Tag Archives: Art

Stroud International Textiles and Site Festival May 2013


Recently a fellow OCA Textiles student and I visited Stroud to take a look at some of the exhibitions and open studios during Stroud International Textiles Spring Select.

I left my camera-phone in the car.   Major fail.  Typical.

However, that did not prevent us from having a great time looking at some wonderful textile and art work.

First stop was Stroud College where the SIT weaving symposium was in full swing in one of the lecture rooms.  We had a look at the books for sale in the foyer and I have now put Hand Stitch, Perspectives by Alice Kettle and Jane McKeating on my Amazon wishlist.  Also on display here was a small collection of very well executed recent work by fashion and textiles students at the college.

We then went along to the Museum in the Park where we found:

  • tapestries by Hillu Liebelt – my favorite was Chasing the Summer (2011), a bold, blue and red, large, horizontal panel in silk, rayon, cotton and bamboo fibre.
  • a hand dyed and woven paper piece specially commissioned for the site by Japanese artist Seiko Kinoshita English Summer Fields Soundscape: Sound of weaving.
  • Mother Love by Ingrid Hesling and Jenni Dutton – two artists’ interpretations of the relationships between mother and daughter using traditional techniques in an unusual way.  Jenni Dutton was observing her mother over the time she was suffering with dementia and produced The Dementia Darnings, a series of large portraits of her mother, some reproduced from family photographs and all made using tapestry wool and other yarns through fine net fabric.  Close up you can see how the artist has blended the yarns to produce the required colours, very similar to the work of Cayce Zavaglia who uses stitch in a painterly way.  Ingrid Hesling’s work A Stitch in Time incorporates embroidery on vintage linens that the artist found after the death of her mother.  She explores her complicated and sometimes difficult relationship with her mother in a series of embroideries that also incorporate photographic images.

Brunel Broderers exhibition Suited was at the Lansdown Hall and Gallery.  Hobbs tailors abandoned their shop some years ago and then recently offered access to the Broderers who used the fabrics, haberdashery and notions to inspire their work for this show.  Tailoring techniques and luxury woollen and silk fabrics are used in novel ways.  Of particular interest to me were the artist’s sketchbooks which are available for visitors to view.

We went on to look around the Studio Seven textile workshop at Stroud Valleys Artspace open studios where we found work by Francesca Chalk, Sarah Jenner, Anne Rogers, Kathryn Clarke, Corinne Hockley, Jenny Bicat and Liz Lippiatt.  I especially enjoyed Corinne Hockley’s theatrical costume pieces and the gorgeously coloured devore prints by Liz Lippiatt.  Also at SVA we saw Zoe Heath‘s beautiful, intricate books and small scale artworks made from found objects.

Later we found ourselves at The Weaving Shed where Sally Hampson, artist and weaver occupies a disused shop in Stroud High Street, a residency assisted by SVA, and engages with visitors in the process of weaving.  Looms are available ready set up for introduction to weaving workshops where students learn to experiment with techniques, yarns and fabrics.

On the way home we stopped off at Frogmarsh Mill in South Woodchester where more artists work was on display as part of the open studios event.  Cleo Mussi‘s colourful and quirky mosaics feature old ceramics and found objects to make wall plaques.  We also saw Fiona Hesketh’s delicate jewellery, Annie Hewitt’s glowing cobalt decorated earthenware tableware and Jacqueline Kroft’s fair trade hand knitted clothing.  Finally we chatted with Jennifer Whiskerd, artist and printmaker who has also been an OCA tutor, and enjoyed looking at her woodcut prints based on the antics of the local wildlife.


Project 5 – Stage 2 Selecting your design ideas


I have been through my work from Stage 4 of Project 4 and chosen the following images to develop for the next stage of this project:

This eye design came from doodling and it seems to have taken on a life of it’s own.  I think this is an image I will be coming back to again and again.  It is reminiscent of Egyptian wall paintings and traditional “evil eye” symbols.  I have an idea of making a block print from this.

I enjoyed making this brick image and the variations on it using the computer.  I think a stencil technique would work well.

This image was originally producing using wax resist and watered down paint.  I could reproduce the resist idea by printing wax on with a block but I could also try hand painting bleach on a pink fabric to see if I could make a reverse version.

This collage looks like it lends itself to a combination of technques.  I might try printing a background colour with a relief block and then stencilling over it.

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.  Paint.net 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.

Henry Moore


I am finding it difficult to get on with my OCA studies for lots of reasons but in the meantime I have been doing lots of research on the web and looking at art books to try to get my head around my apparent drawing block.

Browsing this book on drawing that my mother had lent my daughter for her exam studies, I came across mention of bracelet shading.  This is a method of using parallel lines to show the contours of the drawn form.  I then got side-tracked into looking up Henry Moore’s drawings because he was mentioned as using this technique.  I knew he was well known for his sculpture work but I had not come across any of his other art work before and I was drawn to these images of sleepers in the Underground from WWII.  Apparently he was commissioned as a war artist during this time.

I have to say I do not know anything about Henry Moore and his inspiration but when I look at these images of people using the London Underground tunnels as a shelter from the air raids I find I am reminded of contemporary concentration camps and even current scenes of refugee camps and shelters in war torn and disaster areas of the world.  The figures often seem to have a skeletal quality, as if I am looking at a lifeless form, even though I am sure the images are supposed to represent the living.   Perhaps that is something to do with Moore’s study of the anatomy of the body for his sculpture work.  I also get a sense of despair and resignation from the way the people lie with hunched shoulders, anguished faces and with their backs facing us.

Moore would make brief sketches in situ and work them up later at home.  This is how he described what he found at the time:  “poor looking women and children waiting to be let in to take shelter for the night – and the dirty old bits of blankets and clothes and pillows stretched out on the Tube platforms – it’s about the most pathetic, sordid and disheartening sight I hope to see.”  (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/art/3655235/How-Henry-Moore-dug-for-victory.html)

I must now find out more about Moore’s background and inspiration, intriguing.

Andres Amador – playa paintings


I found the link to this inspirational artist today.  Andres Amador makes beautiful designs on a large scale in the sand at the beach.  What a fantastic example of texture and pattern in the natural environment.  I know the images aren’t produced naturally but I think they complement their surroundings in an amazing way.  And there is a clean canvas every day.  More images here.

Textile Techniques Videos


I have found I am a visual learner and I really like to be able to see someone do, rather than just talk so I was browsing the web looking for videos on textile techniques.  Almost straight away I came across a bunch of videos on the Colouricious channel on Youtube.  They seem to have a blog and sell longer DVDs on textile techniques, but I love these short films as they are just enough to get you started off on a particular project.

The image shows a textile made using sweet papers bonded onto a backing and then block printed and machine stitched.  The bright colours from the plastic films are really zingy.

I particularly liked the idea of a serendipity cloth.  This is dyeing fabric using the leftover fabric paints that you would otherwise wash down the sink when cleaning your equipment.  So the artist showed us how she would just randomly wipe her printing block off with the damp fabric, or clean off a sponge that is covered in paint by dabbing it over the fabric.  This fabric would then be fixed in the normal way with heat and could be used as a background to more printing or other textile embellishment – a great and thrifty idea.

Project 3 – Stage 6 Combining textures and colour effects – research


I came across this artist’s work via Mr X-Stitch on Facebook recently and I think it illustrates well the object of this stage.

Cayce Zavaglia is a painter using crewel embroidery wool  on linen to produce these wonderful portraits.  She normally works in oils and often refers to her textile pieces as paintings.  She has used the mixture of coloured stitches, which are layered in different directions to give depth and form, to produce the required tones and colours.  The work is incredibly detailed, see the close-up below.

She has worked in a way, as you would in oil, so that the whole of the background fabric is obscured with the stitches.  From a distance you would assume this was a conventional oil or acrylic painting since the eye mixes the colours in the same way as in impressionist paintings.  It is a good example of how many different colours go into producing a particular tone.  Amazing work!

Impressionist Painting and Pointillism

Pointillism is a technique of painting small dots of colour in a pattern that the eye blends into a new colour.  It is a similar technique to that used by modern colour printers mixing minute dots of magenta, cyan and yellow with black on a white background to produce an infinite array of colours on the page.  Impressionist painters such as Vincent Van Gough, Camille Pissaro and Georges Seurat were proponents of this technique

Seurat’s Grande Jatte (Un dimanche après-midi à l’Ile de la Grande Jatte, Georges Seurat, 1884-1886) is a lovely example of this technique.  The painting is a view of the river bank on a Sunday filled with people enjoying the sunshine, picnicking, sailing or just promenading.  (Images from http://www.webexhibits.org/colorart/jatte.html)

I managed to find some close-up images of this painting which perfectly shows the dots of colour painted in patterns to give the effect of other colours.

This detail from the shadow area above the dog,s back is painted with dots and dashes of blue, red and orange, greens and mauves, and the grassy bank is painted in complementary cream, yellow, orange again, browns, greens and greys.  Looking at this detailed area you do not get the same optical effect that is produced when you view the whole painting from a distance.  When you look back at the original your eye makes the grassy area more green because it is taking in the areas of colour surrounding it.  The shadowed area adjacent also looks more green from a distance.  It is difficult to use images produced by photography and computers to make a real study of this sort of work as the reproduction is not always completely accurate but it is wonderful to be able to see the sort of detail in close-up that you wouldn’t be able to see viewing the work in a gallery.

In this magnified detail of the dots of paint you can even see the texture of the paint.  This texture forms part of the final image, as the subtle hollows and bumps make tiny shadows and brighter areas which all adds to the eye’s perception of the final image.