Where you able to mix and match colours accurately?
Well, yes and no. Yes, I am much more able to mix and match colours than I was before. The exercises, especially having done the colour mixing exercise so that I had an idea of where to start for any particular colour.
I have a long way to go, and a lot of practice to do, before I can be really confident about mixing colours, but I have made a good start, and done as much practice on this as I can in my sketchbook.
Where you able to use colours expressively?
Initially, despite thinking of myself as an intuitive person, I found that the kind of head-space that you need to be in for this exercise was a very unfamiliar one to me. But once I started I found it was easier than I expected, and I got into the flow of it, so that the time passed too quickly for my liking.
I particularly enjoyed the part of it that related to finding yarns etc in combinations that appeal to me, and I have done a lot of this since then, coming up with a variety of different moods that way.
Can you now see colour rather than accepting what you think you see?
I can see the colour that is there, although sometimes I slip into bad old habits. I seem to sometimes see the unexpected colours as stronger than they are, and have to remind myself to put in more white or tone it down in some other way.
Again I think it is a question of getting lots of practice. I realise that there is a lifetime’s work in this one (cf. Monet), but I can now understand better why anyone would want to try!
Did you prefer working with watercolours or gouache? What was the difference?
I used watercolours only once, and water-soluble inks, but stuck mainly to gouache. Gouache is better for getting an even block of colour, and I have the right colours to mix almost anything I want. (As well as the basic 6 primary colours, black and white, I bought some yellow and red ochre, sepia, and ultramarine green as suggested in Colour A workshop).
Watercolours - well, I only have some children’s ones, and I’m not sure I am using them correctly, but they did seem to come out very watery, and mixing anything like a strong colour was therefore rather difficult.
Soluble inks - these give a lovely glowing colour. I used them for a particular image of the sun coming through an autumnal rhubarb leaf, which they were perfect for. Since I like this glowing look I will use them again, but I need to do some more experiments with mixing different colours as they didn’t always mix the way I expected. And of course they show the paper through a lot more than gouache.
How successful were the colour exercises in Stage 5? How did they compare to the painting exercises?
The colour exercises in stage 5 were a new idea for me, and at first I didn’t understand the purpose of them. Obviously learning from experience works because by the time I had finished the third one I understood how putting different colours next to each other really changes the nature of both, and had a few samples of the way in which it does for various different colours. It has helped me to know that in some ways I understood this already from having looked at fine art all my life, but from the point of view of doing it myself it was a revelation, that I hope will give me more courage to try out colour more freely in future.
|Painting of soap stone|
|Pencil drawing of colours of |
yarn to use in sketchbook
|French knot sample|
based on soap stone painting
wool and silk yarn on cotton voile.
Comparing them to the painting exercises - well, I am rather in awe of painters now that I know how much focus is needed to mix each spot of paint! The painting exercises allowed me to concentrate just on the correct colour, whereas the sewing ones required some attention to mixing them on the fabric, and to the quality and thickness of the yarn, so it got a bit more complicated. I see that this means more potential for textural changes coming into the final result.
Is there anything you would like to change or develop?
I would like to keep working on colour in my sketchbook, as I can see that doing these exercises has made a huge difference to how I see colour and how I use it. Which will inevitably improve what I make. I have done a little more of Colour A workshop, and I can see that carrying on is bound to have rewards in future.
After being a little underawed by the Seurat/ pointillism/ divisionism idea at first, now I have tried out something similar to it I find quite how much it is already part of my visual understanding. And I am intrigued by it and want to do some more playing around with colours next to each other in my sketchbook and on fabric. In fact it is making me think that I should have some way of putting my fabric samplers into my sketch book.
I would like to work on some more embroidery using this technique, but using different stitches to change the texture. I particularly want to try representing objects or faces in this way, because having chosen a rather abstract drawing for the last sampler, I now see that it could be even more interesting to do the shading of a 3 dimensional object in this way.