Assignment Two!

Since posting off my first assignment, I have been continuing with my background reading, which has mainly involved working my way through ‘Art – The Definitive Guide’  compiled from the Bridgeman Library images and edited by Andrew Graham-Dixon, and reading a wide range of books on techniques in multimedia and textiles. As I struggled a bit with the machine embroidery exercises, I thought I would get in a bit more practise and try something a bit different. I borrowed Linda Miller‘s book ‘Creative Machine Embroidery’ from our library and had a go at one of the suggested projects to make a needle book.

The original plan was to stitch this entirely with metallic threads but they were so tricky to work with and get good coverage that I gave up. I learnt to work from the centre of the design to avoid the puckering which occurred in areas here and where the metallic threads shred in the needle, they can be worked from the reverse of the piece with the metallic in the bobbin. I think I would have had a smoother resulting piece by stitching more slowly and using longer stitches. I wonder if I would have had better coverage and a smoother appearance by using a wide zigzag setting and free machining with that. I’m not sure that this is my favourite approach to machine embroidery and don’t find the resulting piece as interesting as other stitch techniques, but I feel I learnt a lot from doing it and feel more comfortable with my machine.

Yesterday I got started on Project three and thoroughly enjoyed it! I barely stopped to eat and have been thinking about it all day.

The colour wheels were great fun to make and I hadn’t realise how tricky violet and other purples were to mix! Inks were particularly odd in that red and blue always resulted in brown, magenta being needed instead for violet. Having worked out wheels in gouache, ink and layers of soft pastels, I moved on to looking at blending opposites, and experimenting with tints and tones. I did this before realising it would form part of a later exercise (despite having read through the lot at the weekend). My scientific background seems quite obvious at this stage by my approach to my experimentation. I’m amazed at the difference between a colur being mixed with white versus a very pale grey. I would like to do more work on shades (mixing colours with black) as opposed to mixing opposites. I also wish to experiment with watercolours and use their transparency to build up layers of colour. I also want to work out the ‘recipes’ for achieving some of the ready colours I have bought from primary colours alone.

The exercises with coloured squares was really interesting, and I understand properly now how cool colours can recede and sink away, and warm colours jump forward. I helps explain how works such as some of Rothko’s red and black/blue works really draw you in. I have done some of this colour perception work in medicine when learning about the retina and colour blindness.

I have really enjoyed this and think I may well start a colour theme sketchbook. Indeed one of my jottings of themed sketchbook ideas on week one as a student reads ‘colour studies on various artists’. Let’s just say I am not short of ideas today!

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