Nina's Textile Trail 2

– Textiles 1: Mixed Media for Textiles

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Drawing in the Gardens – Pattern and place – Short Course at West Dean College

Over the August Bank holiday I took a short course at West Dean College with Rosie MacCurrach.  It was a fabulous experience, West Dean College is a peaceful creative haven in the midst of glorious sussex countryside.

Rosie MacCurrach is a lovely person, quietly spoken, encouraging, positive and talented.  It was an intermediate course so I felt a little out of my depth but forced myself to raise my game.

We started with mark-making using ink and found objects from the garden.


We discussed the work of Samuel Palmer, Ravillious, Van Gogh and others, supported with beautifully illustrated books.

Out in the garden we drew with charcoal.  My first 20 minute sketch:


We discussed composition, looking first at other artists, then making quick diagrams of areas in the gardens.

An hour or two’s drawing in the rain, with Rosie passing by every now and again to encourage me to be bolder:


It was an excellent course for me, all stages of everyone’s work was displayed and discussed constructively.  Eventually I forced myself to be less tentative and the weekend helped me to see that I need lots of practice in situations like this in the company of others, with the friendly support of a tutor  and no distractions to take me away from the act of ‘live’ drawing.


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MMT3 Workbook video

Final drawings, words, photos added and blog tweaked, MMT3 posted.

So, here, as promised to Lottie, who shared her sketchbook, is a video of the accompanying workbook.

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Blind Continuous Line Drawing

Feedback from Assignment 2 recommended more drawing, starting with continuous line drawing in a wide range of media.

The following clip was suggested.

It was very helpful.  I have practiced blind continuous line drawing before, but was surprised at the difference if I blocked my view of the paper with a pad in front of my eyes. I hadn’t realised how much I cheated before trying this method.

It was useful to start each drawing with a quick blind sketch and then to continue drawing using the same principles but with an occasional look.  Most of the drawing in this assignment was with my attention firmly on the object rather than the paper, with satisfying results.

A variety of media were used and the more I did, the more relaxed and quicker I became.  I can see there is still room for many more quick observational sketches but feel by working this way, I have broken the habit of trying to produce a detailed ‘finished’ drawing and am better equipped to use drawing as a tool.


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Drawing classes – Autumn term 2015

A2 still life, standing at an easel.


A string of raffia woven lights draped down the wall onto a table and a glass bottle.  Exploring light, tone and reflection. A bit tentative. Understood that half closing eyes exaggerates the light and dark, a good way to compare the tone across the whole of the still life.  Used a combination of water soluble  graphite, charcoal, white oil stick, pencil.   Felt uncomfortable and a bit overwhelmed at the time but the overall effect was reasonable.  Like the effect of soluble graphite on the rear wall and the darkest raffia ball drawn with a 6B, then moistened with a damp brush.


Charcoal.  Comfortable medium, soft, responds well to my light, layered, tentative mark making.  Good for variations in tone.  Love the mark making in the protea and the potential of the marks in the other natural materials.  The smudged charcoal resembled the surface of the pewter mug but its not very well observed.  The protea head is definitely the highlight.


Started very tentatively (as usual) and probably spent 3 hours on it, but really pleased with the mark making which accurately conveys the form of the objects and the texture.  There is an uneven, crusty look to the top of the loaf and smooth lines to the jug and rounded edge of the board, form to the apple quarter and a hint of the tablecloth.


Less happy wth this.  Tried to be quicker and bolder.  Marks were bigger and bolder, but not much!   Slightly more success with the organic shapes of the vegetables than the candle stick, but not a very rewarding session.


This is my favourite of the term’s work.  I love the pine cones and delicacy of the fine twigs, suggestion of the pattern on the jug and sweeping movement of the leaves.   I like the leeway that plant material offers where incorrect placement is less noticeable and a suggestion of the form is more achievable (for me).

However, having confessed to that to my Art Tutor, she set up still life for the following two weeks encouraging me to look at placement and the relationship of each item compared to another and the negative space, which I find much more difficult.


I take a long time to get going with this type of still life, just not confident to get started and worrying if my drawing doesn’t resemble the subject.  At times like this, I forget that drawing is mark-making and regress to drawing outlines.  I am much more successful if I remind myself to make marks and start within a subject rather than on the edge.  There were lessons learned, with measuring and placement.


This too was tricky for me and the angle was difficult, but I persevered to place the items in relation to each other and the pattern on the cloth, constantly adjusting them until I was happy.  So, whilst the outcome isn’t as pleasing as I’d like, the learning experience was a really valuable exercise in placement.

A slight change for Christmas, we were encouraged to be bold, thinking about the light and creating an ‘ethereal northern lights’ feel.

Being bold is a little out of my comfort zone! but I enjoyed a more playful approach and used pastels, worked into with coloured pencils on pastel paper in the bottom right and pastels on smooth white paper top right. Loved the reindeer made by students at a local special needs school.

I am making progress with drawing and find it more enjoyable, although still aspiring to confident daily sketches.  “Just do it!” I hear some say, easier said than done, but I am working on it….





Project 1 – Folding & Crumpling – Exercise 5 Basic Crumpling Technique


The instruction here is to start with a piece of paper, approximately A3 size, crumple it and pull it open repeatedly until it is a sixteenth of its original size.   Although I had read “It is best done in lightweight glossy paper of the sort used to wrap flowers or package delicate items of clothing”, for some reason, I began crumpling with a piece of brown parcel paper.


It was floppy, not holding the creases well and very dull.

Having just received my assessment results for my first level one course and trying to raise my game from “Some evidence of creativity, little evidence of risk-taking…”, I sought an alternative, attempting to find something more visually interesting.

Some tissue paper with a slightly ‘crisp’ finish in a metallic colour seemed like a good choice and showed much more potential.


The bronze paper crumpled easily showing a myriad of creases, tiny peaks and troughs and lots of elasticity.  The slightly metallic surface emphasised the light and shadow increasing the visual texture.  I was excited by the properties and eager to see how it could be manipulated.

The same piece of paper was then made into a series of surfaces.

A single rib:


Multiple ribs:

Ribs radiating from a single point:

which was quite striking when viewed from the other side:


DSCF5010Circular ribs:


and embossing by pushing the paper into the contours of a reel of masking tape:


We were asked to explore repeats, placement and effect of scale.

Thinking about scale and developing linear creasing as explored in the the ribs radiating from a single point, (three photographs above), three sheets of A2 pink tissue were crumpled from a single point, creating quite a dynamic form (bigger than it appears!).  I love the texture, especially the linear crumpling, the delicate lines and crevices reflect the light and beg to be examined more closely and the tissue holds its form well.  The pink tissue that had been crumpled randomly before linear creasing was softer and more difficult to manipulate.

Drawing A3 with charcoal and graphite sticks capturing the texture of the tissue paper and the shadows.


Drawing onto A3  paper – pencil, graphite, Faber-Castell Pitt Artists pens shades of grey, coloured pencils, some water soluble.  Pleased with the energy and suggestion of fragility conveyed.

Thinking about scale and interested to try cellophane the above were crumpled from a central point starting with a square approximately 2/3 of a sheet of A4.

A combination of 2 x A2 sheets of white waxed tissue and several of the smaller green cellophane peaks from above.



The papers all had slightly different qualities.  The metallic tissue showed lots of detail in small crisp crumples and with the reflection of light off the shiny surface, photographed well.  The brown kraft paper rejected at the beginning became soft with crumpling and would be good to sew into but not hold form in the same way as the lighter papers.  The pink tissue creased well and the detail looking into the centre was wonderfully textural.

DSCF5027The white waxed tissue was firmer to crumple but held its shape well and the cellophane added a different dimension reflecting the light more dramatically and casting pale yellow and lime green shadows.  It was possible to crumple but with less definition than the other materials. 5/12/15) 5/12/15)

Origami Seed You Tube (Accessed 9/12/15) 5/12/15)

You Tube Vissemanu (Accessed 9/12/15)