STAGE 3: SELECTING FROM YOUR DRAWINGS
The purpose of this stage was to learn to select from my drawings in order to develop designs.
Firstly I spent time choosing some drawings or fragments of drawings which I felt had the potential to develop further – I spread all my work out on a large table and my floor in order to be able to view them clearly. The course material instructs you to look for combination of colour, shapes and marks that are dynamic to you as an individual – easier said that done but some definitely jumped out whereas others were harder to choose.
The course material states that the mechanism which creates dynamic tensions is contrast and the way an artist assesses colour, texture, tone, scale, form, shape or line is dependent upon the contrasts within any one of these. The course material also mentions proportions of shapes within an area or how much there is of one thing compared to another (colours or texture for instances) or indeed scale that catches my eye. These aspects I found both interesting and at times difficult with some drawings but in others something stood out and was immediately obvious.
The course material also speaks of harmonising and unifying features or features that give structure to a composition – this was a much easier aspect of composition for me as I love working harmoniously generally. Some elements that are harmonious within a sketch will be in sharp contrast to others as the course module states and makes clear that it is that balance between contrast and harmony that makes a composition work – this I find fascinating and it was very absorbing to look for.
In some of my compositions I did as was suggested and either changed a colour, shape or scale to make the design work whilst in others I did not need to reinterpret very much at all. To experiment with the drawings and find the different dynamics by leaving things out, changing around or even as the course material suggests folding back the sides of the drawing to find out what it changes was again very absorbing and a lot of fun too.
Some of the work I did find, as the course material suggests, instinctive and intuitive whilst in others my viewing frames came in very useful – some of my sketches were thought of in the small hours of the morning whilst others came very quickly and easily.
I eventually chose some drawings and masked off the areas which I found interesting and pinned them up on my notice board.
STAGE 4: DEVELOPING DESIGN IDEAS
The purpose of this stage is to take the drawings with masked off areas from Stage 3 and develop them into designs by a variety of methods and in time the idea is that intuition and imagination will probably start to take over as I find a way of working that enables me to develop my ideas visually. From the initial sketches the idea is to use the drawings as a starting point for design – this will mean that a photograph or a sketch done from an object or scene will transfer into a series of drawings and then into a design that may be very different from its origins.
For this first image I tried using a black and white negative style photocopy of a previous sketch of the village scene that has become a real favourite to work with. I decided to choose a small section and work in a pointillism style but using black acrylic for the ‘windows’ and just primary colours for the rest of the image but in strips with the colours blending into one another in the style of the French knots earlier in this part of the course. This sketch only works when you stand back from it as I discovered and it took some considerable patience but I do love the effect and the contrasts between the colours as well as the shapes.
Using the same image I masked off the background using masking fluid and then using a wet on wet technique I dripped spots of different coloured watercolour paints into the windows. The left hand image was my first trial and I learnt a valuable lesson with using masking fluid – when I painted over a section that had rubbed off too much the paint then dripped much to my annoyance. However the second version was more successful and I tried adding salt to the wet areas to see what texture would result – on the actual painting it does add a very subtle texture in much the same way silk paint does with salt. My focus in these sketches is very much on the shapes with a secondary focus the colour and finally the texture. I love the way the colours have changed the energy from the original image into something that I feel is both very peaceful and at the same time very energetic.
I stayed with the same drawing and decided to try slicing it diagonally and doing a mirror image style. I chose two strong complementary acrylic colours with a dark grey to enhance the colours – thinking back to the fact that when either colour is put on a grey background the complementary colour is seen as an illusion.
The grey definitely makes the colours seem brighter and this aspect I do like and also the contrast between the colours is a key point in this painting. The one thing I would change is the grey lines need to be thinner to provide a different scale. I do want to play with further variations of colours and add in textures to this piece at a later date and could see this potentially working in different fabrics or with textile or silk paint – I could also see this is as a quilt with the quilting providing the textural marks.
The top sketch on the right is my original painting in watercolours – the origins was the label on a bottle of Malibu! I decided to just see what this drawing looked like done in a different media and chose soft pastels. It was interesting just to simply re-draw this image in a different media and see how it changes the look and energy – for me the second drawing is softer and more calming and peaceful.
For this drawing I chose a very small section of the rose petal drawing and photocopied so it was in black and white. I wanted to try using a mixed media of water colour paints, Inktense pencils, oil pastels and charcoal so that I had bright contrasting colours against tones of grey. I am really not happy with this choice of colours and feel I could have changed the scale in different areas – the other question I have pondered in my sketchbook is whether it would have worked better in harmonising colours or monotone and with a variation of marks rather than solid blocks as this would translate better into stitch and fabric. There is potential in this drawing but I think a larger area within the viewing frame is needed or perhaps a different area on the petal. I asked myself the question in my sketchbook whether this sketch is something I could use in the future but in a different way – it is almost so wrong it has the potential to turn into something that could really work.
I decided to take the same image and use one of the suggestions within the course material – using oil pastels in several layers but scratching back to reveal colours underneath. I used a coloured background but feel this is simply too dark to work properly. I am also not sure if my oil pastels are of a decent enough quality to make this work either and have since invested in some better quality ones. I do understand the effect the course suggestion was aiming for and the petal does look considerably different.
In the bottom sketch I decided to combine the petal with the village street scene but simplifying the petal shape and also only using certain aspects of the second drawing. I tried to do a reflection style with complementary colours in watercolour paints and I now like the contrast of both colours and of straight and curved lines. I do feel this image I could develop further and would work in a textiles form but I would change the lines of perspective to create more energy and also add some textural qualities too – however my focus at this stage with my images is very much on the shapes.
I decided to have another go at this stage of re-drawing an image from my sketchbooks in a different media. The original sketch is the top version and based on a photograph found on Facebook. The original image is using watercolour with some Inktense pencil for texture. The second re-drawn image I again chose pastels in softer more muted tones. I like the contrast of the colours of the palm tree in both but prefer the original with the harmonizing but gently contrasting colours of land and see …. the second drawing is too soft with not enough contrast as the colours blend into one another almost too much in the sea and land. My emphasis on both drawings is very much the colours and textures with the shapes in this case last of my priorities.
Again I went back to my favourite image of the street scene but decided to try doing a repetitive motif based on a small framed off section. The top sketch is the pencil drawing and ideas to see how it would work and the bottom the painting done in watercolours. I purposefully chose bold strong colours that clashed with one another rather than harmonize and used my colour wheel extensively – although the colours clashed I also used complementary colours throughout but tried to change their positions so they did not harmonize. I wanted the shapes to be the strong feature again and I like this because I feel the scale of the repetitions work with the bold colours and as the motifs become ever narrower the piece has a depth as if the walls are receding away from you. I do wonder how this would work now, in retrospect, in different colours that are perhaps more harmonizing and softer and also on a much larger scale. This is the drawing I am unsure how it has worked.
The bottle of Malibu provided further inspiration as I looked again at the sketches I have done based on the label. As I have struggled with collage I wanted to have another go at it and see if I could find a way of making this media style work for me or more to the point finally getting fully to grips with it and to know I can use it successfully in the future!
I concentrated on a very small section of the sketches above and decided my focus would be more about the textures as the small pieces of paper would dictate. I also spent some time choosing the right papers for this piece and was able to use matt and shiny, plain and patterned papers as well as a transparent wrapping paper that was used in just two pieces of the edge of the butterfly wing.
I also wanted the contrast between light and dark colours but have noted in my sketchbook that the main contrast is in the different sized shapes and small pieces of paper used. I chose harmonizing colours in most of the piece but to prevent the piece blending too much added the bright orange and yellow to contrast again.
I do feel looking now that the piece works in terms of design because of the balance between contrast and harmony in various aspects but primarily the colours and in fact the textures becomes the secondary focus. The shapes for me are not the stand out part of this collage and I notice them but not immediately.
These last two sets of photographs were a bit of a late night bonus. I really love eagles and in particular their eyes and beaks and ended up doing a late night sketch of this image seen on Facebook. I decided to concentrate my focus on the shape of the beak and the eyes and wondered what I could do with it. This late night sketch became an in insomnia incident and although the sketch itself cannot be seen clearly the second photograph shows the resulting design. I wanted to play with the shapes as stated and see how they would work as a motif in the style of what I would deem a an appliqué quilt pattern. The sketch that cannot be seen too clearly has the eyes in the centre of the motifs but on the developed design I tried them in a different location and feel this worked better.
As I re-drew the design the following day I defined the colours and patterns so that they would represent fabric or stitch textures so that they were the focus. I stated the shapes were the third priority and the colours the second in my sketchbook but feel now this is the wrong way around – it was the shapes that were the reason behind this sketch in the first place and are the main focus when I look at it now as I write this. The eyes were the secondary design feature and they are the aspect I am unsure about in this drawing as I do not feel they harmonize or contrast with the rest of the drawing but rather ‘jar’ and throw the design off balance.
This has been a really interesting set of stages to do and I am not sure if I have achieved exactly what was intended but at the same time there are designs that I feel work for me with the balance of contrast and harmony. I am very much trying to experiment with colours and shapes and textures and trying to be looser in my approach with more flexibility and freedom to just play with the designs. I am learning to realise that not all disasters will remain so and some can be re-ordered or re-invented in such a way that they become working pieces with strong possibilities of further development