DRAWING A LINE

The Brief
The aim of the brief is to introduce new ways of drawing, offering more expressive ways of working in textiles. The various stages encourages use of conventional and unconventional tools and media, development of observational skills as well as adopting a variety of drawing techniques and approaches.

I started this exercise aware I had drawn very little over the last few years. As well as detail in the line, I was also concerned with composition and perspective. The chosen objects were more complex to draw than initially given credit for but also very interesting.

Differences between wrong and right (I)
For the first right and left handed exercises, I used graphite and while it felt less fluid, my left hand gave much more interesting results. I was less hung up on perfecting composition and perspective and preferred the few added wiggles here and there; even the inconsistency in line weight and thickness was interesting. Perhaps I was just warming up after drawing with my right hand? I was genuinely pleased (and slightly surprised) with the results.

Left handed, graphite

Left handed, graphite

Less is more
I also started using pastel, something I hadn’t used in the previous mark making exercises. This was both soft and sharp as well as offering variety in line quality. Working with my left hand, I then used ink with three very skinny plant stems to draw the colander (below). I felt this worked really well, giving interesting mark quality with multiple lines and varying weights.

I found as I drew more, I noticed more; subtle areas of light, dark, thick and thin and in the last two drawings felt I could make more use of the descriptive words with the stems. I’ve definitely enjoyed working with the handmade tools using my non-dominant hand. Less pressure and expectation!

Left handed, plant stems with ink

Left handed, plant stems with ink

Continuous line (II)
This exercise is exactly that, an unbroken, drawn line where the drawing implement remains in contact with the paper until the drawing is completely finished. It encourages observational skills and expression while allowing for abstract representation and interpretation.

Continuous line with pen

Continuous line with pen

Multiple, slow and agitated lines, plant stems and ink

Multiple, slow and agitated lines, plant stems and ink

I thoroughly enjoyed the fluid, abstract approach with these exercises, while still considering detail and perspective. Pen and graphite were used as were ink and plant stems, both producing very different results. The words slow, multiple and agitated were used as reference. I actually found all the drawing tools to be fluid, the only slight hindrance was re-inking the plant stems. Change of direction and hand angle also influenced the lines with some interesting results. I definitely preferred this to the previous exercise (I) due to its looser approach; shape and line felt far more expressive.

Drawing from blind and memory
This exercise was about re-introducing mark-making without over-thinking the ‘perfect result’. Drawing is about observation and representing reality but is also very much about individual interpretation.

The first exercise was about drawing ‘blind’, continually observing the object without looking down at the paper. This was really enjoyable and a refreshing approach on ‘observational’ drawing. Again, it was fluid and loose without any pre-conceptions of the outcome.

Drawing blind - Potato masher, graphite

Drawing blind - Potato masher, graphite

I found the drawing from memory exercise produced a much more conventional drawing, something I’ve come to be less keen on. However, in terms of memorising the detail of the potato masher (as used in the drawing blind exercise), it was a constructive exercise to do. The direction of the lines and perspective of the utensil did pose some challenges despite being fairly simplistic in shape and detail.

For the final exercises I enjoyed working with the fluidity that continuous line gave me. Drawing ‘blind’ again was quite liberating and I became attached to the draining spoon with its straight and curved lines.

Continuous line, drawing ‘blind’ - draining spoon, can opener and parmesan grater

Continuous line, drawing ‘blind’ - draining spoon, can opener and parmesan grater

However, I felt amalgamating a few of the techniques were less successful and representative of the object, for example, left handed, ‘blind’ and continuous line didn’t produce a very good result. I also introduced two new objects, the can opener and a parmesan grater, but still went back to the draining spoon! Pen worked really well again, less so a soft graphite stick; I felt a sharper, more defined tool was more appropriate with this exercise. ‘Blind’ working encourages you to continually focus on the object, rather than constantly observing the paper and correcting if it goes wrong. My last drawing combined the mark making and line exercises, opting for negative lines with masking fluid and plant stems again. This medium was hard to draw with using the stems while trying to achieve detail in the line. Much less random (and successful) than the mark making exercise.

Negative lines - masking fluid and ink using plant stems

Negative lines - masking fluid and ink using plant stems

After completing these exercises, I definitely prefer the outcomes of unconventional, looser, more abstract approaches to drawing. Look more, think less!

MAKING A MARK

The Brief
This consisted of a series of warm-up exercises designed to ease out those overthinking muscles and engage your creative core. Making use of conventional and unconventional handmade tools, the exercises involved making marks with dots, lines, dashes and squiggles. A series of words were given to prompt the mark marking, such as soft, heavy, flowing or agitated. The medium and tools ranged from black and white ink, brushes, oil pastels, black pens and various grades of graphite to a plethora of handmade implements. My tools instinctively took on a plant theme and with Autumn well under way, I had a bounty of dried seed heads, pods and fruits as well as the end bit of my horses’ tail and some felted sheep fleece.

The Warm Up
These exercises proved to be more in-depth than first thought; not helped by the control freak in me overthinking everything! The results are not only difficult to predict but also to control, particularly when using tools that can disintegrate or break easily. Plus, mark making can be pretty random - but isn’t that the point?! So, trying not to get too hung up with the result, I plugged away and tackled the exercises.

IMG_5111.JPG
IMG_5117.JPG

Conventional v Unconventional 
I loved the marks that the chunky graphite sticks and pencils created. They could be soft using sides, sharp using corners and edges as well as somewhere in between. The wide brush proved to be a big surprise achieving one mark that felt incredibly three dimensional. The effect reminded me of fibres (see below). Oil pastels and pens proved the most predictable with much less interesting results. Moving on to the handmade tools, there were a mix of successes. The majority offered something of interest with the dried heads of the peony, echinacea and achillea producing the most exciting results. At first, the masking fluid didn’t look overly promising as the chosen tools looked to be under performing. Or so I thought. The plant brushes triumphed again!

Black ink using 1 1/2” brush

Black ink using 1 1/2” brush

Black ink using dried echinacea seed head

Black ink using dried echinacea seed head

Black ink using dried peony head

Black ink using dried peony head

Black ink using dried achillea seed head

Black ink using dried achillea seed head

Negative marks - masking fluid, black ink using achillea seed head

Negative marks - masking fluid, black ink using achillea seed head

Negative marks - masking fluid, black ink using achillea seed head

Negative marks - masking fluid, black ink using achillea seed head

Negative marks - masking fluid, black ink using echinacea seed head

Negative marks - masking fluid, black ink using echinacea seed head

The Learning Process
To start with, I was more confident making tools than I was making marks. I also hadn’t used masking fluid before but overall, I was really pleased with the results. This mark making exercise also proved that cropping (through photography or other means) could transform an image into something compositionally quite striking and dramatic. For me, working through these exercises really did highlight the need to concentrate on the process rather than the end result.

Making Comparisons
Generally, I found the conventional tools didn’t produce the best results compared to the seed heads as I felt they lacked variety. Peeling off masking fluid to reveal hidden, underlying marks was extremely satisfying! Influenced by the tools and given words, marks differed enormously; this ranged from shape and size to almost having an energy or movement about them. Other marks in comparison felt quite still or static.

Tools of Preference
For the larger, final stage of this brief, I recreated some of the marks from earlier, opting to use the mediums of masking fluid and black ink. As well as the seedheads, I re-introduced the horse hair and felted sheep fleece. Reversing the process slightly, I used a brush for applying the masking fluid and the unconventional tools for painting on the ink. This was followed by using the same tools to paint on both the masking fluid and the ink. Results were mixed; some were more successful than others but this method is definitely one I’d like to explore more.

Negative marks - masking fluid, black ink, horse hair

Negative marks - masking fluid, black ink, horse hair

Negative marks - masking fluid, black ink, achillea seed head

Negative marks - masking fluid, black ink, achillea seed head