Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Assignment 4 Tutor Feedback

Tutor report

Overall Comments
Christina this is a well planned and executed assignment.  The results show you to be willing to explore widely and question what you find.   

Assessment potential 
 (after assignments 2 and 4)

I understand your aim is to go for the Textiles Degree and that you plan to submit your work for assessment at the end of this course. From the work you have shown in this assignment, and providing you commit yourself to the course, I suggest that you are likely to be successful in the assessment.

Feedback on assignment 
Demonstration of technical and Visual Skills, Quality of Outcome, Demonstration of Creativity 
Project 1
Research of the ten artists/designers
Overall you have succeeded in researching the ten required artists.  There are a good number of images from a variety of websites and some publications.  Sadly I found some of your handwriting difficult to read so could not assess all the content.  I have a number of suggestions that would improve this work.  Firstly and importantly I will start with your use of Wikipedia.  It is an important social encyclopedia but is academically unreliable so must never be referenced when searching for evidence based work.  You are welcome to use it as a starting place following the references included on the site but I would keep this to yourself.
My suggestions to improve your research;
  • The book you have used is rather small, hence the imagery you have used is also small and leaves you little room for annotation and written discussion.
  • The list of references you have made (bibliography) is very useful but you should also attach a reference to each image and piece of writing added to your research.  This ensures you can retrace your steps to where you found the information and recognises the author/website/artist etc.
  • You have made some very poignant and intriguing notes, which I feel, could have been expanded.  Your own responses and links made between artists and pieces of work are what make research personal new and exciting.  I have a feeling you have some interesting and valuable ideas that would benefit from being put down on paper.  For example you allude to Vivienne Westwood when looking at Zandra Rhodes.  I would have included Westwood and maybe explored why Westwood wasn’t there when possibly she has been more influential.  
  • The work would have benefitted from a brief introduction to each artist.  This could include the era they live/lived in, their cultural background, political influences.  And for me I always want to know if a female artist was married and had children, and what sort of support she had/has.    

Critical Essay
On the whole your essay reads well with a strong direction and conviction.  You have included a varied and appropriate amount of referenced research, which is woven into the writing smoothly.  Some parts are well written with a balance of your own opinion and analysis.  Well done.  I do have some suggestions that I feel could improve this piece of writing. 
  • The referencing system you have used though perfectly functional is not the Harvard Referencing System, which is the oca’s preferred system.  Universities can be very fussy about these matters so I would suggest you use it.  Here is a link to the oca Harvard Referencing booklet
  • Again, never use Wikipedia.  
  • I would suggest you write a stronger introduction.  Start by outlining who Judy Chicago is and her background.  Then introduce the areas you are going to cover in this piece of writing.  In this case Chicago’s artistic values, her aesthetic, context, (political and artistic) collaborations, biography (I would discuss these separately) and legacy.  Then finally in the introduction briefly explain to the reader what your conclusions are going to be.  It is good practice to be really explicit about what you are going to cover in a piece of writing. 
  • I wouldn’t put the imagery behind the text, this can make it uncomfortable to read and you don’t want the assessor to find it difficult.  
  • The section on artist collaborations and biography jumps about but I think if you split the two topics you would be able to write about them more clearly.
  • You don’t need the sentence toward the end “which begs the question ………” This is a whole other essay if not a thesis!
  • The conclusion could be fuller, by this I mean you can revisit the topics you have written about, adding any links you have made and your own opinion. 
  • Finally and more of a sides issue I would question is why Chicago used all female teams to do the embroidery?  To my mind this compounds the idea that this is woman’s work.
To conclude on the essay my impression is that you chose an interesting artist that I judge as relevant to you and your own work.  This is a great place to start but you have also been open minded about the information you found, balancing the criticisms and accolades.

Analysing two pieces of work
Birth Tear by Judy Chicago and Abakan Red by Magdalena Abakanowicz
Both these pieces of analysis are well researched and constructed.  You have made a good attempt at answering the course material questions and have expanded the information where necessary.  There are a number of things I would suggest you could have included in your analysis.  In Birth Tear is Chicago not attempting to share or describe the feeling of childbirth.  The representation of the tear displays it how it feels; it feels like you are being ripped in half, though thankfully this doesn’t happen.  You have described the rhythms expressed in the woman’s hair well.  I would suggest you could go on to say that childbirth is an all-consuming event that feels as if every hair and cell is involved in the process.  I would therefore suggest that the function of this piece of artwork is to express the feeling of childbirth.  I would also question if this woman were having a good or bad experience.  Can all that pain and hardship be positive?
When exploring Abakanowicz’s work Abakan Red I wonder what sort of impact living in Nazi occupied Poland made on Abakanowicz’s work.  Her father was a sculptor but she would have been cut off from the vibrant art that was happening in America.  It could be suggested that her use of salvaged materials came from an understanding of the value of materials that she grew up with during a time of shortage.  As a female artist there is something very poignant in the idea of her rolling up her work to store under the bed.  This combination of the domestic and artistic cannot fail to influence the way women create.  
The only other thing I would suggest is that you work in A4 ensuring that you don’t need to fold the images and that the reader can refer to the writing and the images at the same time.

Project 2
Research of six of your chosen artists/designers.
Apart from William Morris you have chosen an interesting group of artists to research.  I can see why these artists are attractive for you and could possibly influence your work.  My suggestions for improvement are as above.

Analysis of three chosen artworks
These three pieces of writing are overall well written and researched.  Interestingly the Woven wall hanging by Ismini Samanidou that you have seen in person is your strongest and most in depth piece of writing.  As I said before these pieces of work would benefit being seen in an A4 format.

Demonstration of technical and Visual Skills, Demonstration of Creativity 
You have submitted a fine little sketchbook with a number of pencil drawings, reference material and some interesting research.  Well done for keeping up with your drawing during this assignment.  There is evidence that the research you have done for the written work has begun to influence your ideas about design and creativity.  This is excellent.

Learning Logs or Blogs 
Christina your blog (learning log) shows you to be self aware and analytical.  You are adding material to it regularly; it includes imagery and written work.   There is a good quantity of research with reflection and your own understandings.  

Well done Christina, I look forward to assignment 5.

Tutor name
Rebecca Fairley
20th August 2014
Next assignment due
27th October 2014

Wednesday, 13 August 2014

Surrounds and repeats

These are photos of splits in paint on a wall. The shapes are interesting and could work as the way into something interesting underneath. They were all taken with a flash, and in fact I was more interested in what it looked like without. So I took a photo without and this is what it looked like:

Split paint without flash

This one allows you to see the complexity of the light, colour and marks on this paint, which makes it not only more interesting in itself, but also draws the eye to what is behind.

I played around with this image a bit, to explore the effects of different colour combinations behind, and repeating patterns.

 These images have the split paint in the foreground, and parallel lines in the two colourways behind.

The golden light colour combination works better with this idea. While the colour change and curved shape around the splits intensifies the relationship between foreground and background, the foreground is rather flat, uninteresting, and unmeaningful. I keep coming back to the surface texture of the melon, with flat lines almost like tapes around the more textured indentations.
Regular pattern of slits. 

Thursday, 7 August 2014

Sketchbook/ portfolio work

Masking tape
mimicking shapes
of light

Taking off the masking

Brown/black gouache

Trying to capture the light patterns. 

The patterns of light are irregularly vertical, with some linkages, which make it look a bit like irregular ovals.
The black/brown colour needed a lot more black than I expected.
The masking tape was too tacky and took some of the paper away in places.
When it was painted, the folded masking tape gave an interesting leather-like texture.

The colours of the light were much trickier, so I tried matching them with yarns. It turned out to be interesting, with some of the 'light' colours working well in metal or very shiny yarn, and some of the dark ones in very soft wool. It is going to be important to keep the difference in reflectiveness in order not to lose the light effect. The black is more green than black in some places, and the yellows more like copper or pink beige. The colours in between are red/brown.

Below right is another colour exercise, adapting the colours I got from tie-leacing in an earlier experiemnt, which I am thinking of as 'ancestor' colours because of its ghostly quality. I made a collage of the yarns and papers to explore the pattern of the 'cleft' source using these colours.

This appeals as it retains the mysterious quality of the ghostly colours, and parallel pattern. It also appeals because of the hairy ends to the threads on either side, making it look like a caterpillar.

Once I had done these exercises I felt better able to finish the sample I started with masking tape. 

I used the golden light colour scheme, watercolour pencils, and gouache. 

Overall this turned out better than I feared, but has some problems with it.

First, the dark brown is not as dark as it should be to give adequate contrast to the 'light' coming through. Second, watercolour pencil doesn't really shine out enough and the colours are inaccurate enough for the mystery/ glow to be lost. Third, the stripy texture doesn't seem to be compatible with the glowing light idea, and the execution of the detail needs some work.

And doing this development hasn't made the shapes any more like what they should be! They are too fleshy-looking to be light, and not regular enough to be attractive to me.

So I moved on to another sketch trying out more detail for the 'cleft' pattern, but this time in a more formal regular oval arrangement.

Working on the 'cleft' detail

I used the ancestors colours again, in inks for the detailed pattern and watercolour pencil for the ovals. As I drew them the shapes reminded me of the bleach bubbles sketch I did last week and the way the light changed over the adjacent bubbles in a way which made them look three dimensional. I tried a bit of that with this sketch too and it did the same thing, leaving the pink and purple details looking like masonry around alcoves. Again the dark brown wasn't dark enough, and it doesn't look as if the 'cleft' patterns are behind them. I'm thinking that I may have to actually 'slit' the front to show through the cleft.

I tried putting the 'cleft' pattern into the inside of a broken fruit (below left). This hidden surprising complexity is something that I keep coming back to, and is certainly some of what the cleft is about for me.

Below right is a drawing I made at this point, of a piece I made by pulling threads in a similar shape in a translucent black fabric.

Since the feeling I want is mysterious glowing, perhaps the way to do it is through allowing light to come through from behind like this. I wondered if folding fabric would give the not quite parallel lines and variations in colour intensity that I was looking for. I was intending to try this next, but a melon caught my eye instead.

This sketch combines my identity-containing sphere with a surface texture similar to the one I am aiming for. There are yellow shapes, separated by tape-like strips of cream, which have directional lines on them. Drawing it drew my attention to the fact that on this surface the detail is in the direction of the tapes rather than perpendicular to them, as I have been drawing them in previous sketches.

This made me think about how I found PVA on masking tape made an interesting leather-like folding texture (see top of this blog entry) and I wanted to try this with fabric. Perhaps translucent fabric in that pattern would also bring variations in colour intensity.

For the purposes of my sketchbook I used tissue paper for this in a dark maroon colour which gives one of the purples of the colour scheme and allows a brown/black possiblity where it is highly folded. The shapes are reminiscent of the original source photo of light through the window in the dark (above left).

I wanted the 'cleft' pattern to reflect the parallel lines from the cork bark drawing, but with the metallic quality I enjoyed from collecting yarns in the 'golden light' colour scheme.

This is how it turned out when I used gel pens for this. During the sketching, it seemed right to use a variety of different colours of gel pen, and vary them to cast a slight shadow on the 'clefts'.

Doing this one got me excited about how it could best be translated into textiles - by weaving, thread pulling on layers of different fabrics, or by sewing with different kinds of thread on dissolvable fabric. I'm thinking that now may be the time to move on to textiles samples.

Through this project so far I have been aware of a tension between the instructions to work on paper, and my urge to work almost exclusively in a materials-led way for this project. Before I started doing these OCA courses that was the way I went about designing everything, and at times it has seemed a frustrating delay. In this case I did start with bleaching textile experiments, which in fact have added little to my progress.

I can see now that I would almost certainly not have got to this particular point if I had not turned to my sketchbook. And that doing these paper sketches first has opened up multiple other possibilities of how and what I could make.  And it has clarified some things that I don't think would have been natural to sort out in textiles. Eg I can see from this sketchbook work that the 'cleft' texture needs to be fine rather than rough. And that the 'golden light' colour scheme will most likely work better for the glow.

From these sketches, I think the ones I want to take forward are the maroon folded one, and the cleft made of horizonal yarns in ancestor colours. I have several things to decide from my sample-making. The ones that spring to mind are:

  • Single/ multiple clefts
  • Slit or integrated
  • Flat or 3D
  • which colour scheme keeps the glowing quality best?
  • Meaning?

Monday, 4 August 2014

Bleaching experiments

I wanted to know which of my black fabrics would give me a good result from bleaching with household bleach. I know that in general it is cotton linen and rayon that work best, but I didn't know which would respond to wrapping lines, of what colours they would bleach to, so I did an experiment.

I cut a strip of each of my black fabrics, and wrapped one end with strong cotton weft yarn.

I made a note of what each one was made of in my sketchbook.

At this point I understood that during this course I have finally 'got' what sketchbooks are really for - a tool for me to use for my working.

(There's something appealing about this row of wrapped strips in my sketchbook - it reminds me of Victorian naturalists collections, or those lovely Louis Thompson collections of blown glass objects.Louis Thompson website

I taped each strip to the side of a plastic jug containing household bleach and tap water 2:1 (to slow down the process a little).

I left these for about 2 hours, checking occasionally.

The cotton strip bleached the fastest of them all.

The resulting altered fabric strips were stuck into my sketchbook next to their fibre content. As expected the best bleaching was of the fabrics with cotton in them -

  • Cotton organza bleached completely back and showed no lines from the wrapping. 

  • Linen had an odd grey texture to it after bleaching, and showed the wrapping lines reasonably well where they had been tight enough.

  • Cotton mix fabric bleached to a nice gradient of orange to yellow, which I thought I could use.

  • Opaque tights fabric was surprising - some of the fibres were cotton and bleached to a warm orange / cream colour, and some remained black, giving an interested rugged texture. 

Wrapping only worked when it was very tight. And judging exactly how long to leave it in the bleach will be a matter of keeping a close eye on it.

Making samples
After this experiment I decided to try two samples exploring different ways of getting a bleached pattern - one with the cotton mix and one with the opaque tights fabric.

1. Tacking ovals into opaque tights fabric.

This shows the ovals tacked onto the surface of the fabric

I dipped the surface into a flat tray of bleach, and this is what it looked like after a couple of minutes.

There is some bleaching, more on the raised areas, but also in between.

At this point I decided to use a paintbrush to apply the bleach to the raised areas so as not to bleach the oval areas any more.

After 6 minutes and two applications the orange colour appeared, and the remaining bleach was washed out thoroughly.

This is what it looked like once I had removed the tacking threads. (The orange colour didn't come out very well in this photo).

You can see that there is a variation in intensity of bleaching, but that the ovals turned into hexagons which was not ideal, and the outcome overall was a bit uninteresting.

 This is the reverse side of the same sample, which is more interesting and colourful, and the shapes show more variety.

I found it attractive and it has some movement to it, but it isn't a good way of getting the shapes I was looking for.

2. Wrapping ovals into cotton mix fabric

These shapes were made by oversewing around padding made from cut tights.

The raised parts of the fabric were then dipped into bleach, followed by a series of reapplications of bleach using a paintbrush as above.

There was no apparent effect for the first 8 minutes, and then the bleaching developed very slowly.

The one on the right was after 12 minutes, and below left after 16 minutes. This started to show the surprising glowing orange colour.

I left it for another 8 minutes and it started developing yellow highlights (far right).

The large image below is how it looks with the sewing removed, and with the light coming from behind.

There are some impressions from the wrapping in places, giving something like the shapes I was looking for in the 'cleft', and the colours are good for this. The vertical shapes are better than in the first sampler, but still don't quite reflect the source material.

Sampler lit from behind

Saturday, 2 August 2014

Exploring Ideas - reviewing my work so far

The first step of the final assignment is to review what I've done so far in 'Exploring ideas'.
This included my sketchbook work, course work, samples. I went through and picked out anything that made me want to explore more. I ended up with a lot of images! Some of them were images I have not yet worked on, and some were the outcome of several stages of sketchbook work and exploration.

What struck me first was that most of them were highly textured, but without much colour work. In fact the coloured ones stood out as different. Then that there were several repeated themes (all my photos):

1. Organic parallel lines. IE lines which would have been parallel to each other only there were little variations because they were made by living things.

Branch shadows on a tent flap
2. Identity containers, curved or spherical

Sketchbook drawing
of the bark of a cork
3. Complex clefts. These seem to be related to identity as well.

4. Repeating ovals with light changes on their surfaces.
Lizard skin

5. Exploring what darkness looks like.
Patterns made by street-
light coming through old
glass into a dark room

Cleft and organic parallels
and darkness
Thinking about where to go for this assignment, I also noticed that I have already done some work on combining some of these themes.
Cleft and parallels
Repeat ovals
complex clefts
+ parallels

Identity container
plus parallels
Identity container
plus darkness
Oval repeat plus cleft
plus parallels
Darkness, cleft and
organic parallels

Bleach bubbles -
repeating ovals plus
 So where does that leave me?
I don't want to leave any of it behind.
And almost any of these images would have enough to do on for a long time. 
And many of them I don't want to leave behind, but I have to pick something. 

So I'm going to use these 2 images as my source material for this assignment