Sunday, 12 August 2012

Matching colours to a drawing

I spent some sketchbook time today trying out marbling from the book Arteffects by Jean Drysdale Green (pub 1993 Watson-Guptill Publications NY). A great book which gives you the basic necessary information to try hundreds of new ways of making marks and textures, with no waffle and with pictures for everything. And it has a practical playfulness to it that really encourages me to get my hands dirty and try out new things.

It took a few tries to get the right combination of paper and thickness of wallpaper paste, but in the end it worked beautifully and I started feeling I had a little control over the result. I scanned the most sea urchin- like one of them into the computer and used picmonkey to alter them in various ways. Some of which I can see could have potential for future playing around. I particularly liked one called 'edifice' which merges the image with a  wall with peeling plaster on it. Lots of texture there. And was surprised to find that the simplification of the image by 'posterize' produced a satisfying image, and 'sepia' made something that looked contoured. I stuck my favourite ones into my sketchbook along with the other marbling samples.

Yellow marbling 

Looking at them again I saw how interesting the lines were, and how very spikey the spikes. I played around with them for a while in my work book.

I haven't really written much in this learning log about the work I am doing in that book, even though it has rather taken over recently. I have found myself getting into the 15 minutes a day to the extent that it has sometimes become a couple of hours. I have found myself waking up with ideas in my head for what to do, or an image to be represented in there. Some of my previous drawings/ studies/ photographs have taken on new relevance in the new objects in my head. I have always done this to a certain extent, but never so consistently recorded the progress of my imagination. And of course this process has been accelerated by working on it outside my head every day and following through with this course work. I feel as if there were a river of ideas fluxing through my head. I could draw that!

I find that my unconscious works on things I have seen and done and felt until there is a fairly rounded but indistinctly detailed image hanging there. The most obvious theme at the moment is the repeated reappearance of thick spheres, often spikey, hiding something inside. The image of the texture of that sphere, and what the inside looks like, is becoming clearer to me. But what's inside is confusingly a pile of newspapers or glass slides. Odd.

I have diverted myself. I was going to write about matching colours to the yellow marbled picture of what I have called a sea urchin. I am assuming that this kind of distraction - by my imagination working hard to create something - is to be followed through, as long as it doesn't stop me doing the coursework.

At first I wondered if I would have all the right colours I needed, or might have to go to the haberdashers again (what a shame that would be!).  But I found the first few colours easily in my colour bags. And the more I looked at this picture made from only 3 colours of ink, the more colours I saw in it. I went on and on until I got to the turquoise and found I had no yarns to match. I didn't want to wait till I could go shopping, and I cut up an old piece of fabric I had dyed long ago in those colourss. Initially the thickness of the strips was too much, and the colour looked too intense, but when I cut them thinner it looked just right.

I wasn't sure how to guestimate the relative proportions of each colour, and eventually plumped for copying the example in the coursework by wrapping the yarns round a bamboo stick. (Rather less tidily than the example!)
The colours of the ink are much greener in this photo than in reality - see the scanned version above - and the contrast with the dark background and relatively low light levels means you can't see the colours of the dark greens and purples at the bottom of the photo.  I need to pay more attention to these things with my photos, even if I can't fix the colours on my computer.
This exercise has certainly started me looking more closely at colours, and making me aware that I've a long way to go in developing my perception and understanding of them. I had a surf on the internet and found a copy of 'The Art of Colour' by Itten (pub Otto Major Verlag Regensberg Germany 1961 and 1973) which I could look inside a few pages of. It looked really interesting, and for a large expensive German beautifully photographed book it was remarkably easy to read. I will have to find a library that has a reference copy so I can spend a day browsing through it.

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