OCA Foundation textiles - warm up exercises - the beginning

Well here it is, the start of a new adventure . I've hardly slept I've been so excited.  So here goes with my first session ..warm up mark making. I did this over the weekend  and today  and it was great to get right back to basics and explore some possibilities. I feel a little  shy about what I have done but  I wont get anywhere if  I don't share  and reflect so here it is:

I started by  making some marks with  conventional tools.  I tried a variety of inks pens, graphite pencils, charcoal , brushes etc.  I thought about the list of words soft, sharp, heavy, flowing, delicate, bold, fast, slow, agitated, steady, fluid, dry and multiple. I used a few sheet of A3 paper and filled them with some marks. I don't think it was the best part of the session for me as I was a bit stiff and wooden with my mark making  but I enjoyed the challenge of  going back to this.  The marks I like best are the ones I make with  dark pencils and graphite sticks and those made with  thin ink pens..on the opposite ends of the scale and I love it when they are mixed together soft with hard, thick with thin fast with slow etc

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For me the next bit was the bit that I was really excited about as I love experimenting with found stuff so  I set about making a whole range of mark making  tools and adapting some graphite sticks and pencils by attaching them to long twigs. I am lucky enough to have a friend who is a gardener so she helped me collect together  things that I wanted. I bound the various finds to sticks to make handles. Some things I took apart and rearranged


I only had one bottle of black ink left . I had to pour it into a bowl  to dip some of the bigger brushes  and so for some of the  sheets I hit on the idea of using black  transfer dye . This was a good idea as its a little stickier than the ink so I got a wider variety of effects. The session was huge fun and really  inspiring. I just let rip and played for several hours


I love the delicate quality I got using some of the grasses


I was quickly realised that the  long  trailing  brush parts and the long  wavy handle meant I could get real movement into my work. I then  chose a large pod and it was a complete revelation. The pod had a groove in it and a slightly curved part which acted like an ink  reservoir. This meant it worked like a kind of wonky  ink pen and it has led me to investigate ways of making  ink pens so watch this space.


Things with a really bulbous end  could be turned and twisted giving some really great effects and some of them began to disintegrate which added to the range of marks


Here are the best  of the images from the tools section..as you can see they made a huge variety of marks from delicate to bold.


I then went on to delve into negative mark making . I chose to use some  white wax, some  drawing fluid and  I also  drew with white charcoal on a black background. I love the way these look. The white marks really stand out  and it was like a magic reveal. I love layers and  a little bit of  non control on the things I am making so I found this process exciting if a little messy with all the rubber everywhere.


Here is a  crayons  sheet  that I did with a brush and ink over wax. I tried both heavy ink and  a watered down ink wash


I found some white ink  and using some of the tools I produced this piece. I love the wiggly lines overlapping.


And finally for this section i drew with  white chalk on a black background


After a good nights sleep I set up to do the final session of the warm up exercises. I taped together  paper to make A2 as suggested  and got to work. It was a really exciting session as I felt  much more able to let go than the day before and I think it  shows in the movement I got into the  pieces. I discovered news ways of using then tools turning and twisting them and slapping them on the paper so they made instant prints. I enjoyed the long handles and the disintegration of the flower heads using it to good effect . The first image is my favourite but as I worked I got loads more ideas.


Actually I love the one above . It has so much movement and that was the tools . The long handles really help to make flowing moving lines. Here are the other images I  enjoyed making


I loved this process and I learnt a huge amount. I am reminded that as an artists you need to keep going back and looking again, exploring again and  you can never really be done with this kind of exercise.

I loved using the tools I made with long handles and slightly uncontrollable   bits at the end. They captured the movements that I made beautifully . I want to make more with even longer handles.

The bulbous shaped end to the brushes were  also great as circular shapes could be made with ease. This seed head fell apart and  It would be wonderful to make some prints where the  head gradually disintegrated giving all kind of different marks

The large pod taught me alto about how pens are made. I went off and read an article about how to make calligraphy pens. I am going to explore this a bit more and possibly make a set of my own ink pens.

Another  interesting thing was the idea of multiple  brushes or brush like structure on one handle. It needs some refinement as I found it difficult with some of those I had made to get the ends to all hit the paper at the same time. I've had some  ideas about that and will try in next couple of weeks.

Well I feel I am ready to start on part two although i hope to keep returning to these exercises alongside that work.

Right now a little  addition to the session. Do you remember I said I had used transfer inks on some of the sheets. Well doing that means that the images can be printed  so when I had finished work I allowed myself a session to play with the bits I had made. 

First I cut squares from some of the sheets and  then printed them on fabric with a heat press, I then  moved the squares about and printed another layer on top  and so on. The great thing about  this is that you can get 4 or 5 prints from one piece each one a little lighter ..in fact eventually you start to get kind  of negative marks. When you are done you still have the original  bits of paper albeit a little lighter and they can be used for collage or painted over again . 

If i make a print where the head gradually disintegrates then I could  also used the bits of  stuff that fall off to print..so exciting..a new journey

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I also printed one of the whole A3 sheets. It would be a great base for an embroidery so I am in fact planning to repeat the last session using just transfer inks and maybe some colour too. I can use wax resists in the heat press too  so   lots of experimenting to come

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