Category Archives: Project 4 – Developing Design Ideas

Project 4 – Experiments with Printing and Painting


I have gathered together a selection of fabric paints. Colourcraft “Opaques” fabric paint appears to be quite thick and although called “Opaques” doesn’t perform at all well on darker fabrics.

Dylon fabric paint is a bit more liquid but performs well and I have used it mixed with the Colourcraft paint successfully.

Derwent “Inktense blocks” are good for printing if you sponge on the colour and recommended for fabric painting although I found it difficult to get a consistent cover.

I also found a couple of very old Stencilitis stencil sticks in scarlet and yellow, which are very old and I think came from a home decorating magazine in the 1980s but being oil based they are still soft under the crust and work well with a simple cardboard stencil.  They blend well with a brush.  I have no idea if these are colour fast.  Also, even though they look like Markal I have decided not to use them for any of the further work as I only have the two colours.

These samples using the stencil sticks are drawn on to a beige cotton canvas.

I made myself a printing surface which works very well.  I made printing blocks using what I had around the house, kids craft foam, stiff card, plywood and polystyrene.  Some of these have been more successful than others.  I also made stencils from card and transparent sticky backed plastic and both these materials worked very well.

To apply the colours I have mostly used a sponge directly on to the block.  This allows for variation of density of colour and applying different colours to the block to print at the same time.  I looked at the instructions on making a printing pad but I was not sure how to use it so I did not take that any further at this time.

I tried some hand painting directly on to silk fabric and I felt this was not successful for various reasons.  I found it difficult to get a good consistency of colour that did not bleed and make the whole design wet.  I have painted on silk in the past but with a wax resist which makes the whole thing a lot easier to manage.

Due to time constraints I have had to experiment whilst working on Project 5.  I know this means that I won’t have produced nearly enough samples but I need to press on with this now.


Project 4 Stage 4 – Review

  • Did you manage to make space move?

Making space move was a new concept to me.  Using the black squares to focus the eye was a very simple but effective way to demonstrate this and I found that my mood greatly affected the formations I made in a completely subconscious way.  I would like to follow up this idea.

  • What are your thoughts about the drawings you did in Stage 3?

Stage 3 appeared to be all about selecting from a collection of drawings.  I queried this section with my tutor because I was not entirely clear if any drawing work was being asked for here.  I experimented with looking for shapes in Stage 2 and enjoyed using different techniques to find areas of interest in compositions.  I had a go at looking for negative space which I had not done before.

  • Were you able to use your drawings successfully as a basis for further work?  Are there any other things you would like to try?

I am really pleased with the way my design development drawings came out.  I especially like the digital manipulations and there is a lot more I could do on developing repeat patterns using this technique.  I would also like to make more of collage and mixed media drawings.

  • Now that you have a good working method, do you feel confident that you can carry on working in this way independently?

I think I have overcome a big hurdle I had with being confident that my sketch book work was good enough to be a starting point for this kind of development work.  The further I worked through this section the more I realised that I was making useful marks and that, even when an initial drawing seemed to be limited, I was able to use it for a starting point and a surprising amount of development work could be generated from a single sketch.

Project 4 – Stage 4 Developing design ideas


I chose 4 drawings from my sketchbook that I felt would be good to develop further.

Drawing 1

I produced this image in oil pastels using a Steve Lovi photograph in The Kafe Fassett Diary 1989.  I had kept the diary because I loved the richness of this designer’s work and bought a number of his books back then.  A brick wall painted in bright colours was used to complement two knitted jackets in Fassett’s “Houses” design.

I produced this sketch using soft pastels which gave a similar bold design.

This version was produced using a collage of bricks cut from plastic food packaging and glued on to a black paper background.  Again, you get a bold result with blocks of solid colour.

I drew this sketch with a fibre tipped drawing pen and like the simple outline effect.

I thought the orginal oil pastel version would be an ideal candidate for trying out some of the effects available on some simple image editing software. is freeware that is relatively easy to use – ideal for me!  I had lots of fun trying out the different effects.  I especially like how the embossed image looks just like a brick wall painted white (or grey in this instance)!

Drawing 2

I made this next quick sketch of a blue and white Delftware plate in the small collection at the Victoria Art Gallery whilst idling a couple of hours in Bath waiting to pick up my daughter after a birthday party.  I am quite pleased that my sketch was detailed enough to remind me of the quirky, naive designs that had been painted on to this large dish that was in a glass case (“no photography”) crammed in amongst many more treasures.  A dish in a similar design is here.

I focused on some of the motifs from the original sketch and as I doodled some of them seemed to take on a life of their own – where did the eyes come from?

I used a fibre tip drawing pen, which I enjoy using, for some of the doodles.  The central motif was made using oil pastels, building up layers and then scratching through with a kebab stick, both the blunt and sharp ends.

Drawing 3

I thought it would be interesting to use some of the elements from this next page of “happy” sketches and manipulate them digitally using image editing software again.

The collection of coloured areas already look like a series of tiles.  I took one of the images, flipped and repeated it.

I really like the way this has turned out and can see that it would be a fantastic starting point for a printed design.

For these images I started with two of the “happy” sketches and two from my “sad” collection for contrast. I haven’t quite worked out how to get rid of the white between the squares, I just need to fiddle about with the software and get to know it a bit more.

This time I took the centre section and “inverted” the colours.

Then I took another section from the centre and inverted the colours back.

I then tiled the design to look at the repeat.

And the result looks a bit like a patchwork quilt design.  A good starting point.

Drawing 4

It is interesting how similar the colours are in this next drawing to the results from my experiments above.

This drawing was a development from an image I used earlier in this Project to produce the final stitched colour mix sample.  Some of the shapes look like monster faces and I can see more eyes the longer I look at it!

For this interpretation I used a collage of wallpapers and some oil pastels over the background.

Project 4 – Stage 2 Looking for shapes and drawing


Resource image.  I like the fruity colours on this page of Boden sneakers from Red magazine.

Record of interesting arrangements of shapes.

Exercise 1

I like the bound edges and the lines of stitching in this composition.

First drawing – surface textures

Second drawing – shapes

Third drawing – colours

Exercise 2

Texture speaks to me the loudest with this source material.  Especially the herringbone effect from the topstitches against the weave of the binding fabric.

Exercise 3

Exercise 4

I assembled up a collection of visually stimulating items and used a viewing frame to concentrate on particular areas of interest.

I made a series of quick sketches, concentrating on shape, colour and texture.

Project 4 Developing Design Ideas – Stage 1 Introduction & preparation


Making space move

I have just realised that all the above arrangements are full of movement.  Probably something to do with how I felt when I was attempting this exercise!

Here the upper square gives the impression of energy and makes me think of a teepee and a searchlight.

The lower square is a much more relaxing and I can imagine a beach scene here.