Please note I have added in some thoughts and some additional notes in response to my tutor feedback and these are in italics.
This is the section of the course I most looked forward to but also was most nervous about as I was aware it was where all the lessons learnt throughout the course would either pay off or my mind would go totally blank!
I had jumped ahead a little prior to reading the course material thoroughly first and so made notes about making a bag of some nature. When it came to reading through very thoroughly I make a concerted effort to put my ideas to one side and follow the processes through and see where my ideas lead me – if I had had a dressmakers mannequin at this point I have no doubt that a waistcoat or part of a coat would have been something I would have considered.
It was fascinating to get all my sketchbooks out along with the samples and spread them out as best as our tiny lounge would allow and look back through all my work and decide where my strengths and interests lay with colour being at the centre of my ideas.
My theme was Explorations of Dovedale and Derbyshire which I has been wonderful to explore and work on sketches and paintings over the course of several months. I realise one of my weaknesses is a tendency to still want to do completed sketches or paintings and then use viewing frames to section off areas and I realise I need to work on doing sketches relating to colour, textures and shapes which I had learnt in earlier parts of the course and this is something I need to go back to and revise again. However one advantage of doing the larger pieces, which were mostly A3 in size, and worked largely from photographs was that I was able to use the aforesaid viewing frames over several different areas of the painting and choose whichever areas I felt had the best possibilities for productive design work. I may have been working from my own photographs but I did have the knowledge of the colours I had seen through a series of small notes which never made it to my sketchbooks but was also prepared to adapt and interpret to create different moods or emotions.
Update in response to tutor feedback: my tutor has asked me to add in notes concerning my thoughts on how the inspiration has led me and this is relatively simple. I chose a theme that I knew I really loved although this took considerable deliberation – my original theme ideas were based on decaying flowers due to their incredible shapes and also the work of a photographer in Alaska but the lure of Dovedale and the surrounding area proved too irresistible. I feel the land and the water itself inspired me due to my love of the area and this enabled me to work on designs and developments without ever feeling bogged down – some came more easily and some I would like to go back to in the future and take these sketchbooks in different directions as I go further through the courses.
The developmental process my tutor also mentions was again a process of trial and error – many of my paintings I just did not feel translated into designs in the way I would have liked despite really liking the actual pieces. I understood my tutors comments about specific pieces including the drip painted works but these I did not feel I was comfortable with for the final piece. I am aware I produced a relatively safe style of design eventually although I felt excited about the way it developed and also the final result – this felt right for me at this moment in time although I am also now realising that I could still push this considerably further so it holds more possibilities in the future.
This was my second choice design and I do feel this is something I want to try and translate into either a second bag or a wall hanging but possibly now with differing colour palettes – muted or bright, calm or lively or even just based on the 4 seasons.
I eventually worked on a series of 5 new paintings with one becoming the source of the final design but also using one earlier painting which provided an initial design that was very close to being the chosen – I had to decide which was the strongest and most appealing to take forward into textiles.
A second weakness is the fact I am not yet in the habit of doing textile samples developed from sketches and designs and this is something I really need to work on and make a part of my every day working practice and that will further improve the way that I approach projects.
As I worked through the different stages I was really unsure what the final end-product would be – I was veering towards a sewing machine cover but that would be site-specific for my sewing space and the colours in that room are very pale and I wanted to be able to use stronger colours if only for the background and hence finally did go back to my original idea of a carpet bag.
As part of the design process I knew I wanted to incorporate weaving into the final product but was also aware of the limitations caused by a troubling whiplash injury so knew I could not site at my home-made A-frame loom for a sufficient period for it to be the main part of the design. Eventually I decided to use a woven panel as the background to the central section of the design and this worked really well with the appliqued photographic/felt sections and I was able to weave over a couple of nights using a simple cardboard loom – the packaging card that Amazon uses for books/cds etc is the perfect thickness as I discovered.
For the final design I chose a painting I had done of a bridge that is near the entrance to Dovedale and developed it into the work in this left-hand image – the strong lines and differing illusions of perspective really worked for me. As I worked on this I also realised my love of architecture which I had studied through the art history course and also my studies concerning perspective were coming to the fore and I also have to take into account that my own grandfather was an engineer.
As I now look at the resulting textile piece which is the front of the carpet bag I am really surprised at how it worked out and how far removed it is from my original expectations of what I would do! I really like the strong central panel with the woven background and the photographic applique – the photographs chosen were of trees in and around the Dovedale area which were sliced at different angles to show different textures which were further enhanced with stitching from the reverse. I am also happy with the plaid chosen as the inner border and which would also be used to bind the top of the bag. The background fabric to the border which was the starting point in terms of colours was ice-dyed a few weeks previously when our freezer had unexpectedly broken!! Despite the fact that the applique has not continued correctly across the sides and bottom border I am relatively happy with the resulting effect as it gives a fractured and disjointed result that is almost in contrast with the side/top sections where the applique continues.
One thing I had learnt during this final project was that I am starting to become considerably happier and more confident in working with abstraction – this has taken time but studying the abstract artists of the early – mid 20th century in my art history module has helped considerably to understand the style of abstract and or indeed just the thought processes involved.
Finally the whole project was one in which I did not expect a voyage of discovery and expected the process to be much more logical – it was really fascinating to just let whatever developed develop with no pre-conceptions in mind.
Now I need to look at the assessment criteria points:
- Demonstration of Technical and Visual Skills – I felt I had been able to demonstrate these skills much more thoroughly than I had in previous assignments particularly in regards to techniques, observation and also design and composition. I used a combination of techniques for this final project including dyeing of fabrics, some basic quilting which although this is my background using metallic thread has been my nemesis in the past, a new technique of using felt backed photographs for the applique and also using a woven panel as a background to the applique. My design and compositional skills I really felt had developed and this was the first time I have been truly happy with. My observational skills I feel have developed throughout the course as have my use of materials which I now feel are more experimental.
- Quality of Outcome – I have without question had to apply my knowledge gained throughout this course and play to my strengths to achieve the best outcome. I have been able to gather my ideas and thoughts and through the use of my sketches and design development form them into a workable concept and also present it in a coherent and clear manner through my use of my sketchbooks and also this learning log. The only issue I currently have is actual presentation in terms of using a series of story boards and samples which show the process through to end-product but this is something I need to work on prior to assessment.
- Demonstration of Creativity – this is where I feel most confident as I have been prepared to be more experimental and look beyond what I had previously considered. I was not happy with the techniques I had explored for the possible applique and it was an accidental reading of a book that helped me discover the photographic/felt technique that I eventually used which in turn gave a completely different appearance to what I had previously considered. I now feel that I could have been more creative and explored other sketches/paintings more thoroughly in terms of development into designs although I am relatively happy with my end-product. My personal voice I feel is starting to develop slowly – I am aware of my love of using colour but am also wanting to experiment with textures and also line in different ways both in terms of sketching/painting and using stitch or fabrics and this is only starting to happen with increasing confidence in my own abilities. I think as I start to ‘let-go’ and let my work develop without previous self-imposed hindrances my personal voice will develop naturally and freely.
- Context – this is the area in which I feel I have had the greatest learning curve throughout the duration of the course. I have researched 2 artists directly in relation to this final project although eventually I did not use the initial ideas that formed and have also had to reflect much more thoroughly than I had previously in order to consider what techniques I wanted to use or my personal strengths. Regarding critical-thinking – this is something that the art history module has really helped with and the lessons learnt in that module I am starting to apply in my textile work and with my textile learning logs. I feel now I am much more confident in terms of research, reflection and critical thinking and as I have said this has been the biggest learning curve of the course.
Overall this final assignment has been one of the most enjoyable to do but also one of the hardest as I explored various options and hitting a proverbial ‘artists block’ but the end result is one of which I am happy with at this point although whether it is creative enough or developed enough I can only wait and see.