This final exercise followed on from Exercise 1.7 in which I explored a landscape of my own choosing and took risks with techniques and materials that I am familiar with and now asks me to explore my own environment including the details I would not normally notice – the idea is to generate drawings or visual research in response to accidental marks on surfaces and then to explore surface texture through mark making in a variety of techniques.
Texture and me mix in sketchbooks and mark making work about as well as collage and me – hit and miss and very much love/hate! I am aware that my mark making can be a weak point and I find it very frustrating but if you add in trying to recreate texture through marks then you may as well ask me to fly a Boeing 747 because I would probably find the flying easier in truth – I struggled with this in ACA so this exercise was not one I was particularly looking forward to and I will freely admit this!
Initially the course material asks me to create a series of rubbings collected from around my home – this was the easy part as I do enjoy the process of frottage and for this I used was crayon in 3 colours. I eventually managed to find 13 different surfaces although the few days I did these it was raining too heavily to be able to go outside and use my fence, drain covers or bricks but these will be borne in mind for future frottage based works.
The second part of the exercise involved taking my camera with me whenever I went out and recording different surfaces, colours or textures with a variety of accidental marks – this was great fun although I got a few strange looks as I am photographing a scratched signpost or tyre tracks!
I took my photographs in two locations primarily – a visit to Kedleston Hall (the car park proved exceptionally useful) and also as I repeated my journey/walk documented in Project 1.
I eventually had a collection of 40 photographs and printed 32 to put into my sketchbook.
At this point I had to select 10 of my photographs that may have the basis to be used for a new series of drawings or image development and in retrospect I am not entirely sure if I made the right selection – if I was to repeat the selection I would change a couple or maybe increase the number to 15.
The course material asks you to spend a few minutes looking at the chosen photographs before choosing adjectives to describe them – I chose just one descriptive word for simplicity and this did prove surprisingly difficult with one or two images particularly as the next point was to depict these words using mark …. and the fun began! I firstly tried a few experiments in my sketchbooks before embarking on an A3 sheet for each of my chosen words in a variety of media – I did try to be more experimental than the exercises using music although I am still feeling a little nervous and out of my comfort zone but at the same time this new stepping out of that zone and into the unknown is starting to feel really exciting and I am wanting to work in a much freer manner than I have previously.
For the word ‘stained’ I simply used masking fluid with a light and very rough watercolour wash over the top in a burnt sienna.
I wanted to portray a white sheet of paper that had been stained but now feel I could have used cold tea in replace of the paint and used the tea bag as my ‘tool’ – this is something to bear in mind for future pieces of work however.
The second word ‘crunchy’ I felt more confident with as I used a metal scouring pad dipped in different acrylic paints – I really love the textures produced and loved the marks produced.
‘Weathered’ was in fact the first sheet of marks I produced and am reasonably happy – I used a combination of black and brown charcoal with a putty rubber to blur and blend and ‘weather’ the marks.
‘Grainy’ I felt was appropriate to the use of crayon and watercolour paint – this isn’t a particularly clear photograph due to the lightness of the wash that I used.
I did feel the technique worked well for this adjective and texture as it produced a very grainy style appearance although with a different wash could also produce watery effects too so again this is worth bearing in mind and having in my repertoire.
‘Drippy’ – simple use of watercolour dripped down the page …. good fun if a little message for the drips that missed the page entirely!
‘Spongy’ – again one that was fun to do and using a ‘technique’, if it could be called that at all, that is reminiscent of child hood experiments and painting but one that was also very descriptive of the texture … literally a small sponge dipped in watercolour paint and sponged onto the paper.
‘Swirling’ – initially this stumped me a little as I wanted to use a different media because for me the obvious choice would have been watercolour in a swirling motion but I deliberately chose instead a brown Sharpie pen and using the photograph as direct inspiration created swirling style marks quickly and energetically.
‘Broken’ I decided to use a graphite pencil in broken lines – not very imaginative in retrospect and hence I decided to try something a little bit more experimental later in this exercise which was a vast improvement!
‘Rusty’ – the adjective I found most difficult to translate into marks. If I had been only using black and white I am not sure if I would have changed the photograph as to an extent this word relies on colour. I used very rough marks in ochre and burnt sienna coloured crayons plus a light watercolour wash over the top – the marks are almost too rough for me but they could be potentially seen as deep rusty scratches that have been made through an accident or by the weather so I am unsure of how success I feel this image is.
The next part of the exercise involved thinking about surface textures, patterns and finally colour.
Using a variety of materials and processes I am asked to reflect the surface textures in my photographs and this was useful in that it gave me the opportunity to experiment further with some of the adjectives from the first images and also to try to develop my ideas in a different media.
Drips – these were seen on a sign post and I decided to change my media from watercolour to ink with also changing the orientation of the paper periodically. Due to the length of time the ink took to dry I decided to dry some areas with my hair drier and this produced some interesting marks as the ink was blown in different directions and although not drips the marks produced are interesting in themselves. I am not entirely sure whether drips could be considered a texture but when drips of paint are seen down a sign or door or wall they create a texture and I do not feel my depiction is successful but I also did not want to use acrylic paints for this image as I have used them quite extensively for this part of the exercise.
Grainy – this is a texture I wanted to depict in a more textural manner and feel I have achieved this through the use of an Inktense stick on its side using loose movements over the whole of the paper.
Crunchy – originally I did a second version of the one above using the same ‘tool’ which was a metal scouring pad but on reflection felt I should try something different and swapped to a crumpled blue cloth which produced very different marks when dipped in acrylic paint and consequentially gives me a second method of depicting this texture.
Weathered – although this is an adjective it is is also a texture when you consider a weathered tree or weathered wall.
This was my first trial at the texture – not a success and so I looked around and eventually found a scrap of hessian fabric which I wondered weather it would work (if you will pardon the pun).
The second version using the same coloured acrylic paints and the scrap of hessian I feel has worked considerably better and is closer to the weathered appearance of the tree in one of my photographs – hessian has now been added to my painting tools. I loved the textures produced and found the marks produced exciting and descriptive.
Swirling – is this a texture? again I am not sure but I decided to try depicting it in ink and with a wide brush and feel this was considerably more successful than the Sharpie pen.
Finally ‘broken’ but instead of as an adjective I wanted it to create a texture as I thought of broken pieces of wood or broken sections of stone. I found a lolly stick in a draw and decided to use thick acrylic paint to create the aforesaid texture and was surprised at how successful this has appeared – I can see myself using this on a different coloured background to add a textural element.
Overall for a part of the exercise I was dreading it has proved surprisingly interesting and fun – if I think outside of my comfort zone and look around for unusual objects to draw with I am finding my mark making is improving or at least I feel it is.
The second element to consider was pattern and the idea was to try to be experimental in my approach to patterns I see in my photographs by using a combination of techniques to play and refine these elements – easier said than done.
For the first creation of pattern I took inspiration from a photograph of the shadow my gate and decided on a collage format with a rubbing taken from my fire surround to indicate the shadow and the pattern it created.
In terms of success – no … not successful due to an over-emphasis on the colour at the top of the image and the colours being too close in tone where the pattern is meant to be. I also do not feel the pattern is definitive enough for this exercise.
The second image I decided to base on the same shadow pattern but using a different technique – I tried cutting out sections in one sheet of paper with black marker pen marks to add the impression of the shadow before overlaying the ‘stencil’ over the top of a second image at right angles which had been drawn using the same pen.
I prefer this piece of work due to its strong use of linear marks and the new patterns created and can see potential for further development.
I decided to stay with the shadow and the pattern of the fence for my final image, although I could potentially have used 3 different patterns, to see if I could develop the pattern in a different format. For this third image I decided to use the lolly stick with the broken lines plus an oil pastel to create an impression of the gate in one corner which I repeated at right angles 3 more times. I like the use of the repetitive pattern to create a new image and also the further exploration of the use of the tool and texture – incidentally added texture is shown through the use of Murano pastel paper and this is picked up by the use of the black oil pastel.
Finally I added a fourth image – I took some new rubbings of my brick walls in dry weather as well as my door mat before using them in a collaged piece. I used acrylic paint for the background and once the bricks were glued in an appropriate pattern I added the secondary pattern of sponged paint which I had seen on the edge of a wall. This pattern has for me been relatively successful although it is simple in its execution.
The final part of this series on elements concentrated on the recording of the colours in my photographs by painting a sheet of A4 paper with each colour – this was done by colour mixing as close as accurately as possible to what I saw in my images.
The resulting sheets of paper are seen here.
Finally all of the above elements were to be combined in one new image and using the frottage sheets plus the coloured painted sheets of paper. I had to decide whether I wanted my emphasis to be on colour, texture or shape and then be sensitive in how I used the secondary elements.
I was unsure how to go about this new image so drew a rough sketch of an idea with swirling shapes which I wanted in the bold colours – the colours are my primary emphasis and hence the shapes and textures were to be less important. The textural frottage sheets were to be cut up to create the background and can just be seen in my photograph.
I am really not happy with this final image – it feels chaotic in atmosphere with no cohesiveness to the collage. I had decided to cut with scissors the other elements except for the swirling shapes which I decided to tear to create a softer edge and this I am happy about.
If I were to rework this piece I feel I would work with one large rubbing as the background (perhaps taken on a drain cover in dry weather) and a simplification of the shapes but combine curves with straight edges and finally restrict my colour palette. I want to look again at my photographs and refine the colours I chose to paint and look at the more subtle toned down palette before deciding whether to concentrate on that restricted palette but as said I want to take my tutor’s advice – this is where my hatred of collage makes its appearance yet again just as I thought I had learnt to love it!
So overall for this exercise it has been one of discovery and of improving and developing my mark making skills whilst learning to interpret textures, patterns and shapes just from accidental patterns and textures found in my own home environment. I am not 100% sure on how successful I feel I have been but despite the frustrations felt, particularly with the last collage, I feel I have learnt a huge amount and certainly want to play and experiment further with different elements and techniques and will include a purchase of a pack of lolly sticks for my art box! Further I want to look more in depth at the work of Lucy Freeman who is mentioned in the course work and do a separate artist study of her work after my feedback from this assignment as I love the vibrancy of her work and the combination of her patterns and textures – there is inspiration in her work that I feel I can take forward in some form even if it is just a way of finally getting to grips with the use of collage!
Lucy Freeman. 2016. Lucy Freeman [online]. [Date Accessed: 20th March 2017]. Available from: https://www.lucyfreeman.co.uk/about