Tutor Report – Assignment 1

Tutor Report – my own reply to my tutor’s comments where applicable is in italics immediately after the paragraph or comment.

Overall Comments

Jane you have made a really enthusiastic start to the course, well done. You should continue with this level of diligence and effort throughout as you are making good progress overall and are beginning to develop good working methods. You have begun to make connections with drawing and your ability to think visually, I would encourage you to let go of any preconceived ideas and give yourself permission to experiment freely. This ability will develop as you progress through the course and gain in confidence.

In terms of fulfilling the aims of this assignment, building a visual vocabulary, there are some interesting samples and pages in your sketchbooks. You have demonstrated a strong skills base in your stitch vocabulary of techniques and are methodical in your approach to problem solving. You have been very focused and self aware throughout the assignment, which is evidenced in your blog reflections.

Well done Jane.

Assessment potential

You may want to get credit for your hard work and achievements with the OCA by formally submitting your work for assessment at the end of the module. More and more people are taking the idea of lifelong learning seriously by submitting their work for assessment but it is entirely up to you. We are just as keen to support you whether you study for pleasure or to gain qualifications. Please consider whether you want to put your work forward for assessment and let me know your decision when you submit Assignment 2. I can then give you feedback on how well your work meets the assessment requirements.”

Feedback on assignment

Project 1: Aim; to help you to build up the confidence to try out a wide range of drawing media.

Stage 1&2

Your mark making has evolved in confidence as you’ve progressed through the exercises and you have experimented with various materials. You could try even more experimental materials and tools, for example unusual tools; kitchen sponges, scourers, stones, twigs etc. and unexpected and found materials; wet teabags, plant matter and soil.

I am writing my response retrospectively towards the end of the course and mark-making is still something I am trying to experiment further with particularly with the use of different items and I fully take on board my tutor’s comments.  I have continued to work on my mark-making throughout the duration of the course.

Stage B exercise– ‘rock formations’ worked well as you picked up on all the different rock strata using linear pattern. This could have been developed further by using media that gives thick, thin, soft and hard lines for example; a graphite stick, soft 6B and harder 2B pencils, charcoal and all the more unusual tools sited above to apply ink or paint. This would have created a really interesting depth to the patterns.

Develop an experimental approach and resist literal interpretations. Also think about the physicality of mark making; the way you hold tools, positions of your body; standing, sitting, or working above a piece.

As I respond now I have the benefit of time and have certainly started to vary the way I hold tools or how my body is positioned – this has been caused at times through arthritis which has forced me to alter my position or adapt new methods but also I have tried to vary the way I work and enjoy the physicality of mark making.

Project 2: Aims; to develop your awareness of how the embroidery medium (stitch, thread and fabric) can be manipulated to give specific effects.

You demonstrate a strong skills base in your embroidery techniques and by stage 5 and 6, you show how surfaces can be built up and areas intensified by organizing stitch in different ways.

Stage 2

You have used a good range of stitches and materials and have a good sense of tone and colour range within the samples. I feel the shibori piece (tie dye) has worked well, as you have picked out subtle colours and shapes with stitch.

I was particularly pleased with this as I enjoyed working on the samples.

Stage 3

I feel this is the point at which you really begin to experiment and explore your work. You have understood how to build up intensity by the dense use of fabric and yarns and have used a good choice of colour and texture. The hessian fabric has worked well giving a natural feel to the work and the piece has a painterly quality. A good intuitive translation of the drawing into stitch.

Have a look at Alice Kettle’s “Odyssey” textile banners. She uses machine stitch in a very fluid and painterly way. http://www.alicekettle.com/odssey.cfm

         alice-kettle-bag-of-windsBag of winds. Alice Kettle 2003

I had again enjoyed doing the samples in this section and particularly liked doing the hessian one – this remains one of my personal favourites.  I have had a look at Alice Kettle’s work and I am very intrigued by her use of free motion stitching and this is inspiring – I love the way she uses the sewing machine effectively as a pencil and her use of colour is loose and free.  Alice Kettle’s work seems to be going towards abstraction but not totally as the figures are recognisable and the work very emotionally evocative.


I think you are working well and have learnt a lot on this first assignment, you need to concentrate on experimenting to allow your ideas to grow in unexpected ways, take risks in your approach, and be bolder.

It is good to see you gaining confidence all the time as you progress through the course exercises. Working in a handmade A3 sketchbook is a really good idea and you can use any type of paper, for example, newsprint, wallpaper, brown paper etc to draw and paint onto. Also don’t worry if they aren’t all a uniform size, this makes the book more interesting when you put it all together.

Try to think visually as much as possible in your sketchbook; that is jotting down rough sketches and ideas for designs, making colour notes, collecting swatches and yarns, images and postcards of artwork that inspires you

I suggest you develop a visual theme to work on, in a smaller sketchbook that you carry around with you all the time and build up a collection of visual information that you can draw on later.

Working with sketchbooks is something I have really started to enjoy as I have gone through the course and as I now read this again I realise I still need to be more experimental with my papers and also noting down colours, yarns etc. I am now using my sketchbooks as an extension of myself and note down anything that inspires me.

Have a look at this video on the OCA student website Keeping a Sketchbook Useful with Eileen Adams. You could watch this several times as you progress through this course and you’ll gain different insights each time.


Also have a look at the weareoca website, there is a really interesting article by Neil Mussan a Textiles tutor all about sketchbooks.  http://weareoca.com/fine_art/what-should-my-sketchbook-contain/ 

Both of these links have proved very useful.

Learning Logs or Blog

Your blog is used effectively for self-evaluation and reflection. You demonstrate a developing intellectual understanding and good critical thinking skills.

I thought your aim for the course was impressive “ my personal aims include being able to indulge a love of textiles and research artists and periods of history to new undiscovered depths and to be able to start to develop a way to voice through stitch and fabrics and dyes feelings and emotions and experiences which I cannot do so through mere spoken or written language”.

Here is a link to an interesting article by another OCA tutor on Logbooks/blogs.


Suggested viewing/reading  

Review the bibliography in Textiles: A creative approach, start to build an interesting and varied collection of books that you can refer to as you research and work. Use your local library.

Look at magazine publications such as Embroidery, Selvedge and Crafts.

Use the online resources available; there is a wealth of images to explore online. V&A collection and VADS; Online resource for visual arts.

Look at the OCA website for links to Oxford Art Online and Bridgeman Education.


Your next assignment is an exploration into colour. There is information online about Johannes Ittens theories of colour as well as books.

Ruth Issett is interesting to look up, for her amazing use of colour, she uses layers of vivid colour to create a dynamic and fluid feel in her textile work. http://textilestudygroup.co.uk/members/ruth-issett/

Ruth Issett’s book  (2007) Print Pattern and Colour.

Pointers for the next assignment

  • To think about what makes an image dynamic and interesting, and to continue to develop an experimental approach in you interpretations.
  • To aim to take risks in your approach and be bold.
  • To develop a visual theme to work on in your smaller sketchbook and build up a collection of visual information that you can draw on later.

As I look back I am aware that I did take on these pointers and developed a variety of themed sketchbooks that will continue to be worked on long after the end of this course and give me a wide variety of visual information as well as potential for experimental interpretations.  I also appreciate that the first two pointers are also things that come very much with confidence and increasing knowledge as my personal voice develops.

Enjoy working through Project 3 on Colour.

Well done Jane.

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