I've finished the first bit of the OCA Textiles course, which was about experimenting making marks on paper. I had to answer questions on the process - here's what I thought about it all.
Have you ever thought about drawing in this way before?
No, it was new for me. Previously, I’ve tried to draw by making an image that looked like something – my focus was on the object being drawn, not on the marks I was making.
I’ve found it very helpful to break down the very basic elements of drawing, and experiment with them. I’ve found it’s also changed the way I look at things – I caught myself looking at the patterns and textures on plants, and thinking how I might represent them.
Were you able to be inventive about the range of marks you made?
Yes – I enjoyed the ability to make marks with freedom, without having to worry that I was drawing something accurately. It was fascinating to see how pressure and the speed at which I was drawing made such a difference in the marks I made.
Were you able to explore a wide range of media?
Yes. I bought some art store supplies – watercolours, sketching pencils, coloured pencils and charcoals, and I also raided my stationary drawers and pots for pens, crayons, printing inks and more. I had some lovely paper in my stash already – tissues and some handmade paper made with cotton rags. That was lovely to make marks on! I also experimented with cardboard, paper bags and newsprint paper.
Are you pleased with what you have done? Do you think it will help you to approach drawing more confidently?
Without doubt! What I’m most pleased about it how much fun I found it – it took all the fear and anxiety about drawing away, and excited me about the possibilities.
Which way of working did you enjoy most?
- Making marks in relation to words?
- Making marks in response to an image?
- Making marks in relation to real objects?
Did you find each of these very different?
I think I most enjoyed making marks in relation to images – both my own from my sketchbook, and from paintings by artists. I was fascinated by the idea of looking at artists’ work to see how they made marks. It sounds very basic, but it’s something I’d never considered before! I loved looking at marks as the ‘building blocks’ of paintings, and seeing how different artists used different marks in different pictures. It allowed me to look at my own pictures in my sketchbook, and experiment with how I could use these ‘building blocks’ in similar ways. It allowed me to think of myself as an artist.
I found the process of making marks in response to an image quite similar to making marks in relation to real objects, as they were both exercises of vision, whereas making marks in relation to words used the imagination more. I found it fun!
Which media did you most enjoy working with? Can you say why?
I liked making marks on richer, more textured paper. I preferred my A3 notepad with its thicker paper to the newsprint paper, and I loved my Indian handmade paper made with cotton rags. The marks I made on these papers felt rich and luxurious. I enjoyed working with the watercolour paints and the charcoal in particular, because of the smoothness of the paint and the chunky texture of the charcoal. However, when I was working on small, sharp marks, I liked using a pen.
Have you fully explored the possibilities of mark-making? If not, what else would you like to try?
I feel I’ve only just started! It’s given me a great tool in drawing and making visual representations of images and concepts. I want to keep focussing on marks as the basic building blocks of visual representation whenever I’m drawing.
Do you have ideas about how this work will enrich your textile work in the future?
I’m excited about exploring the possibilities of how I can make marks with stitch. I feel more excited about the texture of stitches, and the way smooth and fat marks, like the ones I made with the watercolour paint, might be able to work with sharper, thinner marks, like the ones I made with a pen. Previously, I’ve mainly worked with embroidery thread, and I want to work with ribbon and chunky pieces of fabric too.