Exhibition – Everyone – Your Place in the World

Over the summer of 2016 Derby Museum ran an exhibition that was entitled ‘Everyone:  your place in the world’ which was an art exhibition with a difference – it was literally open to everyone no matter what age or ability to showcase the Museum’s belief that everyone can be creative in some way.

This exhibition was an absolute joy to visit and there was a huge variety of different works of art in every form of media from photographic to Sharpie pens to oils to mixed media to watercolour with artists ranging from very experienced to just starting out.

I appreciate I am writing this in January 2017 as I have just discovered my photographs by accident but really wanted to include a selection of the art works in my learning log as it was an exhibition that inspired me personally and no doubt inspired all who went to visit it.

The exhibition was spread over 3 exhibition spaces which were very well lit with each work spaced along the walls – there was no overlapping or being hung too high or too low so each piece could be seen clearly and fully appreciated.  The works were not hung in specific genres or age groups so it effectively persuaded the viewer to look at all rather than personal favourites – for instance a child’s art was hung next to an experienced watercolour artist or oil painter.

In total there were approximate 150 different pieces and I have chosen just a few for this blog to give an example of the variety of the exhibition.


Ay up me duck by Mair Perkins – for no artistic reason other than it made me smile I just love this piece! Mair has used acrylic and ink for what is ultimately a simple composition with the word ‘quack’ forming the water.

Sometimes it is nice to have a reminder that art does not need to be serious but can be just pure fun both to view and to do.  There is no doubting the skill involved and also the thought that has gone into this piece – I wonder whether this was done during a design process or just an idea that worked first time.


In total contrast another favourite was this piece titled ‘you go first’ by Paul Searson which was oil on board.

The detail in this oil painting was absolutely astonishing and the way that Mr Searson has captured the light and shadow was awe inspiring – I could have studied this art work for a considerable period and in fact did you back and look several times as well as take some close up photographs for personal later reference.  Mr Searson captures a calm and happy atmosphere with a scene that invites you into the painting and makes you want to explore what is around that corner of the road.  I love the limited palette he has used – primarily greens, grey and white which brings harmony and that aforesaid sense of calm.


Harman Dickson’s piece is enamel on board and titled ‘Girl Talk’.

I have not seen enamel paint used in this way before – my experience of it is in Airfix models as a child so it is fascinating to see how it can be used in different artistic terms.  From my limited understanding there are various different types of enamel paint but it is a paint that is very opaque and therefore covers well whatever it is painted on.  I do really like the composition of this piece and again it has a lovely calming and relaxing atmosphere as two girls talk in the late afternoon or evening against a setting sun – the sun is large and prominent, almost oversized so there is a feeling of a slightly distorted perspective from the point of the viewer which is further compounded by the fact that the figures seem to be sitting or standing at their table in a slightly rough sea rather than on a beach or in a taverna or cafe.

This is a painting that the more I look at it the more it makes me think and question what the artist is trying to say to the viewer.


A more familiar scene to me is this watercolour by Charles Chen of Irongate.

I can personally testify to the accuracy of Mr Chen’s piece as I have lived in Derby for over 16 years now and know this area well.   I question whether Mr Chen has painted this scene en plein air or from a clear photograph but either way the light and the desertion of the street, apart from two figures, suggests it was done early in the day – Irongate is in an area known as the Cathedral Quarter, which in December 2016 was awarded the title of Britain’s best high street by the Department for Communities and Local Government, and so is a relatively busy part of the city from early morning to late evening.

The focus of the painting is Derby Cathedral in the background but no less attention has been paid to the shops and bars in the middle and foreground.  I note the perspective has been done with incredible accuracy and there has been clear attention to where the light falls as well as carefully chosen and considered colours.  Atmospherically I am unsure what this piece says to me but this is more to do with the fact I know this area so well – it is hard to be subjective and just let the painting speak to me because although the street appears quiet and calm I know it is bustling and full of life so my feelings become clouded but maybe that is also the appeal of the painting too for me personally.


Sally Kesterton has used mixed media for her piece, ‘Pebble Path’.

I took particular note of this piece because there is machine stitching done on the pebbles which created texture as well as having linear qualities.   The subject is simple – pebbles but those pebbles become the focus with their slightly differing ovals and shapes along with the subtle colours and textures.  I have a habit of over-complicating designs and ideas which I am slowly recognising and this piece along with others in the exhibition reminds me that sometimes it is the simplest ideas that are the most effective and can be developed into a considered and well thought out design or art work.


‘Shining Cliff Pond’ by Jeff Mander was one of the photographic works in the exhibition.

The subject is a large pond in Derbyshire and clearly taken on a misty morning as the sun rises.  The pond has almost a mystical feel about it and if the sun had stayed hidden behind clouds this area could feel very sinister particularly as this also clearly be taken in winter.  I am particularly interested in the palette of this piece – the colours are muted and almost sepia toned which again adds to the atmosphere.  The reflections of the trees and shrubs are caught in the still water with nothing moving but everything is calm.


As I stated earlier one of the nicest things about this exhibition was the wide age range of the exhibitors – this small art work by Darcey Oversby is clearly a child’s piece and drawn simply using Sharpie pens.

Age is no barrier to art work and nor is creativity and this piece alone demonstrates what the museum aimed to achieve – anyone can be creative and for me that is something that should really be encouraged.  Every great artist starts somewhere – from the great masters of the Renaissance to the graffiti artist or the textile artist and who knows young Darcey might go on to be the next Tracey Emin.


Edward John Morgan painted and drew a series of postcard sized images for his work he called ‘my place in the world’.

This piece I liked because of the variety of different sketches and small paintings done as Mr Morgan explored both the world in which lives as well as his place and in turn I found myself thinking about where I fit in.

I have lived in Derby for over 16 years now which is by far the longest time I have lived anywhere but I have also lived in Oxfordshire for 15 years but in different locations in that county, I lived in Lincolnshire, again in different locations, for 10 years and I was also born in Plymouth so if I was to do a similar series of paintings would I include just Derby or would I look to include each individual town or would I also include the places I have visited? each and very one makes up a part of who I am.  Mr Morgan has through his art work made the viewer think as well as enjoying the fact that each postcard sized art work is wonderfully executed in pen and watercolour or pencil.


One of my other favourites was done by Diana Shepherd and service uses from the Erewash House – The Phoenix.

This triptych style art work has the impression of ceramic mosaics but is made up of coloured paper and magazines – it is ultimately a collage.

Erewash House is a community outreach centre for those people with mental health issues, drug and substance misuse or learning difficulties which gives further meaning to the subject of the art work – the phoenix that is reborn and rises from the ashes.  The artists involved, and I am intentionally calling each person an artist, have come together and collectively created an art work that speaks of their determination to overcome their struggles and I don’t think I need to add further words – the piece speaks for itself.

These are just 9 of the art works on display and each and everyone I now view slightly differently to how I would have done before I started my studies – each has made me think in some capacity and also study the lines, the colours, the form or the textures as well as simply the meaning behind the piece, the emotions it evokes or the atmosphere captured.

Some of the art works were for sale so this exhibition provided a platform for both professional artists and those maybe hoping for their first sale.  Overall I was not sure what to expect from this exhibition but I can honestly say I think of all the visits I did in 2016, regarding exhibitions or visits to country or town houses, for this course and the art history module that it was one of my favourites and I can only hope Derby Museum repeats it again in 2017.


Derby Museums. 2016.  Everyone – Your Place in the World.  Derby.  John E Wright.

Derby Telegraph. 2016. Derby Cathedral Quarter Wins Great British High Street Awards – reaction and delight [online]. [Date Accessed:  January 2017].  Available from: http://www.derbytelegraph.co.uk/derby-cathedral-quarter-great-british-high-street-awards-live-updates/story-29976383-detail/story.html







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Visit – Melbourne Festival – Art & Architecture Trail

Each year in September the market town of Melbourne in Derbyshire holds a festival over a full weekend and includes an art and architecture trail which my fiance and I were more than happy to go along to.

The exhibitors and artists had their stalls located throughout the town in the churches, the halls and many of the local town private houses – kitchens or living areas and gardens not normally open to the public are used as areas for effectively pop-up shops or exhibition space.

Many of the pubs or halls or gardens also had musicians or performing artists putting on shows including family activities – this festival is a celebration of creative and performing arts of all genres and as a consequence attracts visitors of all ages.  My fiance and I really did not know what to expect and so went along purely for the afternoon – in 2017 we are allowing a full day as there was so much to see and do we realised 3 hours was not really enough time to fully appreciate all there was to see and do without rushing and also allowing for a picnic lunch!

Melbourne is what I would consider a small to medium sized market town and not difficult to navigate but it is remarkable just what it could pack in! Regarding the actual art and architecture trail – entrance is by a sticker style ticket which also provides you with a guidebook, which frustratingly as I type I have mislaid, which gives you information on all the artists and where they are located …. each house or church is numbered on the outside which helps hugely and the whole festival and trail was wonderfully organised.

img_1922My first stop in the trail was to find a textile artist I am familiar with through Facebook – Susan Trevor.

Susan makes a wide variety of textile pieces including the fabulous watering can which can be seen in my photograph  along with an array of bags or vessels which are suitable to have a glass vase or plant pot inserted plus also a variety of buttons, fabric covered mirrors and broaches amongst other things.  All of Susan’s work is stitched in bright fabrics with heavy machine stitching but it is the three dimensional objects that intrigued me most and I was delighted to see in person.

Please note any photographs I post I obtained permission the of the artist at the festival to do so and due to mislaying my guide I am also only posting the images in which I can rightfully credit the maker.

img_1927Near to Susan Trevor was a print-maker called James Green whose work we both really loved as his work was vary varied from town/cityscapes to animals which again ranged from sketchbook style to folk art or whimsical style.

James Green’s work includes lino cuts, screen prints and poster prints and having tried the first of those I was in awe of his skill – lino-cutting takes practice and time and considerable patience to learn never minding just keeping fingers out of the way of those blades!  Mr Green was one of the nicest people we met throughout the afternoon and was more than delighted to talk about his work as well as really encourage me to keep persevering with the technique and was happy to give advice.

img_1940In total  contrast Kerri Pratt works in acrylics and is an award winning artist from the East Midlands.

Kerri’s work responds to man-made urban and industrial spaces which I found really appealing particularly considering I have previously thought I was more of a landscape art fan.

I loved how Kerri uses colour and line to create form and texture but also atmosphere too – one of my favourite pieces is the one in the top right of my photograph because it feels as if you are peering through a gap in a fence or wall to the street beyond. The art work has a slightly abstract feel about it but still feels familiar evoking differing emotions depending on the piece and a little bit of research into Kerri’s work reveals that she is working with abstraction as she explores the various aspects of the painting process.  It is interesting to note that each of her pieces starts with sketches and photographs which is very much at the centre of my own work during my studies at present – I personally am finding photographs useful in capturing a moment or a particular angle that I can reference when at my desk if I am not able to sketch quickly enough at the time.

img_1998Keith Wright’s photographs immediately drew my attention due to being photomontages of images which he transforms into these abstract works.

I cannot help love the flower images that Keith creates – all are delightfully feminine and soft and are art works I would love to be able to afford to have in my home.

Keith’s website reveals his love of marks or patterns that may have been created naturally or by mistake and in urban environments or nature  and his skill lies in transforming his photographs into abstract photomontages in which his original source is not always immediately obvious.  I have been increasingly drawn to abstraction due to the studies of this course and personally I like semi-abstract works rather than total abstraction and this is another reason I like these works – if you look closely at some of the other pieces you can work out what the object or the original scene was but it can take a little thought or viewing from maybe a different angle.

img_1988One of the lovely things about this festival was the fact there was something for everyone including the classic car enthusiast of which this is just one of the stunning vehicles exhibited.

In addition there was a beautiful gypsy style caravan which had been set in a Wind in the Willows scene – there was a trail on this theme around the town for children and their parents or families to follow.  This caravan was transformed into a delightful story telling area with shade and seats to sit on on a very warm and sunny day.

img_1993One of the local artists was Justine Nettleton  who comes from Long Eaton near Nottingham.

Justine’s work was relatively varied covering jewelry, textiles, ceramics and also art.  I particularly loved her use of colour in these two landscape paintings combined with the strong use of line which creates very atmospheric and emotional works.





Rather stupidly I had forgotten to put my camera battery on charge the night before so was limited in how many photographs I could take but before it died totally was able to capture the work of Mark Gordon in whose paintings my fiance and I immediately recognised many locations – including this one of the stables at Calke Abbey which we had visited for my art history module.

Mark’s work displays his considerable skill with oil paints and his ability capture the atmosphere of the houses or buildings he paints and also the landscapes or seascapes.  As we discovered some of his work includes the interiors of properties including the local National Trust properties  whereby he captures not just the details but something that goes beyond what you immediately see  – the artist statement on the Tarpey Gallery website describes his work as capturing the memories and lives of those who have lived in those properties and this I totally agree with.

It is of no surprise to learn that Mark Gordon was named the best young artist in Britain aged 17 and went on to study drawing and painting at the Ruskin School in Oxford – his talent is evident and his works are in a variety of collections throughout the UK as well as the education department of Nottingham Castle.

Interestingly on Mark Gordon’s website is a page devoted to mobile phone photography – I say interestingly because this is a relatively new genre of photography as our mobile phones become ever more sophisticated.  Mark has an incredible eye for capturing a moment or a scene that may or may not be developed through photographic manipulation or editing  but results in images that have an ethereal or ghostly quality about them and also have an aura about them of a time gone past.

This is just a snapshot of the festival but other works included metallic sculptures, ceramics, hand crafted jewelry  and art works of every genre and media from oil paintings to pastel to watercolours – there really was something for everyone.  The vast majority of artists were friendly and welcoming and happy to talk about their work and answer any questions and there is no doubt all the homeowners who opened their doors are instrumental in this festival being the success it is.  One day I want to be one of the artists exhibiting and selling there such was the impression it has left on myself and my fiance.


Gordon, M. 2017.  Mark Gordon [online].  [Date Accessed:  January 2017].  Available from:  http://markgordonart.com/

Green, J. 2016.  James Green Printworks [online].  [Date Accessed:  December 2016].  Available from:  http://jamesgreenprintworks.blogspot.co.uk/

Melbourne Festival. 2017.  The Melbourne Festival of Creative and Performing Arts [online].  [Date Accessed:  January 2017].  Available from:  http://melbournefestival.co.uk/welcome-to-melbourne-festival/

Nettleton, J. (date unknown).  Justine Nettleton Artist and Maker [online].  [Date Accessed:  December 2016].  Available from:  http://www.justinenettleton.co.uk/

Peak District Artisans and Respective Members. 2017.  Keith Wright Artist Biography [online]. [Date Accessed:  January 2017].  Available from:  http://www.peakdistrictartisans.co.uk/artist/keith-wright-2/

Pratt, K. (date unknown).  Kerri Pratt [online].  [Date Accessed:  December 2016]. Available from:  http://www.kerripratt.co.uk/

Tarpey Gallery Contemporary Fine Art.  (date unknown).  Mark Gordon Derbyshire, UK [online].  [Date Accessed:  January 2017].  Available from:  http://tarpeygallery.com/artist/mark-gordon/

Wright, K. (date unknown).  Keight Wright – fine art photography [online]. [Date Accessed:  December 2016].  Available from: http://www.keith-wright.com/




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Visit – Quilt and Stitch Village, Uttoxeter, April 2016

This is a long overdue blog of a visit made in April 2016 to a quilting and embroidery show, just across the border from where I live, in Uttoxeter in Staffordshire.

This show is called Quilt and Stitch Village and is held at Uttoxeter Racecourse annually and is one I have entered in the past and have decided to enter this year too with possibly my second favourite design in my theme book but at this point I am undecided whether it would be a bag or a quilt!

Going back to the show in 2016 my fiance and I did not have more than a couple of hours so it was a little bit of a whistle-stop tour but the exhibits were of a very high standard and well worth seeing.  One of the nice things about this show is that it attracts beginners to professionals – it is a relatively small but professionally run weekend.

I do not have many details of the quilts and embroideries so have decided to include my personal favourites with the reasons I liked them whether it is down to the quilting, the detail or just purely the colour choices. Unfortunately I did not manage to keep a note of the exhibiting numbers and therefore all of the names of the makers so my apologies to the quilters and embroiderers who I have not been able to credit correctly.

img_3161The overall winner of the quilting competition was won by Lynda Jackson with this exquisitely embroidered and quilted bed quilt.






The colours on this quilt really appealed to me as they are very understated and elegant.  The embroidered blocks are set off perfectly by simply incredible machine quilting which not only enhances the fabrics and motifs but also creates additional depth and interest. The embroidery itself is to use a non-technical term ‘mindboggling’ as I initially had thought it was fabric appliqued!

img_3168I found myself very much drawn to sampler quilts this year with the variety of different blocks and different combination of colours and this one appealed to the very geometric nature and the simplicity of the quilting.  The sharp points the maker has achieved on the triangular shapes are never easy to do as I am desperately aware – these can be achieved through either foundation piecing of the blocks or through piecing the shapes with 1/4 inch seam allowance.

img_3170Another sampler quilt that I really liked is this one with very different colours and some additional blocks.  Again the quilting was kept simple to show off the blocks and fabrics.

I really loved the fabrics used with a combination of tone on tone and patterned fabrics which perfectly complemented each other.

img_3186Each year the show has a category with a theme and the 2016 show was London’s Burning to commemorate 500 years since the Great Fire of London.

This quilt by Stephanie Preece was striking in both its use of colours and deceptive simplicity in portraying the flames of the fire – a simple but effective combination of squares and half-square triangles.  The quilt almost has a cubism or abstract feel about it but retains the impression of flames – as I said striking in its simplicity and a clearly thought out design.

img_3184A second quilt in the same category concentrated more directly on depicting a scene from the fire.  Applique was used extensively along with free machine quilting which adds both texture and detail.

Personally I find the addition of figures works really well in adding a real sense of emotion as the people of London fought the flames. Unfortunately this is one I have been unable to attribute to its maker.

img_3185This quilt by Claire Middleton is a total contrast again to the first and was done in an olde-world style in the sepia style colours and also the depiction of the buildings and smoke.

Ms Middleton has interpreted the scene in an imaginative and creative manner with the border in rich yellows and golds adding a picture-frame quality to the quilt. Apparently the inspiration was a woodcut and decoration on a monument and she used a combination of cotton, silk, satin and viscose fabrics which create texture and interest as well as defining each area or building.

img_3193One particular genre of quilts I always enjoy seeing are the ones based on landscapes or seascapes with this one particularly appealing due to having grown up partially near the sea.  I believe the maker is Nicky Ilsley and the quilt name is Oyster Catchers in Caithness and was based on a day at a deserted beach as she tried to photograph the birds running in and out of the shallow water.  For me personally this perfectly captures the scene and the calming emotions it evokes.

img_3175A second landscape quilt that appealed to the senses is this one of a boat on a lake or river with the mountains in the background.

This is another I have been unable to credit the maker sadly because I really like the colours used and how they are used – the shapes are simple with gentle but distinct blending or depiction of shadows and form.  I like the linear and yet painterly quality of the whole composition which immediately draws you into the serene image.

img_3166Going back to the sample style quilts this one has everything for me – colours, shapes, line and impression of form and each area draws your interest.

I love the fact the unknown maker has used different sized blocks which creates a random style when combined with the large variety of techniques used – there is clam shell patchwork ,(presuming English paper pieced which is common for this particular patchwork), applique, either Cathedral window or orange peel patchwork, pieced blocks in differing patterns, curved blocks and also an appliqued border.  The maker has chosen a co-ordinating although extensive colour palette which, despite the random and delightfully chaotic look of the quilt, creates harmony – the colours are mainly muted mid-tone colours with a cream or light beige background.

img_3172This last quilt is a personal favourite and I know from experience this is a popular style of design for houses and trees.

The maker has used a muted selection of scrappy fabrics for her/his quilt and created something that is fun and makes you smile to look at it.

Although this has a fun element there is no disguising the skill required to make the quilt and the quilt is exquisitely executed and finished with machine quilting.

This is just a small selection of my personal favourites in the quilting categories and there was a wonderful variety in interpretation of themes and designs throughout as an increasing genre of three-dimensional works which unfortunately I was unable to photograph due to my camera battery dying (reminder for next year is to charge my camera before the show!!).

img_3248The embroidery categories were equally supported by entrants and the work is of huge interest to me.

The maker of this embroidery has used a wide variety of stitches to create this river/waterfall scene. I particularly love the impression of the floral overhanging branches and also the way she/he has used the threads and stitches to create the impression of the water as it flows over the rocks.

Although there were a good number of embroidered pictures of different genres the works I really loved was the three-dimensional category – luckily I went to this part of the show first so was able to take the photographs I wanted.

img_3231This clock or timepiece by Julie Rowe was inspired by the work of A.W.N Pugin and his gothic architecture and was of immediate interesting having studied his work in the art history module I have been doing alongside this course.  Ms Rowe used materials which included pelmet Vilene and painted bondaweb and also included machine as well as hand embroidery and beads.  I feel this piece is reminiscent of the carved details seen in Pugin’s churches or buildings as well as the stone work and I wonder whether Ms Rowe has visited St Mary’s Church in Derby which is known as Pugin’s masterpiece.

img_3232In total contrast this jacket by Pauline Barnes consists of machine stitched circles hand-stitched onto a silk organza underlay.

I freely admit to being amazed at the perfectly circular nature of the circles – I know that sounds a little silly but I have tried numerous times stitching circles and know how difficult they can be despite accurately drawing them!  This jacket retains a delicacy due to the materials used and  as Ms Barnes herself says in her statement in the accompanying show programme, it would look fantastic over a black dress or top.

img_3230These little pots were made by Jane Cairns and embroidered by Nicky Ilsley – the combination creates a little work of art in each pot and I really loved the detail in the stitch.

img_3229I also really liked this book which was made up of a variety of images based on masonary, sculpture, water, glass, plants, wooden objects or pathways.  Linda Schofield had taken a variety of photographs and set herself a challenge to re-create these objects in stitch – I only wish I could have had a better look at the book because that is very similar to much of the work of parts of this course.

I am starting to find I am being drawn to the stitched books I have seen – not just the book covers but the books that are almost sketchbook style but specifically recording a particular theme in stitch only.  I am aware of various ways of making note or sketchbooks and wonder how I could possibly transfer this to making fabric books in the future of a similar style to Linda Schofield’s work.

img_3235A final picture I wanted to add to this blog is this work by Chris Clowes who based the work on a photograph as it was reminscent of when Ms/Mr Clowes kept pigs many years before.

One of the frustrating aspects of the show was the reflections caused by the light on the framed works – this was irregardless of whether you wanted to take a photograph or just look at the pieces.   I felt this was more due to the building in which the embroidery section was in than the electric lighting and these reflections could be a little distracting.

However I was still able to get a good look at this little pig who was machine embroidered on a Habotai silk background – I am in awe at the standard of the machine embroidery and can only presume that a stabilizer of some nature must have been used and possibly a hoop too to keep the silk as flat at it is … personal experience has taught me to use both.  Chris Clowes has captured the personality of this pig delightfully and it has personal appeal for me due to my younger son working at a pig farm.

img_3143As well as the competition entries there were also embroiderers and quilters exhibiting at the show or doing workshops including Jennie Rayment who is known for her work with fabric manipulation and surface texture in quilting.  It was a personal pleasure to meet Jennie and she was lovely lady who was happy to answer any questions anyone had or just talk generally about her work as well as enquire about the work you were doing.

Overall the show was well worth going to although our visit was so quick – this year we are allowing a full day so that I can take notes of names or look more closely at any quilts or embroideries noting techniques or colours used for inspiration. As said I am considering entering with one of the designs from my theme book and now have just a week to decide in which form the entry will take!


British Quilt & Stitch Village 2016.  Show Programme [booklet]. Welland, UK Traplet Publications.



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Tutor Report – Assignment 5

Tutor Report – my own reply to my tutor’s comments where applicable is in italics immediately after the paragraph or comment.

Overall Comments

Jane, you have made it to the end of your first textiles course! – well almost – there are several things which you could do to raise the level of the work at assessment and I will highlight these here. As it stands at present you have completed the task set out in the brief with a clear investigation of a theme and confident design development to turn this into a product. There is evidence in your making of the learning which has taken place in previous projects and you have very good attention to detail in your construction skills.

Re reading feedback for each part is an essential part of knowing how to build on it and the more reflective responses can be seen at assessment, the more mature your folio of work will appear. In this regard the learning log / blog is a useful tool for showing how you have considered and built on feedback.

As I write I have been going back through my previous tutor reports and making notes of anything I feel I need to add to prepare for assessment whether it is additional samples or just blog work and is in direct response to the comments above. UPDATE:  January 2017 – I have worked through my blogs and added in any extra notes, blogs or samples as required and also where it is possible.  The only area I have not been able to add more samples is the weaving for reasons explained in those blogs but I also understand my tutor notes and suggestions and can take this forward.

It is worth noting that you do not have to actually make the bag – panels are fine. It is designing the bag and creating resolved samples which could potentially be used in the bag that counts and so make sure your time is well spent showing a variety of techniques and experiments which link together previous projects and show how you have used your inspiration to really explore a subject deeply.

Although my initial plan was to make the bag I now feel that I am taking the advice above and concentrating on adding resolved samples and also any further experiments that I feel maybe beneficial to show further deep exploration of my chosen theme. UPDATE:  JANUARY 2017 – all samples have now been added and any further notes to my blogs in response to this feedback.

Feedback on assignment

The stitched approach has often worked well and I really like your experimentation with different textured surfaces. Your personality comes through in the careful detail and composition within the panels and you have put a lot of thought into the colour and pattern.

Some of my favourite responses to that amazing Dovedale landscape are in the ‘explorations’ book – in particular the dripped watercolours where you let the ink run. The most powerful pages in terms of design development are the two with the water-soluble stitch on one side juxtaposed with the bold ink work on the other side. In these examples above your personal style shines through because you have not been overpowered by the materials but have reinvented them as designs with strong mark making and variation in density.

I am really happy my personality is showing through regards to attention to detail and composition and also the thought that went into the colour, pattern and also the texture – these particularly important considerations as I personally feel they  are the voice of the textile worker.  

I understand the comments regarding the dripped watercolours although I was unsure about how they would be perceived – I had not tried the technique before and was unsure of how successful they were and will now be more confident in experimenting further.  

I did enjoy working with the water-soluble stitch compared to the ink work and at this point was not trying to look at resolved work so was just happy to play.  I confess to not liking rinsing the stitched piece and felt it was a learning curve into how the technique works.

The acrylic works lack this sense of reinvention and I am not sure that you are recognising which of your paintings are the most valuable in a design portfolio – try to select pieces which have surprised you and which capture the mood of the place rather than the scenery. Later, when you move into stitched panels, this becomes more natural for you.

These are comments I really understand – I think I was trying too hard to capture the actual scenery rather than the essence or emotions of the places I visited and became almost restrictive in how I was working. I also understand that learning to recognise the best pieces for a design portfolio is part of the learning curve and it is important I understand that it is not necessary to capture the details of the scenery but the essence of emotion of the location and what I see … I need to capture my response to something more than what my eyes see.  I enjoy working with detail and there is no question that I will continue to work some sketches or paintings as detailed pieces – partly for own enjoyment and partly as reference for particular details or shapes and colours but I also need to work much  more instinctively and emotionally using colours and marks and this now needs to form the basis of my ongoing work.  I have studied the abstract artists of the 20th century during my art history studies and now can understand the art considerably better and want to now further my research on this period – I feel this would benefit me moving forward into my next course.   I find slight irony that as I move into the stitched panels this process of selection and capturing emotion becomes more natural – I cannot remember learning to sew so perhaps the needle is my real pencil in my mind so when I sketch I need to think in terms of how I would interpret what I see in terms of textiles rather than the artistic media I am using.

Final piece:

The bag panel is a well considered piece which combines several of your techniques. It is rather safe in comparison to some of the smaller experiments as noted above and this is often the case when we try to make a decision for something ‘final’. I feel that you have the beginning of a really good collection here in which each sample compliments the next. This is why seeing samples is more interesting than the process of assembling them as one object – a collection of samples counts as a ‘product’ as far as the brief is concerned. If you wish to finish the bag that’s fine but the more samples you have separate to this object the stronger the submission will be.

I do understand the comments and do re-call feeling that I wanted to work on something I felt completely comfortable with and was also considering practicalities when the bag is being used.  I am now considering submitting the bag as finished panels and I will be looking to complete it after it is returned post-assessment.  I have decided to add some other samples which will show the other panels of the bag and also am consider other samples which could later be developed further into an alternative version of the bag.

I like the way in which you have used your imagery as a direct starting point for the appliqué – the abstraction of shapes work well and the surface finishes on the fabrics pick up on several of the textures and patterns which you have captured in your paintings. Be careful that you do not lose the beauty of these by putting them all on top of each other so that the designs begin to merge – remember contrast is good and so areas of simplicity will make the more complex techniques stronger.

This comment comes back to me having to be careful to avoid over-complicating my design again – I wanted to keep the contrasts of the imagery but also felt that the pieces needed to cross over to give the impression of the perspective I was trying to show but totally  understand what my tutor is saying and will keep his tips in mind in future projects.  I am really happy with his comments at the beginning of the paragray as the imagery I realised needed to be the starting point for the applique.

It is very encouraging to read on your blog about how you allowed yourself to be led by the process and for the design to emerge rather than following your plans too carefully.

Theme book

The quality of drawing and painting is more dynamic in the smaller book because of the broader experimentation and use of process and materials however this book has a clear objective and sets out your theme well. There is progression towards the abstract as the book developed and so we can see you playing with idea and compositions. Colour appears rather crude in comparison to the fabric work and I would like to see you producing colour stories and moods which relate to your theme photos and drawings. A range of different palettes would give you greater potential to build that fabric 2 collection. Ultimately this could be suggested as a range of bags with different textures and moods. Again, no need to make these but visualising the possibilities would be a good extension of the market research which you have done.

This paragraph really makes sense and I feel my ideas to add further experimental samples ties in with the suggestion of visualising possibilities of different bags with different fabrics and palettes.  I do understand the comments regarding the drawing and painting being more dynamic in the smaller book as I was starting to restrict myself too much in the larger, later book as I was trying to work towards resolved designs and samples and got bogged down with trying to convey the scene rather than the emotions and essence of the landscapes.  

Learning Logs or Blogs / Critical essays

Blog is clear and descriptive again – it could have more examples of your development process and thoughts about how the inspiration has led you (more from your sketchbook and inspiration here please).

I understand I need to further expand my blogs and explain my processes and inspiration.

Pointers for assessment

Make sure that you have reviewed your feedback sheets to explore ways of developing each assignment and then submit all of the work in a clear, simple and logical way. Sketchbooks are key and should be clearly labeled and related to each assignment. It is useful to make a distinction between ‘development work’ and ‘final samples’ to show your ability to critically select from your work. I am glad that you have enjoyed this course and wish you all the best for your future studies!

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Tutor Report – Assignment 4

Tutor Report – my own reply to my tutor’s comments where applicable is in italics immediately after the paragraph or comment.

Overall Comments

Jane, you have really entered into the spirit of this brief and worked hard to build and use your own looms. There are some really positive points and several areas in which you could develop this further. I like the fact that you recognise that restrictions (access to materials / colours etc) can be seen as a positive – I agree and my impression on opening your work is that you have a natural ability with colour. You are able to put colours together which may be unusual combinations but which have a harmony and resonance with each other. This is most notable in your sketchbook.

Also working well in the book are your material combinations – you have combined several contrasting materials and allowed their properties to ‘reinvent’ each other. Later when you start weaving this becomes a little lost; more of that below.

I completely agree with these comments as in retrospect I felt I had started to loose some of the interesting new properties during the weaving sections.

I would have liked to see a greater quantity of samples here but of course I understand the time weaving takes and the fact that you had to build the loom also! The reason for this comment is that you have not been able to make selections from a wide range of samples and therefore the development process narrows down the designing before it has really had a chance to expand. Allow your projects to flow into each other; there is nothing wrong with continuing a technique in another assignment of even in your next course. Let your ideas progress and grow rather than starting each project with a clean slate – there is not time to do everything in one assignment and it is good that you have acknowledged that you are doing this with weave.

This paragraph really does make complete sense to me and I really  understand what my tutor is saying and I am also aware that I was also not able to do as many samples as I would like due to having suffered a whiplash injury before the end of this assignment which restricted how much time I could weave for and has continued to affect me.  UPDATE:  JANUARY 2017 – I had hoped to be able to do further samples using a cardboard loom but unfortunately the whiplash has been more problematic and persistent than I expected and this is frustrating me both from a general assignment point of view and from an assessment point of view.    

Another idea is to remake a sample which you have already made and just make subtle changes to it. From an assessment point of view this is seen as good practice because a) there is more work present and b) it shows how you have adapted, developed and refined your the ideas. Don’t worry if this feels like repetition; it will not turn out the same a second time. Artists and designers have always made work several times – sometimes hundreds of times – until they discover something fresh in the work. This can be very useful if you have limited resources as you indicated.

As I write my responses I have now finished assignment 5 and do fully understand my tutor’s comments and plan to go back and re-work a couple of samples to see how they work using a cardboard loom.  UPDATE:  JANUARY 2017 – As I have stated above frustratingly the whiplash injury has been slower to heal that I had hoped and I have been unable to re-work these samples although I am still planning on doing so in the coming months.  From an assessment point of view I have been incredibly frustrated and upset about not being able to achieve what I had planned but I do totally take on board my tutors points. 

I understand your aim is to go for the Textiles Creative Arts Degree and that you plan to submit your work for assessment at the end of this course. From the work you have shown in this assignment, providing you commit yourself to the course, I believe you have the potential to succeed at assessment. In order to meet all the assessment criteria, there are certain areas you will need to focus on, which I will outline in my feedback.

Feedback on assignment

Project 8

Stage 1. Exploring the qualities of yarn

You have used a varied collection of yarns within your samples and made some really strong colour connections. I like the reference to source material and your spontaneous response is probably far more appropriate for you than the measured and calculated approach (hopefully you are pleased to hear that!)

All I can say is yes I am very pleased to hear that my spontaneous approach works well!

Once you have a ‘collection’ of yarns, expand the connections between these yarns and your inspiration images. For example what mood do they evoke and how does this link to other designers work which you have seen? Variety of texture is interesting: what can you find that could be called a yarn even if it is not sold in a textile shop? Are there packaging materials / household items / natural materials that could be reinvented as yarns? Raid that shed again!

I am writing this response as I am nearing assessment and am gathering a selection of yarns together including some from the Christmas period with a view to continue to work with them in the coming months.

Contrast of weight and texture is a key here because they can be combined to invent new surfaces. I believe you are naturally able to relate materials, colour and pattern to stories and moods and so make sure you express this fully through your sketchbook work.

The last sentence is a comment I am very pleased about and will add in further notes.

Stage 2. Experimenting with structures

This is where the combinations can really begin to get interesting; in your book you have a strength in relating image and experiment (i.e. you relate the making to a source image). More of this please….also you have developed some good stories in here. I mean visual stories which take the viewer on a journey and relate to a context. The is strongest with the maps (p4 & 9) and and it would be good to see this pushed further – at present it is an idea left undeveloped (here is a perfect example of how making the ‘same’ thing 2 several times could really progress a theme. I wonder what would happen if you used several maps, several patterns, different colour combinations, drew over the top of them, photocopied, cut and rearranged, laminated, painted onto, included photographs from that location, let the edges trail off into the wilderness, drew your own maps, stitched lines into them, ripped elements out of them etc etc etc. All of this and more – the same thing but constantly reinventing itself). Apologies for all the commas but can you see how this process of remaking is also a process of resolving and building a collection? At the sketchbook stage it is cheap, meaningful , quick and effective.

I am intrigued by the suggestions my tutor has made and they are ideas I would like to explore further as I go forward into my next course perhaps as part of a separate sketchbook. I have added some additional variations of woven maps into my sketchbook for this section of the course although I am not particularly happy with the variations but also understand the process and what my tutor is pushing me towards – constantly re-working and resolving that gradually builds into a collection that can be used as a direct reference for further ideas or as  a collection of ideas that can be used for inspiration.

Your braiding may have taken a long time but you have been very conscientious and worked hard at it. There are some strong results and I hope that this has taught you more about material combinations and how they can become something new through the combination.

I do enjoy braiding, albeit not plaiting, and love the different combinations you can produce with different yarns.

Project 9 Developing design ideas into weaving

You have successfully prepared for and woven several surfaces which combine your yarns in interesting ways. The scale is also impressive as you have not chosen small scale samples due to the complexity. I know how long this takes and it is good that have bridged this assignment into the next in order to continue working on this technique.

There is a strength (or perhaps a confidence) in the sketchbook samples which is becoming lost in the final weaves and it is related to simplicity and spontaneity. You have packed so much into the warp that each element is rather overwhelmed by the next. I really think you have as many as 50 samples here if you took all the good ideas and separated them into different samples! Don’t be afraid of simplicity and remember that the handle (weight and movement) of the cloth is very important – try to vary this.

This comment really does make sense – a weakness of mine is to over complicate matters and this is something I need to rein back and be confident in simplicity in my actual stitched or woven samples as well as my sketchbook samples.

It may be easier not to try and ‘draw’ with the loom but to focus on your use of colour and yarn in more simple patterns, after all these are distinct strengths in your work. Also look back at the research to see how those unusual material combinations could be more fully employed in the weaves.

I understand the points my tutor is making and realise I need to focus my strength on use of colour effectively although I do confess to liking the use of a loom to effectively draw – I am inspired by historically woven tapestries as well as the work of Martina Celerin.

Research Point

Your writing about textile artists is extremely strong because you have introduced, analysed, reflected and related to your own work and opinions. You have also used images well to compare and contrast. You develop some very well thought through arguments and have clearly enjoyed this element of the assignment.

I think this is where the benefit of having been working through the History of Art course is showing – I have enjoyed research tasks immensely and now understand that the alternative course has developed my writing skills. 


I have already touched on many sketchbook points and so here I just want to encourage more integration of your artists research, more gathering of 3 materials which you find around you, more development of each sample idea and less ‘decoration’ of a page where it is not related directly to the experimentation. The book is strong – just let it get fatter!

Again I understand the points my tutor has made and think this is now coming down to confidence and understanding of what is required.

Learning Logs or Blogs

Well considered and well written.

Pointers for the next assignment

Theme book: this will become increasingly important in developing your project and personal style. Think carefully about the piece you are going to make and how it is relevant to you. Also remember it does not have to be a complete piece and so it could be an element of something larger. What we are looking for is your creativity with the materials, colours, textures and proportions.


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Tutor Report – Assignment 2

Tutor Report – my own reply to my tutor’s comments where applicable is in italics immediately after the paragraph or comment.

Overall Comments

Jane you demonstrate your commitment and enthusiasm in the body of work you have created for this assignment, well done. You have worked diligently through the projects and exercises, and I can see you have put a great deal of time and effort into your work. As a result you have developed and grown in your intuitive responses. It is great to see you gain in confidence all the time as you progress through the course exercises.

Assessment potential

I understand your aim is to go for the Textiles Degree and that you plan to submit your work for assessment at the end of this course. From the work you have shown in this assignment, providing you commit yourself to the course, I believe you have the potential to succeed at assessment.  In order to meet all the assessment criteria, there are certain areas you will need to focus on, which I will outline in my feedback.   

Feedback on assignment

Project 3: Aims;

  • To help you to understand and actively explore basic colour theory
  • To develop an understanding of the relationship between colour and mood
  • To apply your knowledge of colour theory to the development of sketchbook work

You have learned a great deal from these assignment exercises in terms of understanding colour theory and colour relationships. You have worked thoroughly through the colour exercises and obviously gained a lot of knowledge regarding mixing colours and colour matching.

It’s a great idea to use different papers to construct a sketchbook; the larger size gives you lots of space to experiment. You could try and vary the papers, for example using brown paper, newsprint, envelopes and other papers to make it more interesting.

Colour theory is a subject I really enjoy which I feel I was able to show well and I take on board the comments regarding differing papers although I now understand this also has to be appropriate to the work I am doing.

Project 4: Aims;

  • To help you to develop your compositional skills
  • To help you to understand the interrelationship of the elements of design
  • To use a design process in order to develop your visual ideas

This section has demonstrated that you have a developing ability to follow the design process to stylize your initial sketches into interesting compositions using colour well. Continue to be bold and experiment with your ideas. You are growing in confidence all the time, so keep on exploring your ideas further, as they are more interesting the further you get from the representational source of your inspiration. Well-done Jane.

I was and am very pleased with this feedback as again I had enjoyed working through the sections although I also clearly remember feeling frustrated at times!

Stage 2;

Exercise 2; An interesting piece, it has a strong colour theme and good composition.

Exercise 4; The final painted composition has a strong stylistic and abstract quality that you seem to be able to achieve quite naturally.

As I write retrospectively I still feel happily surprised by the comments for Exercise 4 as I had struggled somewhat with the development of this drawing and I am really happy that my tutor has felt that I can work abstractly naturally and this is something I now want to develop further.

Project 5: Aim;

  • To help you to develop design ideas through the use of paint and print.

Stage 3

The white paint on black fabric works is the most successful, as its bold and defined and the areas that haven’t printed clearly actually work too, as they give an interesting mottled effect.

The silk painting has worked well too, perhaps because you have tried this technique before and therefore feel more confident with it. I like the way you have allowed the coloured dyes to bleed into each other. I agree I think the clear gutta is much more subtle and gels the colours more effectively.

Some of the printed samples and painted samples, I feel have suffered from choice of fabric. I understand fabric can be expensive but plain poplin cotton and fine calico have a good flat surface to work on, as you have often chosen a fluffy pile that will soak up the paint prematurely and not allow for a crisp defined print or brush stroke. Of course you should experiment with all fabrics but remember to reflect on the successful samples and put these to the front of your samples. From your blog reflections you have tried lino printing too, which is great, its good to try out different techniques and get a feel for different ways of creating imagery.

It would be a good time to start a sample book so you can collect fabrics and gain knowledge of various fabrics qualities.

I take on board all the comments – the black and white sample was my favoured one and is the one I now regret not continuing with on a larger scale as my final sample although I am still happy with the yellow brushed cotton despite it soaking up the paint as I quite like the slightly softer edges.  I did find it very interesting to experiment with the different fabrics and the different effects that can be achieved.  I have not kept a specific sample book although a later research project has effectively provided this for me and I am also aware of adding fabric samples to my sketchbooks as each provides inspiration and gives ideas for how the designs can be developed into textiles.

Whaley’s online fabric supplier’s http://www.whaleys-bradford.ltd.uk have an extensive range of fabrics and will send small free swatches. Although they are small swatches you could test a very small area for printing and this way you can build up a knowledge of fabric and its qualities of accepting different products before you buy. They are also very helpful if you want to ask any questions.

Also some retailers will allow you a swatch and also a small length of 10cm of a fabric so these are all possibilities.

My local retailers are not always very generous with even very small fabric swatches but I have kept a note of Whaley’s and will, as I go forward, look at requesting some small samples which could prove useful as I go into my next course bearing in mind this response is retrospective as I am near the end of my course despite taking on board the comments of my tutor at the time.

Also for your interest; have you tried transfer dying? It is really effective too. If you have transfer dyes you can use an iron as your heat source if you use it carefully. You can experiment with paper and real leaves and other flat objects to act as resists to get a myriad of effects. (You need to use man made fabric for example polyester). Have a look on you tube at the technique.

Transfer dyeing is not something I have not been able to financially afford to do despite being very interested in it so I am keeping a note of this suggestion as I think it is something I could really enjoy.

Kemtex are a chemical dye supplier and will supply small amounts. Again they are really helpful on the phone with any queries. http://www.kemtex.co.uk/  But please read all health and safety information when using dyes. (There will be a course dedicated to different types of dying on level 2).

This is a company I know happily and I have been purchasing my dyes from for about 3 years and I do find them incredibly helpful.

Stage 5; examples of stitches on black fabric is a good demonstration of your strong ability to stitch and use a wide range of stitches. This strong skills base can be a spring board into explorations into stitch, to experiment and develop your future designs.

I do like working on black fabric and find that it highlights my stitching and the threads I like to use even if I use it as a foundation step before I move on to coloured fabrics.

Stage 6 ex 1 & 2

The french knot compositions really stand out as very strong skilled work and the colour match is very well seen as is the colour combination of threads. I like the use of different textures/threads to create different depths and textural surfaces, and the composition is good, as the knots fill the piece with a dense intensity that is really beautiful.

The french knot samples and compositions were the ones I admit to having dreaded but ended up being the most enjoyable of this assignment so I am delighted with the comments.

Overall you have tried lots of different techniques and processes, which is commendable. The design process requires you to return to your sketchbook, to develop more material then take those ideas and push them further. I feel you have made progress with understanding this process and are starting to realise the further you get from the original inspiration the more interesting your work can become. Creating more unexpected outcomes and explorations. You can now apply what you have learnt about the relationships between colour and composition in this assignment to make further progression.

As a design technique, it can be a good idea to make repeated photocopies of images and work into them or cut them up and experiment with composition, this can be executed on a small scale to develop ideas further before you make a final piece.

I fully understand the comments and the design process is something I found really exciting and continue to do so.  I am loving taking an initial image and working through the different stages with the end results being so different from the original sketch or source material.  I understand the suggestion of making photocopies of images and working into them or cutting them up as this is a simple but effective way of developing ideas.


It is good to see you gaining confidence in the pages of your sketchbooks and you demonstrate a developing eye for colour.

You are beginning to experiment further with your work to allow your ideas to grow in unexpected ways, continue to take risks in your approach, and be bold.

Continue to use different size sketchbooks to allow yourself the opportunity to work on different scales and to develop your visual skills further, by continuing to explore and experiment in your work. I can see that the larger scale has liberated you and really helped you loosen up, I would suggest you continue to work large scale, as it is obviously empowering.

As I think back to this part of the course and reflect on the comments again I am aware I took note and acted on the comments although I prefer to work in fact on a smaller scale initially before working up to  larger scale.  I do understand the comment that the larger scale does liberate the way I work and I do find it very empowering although space in my small home can be a factor when considering the size I work – the summer means I have more space to work in the garden and winter means my working space is more restricted.

Try to think visually as much as possible in your sketchbook; that is jotting down rough sketches and ideas for designs, making colour notes, collecting swatches and yarns, images and postcards of artwork that inspires you.

These suggestions are ones that I have increasingly taken on board and understood.

I suggest you develop a visual theme to work on, in a smaller sketchbook that you carry around with you all the time and build up a collection of visual information that you can draw on later.

Have a look at this video on the OCA student website Keeping a Sketchbook Useful with Eileen Adams. You could watch this several times as you progress through this course and you’ll gain different insights each time.


Also have a look at the weareoca website, there is a really interesting article by Neil Mussan a Textiles tutor all about sketchbooks.  http://weareoca.com/fine_art/what-should-my-sketchbook-contain/ 

Learning Logs or Blog

 You have reflected well on your learning progress in your blog. Can I suggest that you print off a couple of pages when you send in your assignment, as I can’t always read all of your blog. It would be a good exercise to select a few pages that really summarise the assignment for you, perhaps include a successful out come or an inspirational influence.

Several students do this and it is very effective and gets your thoughts over in a more clear and concise manner.

You have demonstrated that you are always aware of your surroundings and looking for inspiration where ever you are, which is a great quality of yours. Try to be more aware of contemporary artists and exhibitions and visit some if possible. You are so enthusiastic, which is fantastic.

I understand the comments and definitely took on board the comments and as my blog demonstrates I did visit some exhibitions although they were written up very much retrospectively due to working on other aspects of this course and the History of Art course I have been doing simultaneously.

This is a good website full of interesting interviews and information http://www.textileartist.org/

Suggested viewing/reading


Mark Rothko’s later works on canvas are interesting to research for a spiritual approach to colour.

Howard Hodgkin for his work’s dynamic use of brushstroke and colour.

I’m suggesting these two artists to emphasise the use of colour in an abstract sense, as I feel your work would develop if you move away from literal interpretations of nature and focus on your passion for it and your intuitive response to the subject.

It is only now as I near the end of this course and look back on these comments I fully understand how both these artists will inspire me in the future and I also take into account of the fact that I have studied abstract artists and colour field artists through the History of Art course and so have an understanding of their work. I now understand how I can respond intuitively to nature and develop my designs and work.

Sally Greaves Lord works on large textile banners inspired by landscape and nature. She reinterprets her landscape paintings into textiles.

Of course you will have your favourite artists, but open yourself up to look at different possibilities within different artists work.

 I am very much intrigued by Sally Greaves Lord’s work and will no doubt come back to her during the course of further studies.

Pointers for the next assignment

  • To continue to develop work in your theme sketchbook and build up a collection of visual information that you can draw on later.
  • The key words of advice here are to experiment and explore to develop the spontaneity and imaginative elements in your work. I would encourage you to let go of any preconceived ideas and not get too absorbed with literal representations of objects.
  • Select a few print outs of your blog to summarise your reflections.

I have taken these comments on board.

Enjoy working through assignment 3. Well done Jane for all your hard work.

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Tutor Report – Assignment 1

Tutor Report – my own reply to my tutor’s comments where applicable is in italics immediately after the paragraph or comment.

Overall Comments

Jane you have made a really enthusiastic start to the course, well done. You should continue with this level of diligence and effort throughout as you are making good progress overall and are beginning to develop good working methods. You have begun to make connections with drawing and your ability to think visually, I would encourage you to let go of any preconceived ideas and give yourself permission to experiment freely. This ability will develop as you progress through the course and gain in confidence.

In terms of fulfilling the aims of this assignment, building a visual vocabulary, there are some interesting samples and pages in your sketchbooks. You have demonstrated a strong skills base in your stitch vocabulary of techniques and are methodical in your approach to problem solving. You have been very focused and self aware throughout the assignment, which is evidenced in your blog reflections.

Well done Jane.

Assessment potential

You may want to get credit for your hard work and achievements with the OCA by formally submitting your work for assessment at the end of the module. More and more people are taking the idea of lifelong learning seriously by submitting their work for assessment but it is entirely up to you. We are just as keen to support you whether you study for pleasure or to gain qualifications. Please consider whether you want to put your work forward for assessment and let me know your decision when you submit Assignment 2. I can then give you feedback on how well your work meets the assessment requirements.”

Feedback on assignment

Project 1: Aim; to help you to build up the confidence to try out a wide range of drawing media.

Stage 1&2

Your mark making has evolved in confidence as you’ve progressed through the exercises and you have experimented with various materials. You could try even more experimental materials and tools, for example unusual tools; kitchen sponges, scourers, stones, twigs etc. and unexpected and found materials; wet teabags, plant matter and soil.

I am writing my response retrospectively towards the end of the course and mark-making is still something I am trying to experiment further with particularly with the use of different items and I fully take on board my tutor’s comments.  I have continued to work on my mark-making throughout the duration of the course.

Stage B exercise– ‘rock formations’ worked well as you picked up on all the different rock strata using linear pattern. This could have been developed further by using media that gives thick, thin, soft and hard lines for example; a graphite stick, soft 6B and harder 2B pencils, charcoal and all the more unusual tools sited above to apply ink or paint. This would have created a really interesting depth to the patterns.

Develop an experimental approach and resist literal interpretations. Also think about the physicality of mark making; the way you hold tools, positions of your body; standing, sitting, or working above a piece.

As I respond now I have the benefit of time and have certainly started to vary the way I hold tools or how my body is positioned – this has been caused at times through arthritis which has forced me to alter my position or adapt new methods but also I have tried to vary the way I work and enjoy the physicality of mark making.

Project 2: Aims; to develop your awareness of how the embroidery medium (stitch, thread and fabric) can be manipulated to give specific effects.

You demonstrate a strong skills base in your embroidery techniques and by stage 5 and 6, you show how surfaces can be built up and areas intensified by organizing stitch in different ways.

Stage 2

You have used a good range of stitches and materials and have a good sense of tone and colour range within the samples. I feel the shibori piece (tie dye) has worked well, as you have picked out subtle colours and shapes with stitch.

I was particularly pleased with this as I enjoyed working on the samples.

Stage 3

I feel this is the point at which you really begin to experiment and explore your work. You have understood how to build up intensity by the dense use of fabric and yarns and have used a good choice of colour and texture. The hessian fabric has worked well giving a natural feel to the work and the piece has a painterly quality. A good intuitive translation of the drawing into stitch.

Have a look at Alice Kettle’s “Odyssey” textile banners. She uses machine stitch in a very fluid and painterly way. http://www.alicekettle.com/odssey.cfm

         alice-kettle-bag-of-windsBag of winds. Alice Kettle 2003

I had again enjoyed doing the samples in this section and particularly liked doing the hessian one – this remains one of my personal favourites.  I have had a look at Alice Kettle’s work and I am very intrigued by her use of free motion stitching and this is inspiring – I love the way she uses the sewing machine effectively as a pencil and her use of colour is loose and free.  Alice Kettle’s work seems to be going towards abstraction but not totally as the figures are recognisable and the work very emotionally evocative.


I think you are working well and have learnt a lot on this first assignment, you need to concentrate on experimenting to allow your ideas to grow in unexpected ways, take risks in your approach, and be bolder.

It is good to see you gaining confidence all the time as you progress through the course exercises. Working in a handmade A3 sketchbook is a really good idea and you can use any type of paper, for example, newsprint, wallpaper, brown paper etc to draw and paint onto. Also don’t worry if they aren’t all a uniform size, this makes the book more interesting when you put it all together.

Try to think visually as much as possible in your sketchbook; that is jotting down rough sketches and ideas for designs, making colour notes, collecting swatches and yarns, images and postcards of artwork that inspires you

I suggest you develop a visual theme to work on, in a smaller sketchbook that you carry around with you all the time and build up a collection of visual information that you can draw on later.

Working with sketchbooks is something I have really started to enjoy as I have gone through the course and as I now read this again I realise I still need to be more experimental with my papers and also noting down colours, yarns etc. I am now using my sketchbooks as an extension of myself and note down anything that inspires me.

Have a look at this video on the OCA student website Keeping a Sketchbook Useful with Eileen Adams. You could watch this several times as you progress through this course and you’ll gain different insights each time.


Also have a look at the weareoca website, there is a really interesting article by Neil Mussan a Textiles tutor all about sketchbooks.  http://weareoca.com/fine_art/what-should-my-sketchbook-contain/ 

Both of these links have proved very useful.

Learning Logs or Blog

Your blog is used effectively for self-evaluation and reflection. You demonstrate a developing intellectual understanding and good critical thinking skills.

I thought your aim for the course was impressive “ my personal aims include being able to indulge a love of textiles and research artists and periods of history to new undiscovered depths and to be able to start to develop a way to voice through stitch and fabrics and dyes feelings and emotions and experiences which I cannot do so through mere spoken or written language”.

Here is a link to an interesting article by another OCA tutor on Logbooks/blogs.


Suggested viewing/reading  

Review the bibliography in Textiles: A creative approach, start to build an interesting and varied collection of books that you can refer to as you research and work. Use your local library.

Look at magazine publications such as Embroidery, Selvedge and Crafts.

Use the online resources available; there is a wealth of images to explore online. V&A collection and VADS; Online resource for visual arts.

Look at the OCA website for links to Oxford Art Online and Bridgeman Education.


Your next assignment is an exploration into colour. There is information online about Johannes Ittens theories of colour as well as books.

Ruth Issett is interesting to look up, for her amazing use of colour, she uses layers of vivid colour to create a dynamic and fluid feel in her textile work. http://textilestudygroup.co.uk/members/ruth-issett/

Ruth Issett’s book  (2007) Print Pattern and Colour.

Pointers for the next assignment

  • To think about what makes an image dynamic and interesting, and to continue to develop an experimental approach in you interpretations.
  • To aim to take risks in your approach and be bold.
  • To develop a visual theme to work on in your smaller sketchbook and build up a collection of visual information that you can draw on later.

As I look back I am aware that I did take on these pointers and developed a variety of themed sketchbooks that will continue to be worked on long after the end of this course and give me a wide variety of visual information as well as potential for experimental interpretations.  I also appreciate that the first two pointers are also things that come very much with confidence and increasing knowledge as my personal voice develops.

Enjoy working through Project 3 on Colour.

Well done Jane.

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