For the first part of this stage I spent some time reworking marks I’d make in earlier stages. I selected five pieces that I felt contained a lot of texture, then tried to focus in on this and further explore the feeling in a simple drawing. I’m especially happy with my bigger version of ‘soft’, I could really see this working well in stitches. Unfortunately, I think ‘sharp’ and ‘delicate’ ended up looking very similar.
I then chose a few more pieces from my previous work and made further studies. My favorite results were the two shown above. The black and white dots are fingerprints done in black acrylic paint with red Sharpie pen circles drawn over the top, I’m not sure why but I really love this piece, it almost feels kind of retro and like it belongs on the cover of an old crime novel. The other piece is made from paper fabric (calico with layers of tissue paper glued on top) – I’m totally obsessed with this stuff! The paper fabric is painted with kids poster paint to create the background colours then dotted with acrylic paint.
Next I need to answer some questions to review my work.
Have you ever thought about drawing in this way before?
No, in the past I’ve always felt that you draw to get to the end product, that if there is no recognizable picture created at the end then what was the point.
Were you able to be inventive about the range of marks you made?
I feel I became more inventive as I went along. At the beginning it was very difficult to think up new and different things to try, I was in many ways restricted by what I thought I should be doing, or how I’ve been taught to draw in the past. As I progressed I managed to break out a bit and experiment, sometimes things worked and sometimes they didn’t, but I discovered that it doesn’t matter if it goes wrong – you can just start over and try something different.
Did you explore a wide range of media?
Yes, I feel I did manage to try a lot of different things – even if half the time I was borrowing the kids art stuff! Luckily I had quite a range of stuff already avaliable to try, however I couldn’t try anything involving bleach as I’m allergic to it so I feel I’ve missed out on a whole lot of fun there!
Are you pleased with what you’ve done? Will it help you to approach drawing more confidently?
I’m very pleased with the pieces I created towards the end, taking risks and just going for it seems to pay off. Looking back through some of the pages in my sketchbook its almost like a ‘real’ artist has done it. I already feel more confident with drawing, a blank white page seems less scary and my initial marks are bolder and less restricted, its easier to just dive in and start filling the space with representative marks instead of starting off sketching each little bit so precisely.
Which exercise did you most enjoy? Why?
I enjoyed the final exercise the most, bringing all the new techniques I’ve learnt together and just having fun with them. I had the confidence to just go for it and managed to produce some work I was very happy with.
Which media did you most enjoy working with? Why?
To begin with I’d say watercolour paint as I’ve used it a lot in the past so it felt comfortable and easy to use, it also produces some stunning and colourful results, but towards the end I really became interested in using acrylic paints and paper fabric, the results are just so textured and interesting, I feel the possibilities for things I could try are endless, so many different things could be glued, painted or stitched on to the paper fabric, it would be very interesting to explore further.
What other forms of mark-making could you try?
Fabric dye, bleaching agents of some sort, taping two pencils together, inks, solid paint sticks, using sticks or feathers etc as brushes, using longer brushes at arms length, using small dots, paint in a spray bottle, using string or wire to apply paint, layering up media which drys at different rates, using sticky tape or sandpaper to try taking paints etc back off when dry… I’m sure there’s many more!
How will these exercises enrich your textile work in the future?
These exercises have shown me how enjoyable and visually beautiful it can be to make marks just for the sake of creating and exploring, and that the marks don’t necessarily have to represent an identifiable object – or result in a ‘finished picture’. They make me feel more adventurous and confident to try new things, and also create new and interesting marks to try and interpret into textiles.