Have you ever thought about drawing in this way before?
The textiles diploma course I took many years ago did incorporate elements of the design development ideas given in the OCA course materials and I was remembering techniques as I worked, but I don’t think we ever did quite as much mark making in two years as I have done over the last couple of months. I did not take art to exam level at school either, so a lot of the skills that other students may take for granted are new to me. That is exciting and a bit scary at the same time. I am enjoying it very much though, and definitely want to do more.
Were you able to be inventive about the range of marks you made?
I found using different tools for mark making exciting, like the chopsticks. If you try and use them like a pen, dipping them into paint, I find it takes a while to get a line going but it is an effective outline. When I dipped it in paint and then twisted it around as I marked the paper I found this produced a good effect, particularly useful for curved lines. I found I enjoyed using my fingers for oval shapes and dots and cut sponges for printing blocks which gave a very good result. I have done a few collages with paper from magazines and newspapers and find this effective and it is definitely worth working with different background papers and washes too. Printing with bubble wrap to get a ‘pebbled’ effect was fun too.
Did you explore a wide range of media?
I find myself on an extremely limited budget for this course, but I am trying to source materials as I go and it is amazing what effects you can get using everyday things around the house. Strong tea for background colour washes, the children’s old wax crayons, the treasure trove of Grandpa’s old art case have all been utilized so far. Both my daughters are studying art at school and college and so I have ‘borrowed back’ acryclic and watercolour paints and brushes I bought them for their coursework. I have experimented with chalks, oil pastel and charcoal sticks and pencils. I have used brown parcel paper and envelopes, tissue, card, wallpaper and tea bags. Both my husband and I being hoarders has proved useful and although my work room is a pickle, I keep coming across useful things to incorporate in my work. I tried a little with bleach and inks but there are still more things I would like to try out, particularly plastics, foils and dyes.
Are you pleased with what you’ve done? Will it help you to approach drawing more confidently?
Some of the pieces I am very happy with, particularly the red rose designs and the button collage images. I also really like the brick prints using sponge blocks on black paper. I am getting more confident slowly. I have to fight my rigid brain to loosen up and not feel constrained by rules – there are no rules, surely!
Which exercise did you most enjoy working with? Why?
I definitely feel more comfortable working with an initial image for development and I am trying to take a lot of photographs so that I have lots of inspiration to work from. The last exercise making textural studies of earlier images was definitely a good experience. It was interesting to go back and realise you can work an image again and still get more different ideas from the same original.
Which media did you enjoy working with? Why?
I enjoy working with acrylic paint and brushes and my fingers. The bold colours are more my style, although i do like working with watercolour for certain effects. Obviously, with the acrylic you can use it thickly and scrape, scratch or impress into it which I like a lot. I also like using it to print with and found this very effective in several images. I also like working with paper collage and textures using paper and want to do more of this to get more highly textured results.
What other forms of mark making could you try?
I would definitely like to try the fixative transfer method, it appeals to my love of both papers and printing. Also using other materials in collage: leaves and other natural items, plastics and other refuse products.
How will these exercises enrich your textile work in the future?
This project has been most enjoyable, although it has been very difficult restraining myself from getting out the needles and thread to reproduce some of the images I have been developing. The exercises have definitely taken me right out of my comfort zone and encouraged me to experiment with a wide range of media and materials that I would not have contemplated before. I am becoming more confident sketching, and although I find it difficult to be inspired to sketch in an impromptu way, I am working on this.
Lots of the images that I have worked on so far give me ideas for further development and I am really looking forward to pursing further design work and carrying on making new marks as I go on with the course.