Archive for the 'Sketchbook' Category

Sketchbook, theme book and Francis Bacon exhibition

I’m getting things ready to post Assignment 4 off to Pat (my tutor) and want to record a couple of things before I forget. This post gets rather heavy towards the end, but I’m sure everyone knows how to click delete or back or whatever if it makes you uncomfortable.

In the OCA course we’re encouraged to spend at least 10 minutes a day working in our sketchbook. That turns out to be very challenging! Finding ten minutes of time, energy and an idea to work on is harder than you think – especially after a work day, or when absorbed in project work.

Early September I came up with a new strategy – each night plan sketchbook work for the next day, then each morning get up 30 minutes early to do the work. This is working pretty well (except when project work takes over), and that period of focus and purpose sets me up well for the day – a friend has likened it to her morning meditation ritual. Deciding what to work on remained a problem, then a couple of weeks ago I came up with the idea of combining it with my reading.

The essential encyclopaedic guide to modern art: styles, schools & movements by Amy Dempsey was recommended to me by Pat in her feedback to my last assignment. It has over a hundred entries, each just a few pages including illustrations, going from Impressionism, Arts and Crafts and Chicago School to Destination Art, DesignArt and Art Photography. For a few weeks now I’ve been reading an entry each evening (I’m such a creature of habit!).

I’ve found before that making notes and quick sketches helps me take a bit more time and absorb a bit more information while reading. Under the new regime I read an art history entry, then either choose one of the book illustrations or search around on the internet for a related image. In the morning my sketchbook work is based on that. I’m not trying to reproduce anything, just focus and think a bit better. The first photo above was after reading about Expressionism and is based on Emile Nolde’s Candle Dancers. The one on the left is from a work in the Ashcan school – Cafferty by Robert Henri. Really nothing like the original!

This is a collage using an adjusted photo of a kettle designed by Peter Behrens (Deutscher Werkbund movement). I’ve been trying to vary my approach each day. It’s only been a week or two so far, but it feels that I’m getter better value from both my reading and sketching. All very pleasant and ordered and effective, until Friday when I came face to face with art that felt raw and shocking and visceral and demanding and thumped me about the head until my ears were ringing.

 

The exhibition is Francis Bacon: Five Decades at the NSW Art Gallery. This link takes you to a slide show – the first image (when I just checked) is A study for a figure at the base of a crucifixion 1943-44, and is one … well, it’s actually a totally personal and individual response, because in every screaming face I saw Nancy, the subject or at least focus of my Ageing theme book.

So this is my sketchbook for Friday and Saturday:



Nancy is around 86. A few years ago, after years of pain that medical professionals have been unable to relieve, Nancy attempted suicide. She was put in a psychiatric ward, and has spent the last two and a half years in a high level care nursing home. Her pain has never been relieved. Any mental distress or disturbance she has been experiencing has not been addressed. She used to watch TV, and had a window through which she could see trees and the occasional bird. A few weeks ago Nancy had a medical incident – the family thinks perhaps another stroke, but Nancy is clear that she doesn’t want medical intervention. The last few times I’ve visited the television has been off and Nancy has been lying on her side, her back to the window. She is now totally bedridden and has bedsores on her back and her arms. I asked her what she thought about while she was lying there, hoping perhaps for some lovely memory or moment of redemption or meaning. “How sore my hand is” was the response. We used to chat about my family and hers – she was always interested in the kids. Now after a sentence or two Nancy just shuts her eyes. I feel like an intruder.

How can I express such pain in textiles? How can I shout to the world that this is wrong, that we have taken everything, all meaning, from this woman and condemned her to years of torment – all in the name of other people’s beliefs (not Nancy’s) and for fear of harming the vulnerable. Yes, Nancy is vulnerable – and anyone who could look at her and not acknowledge the harm being done to her right now, every moment we force her to continue, is … unspeakable. There is no redemption, there is no meaning, there is no dignity or respect for this individual, there is no hope except for an end.

Such a long and dreadful death should not define or dominate Nancy’s life, but neither should we look away and focus on the good and meaningful and loving parts and ignore what is going on. I think there could be another trap, thinking that somehow I could make Nancy’s experience meaningful by trying to use it in some way to promote change.

I can’t help Nancy. She is alone and abandoned and I can’t reach her. I’ll visit her this afternoon, as I do each Sunday – and I’ll try to chat or listen or leave early, whatever she wants. I’ll also keep working on my Ageing theme book. I know I won’t be able to express all I’d like to, but I hope I can find a way to express some part of it.

Project 9 Woven Structures Stage 3 part 2

In the first part of this Stage (blogged 21-Oct-2012) I attempted to create woven surface textures based on some photographs taken on King Island. Next I needed to develop a sample based on some of the most exciting results.

I tried to develop some ideas in my sketchbook, but it was a struggle – too much structure and I lost any connection to seaweed, too little and I had an amorphous blob (see my sketchbook entries from 14-Oct-2012). Eventually I finished with this photo of the seaweed on stones, and made a rough weaving plan. The spun newspaper could suggest the stony beach and a range of black texture effects used to give the impression of a path of seaweed sweeping across the image from foreground to background.


Things I like:
* The piece is about 22 x 14 cm, and quite by accident reminds me of a holiday postcard.
* The newspaper works well as a background-with-character.
* The variety of textures, techniques and shape give the impression of movement and distance. There is insect screen, neoprene tubing and tissue paper. Techniques are plain weave, 5-end satin, soumak and ghiordes knots.
* The neat top and bottom edges support the postcard idea. The bottom is a kind of chaining of the loops of warp that were over the warp rod. At the top I did some plain weave, a row of soumak to make a clean turning edge, and some more plain weave to form a hem at the back.

Things that could be better:
* I really don’t like the way the warp becomes visible on the black towards the top. I wanted a smooth progress of texture. I tried a couple of other yarns to get better coverage, but the changes in colour and texture were jarring. I had been careful with my planned yarns to introduce them gradually. Better yarn selection from the start would help. A black warp could work, although this would have an impact on the background, resulting in a grid effect. I could also try painting the warp in the planned seaweed area prior to weaving.
* While I like the effect of the neoprene picks across the whole width (they create some visual continuity and provide some needed structure, as well as making it clear that this isn’t an attempt at realism), it would be interesting to vary the width of the lines from bottom to top to increase the sense of depth.
* The shaping at the top doesn’t work. It’s made worse by a couple of bad choices on the slope of the curve, plus the variation in colour of the newspaper. This could be improved by practice in the technique and more considered selection of parts of newspaper to use.
* I don’t think it’s apparent in the result, but I had a lot of difficulties weaving with the paper. Improved spinning technique and a wider shed on the loom would assist.

Project 8 Stage 2 Exercise 4 – weaving in a rigid grid

The requirements for this exercise were fairly open – use rigid materials to make a grid, any size, then do something with it. Possibilities included filling in spaces, weaving across diagonally, using the grid as a frame or base structure…

I took a number of photographs of this structure on Cockatoo Island when I visited it with Claire during the biennale.

I did some work in my sketchbook (here) and was thinking about filling the spaces with some kind of exploration of rust colours and texture (I’d done a little on rust using stitch back in project 2, blogged 24-Oct-2011).

It took a couple of evenings wandering vaguely purposefully around the house looking for suitable rigid materials, but eventually I found a bundle of metal loom heddles, scavanged from a Guild clearout. It seemed a nice twist to make a weave structure using loom parts. The heddle eyes and the loops at each end helped to combine the heddles to create a grid, and after a lot of experimentation and false starts only a few twists of wire at key points were needed to provide some stability.

I was pleased with the shape I came up with – more reminiscent of electricity pylons than the original image, but still pretty nifty I thought (unfortunately I forgot to photograph it bare). It had such interesting lines and odd shapes that I decided to be very simple in the weaving. It took a lot more experimentation, both on paper and in attempts on the frame, to get a method that worked.  The multi-colour diagram on the left of this sketchbook page, towards the top, was the final design. Even once I’d figured it out I kept going wrong in the weaving, since I was using a single length of yarn and kept losing track as I worked up and down each triangle. In the end I carried along extra yarns in the different colours as I wove so I could identify each pass, then removed them once the weave was formed.

I  used one of my challenge yarns from Reverse Garbage  – not actually for additional challenge, but fortuitously it was in a colour and with a texture that suggested rust. It’s definitely synthetic – possibly a type of nylon, but I have no idea of its original purpose. I also used a blue version of the yarn to create a counterchange pattern, providing some extra visual interest while highlighting rather than obscuring my nice grid. I could pretend that the blue was echoing the colour of the sky, but really it’s just what I had.

I’m actually really pleased with this, although it’s a very odd thing. I’ve considered bending down those protruding wires near the top. A 90 degree angle could increase the suggestion of electricity pylons. In the end I’m too attached to the idea of the integrity of the heddles – ten altogether I think. It amazes me that they could be fit together without modification to create such an interesting set of shapes.

The choice of a simple weave worked well. It meets the exercise brief, fits with my chosen source image, and doesn’t obscure the grid shapes. I also like the way the spaces in the weave structure vary in size, just like the grid itself. Plus I’m pleased with my process, a good mixture of planning and experimentation, not losing sight of my source but not slavish and literal. It’s not a thing of beauty, but it does have interest and in my eyes a kind of oddball charm.

Project 8 Stage 2 Exercise 3 – Weaving inside a shape

The goal of this exercise was to make a rigid shape, then weave within it, thinking about the effect of light and space and selecting materials for their qualities against the light.

I decided quickly on a circle. I was thinking of the round braid using weed trimmer line in the last exercise (blogged here, 16 September) and on the right in the thumbnail photo. I could substitute something more suitable than the black tubing and try to make the braid into a circle. Light through the blue line should be a nice effect, I like the idea of building on work in previous exercises, and the multiple strands would provide lots of attachment points.

Next I played around with a few ideas for shapes within the circle.

One reminded me of some of my earlier shell sketches back in sketchbook 2 in February, so that was my base. For colour, blues and whites – thinking of shells, sea, sky and (looking at the sketch) the opera house. My challenge “yarns” would be the trimmer line and some cotton tubular knit sold at the hardware store for plant ties. I liked the silk tissue in my pleating samples (blogged here on 13 August), so that could work in the “sails”.

The ideas came quickly – not so much actually doing the work. First the trimmer line was totally uncooperative and curly. A run through the ironing press resolved that. I don’t think I achieved a 4-strand round braid structure in the circle. I tried to make a circle of one strand then add in the rest one by one. Very confusing. Another time I think I’d try doing a normal braid then splicing the ends to form the circle.

I intended to use the trimmer line to form the edges of the “sails”, but it was too strong and distorted the circle. I used a blue 26 guage wire instead – a bit light really, but it coped. I used a white cotton/viscose yarn in the round braid, and a blue of the same type in a very way between the sails. In the first attempt I wove torn strips of tissue silk between the wire supports. I wanted to create the lower rounded shapes by putting something in the cotton knit tube, but nothing looked good except silk cocoons, and I’ve done that in a previous exercise (also based on the shells, blogged here on 16 August). Then I got very excited when I tried stretching out parts of the tube – it formed lovely swirly lines like brain coral. I went a bit crazy, covered about half the circle with it. Finished! – except it was totally unbalanced and boring.  The sails were half covered, and the parts visible were boring – the silk was flat so there was no texture or interest. The knit tube was just out of control.

Eventually I took out all the silk and the cotton tube. I made some textured lace-like strips by free-machining over some cheesecloth, based on the class with Helen MacRitchie (blogged here, 15 September). Only a week ago but I forgot about putting it into a hoop – no wonder I had trouble and got a different effect!! The cut strips of cheesecloth sat between the wire outlines of the sails, and I wove over then using the tissue silk. Much more interesting! By this time I was thinking more of waves than shells. I found some … I think it’s mulberry bark paper – and used that across the base, poking holes in it so I could weave through the cotton tubing – in much more restrained amounts this time.


The backlit view above shows some distortion of the circle as it hangs. I think the final selection of materials worked well together to form interesting textures against the light. The (eventual) water theme is apparent, without being too literal. I was able to use my source material, but not be bound by it. The braided circle provided good anchor points as anticipated.

Compositionally I think it’s close but it doesn’t quite work. The sails are a bit misshapen and clumsy. The boundary where the mulberry bark paper meets the sails is rather abrupt. The blue “sky” lines look lost and forgotten. I chose the tissue silk because of the nice effect when pleated – and then didn’t pleat it! It is much, much improved from the original version, and I’m very pleased that I put in the extra time and effort.

Drawing workshop with Gria Shead

Today I attended a one day workshop with Gria Shead at the Art Gallery of NSW. The class description: “In this workshop you will focus on drawing fabric as a starting point for exploring the heart of an interior. You will be focusing on tone and line, the bare minimum, in order to create a tactile aesthetic, representing form while understanding what it feels like. This workshop is suitable for all levels of experience.” Learning to draw while focusing on fabric and suitable for beginners – yes please!

On the right is a photo of recent work by Gria, which spent the day on an easel at one end of the room. It’s one of a series she has done of interiors of Vaucluse House. My phone camera comes nowhere close to doing it justice! Apart from other considerations, you could see the sofas were covered in velvet, that the curtains were sheer, that the floor was covered by carpet not linoleum. The texture is lovely. Look at those little highlights on the seats and top edges of the sofas!

This is a display of our work at the end of the day. Gria’s work is at the far left. Mine is as far away as possible on the far right 🙂

The workspace is in full public view on the main entry floor of the art gallery. You might be able to see a display case at the entrance of the Upper Asian Gallery at the back on the left, and the escalators leading to lower levels through the glass behind the easels. You might also be able to pick up the stunning view reflected in that glass – beautiful Sydney in full spring splendor!

We started with  a visit to the 19th century Australian painting gallery, to look at some of the painted fabric on show. Hugh Ramsey is a favourite of mine (see here and here).

Then we came back to the studio to draw – handkerchiefs. First one handkerchief, in willow charcoal on cartridge paper. You can see in the workroom photo above a handkerchief artfully arranged on the floor (not my hanky though). The instruction was to focus on getting the shape and size right – basically life size. I found this hard.

Then we graduated to two handkerchiefs. As the day progressed I wished I had arranged my hankies in a more simple way, or stuck to one. I tried to concentrate on drawing the negative space and not what I thought I was seeing. I found this hard too, but I was enjoying trying in a somewhat frustrated sort of way.

Next step was some better quality paper, still trying to understand that shape. Gria had given us soft brushes to remove some of the charcoal when lines went astray. You might be able to see just how often I had to use mine! At least this time I was getting the concept of focusing on the outline, not thinking about the inside of the shape too much. I didn’t get the shape right, but I was more certain about where I was wrong.

This is what I ended up with. It works best if you stand well back and squint. I’m sorry now that I didn’t take a photo of my handkerchiefs – I didn’t get it right, but it’s not all wrong. But what I want to record and remember is the process, not my results on the first try.

After all our preliminary work becoming familiar with our shapes, Gria gave us a sheet of craft paper that had been roughly painted with gesso. On this we drew our outline in charcoal one more time. The early sketchwork made this so much easier, plus any problem lines were easily brushed from the gesso.

Next we painted the entire shape in grey acrylic paint. Just a single big blob of grey. That would become the darkest areas of our fabric. The process was then to add light and highlights – first by sponging off areas of the still damp paint, then with white paint (gouache and acrylic), and white pastels, and some people went a bit further with some more willow charcoal and some touches of colour.

Starting dark and bringing in light is such a great system. Doing the preliminary work meant that while painting I got closer to what I wanted, but also that I knew what I was painting so much better and was much faster at figuring out where a problem was. One big issue was the light direction changing as the day wore on, making painting shadows tricky – but as Gria pointed out to me, that always happens so you have to learn to deal with it.

Looking at a small piece of fabric with such intensity over hours and working so hard to really see it was … so many words – exhausting, satisfying, frustrating, enlightening, absorbing… I absolutely must make sure I follow up this with lots of repeats in my regular sketchbook work.

Project 5 Stage 4

Lanaset dyes printed on silk (felting paj). Printed area 44 cm wide x 52 cm high.

This final stage of the project asked for a larger sample, a repeating pattern and/or a “single unit” piece – a design complete in itself. I felt I’d done enough repeating work already, so just went for the contained design.

The subject is a jug that’s been passed down through the family and I now have on permanent loan from mum. It’s appeared on this blog before – it was the subject of my very first OCA sketchbook page here, and blogged here.

There was a quick profile sketch then a paper cutout in March, which was used as a stencil resist in the orange and black scribble printed fabric that I was very excited about here.

Focused work on this iteration began on April 16, which I’m amazed to find is only 10 days ago – it feels I’ve been living with this much longer! A day by day, blow by blow description of the development process is in the sketchbook beginning here.

Apart from the obvious of wanting to meet course requirements, I was interested in extending the work previously done. The printing on silk I’d done in Stage 3 led to some interesting overlapping images and had me thinking about the nature of memory and images from the past. The process had also highlighted some technical issues in terms of size of prints I could achieve. I felt the use of perspex plates seen in the scribble print could help with that.

After a couple of quick sketches I settled into the practicalities – for example to keep on shape and the squares on a grid I would have my printing surface, then a full-scale printout of the vase silhouette complete with a printed 5cm grid, covered by clear plastic; then creating lots of paper resists and playing with placement.

This blog post by fellow OCA student Lucie stopped me in my tracks. I’d forgotten the design process. I hadn’t explored options, I hadn’t focused in on interesting areas, I hadn’t tried different media. I’d had an idea and I’d set about making it happen. <– Note the full stop.

Worse the idea was so literal – a jug plonked down in the centre of the image.

I’m being a bit harsh on myself. There had been play with collage materials, even if it hadn’t proceeded to making a collage. There was work to be shown in conte crayons and pencils, plus on the computer. A work by Picasso that I’d seen in the recent exhibition at the NSW Art Gallery was in my mind (Man with a Mandolin, 1911 – a photo is included in this article) which I remembered as having a central focus, but I looked in the catalogue(*) and read a bit about analytic cubism (**), then felt pretty foolish. Rather worse was when I noticed the wall mural in the supermarket carpark – blocks of colour, overlapping silhouettes…

I tried a quick idea of some kind of still life (thinking about Cézanne this time, and a little sketch thing I did here) but my heart wasn’t in it. Apart from anything else I was curious – would the ideas I had so far work?

After all the preparation and thinking, in the end it came together quickly. I had a printing session yesterday afternoon, then when I went to continue the work this morning I decided it was enough. None of the additional ideas I had would make it better – just different. Now having steamed and washed and ironed and pinned it up on a board and sat looking at it a while I can see heaps of flaws and problems and things to do better, some specific things I wish I hadn’t done – but overall I’m very pleased with it.

Some specific areas for reflection suggested in the course notes:

Selection of design material: The designs I selected back here were shells, Tutankhamen inspired, ink scribble and bird. The ink scribble worked best – it had a strong graphical element which worked well with the stamping technique. I also enjoyed the liveliness and flexibility it offered. I did a lot of stencilling with the shell design. It was reasonably effective, but unsatisfying in that I didn’t develop it further in the process. That’s in part due to the nature of repeating patterns – design and plan up front, repeat as accurately as possible thereafter.

My favourite tutankhamen design didn’t work out. I didn’t like the dye-paste print on the silk that I had in mind, and more importantly I think I’ve used the design enough for a while at least. On the other had I was able to use elements from it as stamp motifs and they worked nicely (they were the basis of the overlapping example shown above).

Although not on the list the jug has appeared repeatedly in my work to date. My use of it also built on the scribble technique and the layering achieved with the tutankhamen column motif. Overlapping and fractured images fit with my ideas about ageing and memory – topics that I’m considering exploring as a theme later in the course. The jug is part of family history, family memory, and it has a range of seemingly unrelated motifs jumbled around on it. I think this works well with the techniques used.

Fabrics chosen: I tend towards natural fibres and in particular I love silk in all its guises. It’s partly the simple “natural = good” message, although I don’t hold to that in dyeing. Silk is special. It dyes easily, takes colour well, generally feels good whether satin smooth or raw and slubby or crisp in organza. It seems to generate or amplify light.

For the final stage I chose a very light felting paj. It gave the most interesting patterning in my sampling and has a beautiful gleam. I have vague notions of using some of the ideas in nuno felting in the future. Finally, it’s light and postage limitations are always a consideration for the course. I did consider some heavier silks, but the habutai just looked a bit bland and I thought a textured silk wouldn’t work well as an interpretation of a glazed ceramic.

Scale, spacing, contrast and harmony: The scales of the marks and shapes work well in the piece. The individual motifs vary in size providing variety and additional interest.

The fabric itself is well suited to the project, as discussed above, but in this form is not really practical. It is too lightweight for durability in most applications. If used in felting I would expect loss and distortion of the image – which of course has its own potential.

When I decided the piece was finished I thought there was a good balance of shapes across the design – not even, but balanced. Now I see it finished and pinned vertically some areas that I thought were restful and interesting white space don’t really work. In particular the space in the left background near the handle is too large and it would probably have been better to indicate the narrow area near the foot more clearly – or at least one side of it. However I am very happy with the overlaying of images and colours, the positive and negative shapes formed and the complexity of image I achieved.

Soon after beginning work I changed my mind about how to handle the definition of the edge between jug and background. My original intention during planning was to use masks all around the edge, but I was concerned that this would make the overall shape too obvious and literal. I decided to cut off rectangles with a sharp angle when crossing the boundary, giving a kind of pixilated-on-large-scale edge, then define some areas with an added line. I thought this would make an interesting contrast of geometric and organic shapes. In practice I found the diagonal cuts jarring, and felt the complexity of the decoration would work better with a smooth, curving boundary. The early cuts are still there of course. I think it was a good choice to change.

The top of the jug is also a problem area – the spout and horned detail are too dark and flat, the top curve of the handle too undefined.

I particularly like the areas where the motifs cross the boundary of foreground and background (although the one on the right below has one of those annoying sharp diagonals).

I prepared both positive and negative versions of stencils to get further variety in the image which generally works well, except for a clumsy repeat of white on black close to black on white of a small plant mid-right background. Also I intended a more gradual and general movement of value in the background from dark at the bottom to light at the top. Unfortunately I haven’t achieved that. Really the overall balance of value isn’t right.

I like the range of colour used. Possibly it could be richer/deeper, but I didn’t want to risk losing the overlaying of shapes and imagery.

Overall success of sample and design: All the above issues aside, I think there is both contrast and harmony in the piece, providing an interesting, varied and harmonious image.

The layering and complexity of motifs works well, providing interest at a detail level. The treatment is very appropriate for the subject matter. The distance view is not quite so successful, with some distracting, clumsy areas. Also with so many rectangular elements I wanted to make the outside border of the image uneven, but I think the result goes too far.

Near the bottom right in the background is a small stencilled jug shape. I thought it might make a good visual clue if the overall design turned out too messy. I’m probably too close to the image to judge, but I hope that the overall shape is apparent (effectively making the small shape unnecessary and a bit cheesy).

The orange defining lines were a late addition to the design. The original sketch used black lines and the idea of the complementary orange was always on the list of “maybe somewhere”. In the end I think the amount of orange used is about right, and the extra definition helps to clarify the shapes. Although there were some poor choices, I was pleased that I was well prepared but not over prepared – there was still some flexibility and spontaneity while actually doing the printing.

I’ve read comments (and made them myself) in blogs and forums about various difficulties and disadvantages of being a distance student. On the other hand distance learning has the advantage that in the end you are responsible for everything. There are lots of resources available – course notes, tutor, the internet (especially blogs and youtube), books, friends, guilds … – but in the end you choose the specific task to meet the requirement, gather the equipment, find solutions to problems and get a result (even if the result is “I don’t like this” or “it didn’t work”). I love going to classes, but they’re often exhausting, you can easily miss a vital something that makes everything work and there could be specialised tools or materials that you’re unlikely to invest in at home. To get the best learning I need to come home and try the technique on my own, using resources and material available to me. With this piece I feel a real sense of personal ownership and confidence. I know how to do every step involved.

Overall I’m very pleased with my result. To be honest, this Assignment has taken so long I would have said “good enough” to almost anything, even a disaster that I could learn from. As it is I like the result, I like seeing the progress shown in my work and the development of ideas and techniques, and I’m sure similar elements will appear in future work.

* Laporte, S. (editor, 2011)  Picasso: Masterpieces from the Musée National Picasso, Paris, Paris: Musée Picasso, Paris.

** Maloon, T. (editor. 2010) Paths to Abstraction 1867 – 1917, Sydney: Art Gallery of New South Wales.

Yes!!!

I wish I could bottle this feeling! Hopefully you know the one – when you have an idea that something could work, and there’s some organising needed and you have to wait a while and you think maybe this won’t work out and then you get the bits you need and you give it a go and things start looking interesting and you try a few more things and then you feel like running around the neighbourhood shouting “yes! it worked, and maybe I can try this and this and…” and you feel a bit silly for being so excited, but you are that excited.

It’s a nice feeling.

You don’t have to get as excited as I am. In fact it could be quite a letdown when you see what I’m excited about. I’m excited enough for all of us.

Here it is.
On the left is my source sketch. On the right is my stamped interpretation, on white cotton homespun.

Thrilled doesn’t cover it.

It really doesn’t. I’ll try explaining.

Back here I chose an orange and black scribble as one of the potential design ideas for stage 5. Here in my sketchbook I jotted down some ideas for how I could interpret the source in a design. I needed some perspex squares and rectangles for the idea, so I found a local company who would cut all the small pieces of perspex I wanted. Today I collected the perspex.

This is the full piece I printed this evening. It’s about 53 x 47 cm (say 21 x 18.5 inches). The smallest square is 5 cm (2 inches) each side.

The ideas I jotted down back on March 11 include:

– print with orange and black on white

– paint rolled on perspex to give grid – a contrast to the scribble

– monoprint – direct on plain perspex; stamp with string relief

– mix up sizes and which colour base and line

– leave quiet spots

– work for balance with variety.

Well, I haven’t done all of that. This first sample isn’t particularly balanced.

After all, it’s the first experiment.

But there are a heap of ideas and potential in there, and it really is a wonderful feeling when one idea leads to another and another and it seems endless doors are opening in front of you.

So, calming down, using my words…

I have a set of perspex squares and rectangles, 5 cm, 10 cm and 15 cm sides.

I rolled on textile paints – black and orange.

At first I tried scraping in the paint before making the print. Then I tried laying string and yarn on the cloth to act as a resist to the print, then using the paint left on the perspex as another print. Then I tried using my jug paper snowflake (see sketchbook here) as a resist, then used the messy paper to print from, then used the leftover paint on the perspex, and the other part of the paper snowflake cut-out with the other colour and and and

yes, I’m excited.

I’m excited by the results, and that I can look at my sketchbook and look at all the steps and see how one thing led to another.

And I look at what I’ve got, and it’s not everything I wanted, and I can see lots more possibilities to take the idea further.

And while I’m certain the ideas aren’t original and that I’ve probably seen these things in the past and just don’t remember, it feels fresh and new and exciting (!) to me.

And today is my birthday and I’ve had a glass or two (well, 3) of sparkling shiraz, and I think it’s pretty good to be 54 with family and friends who care and be able to get excited about some bits of perspex and paint and cotton. Not everything in my life is good, but an awful lot is, and I know I’m a very lucky woman.


Instagram

The 3 brothers afterwards.

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