Part 4, Stages 2&3, Project 2, Exercise 1 – Create a collage block

24 April 2017

Project 2, Exercise 1 – Create a collage block

This exercise was purely about creating a collage block to explore the possibilities of collatype printing. The course notes gave detailed instructions on how to produce the sampler. 

My piece of mount-board was between A4 and A3 sized, so I was able to comfortably accommodate 12 different sections. I had lots of ideas and would have liked to experiment further, but because I was limited in time and materials, I tried to choose diverse surfaces including fabric, natural materials, synthetics, stitched materials and abrasive grit.

I started by applying a layer of pva adhesive onto the mount-board, onto which I stuck down my textured surfaces. When dry, I coated the whole board with two more layers of pva and left them to dry, to make sure my print block was waterproof (see below):

Top row, left to right: Flip-flop sole (two different sides), fruit net, crate ties, factory-make smocking.

Middle row, left to right: Crocheted bath mat, corduroy garment section (with seams), woven leather and synthetic belt, garlic net.

Bottom row, left to right: Curtain hooks, grass stem and ivy leaf, cambric fabric, 120 grit carborundum.


My focus was on exploring textures at this stage rather than developing patterns. I used different paper and fabric with Akua intaglio ink which I applied undiluted with a decorators’ paint brush. Before taking fresh prints, I replenished the block by re-inking. In all cases I worked the print by pressing and massaging the paper of fabric across the block using my thumb and fingers.


SAMPLE 1: 130gsm cartridge paper

The paper was sufficiently thin to be able to work around the relief surface of the collage block, and the print was crisp and well defined (see below):

All the surfaces were recognisable from the print. Particularly detailed was the stitching of the crocheted bath mat (centre row, right column). There was a surprising amount of detail from the ivy leaf (bottom row, centre-right column). It was an encouraging first print.

SAMPLE 2: Plain newsprint

The plain newsprint was even more lightweight than the cartridge paper and more absorbent. I was particularly interested to try this paper because I wanted to assess the effect of printing onto newspaper (thereby adding depth and texture to an already patterned surface).

In general the results were very similar to those achieved with the cartridge paper (see below):

The only slight difference is that the prints have more shadow and are therefore slightly less well defined. I prefer this because  I find it more atmospheric. The two close-ups below, illustrate the effect achieved. They are 1. Fruit net, 2. Curtain hooks. 


I particularly like the way that in the fruit net print, some of the negative spaces have been filled with ink whilst others have not, and the differences in tone across the surface.

SAMPLE 3: Cotton muslin

The nuances of tone are even better pronounced in this print than the paper ones in samples 1 and 2, so there is more suggestion of shadow. The detailed images below show how the threads of the fabric contribute to the beautiful textural quality of the print. There is much more of a feeling of movement of colour across the surface, unifying the different textural areas.

The above image shows the detail of the print from the crocheted bath mat.

And this image is of the fruit net print. It shows both movement and depth.

I can imagine embellishing and extending these prints with sensitive delicate stitching, perhaps in layers. Because they look great magnified, I might also consider photographing and digitally printing them to enhance the detail. Because the muslin is so delicate and translucent, there is also the possibility of layering different solid colours underneath to add additional depth and change the character of the print in different regions.

SAMPLE 4: Japanese tissue


The photograph above shows the print transferred onto the tissue. Most of the surfaces transferred well and gave crisp and identifiable images. It is most similar to the print onto muslin, although it lack the added detail of the fabric weave. A couple of close-ups are given below for comparison:

The crocheted bath mat print (above)

And the woven belt (above).

The character of these prints tends more towards the “powdery” whereas I would describe the prints onto fabric as being more “grainy” in texture. The prints onto Japanese tissue are almost stencil-like.

Links suggested by tutor in part 3 feedback

10 May 2017

Links suggested by my tutor in part 3 feedback

In this post, I want to show that I have examined the suggested reading/viewing recommended by my tutor Cari Morton, and to make comment on the work which I feel was especially relevant or appealing.

I started by looking at my tutor’s Pintrest board made in response to the OCA MMT course handbook (Morton, 2017). Although I have a Pinterest account, I hadn’t considered making use of it at a learning resource up until now. I could see, through Cari’s collection of images that it could be a useful tool for discovering relevant practitioners and, by setting up different boards, could become a focus collections of particularly inspirational works or those related to a particular topic, style or discipline. As a result, I decided to make my own board “Printmaking for textiles” in response to Part 4 of the course (Eastaugh, 2017). Collecting all the images in one place allowed me to appreciate the breadth of styles and techniques and it also acted as a resource pool which I was able to return to throughout my contextual studies and sampling. I shall certainly use Pinterest as a springboard for my Part 5 contextual studies.

Next, Cari suggested that I have a look at the use of silicone and latex within the graduate collections at New Designers and Graduate fashion week; in particular she suggested the work of Lucy Simpson and Xiao Li as being relevant to my use of silicone within part 3, project 1, exercise 1, samples 50-54.

Lucy Simpson describes herself as a “print and materials-led textile designer”, whose practice arose from a desire to seek out the tactile qualities lost within digital printing (Simpson, 2012-2016a). Especially relevant to my sampling was the way in which she combines a partial covering of silicone onto fabrics to make new tactile surfaces in which both elements are visible. I thought, particularly about sample 51 of part 3, project 1, exercise 1 (shown below), the broken surface, and how this could be contrasted with a textile places underneath.


One of the strong elements which appeals to me about sample 51 is the geometry of the surface relief. Although many of Simpson’s silicone textile fabrics are irregular in pattern, I found an example of a regular “dogtooth” check (Eastaugh, 2017b). I like the striations in the silicone as it has been laid down onto the fabric, which gives additional surface texture. Also appealing is that the application of silicone is not completely consistent, so there are interesting variations on the fabric surface. I was interested to read that Simpson’s work had been included in various trend magazines, such as Elle decoration, Mix magazine and WGSN. Searching for the dogtooth fabric, I found an article in which it had been featured as a dress (Cover Magazine, 2014).

Xiao Li coats whole blocks of knitted fabrics with silicone and creates contrast within her garments by leaving other areas untreated. Examples can be seen on the Style Bubble website (Style Bubble, 2012). I also found a write up about Li in the London fashion week profile page (London fashion week, 2017). It described how she sought to use her techniques to show that knitwear doesn’t have to be shapeless, instead designing voluminous structured clothing. I was also interested to read that Li lists modern architecture as one of her influences. I also love the simple clean lines and shapes of modern buildings, and particularly have been influenced by the buildings of Oscar Niemeyer.

The final practitioner suggested by my tutor was Laura Splan and her “viral doilies” series (Splan, 2004). These works comprise of computerised embroidered lace based on virus structures, each of which displays a different radial symmetry. The work re-examines the lace doily as an innocuous domestic artefact by placing in the context of microbial imagery which has associations with cultural anxieties such as bioterrorism and health epidemics (e.g. Bird flu, Ebola). As a biology/mathematics graduate, I am interested in both the concept and the geometry of this work (I have purchased a copy of Ernst Haeckel’s “Artforms in nature” (Haeckel, 2015)). Consequently, I was surprised to find myself underwhelmed by the visual aesthetics of the Splan’s work. On reflection, I think this is because of the lack of depth and texture in her pieces, accompanied by the fact that they were presented as monochrome (white doilies on a black background). They seem rather clinical (which perhaps is the intention seeing as they reflect functional domestic objects?) In contrast, the Haeckel structures have colour, texture, three-dimensionality and in some cases semi-transparency, which is the direction in which I would be inclined to take the development of radical symmetrical structures.



Cover magazine (2014), ‘Editor’s picks: 20 designs from London’. In: Cover magazine: Textiles and carpets for modern interiors. 30 October, 2014. [online]. At: (Accessed 10 May 2017).

Eastaugh, N. (2017a) Printmaking for textiles. [Pinterest board, May 2017] Available at: (Accessed 10 May 2017)

Eastaugh, N. (2017b) Silicone texture Lucy Simpson. Available at: (Accessed 10 May 2017)

Haeckel, E. (2015) Art forms in nature. London. Prestel.

London fashion week (2017) Designer profile: Xiao Li. At: (Accessed 10 May 2017)

Morton, C. (2017) Textiles mixed media. [Pinterest board, May 2017] Available at: (Accessed 10 May 2017)

Simpson, L. (2012-2016a) Lucy Simpson: About. At: (Accessed 10 May 2017)

Simpson, L. (2012-2016b) Lucy Simpson:silicone At: (Accessed 10 May 2017)

Splan, L. (2004) Doilies. Projects: viral artefacts At: (Accessed 10 May 2014)

Style Bubble (2012) Neon slick knits. At: (Accessed 10 May 2017)

Part 4, Stages 2&3, Project 1, Exercise 4 – Working with stencils

29 March 2017

Project 1, Exercise 4 – working with stencils

SAMPLE 1: Figure stencil, 130gsm Snowdon cartridge paper, Akua intaglio ink

I wanted to start this exercise with a simple example, so I chose the figure on page 30 of my sketchbook. I started my simplifying the image, then did some sketchbook work to decide how I wanted to proceed with the stencil (see sketchbook pages 39-44). 

By simplifying the figure to a silhouette without clothing, the figure became androgynous. It is shadow-like and mysterious – there is more scope for the viewer to read the image in different ways, to relate to it in their own way and associate their own experiences and emotions.

I had to make a decision about the legs and head which were left indrawn in my optional sketch. I evaluated the options and decided that “framing” the figure top and bottom by extending the stencil worked best (see below)


I liked this configuration because to me it was the most meaningful; I could imagine the figure standing in a walkway of a high rise block, with the top of the head and areas below the knees obscured by concrete and just the centre area of the body visible.

Rather than use a blank, white piece of paper, I decided to rework sample 1 from project 1, exercise 3 (see below):


As well as wanting to use the lovely background texture of this sample, I recalled the figure drawing class where I had drawn the original image. Other exercises involved creating ghost-like effects by working multiple images one on top of each other (see below), which is what made me think this overlaying approach would work. The concept is developed further in pages 40 and 45-50 of my sketchbook)


I cut out my stencils from blank newsprint, and I laid each on top of my printed paper to see whether I preferred the positive of the negative.

It was my intention to use some opaque white Akua intaglio ink, so the white paper gave a good idea of what the finished print might look like. I preferred the dark figure and light background because it felt more shadow-like and therefore easier to relate to.

Never having used the white intaglio ink before, I was not sure just how “opaque” it was going to be, and I hoped that some of the background colour would show through my print. I inked a perspex plate with the neat ink and laid the stencil on top before laying on the paper and taking the print in the intaglio press. The result is shown below:

There are so many aspects of this print which I love; the overall feeling is one of mystery, as if we are looking at the shadowy figure through frosted glass. The white ink has partially covered the background, but is not the same colour white as the original paper, and so blotchy areas persist across the whole surface. The feint lines of the previous figure print suggest creases in clothing. This is my reading of the image, but each viewer will have their own interpretation, made possible by the lack of detail on the figure, and the suggestions made by the printed marks.


SAMPLE 2: Figure stencil, 130gsm Snowdon cartridge paper, Akua intaglio ink

I decided that I would rework sample 2b) from project 1, exercise 3 (see below). This was the ghost print after a back drawn monoprint had been taken from the plate.

First, I tried reusing the inked plate from sample 1 above for a second print. I removed the stencil and used the plate to print over the image. However, their was very little white ink left on the plate and the result was just a fine white outline where the stencil had been. This can be seen faintly to the right of the original outline (see below):

I decided that I would have to ink the plate again, and that white ink would be too pale to give a proper contrast with the background. Although I used the same stencil, by inking my plate in a darker colour (blue), I got the effect of a negative image (i.e. the figure was pale and the background was dark) – see sample 2a) below:

Although I love the white lines on the figure (again suggesting texture of clothes) overall I feel that it is not as successful as sample 1. For me, this is because I expect a figure with a lack of detail (silhouette) to be dark and shadowy and in the background, and there is a conflict with this figure being light and suggestive of being in the foreground.

Having completed this first sample, I thought I would extend the exercise by seeing what other interesting prints I could pull from the plate and stencil.

First, with the stencil still stuck to the inked plate, I laid some strips of etching scrim across it and took another print with the press (see sample 2b) below:

There is no detail from the fabric other than it’s outline, which I feel tends to confuse the silhouette of the figure. For this reason it is not my favourite print. However, I would probably keep it in case I thought of an opportunity where I could develop it by adding another layer of print or embellishment.

Next, I lifted the stencil and the scrim from the plate and took a third print (see sample 2c) below:

Although feint, this image has some lovely delicate features, such as subtle tonal variations between the areas of bare plate, paper stencil and fabric, and the detail of the fabric weave itself. There is also a darker line around the edge where the paper stencil was placed, providing a soft outline. The image has a ghostly quality, again invoking a sense of mystery.

Finally, I took the stencil and flipped it over on a piece of scrap paper to expose the inked surface. From this I took a final print (see sample 2d) below:

This image still retains textural detail where the scrim was placed during sample 2b). Personally, I don’t like this image quite as much as 2b) because it lacks the detail of the inked plate and residual marks of the scrim, which I feel add to the interest of the print.


SAMPLE 3: Fabric scraps, 130gsm Snowdon cartridge paper, Akua intaglio ink

My felt that samples 2b-2d lacked impact, and my preference would have been for them to have been bolder and the fabric weave more noticeable. However, these were ghost images taken from a plate which had already been used to produce a primary image, so I wondered whether I might get stronger results had I not already taken a print. The primary aim of this sample was to answer that question. I wanted also to understand what results I could get by using different types of fabric as stencils (see pages 42-43 of my sketchbook where I explored the concept of using fabric as a stencil for the figure prints)

I started by inking a plate and placing a selection on scraps of interesting textured fabric on top, including scrim, lace, burlap and irregular metallic mesh.

With the exception of the metallic mesh (where there was a slight ingress of ink), the ink did not penetrate through the weave and the scraps of fabric acted as solid stencils (see sample 3a below):

At the bottom of the print is the burlap, which made a lovely embossed pattern. I am drawn to the bold simplicity of this area and the contrast between the large blocks of white and the tiny thin threads at the edges of the shapes which have also acted as a mask to the ink. 

After I had carefully removed each scrap of fabric, I took a second print from the plate (sample 3b). This time I got a contrast of tones between the background of the printing plate and the areas which had been masked by the fabric. 

I was hoping for some strong impressions of the fabric textures. Burlap gave a very strong and striking print and the lace a feint one, but the texture of the scrim and metallic mesh were barely discernible. To understand this properly, I would have to do a series of experiments with different paper and ink combinations, to see how these variables might influence the print quality. Unfortunately, I didn’t have time (printmaking is a technical as well as an artistic discipline and one could spend I lifetime acquiring knowledge and experience).

Next, I took the fabric swatches, and flipped them over onto a scrap piece of paper on the print bed (sample 3c). The resulting print was very detailed, with all the fabric textures being replicated extremely well right down to the finest detail of single threads. In the case of the burlap, the “hairiness” of the cloth is also apparent, with prints of tiny loose fibres in the negative space between the weave.


SAMPLE 4: Burlap fabric figure stencil, 130gsm Snowdon cartridge paper, Akua intaglio ink

Following on from my experiments in sample 3, I decided to use the burlap fabric as a stencil, because it was the textile which had given the most bold and striking results on all three prints.

My burlap fabric was a wide “ribbon” made for floristry use, but it was unfortunately not wide enough to accommodate the complete stencil. As a consequence, I had to truncate parts of the strips which framed the top and bottom of the figure. In order to get the whole figure on the stencil, I also had to cut it out off the straight of the grain (see below):

The first print I took is show below (sample 4a):

I love the embossing from the burlap and the mask in the background which arose from loose fibres becoming displaced after cutting (detail below).

The edges of the mask look like edges of torn paper – another appealing characteristic, which I feel adds texture and softness to the print. I am less happy that the stencil is incomplete and that the figure shape could not be cut out precisely. I had an idea for developing this sample which I have expanded in my sketchbook (page 45) based on back drawing into the stencil area.

I used tracing paper to get an idea of how I could use back drawing to enhance the image (see below):

I think that the contrast between the bold smooth lines of the back drawing and the rough informality of the stencil outline are very strong visually. I decided to go ahead and add the backdrawing to my print, as shown below (sample 4a):


In hindsight, I should have known that the backdrawn lines would not show up against the dark blue background. One way of compensating for this would have been to run a print of white opaque ink over the whole print and allowing it to dry before attempting this backdrawing. This would have had the effect of making the background paler (see sample 1). When I did the backdrawing, I used a graphite stick to make the thick bold outline and the point of a cocktail stick to draw in the clothes. This worked well to give me the two different thicknesses of line which I wanted. An added benefit of the embossing was that it has picked up some of the smudges of the backdrawing to add texture to the print – a lovely subtle feature, suggesting textiles worn by the figure. 

As well as engendering a feeling of shadow and mystery, the two displaced images also make me think of the issue of identity; of being comfortable (or not) in one’s own skin. Another interpretation might be deja vu, or perhaps a feeling of social awkwardness, loneliness or being physically displaced. One of the strengths of this image is it’s multiple readings.

Next, I carefully peeled away the burlap and took another print from the plate (see sample 4b below):

The detail of the fabric and the tonal differences are beautiful; there is so much textural interest in this print.

I thought about using it for a backdrawing as I had the initial print, and developed the idea in my sketchbook (see page 45). Below is one example:

From my experience with sample 4a, however, I knew the back drawn lines would not have shown up due to insufficient contrast, so I decided to keep the print as a reference. Next time if I use a lighter ink initially I will be able to successfully back draw over it.

Using the stencil from sample 4a, I flipped it over so that the inked side was uppermost, placed it on some waste paper and took another print (see sample 3c below):

I decided that the image as it stood, was too vague and simplistic, and would be enhanced by emphasising certain parts of the outline using backdrawing. I wanted to add shading to remove the suggestion that the shape on top of the head was a hat and to emphasise certain parts of the negative space. I made several sketches of alternative ideas (see sketchbook page 47) and also thought about using either opaque or semi-transparent inks.

On this occasion, I used opaque Mars black for my backdrawing. As for sample 4a, I used a graphite stick and pointed end of a cocktail stick to transfer the ink using the backdrawing method. Above and and below the figure I used my fingers to press down and transfer marks/shading. To the left of the figure I used the edge of the graphite stick to transfer ink in a way which looks very similar to graphite stick shading. To the right of the arm are smudge marks associated with the pressure of my hand when I drew the outlines.,

I find that the variety marks and variation of tone make this image work well. It is also easily readable as a figure. Emphasising the negative space helps give the image a three dimensional quality, whilst the burlap texture reminds me of a metal mesh, perhaps suggesting an industrial setting, prison, or detention camp. The bright side of the image to the right suggests that this is where the light is coming from. This is the direction in which the figure is facing, perhaps looking to freedom, hope or a new horizon. The grey tones of this image are soothing and contemplative and overall it has a passive, reflective feel.

Finally, I just had to take a print from the inked plate which I had used for the backdrawing on sample 4c. However, before I did so, I used a paper towel and cotton buds and the edge of a credit card to remove ink from the background (thereby creating different textures and emphasising the negative space). This sample should really belong in project 1, exercise 1, because it is composed entirely of reductive process. However, it is included here because it was a logical progression from the figure stencil prints.

I love the soft tonal reductive work of Degas and the simple monoprint lines of Matisse. This print draws from both those influences. It is bold, simplistic (the figure), and yet complex and textural (the background). I think it works because it is interesting without being over detailed (see sample 4d below)



SAMPLE 5: Bamboo leaf and newsprint stencils, 130gsm Snowdon cartridge paper, Akua Intaglio ink

I wanted to do a series using plant material as a stencil, inspired by the collagraphy of Brenda Hartill, whom I had researched for my contextual studies. 

With most branches still bare, early Spring was not the best time to gather leaves. There are also very few of lovely seedpods and husks which are abundant in Autumn. Nonetheless, I managed to find some evergreen bamboo.

For added interest, I tore strips of plain newsprint to lay horizontally across the inked plate. I then laid the bamboo frond onto these strips, so that the paper stencil prevented some of the leaves from touching the plate.  

This sample was entirely materials led. It wasn’t planned from any sketchbook work – I just foraged for interesting materials and experimented with strips of paper stencils until I found a composition which I liked.

Working with Akua intaglio ink, I tried to make my plate more textural this time. In previous samples, I had inked the plate with a rubber roller, which gives a smooth, uniform covering. This time, I used the rubber roller, but purposely added colour without thoroughly blending, working in different directions to give a variable coverage of ink. The inked plate is shown below:

Below is the first print I pulled from the plate (sample 5a):

Both the paper and the bamboo have acted as solid stencil and there is some lovely embossing from the bamboo stem. This is an image which could easily be overlaid with additional prints, or perhaps used as a base for backdrawing or stitching. 

Next, I removed both the paper an bamboo stencils and took a second print from the plate (sample 5b). This print is very beautiful because of the exquisite detail of the leaves and stem. In fact it is much more visible when printed than simply looking at the leaf.

Next, I removed the leaf frond from the inked plate, and replaced the the paper stencils which I had removed for sample 5b, flipping them over so that their inked side was uppermost. I took a third print (sample 5c):

Because the newsprint is so thin, the pressure of the strips going through the intaglio press on the first print has transferred all the detail of the bamboo leaves onto them. In this print it means we have a strong but fragmented image of the plant transferred from the paper strips and a very subtle background print (because this is the third print from the plate without re-inking).

I love the composition of the three strips covering just over half of the paper and the other part being a feint image of the same subject. There is a sense of imbalance which is intriguing.

There is also a sense of distance, with the three strips being in the foreground and the rest of the image being further away (as if shrouded in mist, perhaps?). This three dimensionality makes the print interesting in it’s own right, but also as a candidate for further development. I can imagine folding the paper, and if it were printed on fabric, then pleating. Joining with other materials could be used to provide contrast; perhaps a opaque smooth material (but not shiny) in chromatic grey (unfortunately, I do not have the time or sketchbook space to follow all these ideas through, but I am recording them here for future reference). 

Next, I took the perspex plate and re-inked it using a darker colour. I then took the bamboo frond which I had used previously and flipped it, so that the inked side was uppermost. Because it had been used with the paper stencils, however, only part of the leaves were inked. The result is shown below (sample 5d):

Because the bamboo frond has been used, there is embossing from the stem. I like the two colour effect and the fact that some of the leaf print extends over the frame of the perspex plate. As a stand alone image it is striking and engaging.

Next, I removed the bamboo frond from the inked plate, flipped it over, placed it back on the plate before taking a second print. The result is shown below (sample 5e):

Although this is a single colour print, it is perhaps the one which best captures the fine detail of the leaves and stems, and for this reason I like it very much. The plant is the star, and the complexity of it’s construction is offset by the single colour and subtly different tones.

My final print using the bamboo is shown below (sample 5f):

I flipped the bamboo frond again and placed it back onto the plate. Similar to sample 5b, there are shadowy prints in the background and bold prints in the foreground. There are white areas where the tips of the bamboo leaves did not touch the ink in the previous pull. It is just as beautiful as the previous print, but slightly more complex. What I like is that all the marks are related because they are made with the same bamboo frond. This gives harmony and a sense of togetherness to the image.


SAMPLE 6: Dried grass stem, 130gsm Snowdon cartridge paper, Akua intaglio ink and liquid pigment

I wanted to extend the work I had done in sample 5 by seeing if I could combine the plant stencilling technique with reductive techniques and drawing using the Akua needle nib and liquid pigment. 

First, I inked a perspex plate by brushing on Akua intaglio ink and used a paper towel to remove ink in the areas that I intended to draw on the flowers. Next, I loosely sketched lilies from memory using akau liquid pigment, directly onto the same plate. I laid the plate on the bed of the intaglio press and placed grass stems on top. The print which I took is shown below (sample 6a).

I like the mark-making in this sample. The lillies have a lovely loose spontaneity about them and the intentional texture from the background brushwork is also pleasing. Because this is the first print, the shape of the grass stems appear as a resist, suggesting they are in front of the image and adding depth and interest. For me, it is analogous to a photograph where the focus is on the lillies, and the grass stems appear out of focus in the foreground; the decision has been taken to only provide visual detail to the lillies. The viewer is left to interpret the grass stems as they wish.

The only aspect of this image which I do not like is the colour scheme. The pink I have used feels slightly sickly and rather kitsch.

Next, without re-inking the plate, I removed the grass stems, turned them over and placed them inked side uppermost. The ghost print which I took is shown below (sample 6b):

This image is more subtle, with a powdery or misty feel and an added layer of tone/depth. The detail of the grasses is now visible, so the image is more prescriptive.

These two prints almost make me want to introduce another layer – tissue, stitching, a semi-transparent photograph? Any additions, however would have to be made without causing the image to become confused or muddled. Another option might be to expand small areas or particular interest and enlarge them – maybe to make a set of square tiles, related by colour and mark. These could be joined with a contrasting material, either as a flat panel or make into a three-dimensional polygon. I have thought about some ideas on page 53 of my sketchbook.



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.

Assignment 3 – response to tutor feedback

28 March 2017

Assignment 3 – response to tutor feedback

My tutor for this module was Cari Morton. A link to her feedback can be found here


Response to tutor feedback:

Summary of the main learning points with my responses:


1. Exploration of biological tissue through latex sampling was crying out for more discussion about medical connotations and how it reflects on the audience. Would have liked to see more about the intentions for these samples.

I agree with the comments, but please see my response to point 4. Because of the large number of experimental samples made, I didn’t have time to expand this idea, which came right at the end of the project. I will have to think more carefully about division of time in future.


2. Use sketchbooks even more to develop samples and propose further ideas. Keep the photographs as they compose different imagery to drawings.

I will continue to develop the use of my sketchbook in this way (using sketchbooks to develop samples is a new concept for me which I only started in assignment 3). It is good to know that the photographs are useful and can be retained.


3. In the sketchbook, writing sometimes predominates over visuals. Reflect on whether I could be more succinct (maybe use bullet points).

I will try and take this on board, although at the time of receiving my feedback, I had already completed three quarters of my sketchbook for assignment 4.

4. An example was given of a leather sample which I said “didn’t appeal” to me, and on this occasion I hadn’t qualified my statement, nor had I expanded on the other contexts in which it might be used.

I try very hard not to do this (there are many other examples of where I have qualified what I liked or disliked about a sample, so I am disappointed that this one has been picked out, because it is not typical). 

In my comment I stated that “the leather held the creases and marks well, although as a sample, it’s not really very appealing…” I should have expanded on why I felt that it didn’t appeal “as a sample”. What I meant, was that as a stand alone object I found it difficult to relate to; it neither being immediately analogous to another object nor suggesting any particular feelings or emotions.

When thinking about other contexts in which the sample may be used, I could have thought about it being cut and rejoined at different angles, or perhaps being joined with a contrasting material to add excitement? I could have asked whether the sample would have been more interesting had I changed the scale, or cut out shapes and duplicated them t make a pattern. These are options which I should have suggested and expanded upon.

Finally, this was sample 32 of a total of 65 (The coursework guidance suggested “about 6 samples”). By this point I was mentally exhausted and finding it difficult to say something new about each sample without being repetitive. It is nobody’s fault but my own for overburdening myself with too many samples and it is something that I must urgently address in future assignments. Had I worked 10 times less samples I would have had the time and energy to be more thoughtful, discerning and careful in my analysis and writing up.

5. It was mentioned that the use of colour in my sketchbook sometimes created a dissonance when making observational drawings of samples.

I agree that some of the colour combinations didn’t work. I had purposely been trying on expand my colour palettes away from those in the samples, but I clearly need to be careful with this approach.

I have written an analysis of the colour sketches and lessons learnt which can be found here.


6. Continue to develop multiple outcomes from each source.

I am pleased that my tutor has picked up on this because it is an area which I have been actively working on. I will continue to develop this approach.

7. Consider using the forms, shapes and patterns which I have used in the last three parts of the course as the imagery for the prints.

See comment to point 3. Unfortunately most of my ideas were developed and I had completed Project 1 of Part 4 before I received the feedback.

The big painting challenge

20 March 2017


Usually, I steer well clear of reality TVs shows, but this years’ big painting challenge has provided some useful tips. Mentors Pascal Anson and Diana Ali (also an OCA tutor) have made some excellent suggestions which I will be able to apply to my practice.

When approaching the project to paint elephants, mentor Pascal Anson suggested that one way of expressing the massiveness of the animal would be to frame the image such that it is not fully contained within the canvass. This worked very well, giving the painting presence. I was also interested during the warm-up exercises to see that Pascal asked the contestants to express the animal with a single painted line worked with a thick paintbrush. He also asked them to spend 90% of their time looking at the subject and only 10% of the time drawing it. This reminded me of some figure drawing classes which I attended where we were asked to do ‘blind drawings’. This helps to focus on the object and draw what you see, rather than making assumptions (which are often wrong).

Last week’s programme involved drawing moving ballet dancers and I was interested to see the mentor’s ideas on how to suggest movement in a static painting. These included multiple images of the same subject in different poses and using sweeping marks (such as scraping paint with the edge of a credit card).