Written reflection for part one

Written reflection for part one

I used mind mapping and a mood board to help me get started on the introductory project, both of which I found very useful for getting the ideas flowing. I enjoyed putting my story together, collecting relevant items and then composing them. I did a lot of drawings, probably way more than I needed to but I was unsure whether I was capturing the essence of the theme with my mark making and actually what was mark making- was it different to drawing?? I had never heard this term before so it’s taken a while to get my head around that and what it means. My doubt mainly came from joining the textiles Facebook page and seeing other people’s work on there and on various blogs. Although very useful to see how other people have tackled the projects and the support from the groups looks encouraging, I got very hung up on whether I was doing it right or wrong, whether I was understanding and fulfilling the brief and whether my work was good enough. I have found it very hard not to have any reassurance from a tutor along the way but understand that this is part of the course, learning to work on your own and making and justifying your own decisions. As the projects progressed I feel that I have loosened up slightly in my approach. Drawing with my eyes shut or while not looking at the paper has been really helpful and I have found that I normally like these images more than ones I have spent longer on. I have enjoyed looking at other artists and designers but am finding it difficult sometimes to articulate my feelings about their work, something I am sure I will get better at as the course goes on. I have learnt a lot from drawing the archive textiles, looking into the story behind them has fascinated me. Learning to look at the little details that help to tell the story and trying to capture that in my drawings.

I now nervously await my first tutor feedback!

Project 3, exercise 1.8 portraying by drawing


I started by drawing the fushia from different angles with pencil in my sketchbook then colouring it with wet on wet watercolour (top left). I tried to keep the images quite loose. Next I tried wet on wet watercolor without drawing any pencil lines first (top right). I liked the flow and movement of these images better. I then drew outlines of the fushia, using different angles to get interesting shapes (bottom left). I did the same on the next page (bottom right) but without looking down at the page so much. These images were much more confident funnily enough- the images on the bottom left have hesitant marks and some of the lines are a bit shaky where I was conscious of what I was doing. I am finding that I like the shapes that come from not looking too much at the page and just concentrating on the lines of the object, they seem more ‘honest’ if that’s the right word to use?


Next I looked at the Rudbeckia flower. It was looking a little wilted and eaten but I liked how that made the edges of the petals different (wabi-sabi!). I followed the same process as before, line drawing first followed by wet on wet watercolor (top left) then wet on wet without any pencil outline (top right). I did some pen drawings, some looking at the page some without (bottom left) and then I concentrated on the spiral of tiny buds in the centre of the flower. They are in a sort of fibonacci pattern which I found hard to draw.


I found the chard (chard as in the vegetable not burnt!) leaf the most interesting to draw and the most challenging. Again I started by doing a very loose pencil drawing and then wet on wet watercolour. This piece didn’t go very well- I couldn’t match the green of the leaf and the wet on wet was just creating a mess rather than the nice flow and blend I had managed to achieve with the other paintings. I moved onto a detailed pencil drawing as I really wanted to capture the texture and bumpiness of the leaf. The drawing took a good couple of hours but I was really pleased with how it turned out. I think I have managed to capture the texture. I then did a speedy pen drawing, trying not to look to much at the page again.


The next day I was able to buy a bunch of flowers. I chose the bunch I did because of the cabbage rose, I liked the colour of it and the veins and texture. I used big sheets of lining paper for this next stage as I wanted to draw big. I drew a rough sketch of the flowers and then used the wet on wet watercolour. I then did a wet on wet painting without the pencil lines and painting only 3 of the flowers together. I was not pleased with the results of either of these paintings. I thought they came out quite wishy washy- I think the paper may have been a factor as it seemed to suck up the colour of the paint.


The pink and the green together on the cabbage rose and one of the other flowers was really standing out to me, I loved the contrast of the two colours together. I did a loose pencil sketch of the cabbage rose and then did wet on wet watercolour (top right). At this stage it sort of lost all its definition so I waited for it to dry and went back in, highlighting the veins and the slightly bumpy texture. I don’t think the end result is very good. The definition is gone and you can’t tell what it is, although I do like the colours together. I went on to draw a single leaf from the cabbage rose in pen and then decided to add water colour (top middle). I liked the contrast between the black pen and the watercolour paint so I also drew the other flower like it (bottom line, 2nd in) and one of the daisies (not sure it is a daisy, bottom row far right). I also painted one of the white flowers  and did some outlines of some of the leaves. I hammered the colour out of the leaves to leave imprints on the page. I liked the effect that gave.


By this stage I was feeling a little disheartened by the watercolour. It is a very hard medium to work with and I was getting a bit frustrated that some of the paintings were not turning out very well. I went back to the brief and looked at how I could bring some pattern, repetition and different orientation to the drawings. I went back to the pen drawings of the fuchsias I had done and two of the images stood out to me (bottom left). I traced the first image onto deli paper and then rotated the paper and traced it again upside down, matching the petals so that the tips touched each other. I continued down the page like this so that I had an alternating pattern. I really liked this effect and The negative space between the flowers where they joined. Also because of the angle that the fuchsia was drawn at originally, you couldn’t really tell what it was. I decided to add in the other image of the fuchsia but I found I couldn’t make it fit nicely as a repeating pattern matched in with the other image (top left). Still, I liked the overall result and coloured the images in with whispers brush markers (top middle). I wanted to expand on this pattern but it had taken ages to trace all the images so I decided to do a lino cut (bottom right) of the image. This way I could experiment with layout and colour (top right, bottom middle). I loved the way the print came out and it took it another step further from recognising what the image actually was.


I decided to do lino cuts of the chard leaf and the cabbage rose leaf. I really wanted to continue trying to capture that bumpy texture of the chard leaf and the green and pinky mauve of the cabbage rose contrasted well with the fuschia and the chard leaf. I had drawn the chard leaf to actual size in my sketchbook so I photocopied it and reduced the scale until I had a size I felt I could work with sufficiently, without losing any detail in the carving. I used dye based mini Ink pads so that I could get the varied colours. I am extremely pleased with how these have turned out. You can almost feel the texture of the chard leaf  and the cabbage leaf print just flows. There is a crispness to the prints which is in total contrast to the watercolours and the separate images join together really well to create a pattern, especially the chard leaf.


I then spent some time mixing up the prints but I wasn’t as happy with these results. They didn’t go as well together as I had hoped, I couldn’t get them to fit into a pattern that worked, but it was fun experimenting with them. I printed the images onto some calico and I am going to try various embroidery stitches to fill them in.

Project 3, exercise 1.7, Sources and Media

project31.jpgI wrote in my paper learning log that I wanted to go big and bold in this exercise. I wanted to be loose and free with my drawings and maybe use lots of layers for backgrounds and be quite abstract in capturing the colour and energy of the flowers rather than make precise botanical drawings. I wanted to buy a big bunch of flowers and do some drawings of the whole bunch in the vase.I had been inspired by the works of Jane Askley when looking at the artists in a previous exercises so thought I would try something in her sort of style.

But, It didn’t go that way! Circumstances found me having finished the previous exercises, with time on my hands, my new watercolours arriving that morning and no way to get to the flower shop, so I had a hunt around my garden. It’s november so all I could find was a fuchsia, one lonely rudbeckia flower and a chard leaf from the veggie patch! Change and adapt! I decided to go with the watercolor, looking more at Elizabeth Blackadder’s style. I have not used watercolour in years so I felt this was an ideal exercise to start again with this media.

What is drawing?

Another one of those ambiguous questions!

The Shorter Oxford Dictionary defines drawing as:

‘the formation of a line by drawing some tracing instrument from point to point of a surface; representation by lines; delineation as distinguished from painting…the arrangement of lines which determine form.’

‘The term drawing is applied to works that vary greatly in technique. It has been understood in different ways at different times and is difficult to define. During the Renaissance the term ‘disegno’ implied drawing both as a technique to be distinguished from colouring and also as the creative idea made visible in the preliminary sketch.’ [1]

‘Drawing is the probity of art. To draw does not mean simply to reproduce contours; drawing does not consist merely of line: drawing is also expression, the inner form, the plane, the modeling. See what remains after that.’-Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres (1780 – 1867) [1]

From all I learnt at school in GCSE and A level art, 20 odd years ago, my first response to this question would be that a drawing is an image created using pencil or pen to translate an item or an idea onto paper. When you add colour or paint it becomes a painting- the drawing may still be there underneath, but you have expanded on it. It is fully acceptable to push the boundaries in drawing, more so than when I was at school, but I do think you need a drawing implement to create a drawing.

I don’t see photographs as drawings- a photo is an image captured by a device/piece of equipment. There is art in taking a good photo certainly, but you have not ‘drawn’ it you have captured it. You can edit digital images of that photograph which could be seen as drawing, depending on what you do to it.

I stated previously while looking at the eight artists in part one that I didn’t see Alison Carlier’s spoken drawings as drawings. She is creating a visual image in someone else’s mind but it’s not tangible and no two will be the same. It’s also transient, you will never remember all the details as you did the first time, so each time will be different and after a while the image will fade away and even if you listen again, you won’t create the same image again.. A drawing on paper or canvas you can look at again and again and it will be the same each time.  That’s not to say that her spoken drawings are not art- I personally just feel they are not drawings.

These are obviously just my humble opinions. The boundaries of drawing and art are stretched further every day, with new ideas and technologies bringing new ways to create I feel it’s down to your own personal view as to what you see as a drawing, or indeed what you consider art. Art is an extremely personal experience and maybe should not have labels. Is it a drawing or a painting, is it real or imagined, is it art or not, is it good or bad- who’s to say??

[1]  http://www.vam.ac.uk/content/articles/w/what-is-drawing/

Research point one, Project 2, Wabi-Sabi

Notes: (written up in my paper learning log but also added here in note form for my tutor)

Different definitions found on Google:

  • The discovery of beauty in imperfection
  • The acceptance of the cycle of life and death
  • A way of living that focuses on finding beauty within the imperfections of life and accepting peacefully the natural cycle of growth and decay
  • “A japanese way of being and seeing, honouring the beauty of all organic processes of birth, growth, decay, death and new life”– Deborah Barndt [1]
  • Wabi means-freedom from attachment, subtle, profundity. Sabi means- Austere, sublimity, asymmetry
  • “…an appreciation of the transient beauty of the physical world. It embodies the melancholic appeal of the impermanence of all things- especially the modest, the rustic, the imperfect and even the decayed…”– Andrew Juniper [2]

So…Wabi-Sabi is about finding the beauty in imperfection, not seeing it as damaged or old or broken and peeling. Appreciating the stories of these items, the growth of the journey, the transient nature of something, the natural cycle of its life. Nothing lasts forever, appreciate its beauty, in all its stages before its gone. The marks, scars, scrapes, chips, all contribute to the journey of the piece.

How Wabi-Sabi relates to Archive textiles-

Old or archive textiles have been on a journey. Every ripped seam, tear, stain, frayed edge and piece of moth damage contributes to its story. They have a history, a journey they have travelled on and those imperfections help tell the story. Without those imperfections we may not have the whole picture. We need to appreciate the beauty of these marks and imperfections for it is what makes it the piece it is today. You could look at it like a person’s story. Every experience, every piece of knowledge gained, travel taken creates a person’s life, their view of life, makes them who they are. They have been bumped along the way, fallen, stumbled, been let down, have wounds and scars- this makes them who they are. Without those experiences they would be a totally different person. You need to see the whole, the inside and the outside to appreciate the beauty. The damage contributes, rather than takes away from the story. Wabi-Sabi is a very difficult concept to explain!

[1] www.deborahbarnt.com 

[2]From the back cover of Andrew Juniper’s book: Wabi-Sabi: The Japanese art of impermanence

The best explanation of Wabi-Sabi I found was here


Research point 2 –project three, picking and portraying

Research point 2 notes- 3 examples of artists that employ floral and leaf motifs in their work. (More notes and images are in my paper learning log for my own reference, along with images for research point 3 on david hockney which I have not included on this blog)

I chose these three artists as their work spoke to me the most. I did a project on William Morris when I was studying fashion design at college as his work has always interested me. I love the medieval feel to his works and the use of pattern and repetition.

I must admit to not knowing the other 2 artists but their work appealed to me- the one with quite detailed flower paintings and the other with much more vivid and bolder flower paintings and a little more of an abstract feel.

Elizabeth Blackadder

  • She doesn’t like to plan her paintings too much but prefers to “let them grow on their own1
  • She studied Byzantine art and architecture and likes Japanese watercolour art
  • She began to become very interested in plants and flowers when she was sent to live with her grandmother at the beginning of the war when her father died. She used to be sent out as a gardener to all her grandmothers friends and her interest grew from there.
  • She doesn’t like to talk about her work much, she says in the YouTube video I watched that “I don’t like to talk about my art. It’s the paintings. That’s it.1
  • Some of her paintings don’t seem to be that detailed but others are very detailed, almost botanical reference like.
  • She likes to compose her works by arranging miscellaneous objects and painting them from above.2
  • Sometimes it is just the objects she paints- no table or background, and the items look like they are floating.
  • “The spaces between flowers and objects are very important to the composition, in fact almost as important as the objects themselves” Elizabeth Blackadder Masterclass
  • She often leaves the background white in her flower paintings.


 1    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0Ff_dZVPzE8

2    https://makingamark.blogspot.co.uk/2007/07/flowers-in-artand-dame-elizabeth.html


William Morris

  • English textile designer 1834-1896
  • Part of the arts and crafts movement which was a revival of traditional handicrafts, improving the design of domestic objects and returning to a simpler way of life. (Even though his wallpapers were expensive!) 1
  • His sources were the plants themselves, although very much stylised and he was inspired by medieval tapestries and early printed herbals.
  • He uses repeating patterns and motifs in his designs
  • Due to the medieval influence his works could be mistaken for older than they are, and they also give a sense of opulence I feel- very suited to the upper class and manor houses.
  • “His success in creating structured patterns from natural forms, with a sense of organic growth controlled by a subtle geometry, was his most important design legacy.”2
  • He was influenced by John Ruskin who was also an artist and a nature observer and who also collected herbals. He was a member of the pre-Raphaelite circle and interestingly Morris’s wife Jane was a model for Dante Gabriel Rossetti painting ‘Proserpine’ 3


1      http://www.vam.ac.uk/content/articles/b/biography-of-william-morris/

2     http://www.vam.ac.uk/content/articles/w/william-morris-and-wallpaper-design/

3    https://makingamark.blogspot.co.uk/2007/07/flowers-in-art-william-morris-herbals.html


Jane Askey

  • “Painting is an attempt to make concrete the transience and fragility of flowers.” 1
  • ‘Jane is a painter, freelance giftware designer and university lecturer. She studied a degree in Textile Design at Manchester Polytechnic 1984-87 specialising in Printed Textile Design. Her textile background has influenced her current practise as a painter and designer. ‘ 1
  • Floral imagery, still life, vintage fabrics and decorative ceramics- ‘Elements pertinent to textiles are central to her approach to painting: pattern, rhythms and echoes of colour are investigated with a sensitivity to space and balance.’ 2
  • For still life paintings I think they actually portray a lot of movement. Whether this is due to the patterns of the vintage fabrics or the decorative spotty mugs and jugs, I don’t know. They feel very much alive to me though.
  • “The works are painted using mixed media on gesso panel, card and canvas. If I am painting in the studio I stand up to work either at an easel or a table focusing on energetic mark making, experimenting with the paint media, building transparent and opaque layers, allowing the texture of the brush to suggest rather than describe. Surfaces are constructed and de-constructed scraping and wiping away the medium and then re-applying the paint with a variety of brushes and tools until the piece has the balance and interest of the place that inspired me. My landscapes have the immediacy of a glimpse, somewhere seen in my peripheral vision as I walk the Cornish or Scottish landscape.” 3


1      https://www.twenty-twenty.co.uk/jane-askey/brand_172.html

2          http://www.madeinleicestershire.org.uk/artists/artist/471/0/jane/

3       http://www.porthminstergallery.co.uk/artists/177-jane-askey/biography/

Project Two, exercise 1.6, Detail and definition

For this exercise I focused on the little details of the blue dress and the waistcoat. I used hard and soft pencil and a variety of fine nib drawing pens and brush markers. I chose these media as I wanted to capture the fine details and these gave me the best results for that. For the waistcoat drawings I started off with the top middle drawing, focussing on the embroidery stitches and the pattern of the watered silk. I then did a detailed pencil drawing (bottom middle) of part of the back of the waistcoat, showing the ribbon tapes, creases and the frayed edge on one of the seams.  Top right was detail of the creases up the middle back seam of the waistcoat in varying scale.

For the dress drawings I started out by drawing a small detailed pencil drawing of the whole dress to show the creases and folds. Then I did close up detail of the creased velvet on the hem and the lace sleeve. I then looked at various other small details such as the hook and eye, moth damage, the lace, loose threads and frayed holes and made 9 small pen drawings of these. I then finished by drawing the bottom hem again, this time in pen and brush marker to capture the fold and dage on the hem.


Project Two , exercise 1.5, collage and creases


These are the collages I did. Top left is the black lace veil. I used black paper as my background. I created the net/lace paper by using a picture of netting and repeating it in word until I had a whole page and then printing out 2 copies. For the embroidered detail on the lace I used different black and white magazine pictures cut up into stylized shapes of the detail. I didn’t manage to get it in proportion but I think overall I managed to capture the essence of the veil. Bottom left is also the veil, I looked at one of the scalloped edges and I used magazine images of lace to construct it. I used different tones and I folded the papers in places to capture the folds and tone of the piece.

Bottom right is the hem of the blue velvet dress. I liked the rolls of the folds in the hem so I concentrated on that area rather than recreating the whole dress. I used magazine papers for the top and bottom cotton fabric and crumpled tissue paper for the velvet. I added the moth damage marks by using a magazine page with speckled paintwork on it which I thought worked well to show the damage to the velvet.


Top right is the waistcoat. I used old mottled book pages for the base of the waistcoat. I then found some magazine pages of laminate floors and wood as the wood grain looked like the watered silk pattern. There were not enough pieces to cover all the waistcoat and anyway I didn’t want to cover up all of the book pages, so i just placed a few, using different colours to convey the tone and light and dark surface of the watered silk. I cut out small images of flowers from magazines and then hand cut leaves from pages with foliage on. I used crumpled tissue paper for the fragile ribbon tapes and twisted tissue paper for the buttonholes and also around the edges of the waistcoat to represent the double layer thickness. I like the finished piece but I think I prefered it before I added all the detail. It has a clean look about it and where the page edges are mottled and darker it manages to give it a depth that I think it loses in the finished piece.


Project Two, exercise 1.4, lines and edges

-A series of drawings with a focus on using line.

I enjoyed using the continuous line, left hand and eyes closed method in this exercise. It helped me to loosen up a bit with my drawings and introduced some new marks where my lines crossed over or went on top of previous lines. I worked on large sheets of paper with sharpie marker pens for the continuous line and eyes closed methods as I felt this gave me more freedom.


The blue dress- Large drawings, continuous line, smaller drawings with eyes closed. Using pen and ink and pastel to explore the drape and folds in the hem line.


The black lace veil- large eyes closed work, smaller continuous line on deli paper, using a metal tube and indian ink on deli paper to represent the net structure, detail of lace design on deli paper using soft pencil and blender pen. Experimenting with different pens and marks on the piece at the back. I found the lace net background very frustrating to draw. It is so structured and precise that it would take hours to draw it correctly but a lot of the other marks I tried didn’t really capture it that well.


The waistcoat. I did quite a few drawings as I really like the shape of the waistcoat and it lends itself well to the continuous line and eyes closed methods.

The detail of the watered silk is one of the things that drew me to choose the waistcoat as one of my 3 archive textiles but it has been incredibly hard to try and capture. I have used pastel but that didn’t work so well, white prisma pencil on black paper looked ok as did fine black drawing pen. I used square paper and scaled up the watered silk marks and that has given an interesting effect.


Project Two, exercise 1.3, making marks

I was allowed to draw these items in the archive room at the castle but I could only use pencil. I used hard and soft pencils to change my range of marks. I took lots of photos so when I got home I could do a few more drawings with a range of media, including pen and ink, pastel and paint and drawing pens.


I made detailed notes on my drawings and I also wrote some notes/descriptions of each item. I was allowed to turn the items over myself if I wore the gloves so I did sort of get to feel the items, albeit through cotton gloves. For the Blue Dress (drawings above and below, wordpress won’t let me rotate the top photo today for some reason!) I wrote; The velvet is soft and plush, the nap is brushed in different directions which gives it different tones, the fold lines where it has been stored are very visible and have marked the velvet, the weight of the cotton (twill?) fabric is very heavy, the lace is stiff and yellowed with age but delicate, I can see some of the stitches, the dress is full and looks stiff.

Pencil drawings and 2 pen and ink drawings, one slow and detailed, one done quickly capturing the folds in the hem.



Waistcoat; watered silk, shiny almost holographic, complex embroidery, stem stitch, exquisite and so detailed, very precise and tiny, I think it is silk treads as the embroidery gleams,one of the button holes is frayed, the hand stitches are a lot more prominent on the back, not as carefully sewn (I wonder if this is because the man would have had a jacket on so the back would not be seen?). The ribbon tapes are wafer thin, delicate and aged, look very fragile. The front of the waistcoat looks quite sturdy but the back is very thin and fragile. There are signs of wear on the collar and lots of creases on the back. There is some fraying of the back seam that runs up the middle back of the waistcoat. Again the fold lines are very prominent where it has been stored for so long.

Pencil drawings, pastel experiment for the watered silk, watercolour experiment for the watered silk and a fan paintbrush and indian ink to capture the watered silk.


Black lace veil; Textured, fragile, delicate, patterned, so fine reminded me of cobwebs. Drape and fold to it, repeating pattern, the net has a honeycomb pattern and is quite structured. Light, airy and flowing. Turned over hem at the top is a little twisted, scallop type edges on the 2 sides and bottom. Again, fold lines very prominent. 

Pencil drawings, bubble wrap dipped in ink, fan brush and pen and ink and fan brush and indian ink.