Sunday, 7 October 2012

Textiles 1: Project 3: Stage 6 Combining textures and colours

Pointillism with French knots.

Primary Colours
For the first part of this exercise, I used wool, silk, and ribbon in three colours of approximately the same intensity - red, mid blue, and bright yellow.

I found it difficult to use wool on cotton fabric, because the eye of the needle had to be a bit big to go through easily. The shinier silk went through more easily, and made smaller knots. I was surprised to find that the baby ribbon I had in yellow also made small knots.  Making the knots close enough to hide the black background also made the whole area stick up like a clump of moss.

The colour changes were subtle, with a slight merging of the colours of blue and red together when the proportions were almost equal. The addition of yellow just seemed to make the yellow stand out. When there was mostly yellow, the colour of it was modified by the presence of small amounts of the blue and red. Spreading the knots out to show black between them made them all less intense.

At this point I tried out a complementary colour - an orange that seemed to be complementary to the bright blue. This had the effect of darkening the blue, and reminded me of Van Gogh's Starry Night. Adding yellow to this mixture resulted in its merging with the orange to give a paler orangey yellow impression, and the blue returned more to its original tone.

Pastel Colours
Initially I thought this exercise was nothing to do with pointillism, as I could not see that the primary colours I chose for the first exercise could ever effectively mix. Using pastel colours made more sense to me, and the colour changes were more predictable to me, used to mixing colour with coloured pencils. I still didn't really think I was learning anything really new with this exercise, and didn't see what it had to do with 'divisionism' and Seurat's ideas.

French knots to represent colour changes in a drawing
Doing this part of the exercise I suddenly got the point. And understood the relationship of what I was doing to pointillism.

I found a painting I had done in watercolours of a piece of soapstone with scratches all over it, which had subtle variations in colour over the whole surface. It was an ambitious choice of drawing to translate into French knots, and I quickly realised I was only going to be able to do a portion of it, so I chose a section on one side with lots of small areas of different colours.

Drawing for French knot sample
Coloured pencil in sketchbook
I enjoyed working out which colours of yarn to use from my collection, and drawing it out in coloured pencil first had the effect of helping me understand what the exercise was about, and gave me a template to follow so I didn't get too lost in what I was doing. I chose white cotton toile as the background as the whole image is very pale with white lines all over, which I thought would probably need a light-textured white background to support it. I didn't think I needed to worry about threads showing through to the front as most of it would be closely stitched.

I had done enough French knots to be able to do them without too much attention to the technique by now, so I enjoyed sewing it.

What I learned while doing it included the following:
1. I can create a unity of the whole piece by having knots of one background colour interspersed with the other contributory colours.
2. Variations in tone and colour can be made using different proportions of colours in different areas.
3.  For this exercise I did use a light purple as one of the colours of yarn, but I can now understand (and believe) how I could use blue and pink in combination to give a similar effect.
4. I used 3 or 4 colours in some areas to achieve the colour and intensity that I was looking for.
5. I used the white background as a contributory colour in several areas.
6. The texture of French knots is distinctive, like a knotted rug, and probably isn't so suitable for representing a piece of stone! (But it looked interesting and different on white cotton toile).

Sketchbook Work on Colour
I have been trying some more colour exercises in my sketchbook during this part of the course. This is my attempt to paint the colours of my forearm and wrist, inspired by the Renoir Nude in the Sunlight. I obviously didn't use enough white, and I have a long way to go in separating what I see from what I think I see.

Colours of my forearm
Gouache on paper

My forearm for reference

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