Category Archives: Sketching, painting, mark-making and experimentation

A review of the use of colour in my Assignment 3 sketchbook

20 April 2017


My tutor made specific comments in the feedback for assignment 3, remarking that at times there was a dissonance between the use of colour and the work. She suggested that I consider using a palette from within the image or working with a more neutral/monochrome palette to start with, and that I review and reflect upon my use of colour in the course.

In response, when I looked at my sketchbook again in context, it became obvious to me which colour sketches worked well and which did not, and I thought the best way of presenting this information would be to go through each in a blog post and explain why, with lessons learnt for the future.


Which colour sketches didn’t work:

Page 53: The punched cushion

I used colour because I wanted to emphasise the negative space more prominently and I wanted to emphasise the “window-like” properties of the sample. In the event the lemon yellow and bright turquoise seem like an affront to the eyes – the contrast in hue is large and it seems out of place in this context.


Page 54. Observational drawings of Part 3, project 2, sample 6

A thumbnail of the sample is shown below:


The next image is an extract from my sketchbook:

In the top drawing, I have used a muted shade of charcoal to make a mostly tonal drawing to reflect the shapes and shadows of the sculpture. This is soothing to the eye.

In the drawing on the bottom right, I wanted to get away from the focus on contoured surfaces and the reason for the colour was to focus on the outline of the holes made by the balloons and to clearly differentiate from he positive and negative spaces. Looking at the image, I can appreciate that this bears no reference to the sample, and appears somewhat misplaced. My intention had been to abstract the image from a 3D sculpture and project it onto a 2D surface. In hindsight this would have been better achieved with a monochrome or harmonious palette which did not distract from the imagery.

Pages 55-59. Observational drawings Part 3, project 2, samples 2a) and 2b)

A thumbnail of one of the samples is shown below:


The first sketches I have included are in charcoal, so that I can contrast their success with the later coloured analogies. I am pleased with these sketches because they provide detailed and expressive representations of the surface of the sample, and areas of depth and shadow.

In contrast, the sketches made in water-soluble crayon above are also tonal, but lack the range of the charcoal analogies. The purpose of changing the colour was to abstract them away from the original sample, but the three colours neither relate to each other, nor to the sample, so once again there is a feeling of displacement or disjointedness. 

In this final analogy I made a collage but cutting out the outline shapes from magazine pages. After sticking them into my sketchbook, I decided that they did not show up well against the white background, and for this reason I decided to outline them using orange water-soluble crayon. The aim was to create a shadow effect, but they are orange, it does not have the desired effect. In hindsight,  I should have made a note to explain this is my sketchbook.


Back inside cover – Part 3, project 1, sample 72

In this colour sketch, I was trying to give myself an ideas of what the natural cork background and red coloured latex sample would look like. If I am honest, I don’t like these two colours together, but I did not have time to rework the sample in a new colour scheme. This was sample 72 (recommended number for this exercise was 9)! I had just made too many and had I concentrated more on fewer samples, I would have had sufficient time to think careful and rework my results, if needed.



Page 26. Lattice

This is a bold colour combination with a strong contrast of saturation. It is both vibrant and an affront on the senses and is emphasised by the pattern. I am undecided as to whether it is pleasant or not and I have concluded that this would depend upon the situation in which it is used (i.e the size of the piece and the overall colour scheme in which it is placed).


Which colour sketches worked:

Front inside cover: based on Part 1, project 1, sample 48

Although this outline drawing has been abstracted and bears little resemblance to the sample, the shapes are interesting and the colour scheme (which draws on the paintings of KAWS) is bold helps to differentiate the shapes. It suggests a kaleidoscope, maybe graffiti or street art. 

Compared with the pencil outline (see above – sketchbook page 50), the contrast helps to draw me into the image and invites me to decipher the shapes.


Page 6-7. Doodles

These shapes were inspired by linocut marks, packaging and the paintings of Van Gogh. The colours add to the textural quality of the image, suggesting that some shapes are more prominent, and suggesting depth and perspective.


Page 10. Relief texture rubbing

This colour scheme works because it focuses on the complementary colours of violet and yellow. Together with blue-violet it from a harmonious triad, as described by Itten (Itten, 1961, 72-73).


Page 26. Lattice

This is the same analogy as that on page 25, but using a harmonious colour scheme with a soft transition of hue across the background and an increasing construct of saturation from bottom left to top right. I feel that this scheme is restful and I am more convinced of it’s success than the colour scheme on page 25.


Page 46. The squashed object

In the bottom right I have adapted Barbara Cotterell’s “Flourpots” piece by using a different shaped “container”, and by emphasising the outside instead of the inside by applying her colour scheme o the exterior surfaces. This colour scheme has a bold contrast in hue and gives the impression of being taken from a paintbox. I think that the contrast works well in this instance and helps define and differentiate each of the elements.


Page 51-52. Development from a drawing based on Part 1, project 1, sample 48.


This is an harmonious colour scheme of autumnal colours ranging from yellow, to green to brown, to russet to pink. It works because the colours form a transition from similar hues and overlapping the stencils helps the eye to blend them together,



In the sketchbook for Part 3, I made a conscious effort to try and abstract away from the samples by using colour. It is obvious that this was often not successful.

The colour schemes which didn’t work tended which I chose without consideration of the context nor the feelings that I wanted to engender. They were more often bold and strongly contrasting. 

Harmonious, complementary or related colours tended to work well and enhanced rather than retracted from my visual message. 



Itten, J (1961) Itten: The elements of colour. New York. John Wiley and Sons.


Home experiments into dry point and lino printing

10 September 2016


This time last year, I attended a printmaking course at Gainsborough’s House Printmaking studio, Sudbury and since then, I been lucky enough to purchase a second hand intaglio press. This was the first real opportunity I had to practice using the press. It was a very different experience to using the press on the printmaking course. The press at Gainsborough’s House was geared and set up by the tutors, whereas my press is ungeared and I have to set it up myself! 


My first series of dry points

I used a sketch which I had drawn of my 2 year old niece mud painting as the basis for my design. The original sketch is shown below.

I photocopied and resized the sketch, which I placed under a sheet of acetate as a template whilst I scratched the design onto it using drypoint etching needles (if I’d been bothered about the image being the correct way around, I would have needed to ‘digitally flip’ first to obtain a mirror image).

For my first experiments I used 220gsm cartridge paper, soaked in water for 30 minutes and blotted dry. I used Lawrence’s own brand oil-based etching ink, applied with a wedge of cardboard and worked into the impressions using stiff scrim.

My first print was rather pale. For the second print, I re-inked and worked the ink back into the grooves. This was better but still not as dark as I would have liked.

I wondered whether I had maybe soaked the paper for too long and/or should have used some extender with the printing ink. Next, I used the same paper but soaked in water for only 10 minutes before blotting. I added extender to the ink before applying, which made it more workable. The results were variable; I still got a very pale first print (ink not worked properly into the grooves?), but my subsequent print was much better (see below)



I am pleased with this as my first print. The soft marks underneath the sharp lines were intentional and made with a diamond-shaped etching needle. I wanted to recreate the feeling of ‘drawing over’ which was present in my sketchbook. However, I feel that the etched marks do lack the spontaneity of the sketch. Maybe I need more practice to feel confidence with the etching needles, or perhaps I will only get a feeling of spontaneity if inscribe the image straight onto the etching plate. Only time and more experimentation will tell.


My first series of lino prints

I used a technique which I had learnt at the printmaking classes, where you ink up an uncut piece of lino and place found objects onto it before printing. Successive prints can be make by removing and replacing the objects in a different position without re-inking, or re-inking, replacing the objects and making a new print (hopefully all will become clear when you see the progression of images!) I used dry 220gsm cartridge paper and Lawrence oil based relief printing ink. 

Below is a photo of my first print. I used a sprig of oats, a piece of straw and some nylon fruit netting to make the silhouettes.


For my second print, I simply removed the found objects and printed again without re-inking (see below)

Next, I re-inked, replaced the objects in a new position and took another print. I had some issues with spoiling the paper around the edge of the print because the inky objects were touching them. This is something I will have to resolve/prevent in future.

The next print I took involved placing some more straw and some seed heads on top of the lino before re-printing. There was no re-inking in between. It is possible to see an embossed effect from the seed pods.


My last print (again not re-inked) was a straight print taken off the plate once all the found objects had been removed. It is quite a ghostly, feint image.

I love the effect of this type of printing. Very fine detail is revealed by the printing process and some beautiful marks are made. I didn’t have time to make a jig, so I had issues with my roller having to do a “step-up” once it got to the lino plate and readjust the pressure/setting. A friend has shown me how to resolve this by making card “feeders” just marginally less thick than the lino.


My first series of lino cut prints

I already had made a lino cut in the shape of a flower. It was a very plain simple design consisting of a flat area of relief cut out, so I thought about embellishing it with the stems and stalks as I had done in the previous sample.

I made just two prints this time. For the first one I inked the lino, then placed the found objects on top of it and took the print (see below). Note there is some residual ink on the straw stem and net from the first series which adds to the textural effect. 

Next, removed the stem and net and took another print without re-inking (see below)

I love both of these prints and I think they would make a good set. There is also and attractive embossed effect as well as the printing. The print above is crooked because the lino moved during pressing. This is again an issue which I can resolve by using a jig, such as the one I described earlier.