This sketchbook is a record of mark making experiments that will in time build up to be a dictionary or vocabulary of marks using various media.
The first series in the book were inspired by some printing I have seen fellow students on Facebook do – I decided to see what marks and prints could be made using a variety of leaves from the garden and recorded the different marks for future reference (and also for tracing purposes in mid winter).
The leaves used throughout these experiments included geranium, curry plant, lilac, buddleia, oregano, parsley, cotton lavender (flowers as leaves too small), blackberry, nasturtium, fushia, lemon balm, thyme, mint and Japanese maple. The geranium leaves were really beautiful but the most effective were the lilac leaves due to their really clear veins – the veins were crucial to successful printing as the more prominent they were the better the print. Some of the smaller leaves such as the mint and oregano also produced really clear prints too even though the leaf edges were too thin to show a defined edge. The thickness of the leaf also had a bearing on the print and definition of the aforesaid edge. I used gouache paints throughout for the printing for the opaque qualities. In Flowers and Fauna I have taken these prints a step further both in seeing how they could work in a design and also into fabric prints and stitched samples too – all of which I am really happy about and can see how using leaves that are seasonal could be used in ‘print and stitched’ work.
For the next trial I started to wonder about how to use fruit and a ‘light bulb moment’ made me realise that halved grapes are blossom petal shapes hence the next two photos:
The first photo was in fact the original trial and is a little large to go in the sketchbook (hence the photo on the page) and the different prints I later tried were done to see how else the grape could be used. For some the grape had started to split a little and almost produced a hoof print style shape which I quite liked and could be easily used as a repetitive pattern. The downside to the grapes was that they were quite slippery to use and I did have to dab the grape after cutting on newspaper to dry the surface a little before dipping in paint but even then the paint was a little altered in quality. I have not at the point of writing tried fabric paint but the picture was done with this in mind – in fact this is now the trial for background fabric for a mixed technique quilt that is based on cherry blossoms. The paper was grey murano paper and the branches were done using a feather found in the garden.
I further raided the fridge and found the lemons – now this brought back happy memories of school art projects and these again proved very effective. I also recorded the colours of gouache paint used and also any colours that were mixed from pure hues which is a practice that I am trying to get into the habit of doing so.
I do really love the prints made from the lemons and by using the edges increased the variety of marks even though so far my experiments have been quite limited. I can see these producing great fabric prints and will translate wonderfully into stitch.
This next photo shows marks made with the aforesaid feather found in the garden – very much a looser style of painting and with less control than with a paint brush but the range of marks I have discovered can be done has been really surprising and is encouraging me to experiment further with other paints including fabric and watercolour and can definitely see initial uses.
As I write (on 1 August 2015) these are the last marks so far in the sketchbook and were done using a new set of paintbrushes and to try and find out how I can use the brushes and the range of marks that could be done. The brushes were: angle shader number 4, filbert number 4, round number 6, round number 1, flat shader number 6, flat shader number 12, fabric round number 6 (the most limiting I found), liner number 1, flat wash 3/4 inch, fan 2/0 and flat 1 inch. Some of the two tone effects were accidental and purely due to the colours being next to each other in my mixing pan but a the same time a very useful accident! Much to my surprise I liked the flat wash brushes the best as felt the range of marks I could produce were wider as you could do from a simple smallish stipple or thin line using the corners or edges of the brush through to thicker lines using the brush at an angle through to the full thickness of the brush for the widest and largest marks. the fabric round number 6 I felt was probably the one I would use least as simply found more limiting in the marks but at the same time for general painting on either paper or fabric still a very useful brush. I have later added to the sketchbook the Brush Selection Guide that came with the brush set for added reference.
Overall so far the mark making trials and experiments have given me more confidence and are also an extension of the work done in the first assignment of the course – I can see how some can be used to create textures better than others (the leaf prints in particular) and also to be used to represent stitches or fabric and also to capture the essence of something I am endeavouring to sketch. Remembering the tip from the first assignment that my sketches as a textile student do not need to be an accurate copy but are intended to capture the lines and textures and what appeals to me most (whether it is colours, shapes or perhaps just purely that aforesaid texture). To be able to take photographs of not necessarily a scenic view but just a really interesting rotting log that is full of tones and variety of textures or a stone wall that has lichen on it or indeed a scene that has a variety of colours and patterns that just ‘speak’ to me for whatever reason is very freeing and the experiments and vocabulary being learned in this particular sketchbook will enable me to translate what I photograph or see (when I take my sketchbook out ‘in to the field’) into a marks and sketches and later into stitched textiles and designs.
In the General Sketchbook I did a couple of experiments inspired by another student and using coffee grounds on wet paper and also different types of tea leaves.
The tea leaves used were Redbush, PG Tips and also an Orange and Lemon Tea (left to right in the photo on the left). I sprinkled them on dry paper and the lightly sprayed with water. These produced a wider variety of effects than I perhaps expected and I will certainly experiment again with other varieties when I have them in our cupboards and also knowing how they could be used for backgrounds – it will be interesting to see if I can further experiment and get a similar effect on fabric (depending if the textile is to be washed or not will depend on whether a fixative needs to be used and if it does I need to research what the fixative should be and how to use it too).
The coffee grounds were used, as I have said, on wet paper and this I did really like as the marks produced were quite strong – I suspect you could produce individually marked areas or as in the photo an overall effect. Again, like with the tea leaves, I do wonder how this could be used with fabric to produce a print like effect and how a fixative would be needed – I have tried coffee dyeing before and have learnt to ensure a strong coffee solution is used to produce the best colour but would like to try again with different types of coffee.
I have included the following photos in this blog as I wanted to try simple dots in a pointillism style – again these particular ‘sketches’ are in my General Sketchbook (with the ‘bat-skull’ one being just purely a photograph as the actual version is A3 size).
These first three I based partly on mandalas and also inspired by the work of Elspeth Mclean who is an Australian artist who lives and works in Canada. The brush I used was a round one (number unknown as old brush) but similar to the number 6 used above.
The obvious translation of these would be into French knots or just using fabric paint and perhaps beads on fabric – either would be wonderfully effective.
Taking these dots a stage further and purely to see what a collection of dotted marks could do I took a favourite rock band cover (the bat-skull of Avenged Sevenfold) and produced the following picture:
I set the white bat-skull on flames on a black murano card – this has really shown me that one simple dotted mark can be used to create a much larger picture and that painters such as Georges Seurat realised could be used to amazing effect and therefore the pointillism technique that he both created and perfected evolved. The patience needed is astounding as I have further since realised too!
To the date of 1 August 2015 this has been a really interesting series of experiments, trials and sketches and as I have further experimented in separate sketchbooks is starting to show me just what can be achieved and I am really looking forward to seeing how my marks progress further.