direct from frond, also capturing qualities, the monochromatic study – graphite powder and white spirit. Resulting effects transporting me back to a carpet my Grandma had, white background and grey swirling pattern repeat. Nostalgia- unintentional sometimes,  but evident in all my work. Also evident in the fern frond study – soft pastel –  a sketchbook page – the colour and pattern reminding me of soft furnishings from my childhood – subconsciously influencing my work.

So much stitch potential in this folio of drawings – a really successful project. Slight differentiation to initial concept, positive results. Collecting pressed flowers now for future use. Excited by their unusual qualities. Alteration – similar to the concept of strandline objects as tropical tourists. Their deterioration adding to their interest – Wabi Sabi – Beauty in their imperfection.

David Hockney

Believing that colour can create shape, weight, and texture, colour making the world more real. Interested in seeing and accurately recording the evidence of our eyes.

One of the most influential British artists of the 20th century, a painter, draughtsman, photographer, set designer and print maker.

Still life has always been common subject matter, portraits, landscapes and still lifes painted in the hundreds since 2008 when he started experimenting with the “Brushes” IPad/IPhone application.

Pioneering the art world – Reinventing finger-painting, Loving the immediacy, and the instant responses from the many friends receiving them on a daily basis. New medium, new possibilities, unorthodox techniques. Techno sketches. Profoundly subversive of the art market as we know it. Sharing art work, a signed original it is not. Apart from minute differences, each image of the same painting, is the same.

A show at La Fondation Pierre Berge in Paris, entitled “Fleurs Fraiches, one of several such exhibitions of IPad painting, the images “refreshed’ during the course of the show, new flowers replacing earlier ones. Paintings not traditionally framed but exhibited on IPads.

Potentially the beginning of an artistic revolution for professionals and amateurs

Sources and Media

An abundance of wild flowers in our local hedgerows, the idea that these plants have propagated here for generations.

A natural selection – Harmonious – growing together. Jurassic coast – ferns in abundance – hedgerows on the edge of a disused stone quarry, stone full of fossilised ammonites.

Inspired to draw and incorporate into both stitch and print, the plants and flowers from these historical hedgerows. Considering the artists I chose to research, planning to produce drawings in colour pencil/ graphite. Contemporary botanical studies. Delicacy – movement – harmony – trailing – abundance – twisting – natural – timeless – link to the past

Nostalgia – the plants reminiscent of floral decoration on fabric, furnishings and home wear from my childhood memories. The area, my home, also the destination for all my childhood holidays.

 

Tord Boontje

 

 

Known for expression of romanticism in his contemporary design. Exciting, Uplifting.

A strong interest in nature, an experimental approach.

Originating in the Netherlands, Studio Tord Boontje was established in 1996. Responding to and leading trends.

I’m drawn to “Fern”, an example of textiles design. First appearing in the fossil record 360 million years ago, in the late Devonian period, their age I feel is captured in the layering of print in this design. Fossilised layers, layers of print. A sense of going back in time. Of time passing.

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Fern – Textiles

 

Natural forms evident in his furniture design. Functional but representational.

Rain (Chair and Table) Powder coated steel – 2008

Sheet metal decorated with delicate images and natural scenes – perforated. Contemporary reworking of classic wrought iron furniture. Shape suggesting the form of a plant. Detail of leaves on the arms. The shape formed by the tubular steel structure – possibly influenced by the stained glass of Charles Rennie Mackintosh. In particular the the stained glass rose.

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Stained Glass Rose – Charles Rennie Mackintosh
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Rain (Chair and Table) – Powder coated steel – Tord Boontje

A ceramic design “Garden Party Plate” adorned with flowers, fruit and vegetables, I feel to be a contemporary twist on floral ceramics going back through generations. Underneath this piece is a list of all the names of the flowers, fruit and vegetables adorning the plate. There are similarities between this plate and a plate, part of a dinnerware set design by Jackson China, “Jessica” from the 1960’s. Suggesting that Boontje may draw inspiration from objects evoking nostalgia.

Boontje’s designs I consider to be timeless, as with the work of William Morris.

 

Laura Ashley

Inspiration from a Women’s Institute display of traditional handicrafts at the V and A museum. Having difficulty sourcing Victorian fabric for her patchwork, she began to produce her own prints. Victorian Style Headscarves, the start, in 1953.

Rhydoldogh House near Powys. The house and surrounding countryside inspiration for Ashley.

A life long love of floral designs but not setting out to be a Victorian survivalist – believing however in the idea of decent, straightforward living associated with the time.

Ashley spent so much time in her garden, surrounding herself with flora, business planned on walks around the garden.

Long dresses in the 1970’s becoming her trademark. So popular was she, style wise, that 4000 dresses sold in one week from the Fulham Road store. Perfectly timed with the fashion change from the  1960’s mini skirt.

Milk maid style – Her hankering for the decent and straightforward lifestyle, associated with the Victorian period she loved. Erdem I feel must be influenced by designs such as these.

 

 

William Morris

Close friends with pre Raphaelite artists Edward Burne Jones and Dante Gabrielle Rossetti with whom and alongside other artists he co founded a decorative arts firm in 1861. Morris, Marshall, Faulkner and Co. Becoming Morris and Co. in 1875. Pre Raphaelite influence, apparent in his work. Designing tapestries, wallpaper, fabric, furniture and stained glass windows.

His first wallpaper design “Trellis” suggested by the rose trellis in the garden of his Bexley Heath home, which he designed. The house being part of the orchard, the orchard being part of the house. The first pattern issued was “Daisy” in 1864. Naively drawn meadow flowers – inspired by a wall-hanging illustration.  These designs and the next “Fruit” (Pomegranate) have a medieval character – a clear link with Morris’ work with the Pre Raphaelites and demonstrating an interest in naturalism in ornament.

Morris took observational drawings from life but also from floral imagery. Never intending his designs to be literal transcriptions, more subtle stylised interpretations of.

 

 

Erdem

Powerful femininity – creating a beautiful world.

I’m drawn to the Autumn/ Winter collection 2017. Built around the idea of an imagined  meeting during the early 20th century, of his great grandmothers. Family members meeting from different worlds, meeting for the first time.

Using a dialogue and interwoven cultural traditions – Bringing a collection to life with no clues of the family history apart from their place of origin, I believe the use of florals to be necessary in filling the collection with life. Creating a collection rich in print, colour and detail. Floral subject matter lends itself well.

Here he brings together the familiar and the exotic, great grandmothers origins, English and Turkish.

Femininity – Floral prints immediately spring to mind. Erdem takes his inspiration from history it would seem. Blurring the boundaries between costume and day/evening wear. I feel his use of ribbons, layering and hem to be a suggestion of floral form. Prints reflected in form of garment, form of garment reflected in Prints.

With an element of “Holly Hobbie” about it, the effect of the floral patchwork, homely – femininty – childhood – comfortable – crossing generations – Simpler times.

 

 

Picking and Portraying

Drawing – Making marks – Expression – Suggestion – Representation

I consider drawing to be mark making. Progressing through this course has encouraged me to open my mind and push boundaries. Experimenting.

My heart firmly in the more traditional techniques but pushing these techniques. I consider drawing to be 2 dimensional, a fine line between drawing and painting. Blurring. Drawing with paint, painting with coloured pencil/soft pastels.

Undecided as to whether collage is drawing or painting.

Feeling that the delicate nature of plants requires a delicate touch, tempted by traditional approaches but wanting to experiment – I plan to use coloured pencil and white spirit when producing floral observational drawings also graphite pencil with the addition of graphite powder. Encouraging a looser style and with more scope for stitch work. A good balance. Techniques, touched on but not previously explored. Crossing the boundaries between botanical and contemporary expressive drawing.

Producing plant drawings since the late 1940’s, but better known for his abstract works, Elsworth Kelly reffered to his drawings as ” a kind of bridge to a way of seeing that was the basis of the very first abstract paintings.”

Contour drawings for the most part, Kelly’s plant drawings are clean strokes of pen or pencil. Relying purely on line. Conveying volume with no shading. Reductive but descriptive drawings. Creating depth through overlaps.

Botanical drawings – A horticultural humanist version. Kelly didn’t consider his plants to be specimens. He considered them to be portraits of flowers  that prompted specific memories.

The choice of plant equally as important as the act of drawing it. The memory of finding it.

Kelly’s plant drawings demonstrate “a mystical appreciation of abstraction in the natural world.”  (Karen Rosenberg – New York Times – Art Review – “Loving Flowers and Vines to Abstraction.” June 7th 2012)

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Plant ll Lithograph Ellsworth Kelly 1949

Inspired by the work of Ellsworth Kelly, I plan to capture the delicacy of form through the use of pencil and pen. Contemporary twist on traditional approach to drawing. Producing contemporary botanical drawings. Small – a series.

Somewhat heavy handed in my approach to drawing plants in the past, I plan to develop techniques I have used before, enabling me loosen up but remain true to my traditional roots.

Detail and Definition

Initial thoughts. Detail and definition – an area of strength.

Pencil the only medium I consider to be necessary, producing the finest marks. Choosing not to experiment with any other medium or technique. I feel the traditional approach key here.

Additional sketchbook work produced, fine detail of patina on other garments producing more variety. The drawings from the chosen textiles not feeling to be enough, their lack of age a hindrance. The patina a chance not to be missed, resulting in particularly strong drawings in colour pencil.

Proving difficult to impart the textile story due to lack of age. Overcoming the obstacle with additional work, patina, embroidery. Chosen textiles may have proved more interesting to capture in detailed drawings if their story was in the age of the textile and not the age of the pattern from which they were produced.

As in previous exercises, both the front and reverse of the fabric was considered, a small graphite study produced of a section of reverse fan and feather stitch. Graphite lent itself well to this, as with the scaled up drawing of the fairisle embellishment. Light touch suggesting lightness of touch with stitch.

Focus also on fastenings, buttons captured in both graphite and colour, interesting how different qualities are emphasised with different mediums. Drawings equally strong.

Going forward, considering working with darned textiles – evidence of repair. Beauty in imperfection. Reverse embroidery – tangled. Having focussed on imperfections here, loose stitches, patina – bobbling on a knitted surface, uneven stitching – fairisle, stitching to popper fastening damaged over time.

The drawings working well as a series.

A challenging exercise. Playing to my strengths, although my choice of textiles letting me down due to their lack of age and imperfections. A real issue for me when considering fine detail. The sketchbook work strong, the chosen textile drawings the weaker.

Wabi Sabi

“If an object or expression can bring about within us a sense of melancholy and a spiritual longing, then that object could be said to be Wabi Sabi.” (Andrew Juniper “Japanese Art of Impermanence” 2003)

I surround myself with objects that transport me back to my childhood. Objects that belonged too me, clothes that were mine as a child or were made for me, toys bought that trigger a memory. All are tired due too their age. Worn, torn, chipped, patched, scratched, darned, incomplete, but loved more because of these imperfections. Imperfections that add to their beauty.

A second hand, 40 year old Fisher Price Sesame Street house, chipped plastic, faded stickers, incomplete figures and furniture, but of all of the toys in our house, this is my favourite. My son has Autism, he responds to this toy. He would rather this than a brand new version. Through playing with this house he is learning to communicate with us.

A knitted stripy doll, “Bod” from my childhood. 37 years old, moth eaten, evidence of darning. Having had him all my life, he is more special, beautiful, interesting to me because he is worn. He tells a story.

A painting of an 80 year old Chiltern “Huggmee” teddy bear. The limited fur he has left, bleached almost white. Rough texture of the gold coloured fabric underneath, loose stitching around the nose, its rustic simplicity. Beauty that comes from age. I wouldn’t want him new, his age and tiredness makes him beautiful. – Flawed beauty.

One of my most treasured possessions, a child’s pullover hand-knitted by my Nanna over 30 years ago. My son wears it every week. I have had too replace the fasteners, patch the shoulder, the texture has become bobbled due to wear, but of all the knitwear my children wear, this one gets the most compliments and comments. People know it tells a story because its imperfections make it interesting. It’s not just a maroon cable pullover. For me, everytime I look at it and feel it, there are the stitches that my Nanna made. Through them I connect with her.

Acceptance of imperfection? I would rather imperfection. Life is richer for imperfection.

Hankering for a simple life for my children. Beauty in the basic. They need not be taught, Wabi Sabi is already there. A beaten up toy car chosen over a new one.

My chosen textiles are new. Some incomplete. Wabi Sabi is still evident. They are more interesting. Certainly to capture in observational drawing because of their incompleteness. Rough edges, frayed elements, loose stitches and yarn ends.

Child”s fairisle sweater equally as interesting from the reverse if not more. Its layers of threads – stranded – woven – complicated – confusing – not obvious – unclear. Its crudeness is compelling.

Kakuzo Okakura translates Wabi Sabi “at best to be only the reverse side of a brocade – all the threads are there, but not the subtlety of colour and design” (Kakuzo Okakuro “The Book of Tea” 2016)

Considering the Wabi Sabi aesthetic when selecting textiles will undoubtedly influence my future work. What we see are characteristics of Wabi Sabi. Wabi Sabi is a profound aesthetic consciousness. It transcends appearance. We are aware of the flawed beauty, but it surpasses what we see.