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?

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