Early musings ….

5 January 2015

Over the past weeks whilst I await finalisation of DSA related items, reading through coursework and gathering together first assignment items I have spent time thinking about what I like and don’t like and the way I see the world around me – I have spent time looking and observing and thinking and have wanted to put down my early thoughts which include thoughts about how my sight, my hearing and suspected Aspergers affects how I see the world around me and how it may influence or hinder how I work. Recognising any hindrance by personal disability gives me the ability right from the start to adapt or develop so that it because a help instead.  I took time to look around me at things we take for granted, that we pass every day but objects that in their own right may have beautiful patterns or textures or colours or just some small or large detail that appeals.   

So the following are my thoughts to date:

  • I am partially deaf and so have realised I am a very visual person but I am also long sighted in one eye and short sighted in the other which can make me look more closely to at the world – by this I mean I know I can look at something soft focus and concentrate just on colours and soft shapes without squinting (looking this way I can use in drawings or soft water colours with no pencil lines or very faint just for shapes rather than detail) but the opposite can apply for objects close up in the same way … I guess what I am trying to say is that I want to use my slightly quirky sight to my advantage with the way I look and sketch sometimes in much the same way as a photographer would change lenses.
  • My partial deafness comes into play because I realise I have to be very much aware of my environment and it has been noticed my peripheral vision is very acute too.  Because I have to be very aware of what is around me I can be very detail orientated in what I see but I am also aware literally of the wider picture that I see too. At times I can be too detail orientated and am trying in some of my sketches to concentrate more on the main lines and shapes and colours and can do additional detailed sketches of areas that particularly appeal.
  • It is suspected I have mild Asperger’s syndrome and combine that with being partially deaf I am not comfortable with faces – my deafness was only diagnosed 4 years ago but is something I was born with and I have realised one reason I dislike painted portraits is because I have always partially lip read and the Asperger’s explains further why I am not always comfortable with looking people fully face on  even in portraits.  I like paintings with people in them though without question and love photographic portraits for some reason I have yet to work out – maybe because I have grown up with my Dad and brother being keen photographers. Somehow painted portraits feel more uncomfortable to me  but I do appreciate them too because of the level of skill of the artist.  What the Asperger’s may also have a bearing on is my point above about being detailed orientated – I can be to the point of obsessive so pulling myself back and sketching in the way this course teaches and varying the way I do sketches will hopefully improve my sketching and help me to concentrate on what I really want to get down on paper and express.
  • Despite not being comfortable with looking someone in the eye I am fascinated by animal or bird eyes or indeed human eyes in photographs – I look for expressions around the eyes, noses or mouths (not over keen on noses either but like beaks!) and playful sketches today and yesterday were about those expressions.  Eyes are the window of the soul for many but expressions on faces are for me ‘voices’ when I cannot hear …. everyone does this as part of our human communication but when you are partially or fully deaf it is more enhanced because as I have come to understand I have watched expressions and understood a conversation without hearing every word or intonation (the way my hearing loss works is that I have parts of tones missing and if I have a lot of background noise or someone is behind me I simply cannot hear) so putting these expressions down in sketches is fascinating and it makes me wonder how they could be translated to textiles. Some sketches I am leaving out the colour and some putting it in to try and voice what I really see – I have read my course work and taken on board straight away my sketches are my interpretation of what I see. Eyes and expressions are something I am keen to explore in sketches and textiles – not the whole face or head but the eyes and expressions.
  • I am fully aware of a life long love of architecture – both in the forms of trees and shrubs and plants (their structures are the architecture of the plant world) and brick or man made architecture.  I love strong definite lines and shapes – the colours can be secondary when I first look at something whether I am seeing it in person or whether I am looking at an image. I did a drawing in a theme book based on a photographic image I found on Facebook of a Spanish street (playing with the idea of architecture as a possible theme) and over the time I spent doing the sketch started to really pay attention to the colours – as I was first doing the walls of the street they just looked grey in places but then I started to note the blue tones or the yellows and oranges of the other walls or the layers of the colours of the street scene… I started to really see the colours clearly and more importantly I realised I had started to look and observe.
  • This observing of this image made me really think when going out to a shop today – I looked at the shapes, lines, textures and colours of not just buildings but of everyday objects that you walk past every day without ever noticing.  I noticed the patterns and textures of a low wall, the way an old piece of wood had rotted away leaving wonderful shapes and earthy woody colours (and of course today I didn’t take my camera so lesson learned!), shapes made by looking ahead at the road as it curved away into the distance and many others.  I also looked again at the stark winter trees that I really love but also looked at their bark with all the shapes and tones and with the odd little feathered friend providing a wonderful spot of colour as they looked down on me (with the most curious expression on his face too!). What I really looked at today was what surrounded me and that I took for granted – I looked for objects that were ordinary and yet the shapes, lines and textures and colours would make wonderful and beautiful textile ideas.

Another think I have been thinking about is the style of art I have so far been drawn to and it includes:

  • Early almost pre-impressionists and impressionists themselves.
  • Secular renaissance art but not so much portraits
  • Secular and medieval art
  • Modern ceramic artists more than historic
  • Sculpture of any era – this fits in with my love of architecture of virtually any period in history in any country.
  • Mosaics of Roman villas and frescoes
  • Any Japanese or Chinese art and this includes the textiles of these cultures
  • Jacobean/tudor textiles including tapestry as well as garments
  • Secular textiles – I love all religious clothing but particularly more historic
  • Victorian fashion going through to the textiles of the 1920’s and 30’s (love 1940’s and 1950’s too but bigger interest is the ’20’s and 30’s as also interested historically in that period more) but not so keen (some interest but vaguer) on 1902 through to about 1918/19 fashion/textiles.
  • All graphic art including graphic art novels and movies and propaganda or tourist posters from 1910 through to 1950’s.
  • Pop art
  • Street art and tattoo art
  • Any embroidery of any era – on clothing and textiles of any nature
  • As I have a quilting back ground I also love watercolour quilt art and art quilts in their own right – both straight pictorial quilts or what would be classed as innovative quilts using different techniques.


Overall by taking this time to think and look at what is around me and to start to realise what styles of art really appeal (and what don’t and why).  I have eclectic tastes art wise over many art forms and am looking forward to exploring some further but honing my research from a generalised love of a period into individual artists or a group of particular artists. Taking this time has also helped me understand about how our sight or even our hearing affects how we see the world and how it may affect my studies and textile work – the irony is my hearing has a bigger effect on how I see as I have always felt that through my love of stitching I can speak in ways that I cannot express through voice alone.

I am aware of the need to take my camera and/or sketchbook out with me now or even just to try and sketch from memory a brief sketch of something I have seen that had appeal to me.

It has been good to take time to think and look.

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