For this stage of Part Two the course is about exploring the effect of colour mixing by building up a heavily textured surface and I fully admit to not being aware of just how effective this would be.
The course material speaks of the Impressionist painters who developed a technique called pointillism and this for me is where this textile course crosses over with the History of Art course I am doing concurrently. During the first part of the History of Art course I did a study on Georges Seurat’s painting The Bathers and he was one of the most notable exponents of this technique. Before starting this section of the course I had already tried a sketch for my theme book based on the pointillism technique as can be seen below.
For the purposes of the exercises French knots are used as this is the best stitch to recreate this pointillism technique.
The initial idea was to choose a background fabric in either black, white or a primary colour and then choose threads of equal intensity – I chose a black poly-cotton fabric and also a mixture of turquoise and yellow tapestry yarns, embroidery threads and pearl threads.
The instructions were to try making the knots very dense, mixed together and also separating them and seeing what effects could be created. It was suggested a third colour was then added (I chose green) and again trying mixing or using different proportions.
I fully admit this was a lot more interesting than I expected and it was fascinating to see the different effects emerge.
On the right hand side of the sample can be seen the initial combinations of the yellow and turquoise – I tried some knots very close together and some further apart and finally mixed the colours together. I found that the closer the knots were together the stronger the colour appeared to be and the different threads if used near each other seemed to give the appearance of light and shadow or different luminosity. However when the knots were spaced further apart the colours seemed paler. However when the turquoise and yellow were mixed then a green tinge seemed to appear and an optical illusion occurred.
On the left hand side of the sample I added the green threads (again tapestry and embroidery) and this produced very different effects. Towards the top of the sample I mixed the three colours quite densely and evenly and this seemed to make the knots almost sparkle and dependent on the light the colours either seemed to change between blue-green or yellow-green. The next section was just green and yellow knots in a combination of yarns and this certainly seem to make much stronger yellow-green tinge illusion occur. This was then changed to a blue-green illusion as I used green and blue threads for the knots – the first section was purely tapestry yarn and the blue has taken on a very definite dull green colour. In this section of the blue/green mix the knots were much closer together and the different yarns and threads were used which produced a stronger more vibrant blue green. Finally I used the green tapestry yarn combined with the yellow tapestry yarn and yellow embroidery thread but spaced the knots further apart than the first trial of this colour combination – the yellow was more defined although for me it seems to have a lime green tinge.
Overall this was a simple exercise to do but still incredibly useful. I did not pay sufficient attention to proportions at the time of stitching but have realised I use relatively even amounts for all threads.
EXERCISE 2 Sample 1
For this exercise using French knots the idea was to mix the colours so that a gradual colour movement occurred across the surface of the fabric.
For this first sample I chose a mixture of blue, green, cream and rose pink tapestry wools that I have had from an old tapestry kit my late Mum never completed – brand and colour numbers are unknown. I also chose to use black felt for the background as it would enhance the colours and show the effect of the blending of the French knots to their best advantage.
I also decided on a simple circle so that the colours graduated outwards from blue through pink, cream and green and then back to a mix of blue and cream which were spaced further apart.
I really loved the blending of the colours as it is not easy to see where one starts and the other ends which is what I intended.
I also really loved the different textures produced as I tried to make my knots slightly uneven to compensate for the fact that I used one type of tapestry wool throughout.
The overall effect has been one of colour mixing and texture with the end result also having a slight domed effect on the felt which gradually fades out towards the outer edges of the knots which is reminiscent of stump work embroidery.
For this sample I was required to look through my drawings and sketchbook work for an image with pastel colours that I could develop further. I was not happy with any I could find but at the time of looking a close friend, LaVerne Walker, had taken a photograph that fitted the request for pastel colours perfectly so I did a watercolour and Intkense pencil sketch based on a very small section of it.
The photograph was taken of sunrise over the Atlantic ocean and I had spent some time with a small image viewer trying to find the perfect view.
Photograph is reproduced with the very kind permission of LaVerne and it has a poignancy attached to it that belies the serene peaceful nature – this sample has been incredibly special to work on as this particular beach has very special memories and attachment to a very close friend of LaVerne’s called Debbie Cheek King. Debbie and I became very dear friends purely through Facebook and I never had the privilege to meet her but through Debbie I have become close friends with LaVerne and several other dear ladies. Debbie very sadly passed away last year and it is here that some of her ashes are scattered – a beach where she spent several holidays and held a very special place in her heart as it somewhere where I know she enjoyed the simple pleasure of watching a beautiful sunrise over the Atlantic. I chose this picture too because I have sat further down the East Coast of America and watched this same sunrise on several occasions and at very poignant and special times for myself too – those occasions lead me to find the path that lead to the road that meant I am now doing this degree. The reason I mention Debbie and the reason I chose this particular photograph was because Debbie’s and my friendship grew not out of the rare cancer we both had, (although that was our introduction), but out of our love of crafts and stitch as well as our sense of humour – to use LaVerne’s photograph honoured Debbie and also honours the gift of great friendship that she has left behind and so this sample holds special significance for me.
I chose a mid grey felt fabric and a selection of tapestry wools and embroidery thread plus narrow ribbon and also raffia.
I made the decision that I wanted different textures for the sea, the sky and the beach so used different threads for each. For the beach I used mainly pearl threads in combinations of a pale taupe, pastel olive green and cream. For the sea I used tapestry wools with a little blue ribbon interspersed to create a little early morning light shining across the water. For the sky I used embroidery threads with some narrow ribbon in the same blue (but using a larger needle to create larger knots), pale mauve and a pale rose pink. In addition I also used a slightly metallic white thread for the actual sun and added a few very small knots on the water that can only been seen when a light shines on the sample. Lastly I also decided to use the raffia for the beach grass and also added a pale taupe ribbon to create the tones I wanted and again the gives the effect of the early morning sun just glinting on it.
Having completed this piece I realised I had made a subconscious decision to not let the background fabric show through or influence the colours although as a border I feel it enhances the colours. I also spent a lot of time mixing and blending the colours so although you can see the horizon of the sea and the edge of the beach the colours of each section gently merge together.
I am happy that I have created what I hoped – I had to get this one right! I wanted to recreate that feeling of calm and peace that I always felt and the only thing missing for me is a pelican gently skimming the water. Thank you very much to LaVerne for your kind permission and Debbie, even in my official academic learning log, this one is for you my friend.