Exterior influences: what lessons and influences have I gained from the study of other practitioners and how have I implemented these into my own work? What impact has doing this course had on my studies?

Throughout the duration of this course I have been encouraged to research a variety of practitioners with regards to their techniques, working practices and resulting works.  Initially I was unsure as to what the reasons were behind this research or what effect it would have on my own work and studies but being introduced to the personal research methodology, (concept, practical response, critical reflection and finally synthesis/refinement), has enabled me to really understand the benefits of these investigations – artists such as Velda Newman, Yayoi Kusama, Jennifer McCurdy, Sacha Grossel,  Lindsay Taylor and Caryl Bryer Fallert-Gentry all work with colour or form or explore their own environments and identity in a wide variety of media with their own highly individualised interpretations.  I have discovered that each artist has their own way of working and their own techniques which have developed over time and with experience and this in turn is teaching me new ways of looking at my work, new techniques or new ways of working. The words that follow attempt to describe how I have incorporated the lessons and influences of these artists into my own work combined with the overall impact on my working practices.

Fig. 1. Foxglove 2006.

Fig. 2. Fuchsia Macro (no date)

I am increasingly finding I am being influenced by strong or direct narratives and have been taking note of composition elements with particular emphasis on colour and form.  I have really come to admire the work of textile artists such as the quilt artists Velda Newman (Fig. 1) or Caryl Fallert-Bryer Gentry whose bold use of colour creates form and a specific atmosphere or emotion. The colour is almost explosive in its energy and even without the lines of quilting adding texture and linear elements there is a clear narrative to each piece of work – the artist Sacha Grossel’s work (Fig. 2) is very reminiscent of these quilt artists but in watercolour painted form with the light of her native Australia clearly being a major influence.  This narrative can also be seen in the work of Lindsay Taylor whose three-dimensional embroidered works are so heavily influenced by the environment in which she lives – the sculptural pieces she makes have a delicacy and romanticism that is created by intricate use of thread and fabric in colour palettes that are chosen according to each theme.

Fig. 3. Porcelain composition 2017

Fig. 4. My own work – based on work of J. McCurdy (crochet) 2017

Fig. 5. Fibonacci Series #13 (no date)

By studying other genres of artists, not just painters or textile artists, I am also learning rapidly how these different groups can create new ideas and inspiration – there is no question the work of Jennifer McCurdy (Fig. 3) with her organic ceramic vessels ,often in forms reminiscent of the shells that surround her island home,  are a major influence on my work on decay as I have almost automatically depicted the theme with a shell-like structure covered with tendrils of seaweed as can be seen in one of my samples in Part 4 (Fig. 4).  The shells or vessels that Ms McCurdy creates using white porcelain sometimes have the interiors gilded to further emphasise the lines and forms. This very restrictive colour scheme can also be seen with Takumasa Ono’s Sumi-e paintings or the rope sculptures of Judy Tadman and demonstrates to me that as much as I love vibrant colour it is not always necessary and that a piece with a simplified or monochromatic colour scheme can have a very bold and direct impact on the viewer.  I find myself being heavily influenced by two contrasts – one of simplicity in colour and form which is in opposition to intricacy and boldness or energy in a dynamic and vibrant palette and the lessons learnt are also almost opposing as with the former I find myself being taught restraint in design, line or palette and yet with the latter I feel myself cutting loose in style and scale and wanting to really bring out a side of my personality that is now really coming back after being hidden for some years.  Interestingly I am now learning about the lessons of the Golden Section or Fibonacci sequences – Carly Bryer Fallert-Gentry (Fig. 5) has done many quilts based on those sequences and I find myself wanting to study them further for their use of mathematics combined with her aforementioned use of colour.  I say interestingly because I am someone who finds mathematics is something I have to work at but I am fascinated by the use of Fibonacci sequences in nature.

Fig. 6. Poppy teacup and saucer (2009)

The lessons learnt by the study of the artists are really beginning to be implemented into my work as I am wanting to heavily explore a wide variety of differing colour palettes and themes as well as the above mentioned Fibonacci sequences at some point in the future.  Some of the themes seem to naturally develop from each other or combine with each other – for me personally my identity is very much caught up with a theme of place for instance as ‘place’ is my home environment which is a third theme in its own right but these can also be kept as very separate and individual ideas which warrant separate investigations and are influenced by different factors or artists.  These themes can also be worked on with a variety of the aforesaid differing colour palettes which in turn affects the way a viewer will perceive the resulting pieces of work.  I have discovered the personal research methodology from Part 4 of the course has been particularly useful as it also covered compositional elements which I am aware has been a weak area – the cyclical nature of the methodology which incorporates critical reflection is enabling me to refine my work particularly when combined with placing samples or pieces in different locations which then enables me to create new ideas or inspire new themes.  This way of working has also enabled me to understand the repetitive nature of re-working samples in a variety of different ways – again Carly Bryer Fallert-Gentry’s online gallery demonstrates this continued refinement really well in her series of Fibonacci quilts.  Looking at the finished works of artists has also enabled me to study their compositions and the different elements of each piece – this is something I understood from my art history studies but was unsure as to how to translate it into my own work or how it could be relevant.  However I now find studying the techniques, the aforesaid composition and the different skills required of the artists enables me to extract different elements that I may be able to use within my own work – the large polka dots of Yayoi Kusama for instance is reminiscent in a small way of the pointillism style of Georges Seurat although on a considerably different scale and with a much bolder colour palette.  The techniques of Lindsay Taylor (Fig. 6) I am also finding I want to dissect in terms of her use of free machine embroidery and soluble stabiliser to create almost a new lacy style fabric which can be combined with other techniques and fabrics to create her artistic works.  I finally feel at this point I need or want to do more research into the Golden Section and how contemporary artists use this to design compositions but am aware as I do so the theory will sink into psyche and become an automatic part of my everyday work.

Fig.7. Own work (2017)

Overall I have found the exercises throughout the course have been teaching me to really expand my repertoire of techniques and explore and experiment much more freely with a wide variety of media and styles in order to start to find my own personal voice which is demonstrated by Figure 7 – felting is a totally new technique to me and I have combined it with a familiar technique of Suffolk puffs to create a work that explores texture and colour within a specific theme.  The course and in particular the research methodology has made it clear the importance of ongoing research into other artists/designers and I am reminded how each generation  of artists has influenced each other either during the same years or across the decades and centuries and in turn have pushed forward developments in materials or techniques and also styles – the styles of the day/year can only be developed through the study and influence of artists on each other.  I now feel my mind is becoming ever more enquiring as research into one artist often leads to another who may have been a direct influence on the other – here I bring into question whether Georgia O’Keefe has been an influence on Sacha Grossel due to similarities in their works particular in terms of scale and use of colour which can be seen in Ms Grossel’s watercolour flower paintings.  I finally feel that one of the most useful aspects of the course, other than the aforementioned methodology, has been the use of Pinterest as a research tool – I have previously resisted this online pin board but now find it is proving a valuable tool to find artists across a variety of genres and cultures and it can also generate new and unexpected ideas which I may not have considered and to give an example I have discovered the work of Mr Finch (Fig. 8) which I would otherwise not have seen.

Fig. 8. Textile Art (no date)

As I reflect on this course I am learning and realising how much practitioners are strongly influencing my work and I am doing the research because I want to investigate my chosen theme or idea more thoroughly and find other artist designers in order to create further ideas as well as furthering my own studies and practice.  The study of these practitioners is no longer tedious but really exciting as it now feels that I am on a journey of discovery into an unknown world and bringing back the treasures of creativity with which I can enrich and enhance my own work and help develop my personal voice.  Finally I do feel the course has totally changed my working practice due to that study no longer feeling like a chore – this course and in particular the aforementioned methodology including the practitioner research is providing me with a core knowledge which is forming and will continue to provide the basic foundations of all my work.


Figure 1.  Newman, V. (2006).  Foxglove [quilting].  [Date accessed:  July 2017].  Available from:  https://www.pinterest.co.uk/pin/640637115715041927/

Figure 2.  Grossel, S. (no date).  Fuchsia Macro [watercolour].  [Date accessed:  July 2017].  Available from:  https://www.pinterest.co.uk/pin/395402042261883733

Figure 3.  McCurdy, J.  (2017).  Porcelain composition [porcelain].  Photographer: G. Mirando.  [Date accessed:  August 2017].   In possession of J. McCurdy.

Figure 4.  Own work:  Part 4 sample inspired by work of J. McCurdy [crochet].  (2017)

Figure 5.  Bryer Fallert-Gentry, C.  (no date).  Fibonacci Series #13 [quilting].  [Date accessed:  July 2017].  Available from:  https://www.pinterest.co.uk/pin/101682904067632387

Figure 6.  Taylor, L.  (2009).  Poppy teacup and saucer [machine embroidery].  [Date accessed:  July 2017].  Available from:  www.lindsay-taylor.co.uk/art.php

Figure 7.  Own work:  Part 5 sample [felting and Suffolk puffs].  (2017)

Figure 8.  Mr Finch.  (no date).  Textile Art [mixed media].  [Date accessed:  July 2017].  Available from:  https://www.pinterest.co.uk/pin/530158187370848252


Bryerpatch Studio.  (date unknown).  Bryerpatch Studio:  Fine art quilts by Caryl Bryer Fallert-Gentry [online].  [Date accessed:  July 2017].  Available from:  http://www.bryerpatch.com/

McCurdy, J. (date unknown).  Jennifer McCurdy Wheel Thrown Porcelain [online].  [Date accessed:  July 2017].  Available from:  http://jennifermccurdy.com/

Pinterest. (date unknown).  Varying artists [online].  [Date accessed:  July/August 2017].  Available from:  https://www.pinterest.co.uk

TextileArtist.org.  2016.  Velda Newman interview: colour, shape and texture [Date accessed:  July 2017].    Available from:  http://www.textileartist.org/velda-newman-interview-colour-shape-texture/


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