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.

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.




Collage and Creases

Initial thoughts – Attention to detail would prove challenging. Torn pieces of paper to achieve accuracy?

Working in colour (personal preference). Skilled in colour use. Certainly with the fan and feather sweater collage I considered a paint palette in front of me complete with oil paint. The basic palette of Titanium White, Yellow Ochre, Burnt Sienna, French Ultramarine, Cadmium Red, Alizarin Crimson, Cadmium Yellow and Pthalo Blue. All these colours found in the fan and feather Collage. “An overall Palette” taken in its literal sense. The overall effect being of beige, with red white and blue when viewed from a slight distance. More of an interpretation of the chosen textile than a direct representation.

The fairisle sweater collage, deciding to place the emphasis more on drape and embellishment, had  a limited colour scheme. Aiming for a direct representation. Well thought out, as it did not distract from the concept. (Blue, Light Blue, Old Gold and Dark Brown.)

With a limited colour palette, this I consider to be the strongest piece. The use of light and dark paper placement to suggest form through undulation and drape, executed to a high level. A piece of which I am most proud.

Kitchen paper proved invaluable as a source of paper, application on to previously placed coloured papers, acting as a dimmer. Taking the edge off the previously placed coloured paper and also in the creation of highlights. Tissue paper, old maps, glossy magazine pages, cellophane, foil wrappings and brown paper were also used.

I had considered recycling old art work, it became apparent that it wouldn’t be necessary though. A good decision.

Colour of base paper was not a concern as I had planned to cover it completely. Certainly with the unfinished sweater, to extend past the perimeter of the base paper was vital in capturing the loose ends of yarn, unfinished qualities. Characteristics of the Wabi Sabi aesthetic.

Manipulating papers through twisting, layering, twisting then tearing suggesting both tight and loose stitching. Perspective considered. Large pieces in the foreground, smaller and distorted further back, to create a sense of depth and the drape of the fabric with the effects of such on the surface pattern. Creating a sense of 3 dimensionality.

Overall an extremely successful exercise. A refresher, when revisiting collage after twenty years. A technique I plan revisit often, especially in sketchbook work, to capture observations quickly and effectively.

In hindsight, a coloured base paper representing the chosen textiles main colour could have benefited the fan and feather sweater. Slightly overworked, with a base colour coming through, sense of depth/ 3 dimensionality could have been achieved with considerably less paper applied. Less is more. This being one of the strengths of the fairisle sweater collage.

The success of the collages meant that two were sufficient to meet the brief.

Recording and Capturing – Sketchbook work.