Nina's Textile Trail

My OCA Textile Tales

Part two Building a visual vocabulary – Project 4 Developing design ideas – Stage 2 Looking for shapes and drawing – Exercise 1, 2 & 3

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This stage involves cutting a viewing frame with a 5 x 5cm hole and masking off areas of images to create different arrangements of shape.  The idea is to look for shapes which seem more interesting and generate visual tension or energy and those which seem dull and then record four or five of the most interesting.


I started with the pencil drawings which were from an image of different conservatory roofs. The masked off areas were quite dynamic.  I found them quite difficult to draw and also quickly realised they didn’t really interest me, they were too solid and fixed somehow.   I think I prefer more curved, softer lines.  I liked the shapes within the two red and green in the centre of the bottom line and the berries and leaves top left and middle left.    However when I got to Exercise 1 where I was to take the image I most enjoyed working from and make a series of drawings I felt it was too simple.  The first requirement was to look for surface textures.  So I looked at my resources again and chose a picture that really excited me.  (Cotinus shrub in autumn colours)



I looked at a 5cm square and recorded texture – top left, colour in the middle and top right and shapes on the bottom half of the paper.  I can see that the whole page lacks confidence and at the time was feeling frustrated that I don’t seem to have found my favourite medium.

So I quickly sketched from a photo of mine using soft pastels, oil pastels and coloured pencils.


This was interesting.  I feel much more confident with the pastels than the pencils.  I think soft pastels have more potential. Some of mine are hard and scratchy, but the softer ones felt good.  Oil pastels feel the most comfortable.

Returning to my cotinus picture, I played with pastels, pencils and pens.



Then spent 30 minutes sketching from a 5cm square of the original magazine photograph


This is my favourite piece of sketching so far.  I really felt that I emphasised the fact that the colour was the most important to me.



15 minutes recording shapes.  (oil pastels)


15 minutes using dry media – coloured pencils and five minute cheap wax crayon bottom left.


15 minutes using wet media, Daler-Rowney acrylic ink painted using the pipette.


15 minutes using wet media – gouache


I intended to spend 15 minutes on the above collage but hadn’t achieved much in the first 15 minutes so continued for 45 minutes in total.

I enjoyed this exercise and noted the following.

1) Recording details from this vibrant, colourful picture was the first time I felt genuinely excited about drawing.

2) I feel most confident with oil pastels and least confident with paint – I was really disappointed at how awkward it felt – I love the versatility of the colours I can achieve with gouache and other paints but was taken aback by how little finesse I had.

3) Although the collage was time consuming, I loved working with all the decorated papers and think it would be exciting to continue to work into that sort of collage with pastels, pencils, machine and/or hand stitch.

4) I would like to experiment more with soft pastels and neocolour II which I haven’t used but researched and look interesting.


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