Reviewing the eight artists links at the end of the introductory project

At the end of the intro project there are eight artist links to research, looking at their use of drawing and mark making. I looked at all 8 links and wrote notes on each of them in my paper learning log but I am typing my notes onto here as well so it’s easier for my tutor to see all my research in one place. I am certainly no art critic and have not reviewed artwork since my A level art days so I can only say what I see, my first impressions of the work and whether I like it or not.


Link 1- Louise Bourgeois

“Clothing is… an exercise of memory…it makes me explore the past…how did I feel when I wore that…” Louise Bourgeois

The simplistic, childlike drawings in her fabric collection belies the depth of meaning that each piece has. I liked ‘embracing the tree’ and the story behind it.

‘Insomnia’ also really spoke to me (as I suffer from this). It really portrayed to me the feeling of not being able to sleep – wide and extended eyes, busy and unable to close down.

There were lots of evolving work, a simple image, added to and developed. I liked seeing the progression of this.

I really liked her work, the simplicity of the lines, the abstract of dealing with a deeper concept.

“It is not an image I am seeking. It’s not an idea. It is an emotion you want to recreate, an emotion of wanting, of giving and of destroying.”– Louise Bourgeois

I really liked this quote, capturing the feeling of the piece rather than the piece itself.

Link 2-Alison Carlier

A new one for me- “Spoken drawings”. I had not heard of this concept before and after spending a great deal of time on this link my own opinion is, artistic expression, yes, drawings, no.

I listened to few of the spoken drawings with my eyes closed. I liked the gentle tone of her voice, it was very meditative. Her words flowed and she had great vocabulary, describing colours and touch, but I didn’t have a clue what objects she was describing, I had to read the explanations afterwards.

I felt that she was creating a vision, an image in your mind, rather than a drawing. No image will ever be the same as someone else’s image. With an actual drawing or painting you may interpret it differently from someone else but everybody is looking at the same image. With these spoken drawings no two visions of the object will ever be the same- but is that the point???

“Adjectives, lines and marks” is the artist reading a piece of text about an old pot (not her own text, I believe).  While listening to it, it reminded me of The Antiques Roadshow programme. Dissecting an old piece, breaking it down for analysis before telling someone how much it is worth. Again, I probably would not have known what this piece was describing unless I had read the explanation. Your own interpretation of the pot would be nothing like the actual pot she is imaging. It also put me in mind of describing an object to someone who is blind, they can’t see the object so need as much description as possible to form an image of it. I wanted to see the image of the actual pot at the end of the description but that was not included. Whether that’s my OCD side kicking in, but I didn’t like that! It felt unfinished. I wanted to see if what I had imagined in my head was anything like the real object.

The video of ‘shelling broad beans’ confused me a bit as well. I don’t think these are ‘drawings’ in any sense of the word. She is capturing a moment, memories, sounds and images. Some may say artistically, but unfortunately this video for me didn’t really hold any artistic qualities.

Overall a little bit ‘out there’ for me, maybe I am more of a traditionalist, but I like my drawings on paper where I can see them, not imagine them. That’s not to say I can’t see the artistic creation she is producing, just really not my type of thing.


Link 3- Alex James Chalmers

Some of his work, from a distance, looks like nothing much, or just scribbles, but, when you get up close you can see the extraordinary detail and geometric lines that make up the piece. ‘Untitled’ is a good example of this.

You can see the architectural influences in some of his work with the accurate lines and geometrical shapes.

A lot of the video pieces at this link, I didn’t get and there were no explanations of the pieces except for the titles of the work, which really gave nothing away. I would not want to hazard a guess as to what any of them were about. The actual work can be appreciated as it stands of course, but again for me, I like to have some idea of what I am seeing. I like art that makes you think, analyse and speculate, but I also like to have some context as a starting point.


Link 4- Hilary Ellis

I really liked this artist’s work but I think I would find it hard to explain why. On the surface, simple pieces, especially when viewed from a distance, but up close the detail is exquisite. I loved the ‘Enigma ll’ piece it looked like handwriting but then the detail shot showed you all the lines of stitching.

I liked the artist statement on her page as it gave an insight into her work, and although I had to read it several times before I felt I really understood it, I then could feel that statement coming through when I looked at her work again.

I am finding it strange that the artist’s work I like, I have a lot less to say about than those I am not keen on.


Link 5 – Michael Griffiths

The link that was given was not valid so I had to look further. I went to this link first and realised that it wasn’t the artist I should have been looking for so I tried again. this seemed to be the right person but I found it very difficult to actually find a site that had more than 2 or 3 of his images on. If I searched images on google, more came up but when I followed the links they still did not give me any information on him or more images of his work. Considering from the bio I found on him that he has exhibited all over the world I don’t know why I can’t find out more about his work. I managed to find out that he is a printmaker who set up the Badger Press. From looking at the few images I found, he is very abstract. Some of the charcoal drawings I found were extremely childlike- or even toddler like to be honest but as they were just images with no context that I could find maybe I am being a bit unfair.

Link 6- Debbie Smyth

I loved this artist’s work. I thought it was very original. I loved the concept of ‘thread drawings’ and the way that this technique made the images 3D. The threads just flow to create the images. I liked the fact that lots of modern companies have commissioned works from her for their buildings, offices, or ad campaigns, for example Sony PlayStation and Adidas, even Hermes window displays. I feel it helps to bring textiles into the forefront and maybe make people realise that Textiles can be very cutting edge.

‘In full swing’ made me smile, I love how she really captured the feel of that childhood memory of swinging higher and higher.  I liked how the threads were loose and messy in places to give shading or more lifelike effects.

Link 7 Katie Sollohub

This artist’s work was bright and vibrant. ‘Lunch at the butterfly museum’   immediately struck me as very Picasso like, and likewise her use of bright, bold, sometimes clashing colour suggested this as well. Her work was very free and childlike and perspective and scale are not really a consideration in her work. I found that her work was very energising and engaging. In her work ‘everything and the kitchen sink’ I liked the vibrant greens against the grey of the sink and her concentration of colour and pattern. Some of her sketches looked almost unfinished, outlines and silhouettes but with lots of detail in maybe one or two areas. Her sketches seem to be about quick marks to get the feelings down rather than precise detail. I liked ‘Circle of life’,                                 it seemed a little more detailed than some of her other work and reminded me of ‘Spiral speak’ by Sam Brown.


Link 8-Roanna Wells

I found this artists concepts fascinating and thought provoking. The ideas behind her pieces are very unique, even if I didn’t find some of the finished pieces striking or interesting to look at, I appreciated what she had achieved from her concept.

I liked ‘tracing process’, allowing others to make marks on your art; stepping back from the control, letting a piece of your art go in order to see where your lack of control takes it.

‘Spaces between’, each brush mark representing a minute of the day was interesting, although I think I liked the concept more than the finished artwork. ‘Knowledge and understanding of the world’ really intrigued me and I liked the way that she translated the simple drawings onto fabric with thread, capturing the essence of the child’s original art work. I would hang one of these pieces on my wall as a great talking point. This is what the artist says about the concept:

“Inspired by my time working in a nursery combined with an continuing interest in child psychology, art therapy and speech and language development, this ongoing project captures the specific point in a child’s development where meaning is beginning to be put to seemingly random ‘scribbles’. By translating the child’s spontaneous mark making into detailed hand embroidered pieces, some of the intent and importance of the young artist is aiming to be given back.”- Roanna Wells

I enjoyed researching the artists and found I had more insight into how I felt about their works than I thought I would.




Reflection on the introductory project

It has been a while since I have studied any formal education, so reflecting back on my work may take some getting used to. I thoroughly enjoyed the theme of ‘nature’s larder’ that I chose for the intro project. I read through the project guidelines several times, began to keep second guessing myself as whether I was thinking along the right lines and then just decided to ‘go for it’. I won’t know if I am on the right track until my tutor looks at what I have done at the end of assignment one so I’m trying not to worry about it.

I worked on a variety of papers and used several different mediums, pencils, graphite sticks, charcoal, pen and ink, ballpoint pen. I did quick drawings and slower, more detailed drawings to see how the marks made on the paper changed the feeling of the drawing. I wanted to capture the feel of the theme not just try and produce a pretty picture.

I enjoyed doing the quick drawings as they didn’t really give me time to think much about whether I was doing it right or wrong,which was a good exercise for the perfectionist in me, I was just trying to capture the essence. With the slower, more detailed drawings I tended to be a lot more critical if I didn’t get something quite right.

I found the first few drawings quite hard as it has been a very long time since I drew anything from life. It’s difficult to draw what you actually see rather than what you think you should see. To try and overcome this I did a few outline drawings, just capturing the silhouette of the objects gathered together. I also did some of these outline drawings without looking at the paper which are certainly no works of art but were good for loosening up and helping me really look at the lines I was seeing.


I feel that I have created a good range of different drawings, capturing a selection of textures using different medias that portrays the theme of nature’s larder.

A few more drawings

I realised that I had not drawn very much of the textiles either with the other items or  on their own so here are a few more drawings I did to rectify that!20171021_144018

For this one I made a background using brown paper, parcel paper, deli paper and an old book page. I used an ink pen then gave it a wash with water and then added some white ink.


I did this over the top of an old gelli print to try and get some more texture and depth into it. I used a ball point pen.


I used charcoal for this one, using my finger to smudge trying to capture the drape of the blue checked fabric.


This one is ultramarine blue water colour on water colour paper. Not that happy with this one. It’s a long time since I have used watercolour and I found it hard to build up layers.


This one is white prisma colour pencil on black paper. I wanted to capture the silohuette and the way the direction of the checks change with the folds.


I used a magnifying glass to really see the detail on the cheese cloth.


I used a white prisma colour pencil on black paper. I am pleased with how this one came out and I like the contrast of the white on the black paper.

Texture and drawing

Photo heavy post. Some of the texture and drawings of the different items I gathered.


Close up detail of wicker basket and hessian sack texture.


Hessian sack detail, HB pencil drawing on pastel paper, 15 minute drawing. I liked the pastel paper as it had a texture that could relate to the hessian pattern.


Hessian sack detail, 4B graphite stick on kraft card, quick 5 minute drawing.


Basket details, 2B pencil on cartridge paper. I found it quite hard to draw the weave pattern as its very complex so then I experimented with breaking the pattern down into simple lines.


Basket detail, HB and 4B graphite sticks on matt side of brown parcel paper


Basket detail, pen and ink, toothpicks and ink and fan brush and ink

Top left, breaking the texture down into simple marks. Top right and bottom, graphite stick rubbings of the basket texture on deli paper and cartridge paper.

Details of hessian sack. Top left, toothpicks and ink, top right, graphite rubbings of the sack and ink, brown pen, pencil and graphite drawings on cartridge paper and brown paper.


Pen drawing of the whole composition. 45 minutes, cartridge paper.


Graphite stick drawing of the whole composition. 20 minutes, quick sketch, kraft card.


Pencil drawing of the whole composition, 30 minute quick sketch, brown parcel paper.

HB pencil and pen drawings of mushroom detail.


Detail of the underside of a fly agaric mushroom.


pen drawing of the detail of fly agaric mushroom. Done on deli paper to help show the fragility of the gills.


Horse chestnut. Brown pen on pastel paper, 40 minutes. Trying to capture the glossiness of the chestnuts next to the spikiness of the case.


Horse chestnut, HB graphite stick. 5minute, quick sketch using fast hard lines to try and portray the spikiness.


Rosehips on brown parcel paper. Graphite stick, focussing on where the light hits the berries to try and portray the gloss and roundness. Then just drawing the outline and the space in between the berries.


Willow charcoal stick on brown paper. Again, trying to capture the roundness and gloss of the berries by focusing on light and shadow.


Various detail of the different mushrooms collected. HB pencil and pen on cartridge paper.

Foraging and composition

I decided to go to Parkhurst forest to forage for items for my collection. I was hoping to find some mushrooms, chestnuts and berries and I wasn’t disappointed.

I am no stranger to foraging, I love to wander in the woods gathering moss, fallen branches and leaves to decorate my home,and elderberries, blackberries, rosehips and  hawthorn berries to turn into herbal remedies for the winter months. At this time of year though most of the berries are gone or past their best but there was an abundance of sweet chestnuts and lots of different varieties of mushrooms. I am no mushroom expert and I would never eat any mushrooms as misidentification could be fatal, so I gathered these carefully wearing gloves as many can be harmful and poisonous.

There is something deeply satisfying about collecting wild food and turning it into a warming pudding on a chilly autumn day, or even better, creating elixirs and healing tonics for your family’s well being.  Healing and nourishing your body from the bounty of Mother Earth. It takes you back to simpler times when you would have only been able to eat what was in season- no supermarkets importing out of season goods from around the world! You would have had to go out and find your food, or work long and hard to sow and grow and then gather your own crops. Medicines, as we know them today, were non existent, or only available to the very rich and many were plant derivatives anyway. The women of the villages would know what berries and roots to collect to keep your body healthy through the long winter months, to clear colds, boost the immune and get rid of a fever. Reclaiming this knowledge and living simply from the land is once again becoming ‘fashionable’ as people look for ways to reduce their carbon footprint, leave the stresses of high powered jobs and return to a uncomplicated way of living.

This is the feeling I am trying to capture with this theme of ‘Nature’s larder’ . I am not sure if I have achieved this but I have thoroughly enjoyed interpreting this theme.

I had to work quite quickly when I got home before the mushrooms started to deteriorate. I found other objects which to me encompassed the feeling of foraging in the woods and making remedies with the items collected. These were my wicker basket, a hessian sack for storing foraged goods, blue and white checked cotton used on jam jar lids, a bottle of homemade elderberry elixir and a piece of cheesecloth which I use for straining. I wanted a varied mixture of textures and organic and non organic items.

I tried lots of different compositions and photographed them all for later reference. I tried hard to really capture the feeling of the theme. I enjoyed playing with all the items and arranging them in different ways to show the different properties of each. I liked the compositions with everything in the best as I felt that captured the feeling of abundance, an overflowing basket of goodies from Mother Nature. Although liking the overall compositions of everything being seen, I did zoom in and take close up photos of some of the items to create more intimate images for closer inspection. I took several close ups of the rosehips and the chestnuts as I was fascinated with the way the light hitting them gave them their rounded glossy appearance which next to the thorny stems of the hips and the spiky cases of the chestnuts gave quite a contrast. I used a heavy, natural , cream fabric as a backdrop for the collection. I wanted it to be neutral and of natural fibres so it was in keeping with the theme.

I made some quick sketches while everything was still fresh and then started on a few more detailed pieces.



This was one of my favorite compositions as I could see the detail of everything and to me it summed up the abundance of the foraged items.

OCA Textiles- A Textiles vocabulary- Introductory Project

Hello and welcome to my blog. I have created this blog as part of my learning log for the OCA Textiles degree course. It has been a long time since I wrote a blog, so please bear with me while I find my feet.

My course folder arrived on Wednesday 11th October and I was excited to get going. I spent some time reading the first few projects and highlighting important information. I then found my way to the OCA website and set up my email and had a look around the forums and introduced myself. I then spent a couple of days working through the Introduction to higher education course and finally started work on the intro project on Friday.

I chose ‘Nature’s Larder’ as my theme. I started off by doing a bit of stream of consciousness writing to come up with some ideas relating to the theme.

Abundant, organic, fresh, natural, Mother Earth, Gaia, healthy, healing,growth, hidden,making, storing for winter, preserved, green, lush, vegetation, hedgerows, woods, autumn,herbs, mushrooms, berries, gathering, collecting,food, medicine.


Then I did a bit of mind mapping to get further ideas of where I could take this. I came up with quite a bit so then I had to narrow it down.


I went with ‘foraging’ and did another mind map and also looked through a book called Food for free by Richard Mabey (published by Harper Collins).


By this time I had a good feel for the mood I wanted to create but it was dark out so I couldn’t go out collecting stuff. I wrote a list of items I had indoors that would go with the theme and decided to create a pinterest board for inspiration. I printed a few images off to create a ‘mood page’ in my sketchbook.

I am hoping to go out on Sunday looking for berries, chestnuts and conkers for my collection.