Personal project, Stage 2, Sketchbooks and portfolio work

6 June 2016

Thoughts on developing sketches and ideas

During this stage of the course I was asked to think about my existing sketchbooks and portfolio work and how I might build on or develop my ideas. 

The techniques of semi-transparency and layering from assignment 3 (reveal and conceal) are most appealing. They are powerful ways of generating visual depth and texture, whilst providing possibilities for exploiting the effects of light and shadow. 

Looking at my two sketchbooks, I especially like the effects of the thermofax screen printing on the semi-see-through butter muslin (Sketchbook 1: Part 3, Reveal and conceal, Stage 4, page 11).

In the photo below the top image is the right side of the fabric. In the lower image, the reverse of the fabric is presented for viewing. Even though there are only two colours used, it has tremendous depth, and reminds me of gnarled bark texture.


Leading on, the woven inkjet printout and Japanese paper analogy (below), has the effect of gently fragmenting the image, reminding me of loose, moving reflections of tree branches on the surface of water, or a tangle of matted tree roots (see Sketchbook 1: Part 3, Reveal and conceal, Stage 4, page 13)

I also find images of tree leaves and branches inspiring. For example – patterns formed by branches against the sky (image below and Sketchbook 2: Assignment 3, Reveal and conceal, Stage 4, page 9)

Another powerful image which I have used in my sketchbooks and for sampling shows a country lane wet with rain and shadows of tree trunks and branches (image below – see Sketchbook 2: Assignment 3, Reveal and conceal, Stage 4, page 24). I have used this image successfully for computer imagine layering and inkjet printing.

This image of Autumn Beech leaves shows interesting colour variation, overlapping semi-transparent leaves and small areas of negative space in which the brightness of the sky is just visible (Sketchbook 2: Assignment 3, Reveal and conceal, Stage 4, page 10):

Foliage also features in SAMPLE IP4: Flowers on ExtraOrganza (below). This technique started with computer layering and manipulation of images, which were then printed onto silk organza fabric. I feel that I may be able to either use this sample, or the technique to develop further ideas for my personal project.


A theme of “Trees”

I could have decided to take my ideas or samples direct from assignment 3 for further development. However, I do not feel that I had the freedom to explore all the possibilities that I would have liked. This is because I had to limit my choice of workshops, and in doing so didn’t get the chance to consider techniques such as fabric manipulation, stitching and deconstruction.

Trees features frequently in my work for Assignment 3. They are a theme which can readily be interpreted both in the context of “reveal and conceal” and the techniques I used in the assignment workshops. Last module I chose the subject of “depression” for my final project. As a highly conceptual theme, I found it easy to get distracted from the visual focus of the project. In contrast, trees can easily be interpreted visually in a literal and straightforward way. However, there is an still an appealing element of conceptualism in the myth, folklore, personification and identity often attributed to trees.  

Whilst thinking about the samples and ideas which worked well, I also want to use the assignment 5 as an opportunity to open my mind further. I feel that the materials-led approach does not suit me in the same way as working with sketchbooks, so I want to revisit some source material and make new drawings/analogies. One area that I feel I could improve is by experimenting more as part of my sketchbook before I start sampling. I think this would give me the information I need to narrow my choices earlier. I intend to apply this to my personal project.

As of the time of publishing this post, my preliminary sketchbook work can be found here: Ash tree – experiments, and here: A series of tree-related experiments and sketches 



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