Sarah Midda – South of France – A Sketchbook

A journal of a year in the South of France.

A sketchbook is used with the purpose of collecting ideas in order to develop these ideas at a later date.

Often though, a good sketch book is a work of art in its own right. A successful ceramicist and former studio buddy of mine, Miche Follano, produced such beautiful sketchbooks that I remember thinking that they were pieces of art in their own right. They were functional at the same time. Serving their purpose.

Sarah Midda’s South of France sketchbook is an example of  a sketchbook being a complete work of art as opposed to a sketchbook, created with the purpose of developing ideas for a finished piece. It is the finished piece.

One citisism of Sarah Midda’s sketchbook though, I don’t feel it to be very expressive. I prefer a messy sketchbook, as you are literally pushing the boundaries, going off the page. I think this is particularly the case with a textile based sketchbook. Expressive mark making creates movement and more scope for developing work from the images or sections of the images.

Roanna Wells – Knowledge and Understanding of the World

Hair BobblesPsychology – The human mind – Marks -Repetition – Spontaneous – Deep – Powerful – Emotive

How a mark can generate such a response. Here I don’t think the marks are leading up to a finished piece, so much as that they are the finished piece. However I don’t feel like any of her pieces are finished at all. They continue, your mind continues the story.

I am most interested in her work titled “Knowledge and Understanding of the World.”

Its inspiration drawn from Wells’ time working in a nursery and an interest in child psychology and both speech and language and art therapy. She captures a point in a child’s development “where meaning is beginning to be put to seemingly random scribbles.” (Roanna Wells)

My son is awaiting a diagnosis, as we suspect he has Autism. We have had first hand experience of the use of speech and language therapy to help him communicate with us. Although it doesn’t appear yet that his mark making has a meaning to it, I’m sure it does to him. However we do use mark making as a form of communication. A technique called Peic-D where imitation is used to communicate, to interact.

Wells’ is an ongoing project. She takes the scribbles and translates them into hand embroidered pieces, intending to return some of the importance and intent of the child as an artist.

In the same way ours is an ongoing project. By imitating our son’s mark making, we are communicating with him and understanding him.

Katie Sollohub – Drawing a day – 4th December

4th DecemberKatie Sollohub documents her surroundings through her paintings, drawings, photographs, to name but a few of her disciplines.

Her work tells a story, that she brings to life through mark making and a skilled use of colour.

One thing that I find particularly interesting about Katie Sollohub are her daily drawings. A drawing a day is a concept I am familiar with having done something similar myself in the past. I produced a series of daily paintings over a period of time, to become more practiced in the use of oil paints and to discipline myself.

This is a concept I have recently revisited as I now produce at least one sketch a day, towards my degree coursework. You can’t produce enough drawings in my opinion.

Katie Sollohub uses technology as a platform for her work, by using an app on her ipod to create a digital drawing each day.

Sollohub doesn’t shy away from experimentation. She pushes the boundaries of her processes and materials. By creating images from memory and by drawing digitally over the top of photographs of previous work, she is constantly developing her work and her work is evolving.

This is something I have shied away from in the past. My work has evolved but not intentionally. I have always struggled to experiment, becoming to comfortable with a particular process or material.

Sollohub’s work is a fine example of the benefits of exploring, experimenting and playing with different materials and disciplines.

Debbie Smyth

Debbie SmythAs with Hilary Ellis, Debbie Smyth creates thread drawings. Blurring boundaries and conventionality.

Interestingly, Smyth and Carlier are similar in that their work is a response too exciting things that happen when the limits of a process or material are pushed. However my responses to the two artists work couldn’t be more different.

I find Smyth’s drawings fascinating. The idea of creating the effect of blurring and the suggestion of three dimensionality through this and the use of stitch. It really excites me. However although I appreciate that Carlier also pushes the limits of  a process to create exciting results, Smyth’s interpretation demonstrates mark making whereas to me, Carlier’s doesn’t.

It is quite apparent that sketches are the basis of Smyth’s work. The scale of her work suggests to me that her work may often be site specific. The Hamburg Philharmonic Orchestra piece being an example. I find elements of the piece confusing until put into context and then I see an interpretation of music in the fluidity of the mark making.

Michael Griffiths

For all we know

With limited information on Michael Griffiths, I have to rely on my own opinion of his work and importance of drawing as part of his process.

Mark making appears to be the main component of his work, be it painting, printing or drawing. In fact I would go as far as to say that I believe his paintings to be drawings. They are a series of marks. Their strength partly lies in their spatial depth. On the face of it I feel they appear quite simple images, however the skilled use of mark making and sense of spatial depth turns something simple into something incredibly powerful.

Once again I appreciate the act of mark making to be the basis of all his work, a major component in this case.

Recent feedback regarding my drawing, although very positive, suggests I consider spatial depth when mark making as it seems to be something that has happened accidentally in my work up until now! I can appreciate when looking at work such as Griffiths’, the difference it can make, when considering a good drawing and a great one.

Hilary Ellis – Enigma 11 – 2014

Drawing with thread. Until reading through the first couple of parts of the textiles vocabulary course, I had never considered stitching/ sewing as drawing with thread, although I understood the concept and the connection as soon as I read the words. I understood what was expected of me in assignment 2 and started to look for the potential of interesting marks when choosing my objects for part 1. I was connecting mark making and stitching. With Ellis, I see this put into practice – her interpretation.

I find her work reminiscent of script. In her artists statement she refers to the words, “repeated”, “replication”, “mechanical process”. Although she refers to the “labour intensive toil of sweat shops.” (

I hear the word stitch and I am taken back to the embroidery I produced with my Nanna twenty five years ago, that sparked my interest in textiles. This will always be my first thought, but work like Ellis’ really opens my mind up to different ways of using stitch as a form of interpretation.

I also tend to take things literally when considering the meaning behind pieces of artwork. I wouldn’t have made the link between Ellis’ work and “labour intensive sweat shops.”

I am encouraged to consider the meaning behind my initial drawings and really research my subject matter, so that the meaning comes through in my work.

Alex Chalmers

Chalmers built a studio, during the process he experimented and collected unwanted materials. He kept a journal in order to put things onto paper.

he attended architecture school for a time before moving to New York, using photography too engage with architecture. An alternative way to study materials and his surroundings. After finishing architecture school in London, he created a portable studio made of found materials. Involvement with the organisation Ultimatefate lead him back to working with drawings.

Drawing is clearly the basis of his work. Everything comes back to drawing. His love of architecture is constant, but both begins and returns to a drawing. Again as with the artist Bourgeois, this tells me  that everything should/does begin with mark making. It is the start. You build from it. The foundations. (Literally in the case of Chalmers!)

Alison Carlier

When beginning my research into Alison Carlier, one of the first links that caught my eye on the search engine was the Jerwood Drawing Prize 2014.

A piece of text read aloud, titled “Adjectives, Lines and Marks” won her the Jerwood Drawing Prize in 2014.


I feel really strongly about this, my initial reaction being anger!

I can understand the concept behind the piece, but being a traditionalist (although I consider myself to be open-minded), I believe that a drawing involves mark making. I think “Adjectives, Lines and Marks” shows a distinct lack of creativity as the artist openly admits to having used text from a reference book, therefore the words are not her own.



Louise Bourgeois – Maman – 1999

The largest of a series of three steel spider sculptures, “Maman” (1999) was made for the opening of the Tate Modern in 2000. As with the series of etchings entitled “Autobiographical Series”, this sculpture was based on a small ink and charcoal drawing from 1947, a second drawing was produced in 1994 in red ink, gouache and crayon.

It is quite clear from these two examples of Bourgeois’ work, that drawings and sketches are the basis of her work. They are developed to create new work, be it prints or sculpture.

It stresses the importance of keeping all the work you produce, whether you like it or not, because you may draw on it at a later date, as she did with the sculpture “Maman” in 1999, from a sketch made in 1947.

I can relate to the element of nostalgia that is so evident in her “Autobiographical Series”. Nostalgia is a recurring theme in my work.

Louise Bourgeois – Scissors – 1994

Scissors is part of a portfolio of fourteen dry point etchings by Louise Bourgeois, collectively titled “Autobiographical Series.” A version of a drawing (untitled), that represents the umbilical cord that ties the little one to the big one.

The scissors are symbolic – emotional repair and restoration. Autobiographical as she comes from a family of tapestry restorers.

There is a strong element of nostalgia in her work, based on memory and to an extent and recounting her early years.