Archive for December 28th, 2011

Slow and steady with shapes

Stage 2 is progressing. After the preparation in the last post (here) I ventured into the first exercises.
Exercise 1 asks for 3 quick drawings, based on a favourite image from the preparation work. I chose the one I used when framing jacket outlines, from Tutankhamen’s Treasures by John Ford.



Drawing one is marks expressing surface textures in the image. Using black paper and pastels seemed a good fit for the original image. It’s not clear in the photo, but I used grey and blacks as well as white.






Drawing 2 focuses on colour. This was quite challenging, given my source image has a limited range of colours. I stayed with pastels, blending various oranges, terracottas, whites, grey… As I worked with the image I found a lot more variation in colour than I had first realised.
The course notes suggest 10 to 15 minutes for each of the drawings, and that felt about right for the first two drawings.



Drawing 3 is all about shapes. There’s not much to show for almost an hour’s work. I wanted to try collage, and while I’m improving I still tend to get into a sticky mess. I’m pleased with the fine pleating in white tissue paper for the drapery, and got the effect I wanted in overlapping tissue paper – even if I had to go right outside the colours of the image to find a tissue with the transparency I wanted.

The notes suggest being inventive to find my own way of recording shapes. I just hope to keep improving. Even at current skill levels I’m pleased with the results. Following the steps definitely helps me to see the original image in more detail, sharpening focus. On the bus this morning I was mulling over the relevance to weaving – although at the moment I’m quite happy to explore in other textile disciplines. On the weekend I read an interview with Rezia Wahid here, who responded when asked how she designs “It’s quite an organic process. I do lots of sketch book work first, but it’s not structural so there’s lots of room for freedom during the weaving process. The weaving is a journey, but there is an inner sense of reason behind it.” From her website I gather Rezia uses ikat dyeing and a form of inlay called jamdhani. I’d love to see her work. Clearly very accomplished weavers (non-tapestry) use work in sketch books as part of their process.

Back on topic. Exercise 2 asked for a drawing – a personal response to the image, being careful to emphasise my own point of view. I realised that my previous exercise was all based on the image as a whole, rather than a marked off area. In a way this liberated me, because the emphasis on what was important to me and the need to be selective meant I now felt free to adjust what I was seeing. I selected an area but it just didn’t feel quite right. After playing around with a mirror, then drawing off shapes onto tracing paper and simply turning the paper over, I found shapes and pattern that interested me.

I really like the end result, created using watercolours on cartridge paper. The framework of lines at right angles was crucial and I spent quite a bit of time ruling up an outline in pencil. Colour has been simplified – just the ochre and black on white paper. There is some texture, but the focus is clearly on shapes. Some of the patterning is direct from the original image, a few parts were improvised especially around the two rows of round shapes, where there was too much white and I created some filler shapes rather than using a tint of the ochre.

In fact I am so satisfied with the result that I’m a bit reluctant to move on to the next exercise, which asks for three more drawings based on this one. The Cunning Plan is that by documenting progress to date I’ll be able to let go, move on, and see what’s around the next corner.


Woolf, D. (2010) Maker of the month: Rezia Wahid [online]. The Making. Available from: [accessed 28 December 2011]


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December 2011

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