ATV - Pt1 - PJ3 - Picking & Portraying · ATV - Research Points · Textiles 1: A Textiles Vocabulary

David Hockney 

These research points are always tricky for me; I love to research, I love to soak up all those pictures, facts and information but I always feel uncomfortable writing it all down. Cut & paste made that all too easy! 

When I was at school writing a report showed you had done your research, you’d had to go to the library or find someone else who could tell you all about it or found or bought a book. Now it just means you can type some key words into Google! 

Unless you are doing your research on site at a museum, art gallery or other interesting location, to me there doesn’t seem any need to write down all the stuff you’ve read. 

It’s especially difficult if you’ve got a preconceived idea about whether you like the artist or not. Hockney is one of those artists that I have chosen not to like: the celebrity artists, all parties, drugs and sexy groupies.

Maybe Hockney was a bit like that but, accept my apologies, he’s also a damn good artist. Not that I think he’d care what I think!

He’s never not been fresh, he’s always kept his love of life and positively. There have been periods of sadness and difficult times but he’s always looked for the excitement, beauty and new things to investigate in life.

Hockney’s work covers such a long period and so many genres, mediums, styles and influences I couldn’t possibly cover them all here without being in danger of boring you with information rather than spiking your interest. This official website has some excellent information, including a chronological biography. 

Colour has always been key in Hockney’s work and he’s well known for his quotes. I am especially drawn to his thoughts on ‘seeing’, ‘painting’ and photography.

Shut up and paint

Being one of my favourites.

Over the years Hockney has always embraced the new and exciting: he drew and painted but then took photography to new levels. I particularly like his montages, almost as if he could see the future of photograph as we have it now with camera phones, Instagram and selfies.

He was using the photocopier to make layered pictures long before Art Journals and mixed media. And now he is painting using his iPhone and iPad. 

No hiding behind his age; reading an IPad For Dummies and ringing his grandchildren for help to switch ‘the damn thing on’ for Hockney.

Hockney is showing his ability to reinvent himself time after time by incorporating this new technology into his already vast repertoire and producing some wonderful iPad paintings and as to be expected has some very interesting things to say about it all. I particularly liked this article in the Telegraph

I’ve focused my Hockney sketchbook pages on his quotes and added lots of bold colours. There are more of his pictures on my Pinterest Board: David Hockney – OCA – Research. 

I really have been surprised at how much I have enjoyed this research point, just proves sometimes, you’ve just got to shut up and paint!


ATV - Ex 1.8 - Portraying by Drawing · ATV - Pt1 - PJ3 - Picking & Portraying · Textiles 1: A Textiles Vocabulary

Tricky Sunflowers 

This morning’s painting session started quite well. I used some Procion MX dye to do some sunflower prints. The flowers are starting to rot and are ponging, so it was time to cut them off before they turn to mush.

I liked this but the tone was created by the wetness of the dye so I added some more colour. I still feel it’s a little bit flat but I’ve shown some rare restraint and I’m leaving them to dry before I add more colour.

The backs of the flowers are beautiful in a Wabi-Sabi way so feeling brave I thought I’d have a go at drawing one. Oh dear, oh dear. I created an alien!!

I couldn’t bear looking at it so I ripped off some of the green leaves and placed them over the offending item.

Better? I’m not too sure yet. But I’ve gone ahead and added some glue and pinned the leaves down, in the vain hope that they dry flat.

I’m in love with these pins that I bought from the Dovecot in Edinburgh, they are for pinning down butterfly and insect samples. They are so delicate and pretty, I might just leave them in.

In case you were wondering what the backs of the sunflowers should really have looked like when painted, here’s a digitally manipulated ‘painting’. 

Outdone by an IPhone – huff!!

ATV - Pt1 - PJ3 - Picking & Portraying · ATV - Research Points · Textiles 1: A Textiles Vocabulary

Floral motifs, fabrics and paintings. 3 of the best. Research Point 2.

1. William Morris

Where else would an exploration into the world of floral decoration start other than with William Morris. His fabrics are a perfect combination of reality and motif. I chose the pink peonies because I love the symmetry of the design and the way the leaves overlap with the little yellow flowers as an extra element and complementary detail. I was immediately drawn to the other 2 pictures because they show the outlining and laying out of the design before the colour was added.


2. Tord Boontje.

I’ve chosen 3 very different examples of design by Tord Boontje that I feel demonstrate his ability to work with the overlapping and layering of flowers and plants in nature. 


3. Jane Askey.

The more I look at Jane’s Floral Summertime the more I like it, at first I thought it was almost too simple but my eye gets drawn back to it again and again. Jane’s choice of composition layout is calming and gentle. I really admire her ability to express complex shapes with bold brush strokes and simple colour selecctions.


4. Marni

This OCA degree broadens my horizons all of the time and this research exercise has taken me down a route I rarely follow or consider. High fashion is not my thing and I’d never heard of Marni before. To me these 3 garments are works of art. They are beautiful and I love the use of floral themes and motifs in such prominent ways.

5. Timorous Beasties.

Very, very yummy and expensive wall paper and fabrics. It was difficult to chose just 3. The more tropical design makes me think of Victorian glass houses and tropical heat and the Bloomsbury Garden is just like having the garden inside. I think the use of the blotch technique is very brave, it’s very dramatic and I’m sure everyone will see something different in the details. Is is wallpaper or a psychology test?


6. Elizabeth Blackadder

My parent’s lived not far from Falkirk in Scotland and my Mom had the most beautiful ‘black’ irises in her garden. They had come from a nursery of rare flowers and flourished, loving the damp conditions in the Glasgow peaty soil. Irises and Flags are delightful flowers and Elizabeth has really done them justice in my eyes.  I chose the other 2 paintings because of the delicate layout of the different elements. In False Palm I can see both Scottish and Japanese influences. The paintings look simple but it’s clear that a lot of skill has gone into their construction and into deciding what should be included and very importantly what should be omitted.


7. Takashi Murakami.

This for me is heaven; I love Japanese design and art and I love ‘Superflat’ paintings, drawings and doodles. These 3 pieces very cleverly mix traditional and contemporary influences. In High Five I like the use of white as an outline, almost as if the colours have been inverted. 

8. Erdem

More art to be worn. These garments are very very beautful. The fabric is a soft and fluid painting. So often floral fabric uses stylised repetitive motifs, sometimes almost doodles but Erdem use patterns more akin to the watercolour and oil paintings usually seen in frames. 

It was difficult to chose just 3 favourites but I couldn’t resist the white dress, it looks so comfortable whilst being very beautiful. I liked the photograph of the detail of the skirt because it demonstrates how Erdem don’t just drape stunning fabric and expect it to speak for itself, they also employ clever tailoring tecchniques.


9.  Zoffany

I have assumed that the name Zoffany, for the purposes of this exercise refer to the Zoffany fabric and wallpaper company. They use flowers and birds as the subjects of many of their products. It’s not my favourite, I appreciate how they are using archives of traditional documents to influence their designs but I find the patterns lacking in tone and dramatic punch. 

As an alternative I have chosen a section of one of Johan Zoffany’s 18th Century paintings, he often included a bouquet or a vase of flowers in his paintings much like tv documentary makers now put an arrangement of flowers in the background of a talking head interview. 


My research for this exercise has been done using Wikipidepia (what else!) and Pinterest and the original links can be found on my pin board OCA-Artists-Flowers/research.


ATV - Ex 1.7 - Sources & Media · ATV - Pt1 - PJ3 - Picking & Portraying · Textiles 1: A Textiles Vocabulary

Flowers – Getting Started

To make my bright and bold drawings of flowers I’ve decided to use Procion MX Dye and brusho as the colour wash. I’ve used this in the past to paint paper and sketchbook pages, it soaks well into the fibres and leaves a nice smooth surface to draw on.

Here’s my colour palette of dye, I’ve also mixed up some purple, green and black brusho.

To make the actual pictures I’ve planned on using the dye, brusho with pastels; oil, soft and watercolour for more detailed and controlled marks.

I have made up plenty of dye and after I had mixed it today I couldn’t resist making a couple of paintings. I was immediately drawn to the sun flowers. The shapes are easier to replicate and colours make me smile. 


Over on the other side of the table are some richly coloured gladiolas, so I forced my shoulders down, relaxed my grip on the brush and made some splashes on the paper.


Tomorrow, after the paper has dried I will roll the lining paper along the table to expose a nice fresh ‘canvas’ and  splash a load more dye around.

ATV - Ex 1.8 - Portraying by Drawing · ATV - Pt1 - PJ3 - Picking & Portraying · Textiles 1: A Textiles Vocabulary

Flowers – Alternative Reality

Flowers are bright and bold,  they are both delicate and strong. For this exercise I don’t want to get caught up in making detailed, accurate drawings. I want to be bright and bold, I’d like my marks to be expressive and representative.  These two pages from my sketchbook have some examples of flower based drawings that I like.

To me they represent the concept of Alternative Reality, as defined by Helen Birch as “Real world reference and, imagination, experimentation and design”.


These next three paintings are examples of what I’m looking to achieve with this more relaxed and looser approach.


ATV - Ex 1.8 - Portraying by Drawing · ATV - Pt1 - PJ3 - Picking & Portraying · Textiles 1: A Textiles Vocabulary

What is drawing?

Well? Drawing is drawing, isn’t it? You take a pen or a pencil, or maybe some charcoal and make some lines on paper to represent something that you are looking at or imagining. Can it really be that simple?

In her book, One Drawing a Day, Veronica Lawlor lists the following tools as recommended for drawing. 

That’s pretty clear then? So everything else is mark making, painting, mixed media, or any other description or label. But that’s just what they are labels; categories and in the modern world a #hashtag.  

The increased use of computer databases has encouraged us to use labels to facilitate quick and accurate searches and there is a danger that this will create an atmopshere of rigid definitions but it’s done nothing of the sort. at the same time as we are becoming more dependant on Google and hashtags we are seeing an explosion of creativity and it’s in art using a variety of objects and methods; recycling, found objects, eco dying and a general mixing up of all the different schools of art, design and textiles. 

Now anyone can find a way to ‘draw’, to be creative. If nothing else you can pick up an adult doodle colouring book and enjoy the simple pleasure of putting pen to paper.

But human beings are stubborn beings and we’re often not happy unless we are critiquing ourselves.

God forbid we get too big for our boots so despite all these new ways to express our creativity there is still an issue around the negative feelings so many of us have about drawing and being able to draw. 

It has taken a long time and lots of reverse psycology to get me drawing. 

When drawing for designs for textile and embroidery pieces I have always told myself it’s just mark-making and I’ve mixed it up with photocopies, stamping and tracing. It helps me relax because I don’t need to rate myself on accuracy or worry about how the picture is going to look in a frame. I’m looking for the motifs, the shapes and the marks that will make good stitches. I can be free to stylise the subject matter; doodle, collage, trace and rub. I can use digital programs to manipulate the image and colour to make it more appealing or complete.

If I was to buy a book of drawing I would expect to see pages of pencil and pen sketches. lots of tone and cross hatching, full of reality and accurate. Think Leonardo da Vinci, all of those drawings of taut muscles and flying machines!

I always believed being able to draw was something I could only dream of, it always looked like drawing was a skill you were born with and had to study and work on almost from birth.

Helen Birch helped change my views, her wonderfully simple book Freehand is full of examples of drawing that uses more modern techniques. There is colour, collage and digital imagery. Then, there is the excellent book Drawing Projects by Mick Maslen and Jack Southern in which they take head on the restrictions bought about by our traditional education systems and our need to express reality.

Loosen up, that’s the advice coming through from so many places, just start, have a go; take a line for a walk.

The simple act of drawing without looking at the pen or the paper is very rewarding and freeing. It’s a couple of years since I made these sketches but I remember it as a pivotal moment. I shocked myself, my hands could follow my eyes; I could enjoy drawing and like what I drew. It gave my confidence levels a huge boost and maybe one day I will actually finish the embroidery I started based on one of the sketches.

 Drawing is not just about visual accuracy, it’s also about feeling and using all of our senses to express what we see.

A representation, a record , a visual ‘copy’ of an item can be done in many ways and drawing is just one of these ways. Drawing is a habit, it’s a skill that can be learnt and with time and practise improved.

There are no limits on how and what you can choose to use as an artist to portray or record an item, a concept or an idea, and drawing is only one of these ways. It is not all of the ways. Sometimes a photograph is all that you need, or a texture rubbing or a huge blob of colour. 

At the end of the day it’s all semantics; a distraction. What is important is to decide what you want to use and to focus,  learn as you go; making any changes after well considered analysis or you end up getting tied up in technique not your feelings and your expression. 

All of the pictures used in this blog can be found on my Pinterest boards: OCA – What is Drawing and Flowers – OCA – Research

ATV - Ex 1.7 - Sources & Media · ATV - Pt1 - PJ3 - Picking & Portraying · Textiles 1: A Textiles Vocabulary

Thoughts on Drawing

This whole question of what is drawing has taken up more of my time than I expected. It’s simple isn’t it? It’s a sketch? Isn’t it?

So the answer is going to have to be split down as I investigate and follow a few trails of thought. 

First a couple of extracts, each from my 2 favourite books on drawing. 

The Natural Way to Draw was written before 1938 and still sounds contemporary and relevant today.


My second extract is from a very current and informative book: Drawing Projects.


ATV - Ex 1.7 - Sources & Media · ATV - Pt1 - PJ3 - Picking & Portraying · Textiles 1: A Textiles Vocabulary

Preparation – picking and portraying 

There are 3 elements in the preparation work for project 3 – Picking and Portraying:

  1. My thoughts on drawing and what the word means;
  2. Research on 9 artists who use floral or leave based forms in their work, and;
  3. A statement about which mediums I will be using to complete the 10 drawings required to go towards the portfolio for this part of A Textile Vocabulary.

I’m chugging along working on all of these elements at once. My thoughts on drawing are in note form and ready to be written up.

There’s no guarantee that I have anything new to say but it has made me think and will influence my next bout of ‘drawing’.

Good old Pinterest is where I’m off to to do my research, it’s a perfect resource for this kind of task. Once done I’ll blog links to my boards and photos of my accompanying sketchbook pages.

Finally I am having lots of fun getting ready to draw. I’ve bought my flowers, they are ready in vases. There is no rush because I would like them to be in full bloom and maybe even just on the turn. Then I can use the petals to dye the paper I am using.

Flowers always feel me with huge feelings of joy. I love flowers, I love the colours, the smells, the way they grow. The word bloom makes me smile. They come in all shapes and sizes and often look like they have been created by magic.

This makes me what to portray them in a big bountiful way. Bold and full of colour. 

I like to see flowers in arrangements, in flower beds and growing wild, they create swathes of colour and compositions that artists can only dream of.

There are many ways to draw flowers; you can focus on the texture; on the detail; singularly or together, but this time I would like to go big and bold.

I have chosen a roll of lining paper to draw on, then I can use as much paper as I like. Flowers overlay and overlap each other so the roll will allow me work without a boundary. 

The drawings can link together, fill the page, be landscape or portrait. They can be made straight onto the plain paper or onto pre-painted areas.

To complete the drawings I’m going to use pastels. They are not my favourite drawing tools, they are messy and I’ve always thought of them as complicated so this will be a good excuse to try them again. Maybe I can find a way that works for me.

Before I begin I’m going to use liquid procion dye and brusho to colour some of the paper. I’ve also invested in some Solarfast which I’m going to paint onto the paper and over lay with leaves to create a natural background for the flowers. 

My only problem with all of this is, apart from the niggling doubt that my drawing skills are really not up to the task, is am I creating something suitable as a design source for textiles? 

Shouldn’t I be looking at motifs and patterns? Shouldn’t I be thinking about scale and implementation? Well, we’ll find out later but for now I’m just going to throw myself into this task. 

Autumn is coming and I would like to keep the sunshine for a few more weeks.

ATV - Pt1 - PJ3 - Picking & Portraying · ATV - Research Points · Textiles 1: A Textiles Vocabulary


Looking at the offerings in the Modern Art Museum in Edinburgh made me realise how little I know about the history of art and the political influences on the artists of the 20th Century.

The Deluge is a book I found yesterday in Waterstones, it’s a monster but very readable, I already feel more educated after the first 100 pages!

And the other even bigger book is a World History of Art. Hopefully the next time I go to a gallery I will better understand what I am seeing.

It’s not all about reading though, today I bought up all the marked down flowers from the supermarket so I can start the drawings for Project 3 – Picking and Portraying.

My workroom is going to look like a garden.

ATV - Gallery Visits · Sallyharrisonart Travels · Textiles 1: A Textiles Vocabulary

Dovecot Gallery in Edinburgh 

Go! That’s the simplest thing I can say! Go to this gallery if you are in Edinburgh. It has a wonderful cafe, interesting shop, an opportunity to gaze down on a live, working weavers studio space and currently, 2 absolutely amazing exhibitions.

It’s a maker’s heaven, in the cafe you sit surrounded by beautiful woven wall hangings and even my latte came with a little woollen jacket.

It’s a perfect venue for artists and students and in addition you are able to take photographs of the current exhibitions (tag and promote the gallery please) and there is plenty of space to sit, write, sketch and reflect. 


In the first gallery there is currently an exhibition called A Life in Colour by Bernat Klein, a designer maker who sadly passed away in 2014. 

He had an amazing understanding of colour and worked in very modern way using paint and textiles. 

There were examples of his paintings, his weaving and mixed media work along with some interesting information about his work in the fashion industry.

Particularly interesting were the flower pieces that at first looked flat surrounded by the bursting colour of his other work but closer inspection showed them to be skilfully executed paintings of flowers made onto a fabric background of dyed silk. Trust me, the photographs really don’t do these paintings justice.

For a good while I was absorbed taking notes and gazing at the colours and then I looked up and through an archway I saw a stunning egg shaped globe, hanging just off the floor casting shadows. I got goosebumps!

In the next gallery was an exhibition called Aggregations by Korean artist Kwang Young Chun. 

His work is stunning. Each individual segment that makes up each bold piece is delicate in colour and structure. 

You can’t decide whether to get up close and marvel at the skill and patience required to make, dye and bind each triangle or whether to stand back and wonder at how he placed each triangle in exactly the right place to create the craters, the textures and the gentle flows of colour.  

Sometimes the shapes were more formal with some random elements to maintain the levels of energy created by the colour sweeps in the composition.


I particularly liked the way the dish spaced piece created these jagged shadows on the walls.


These pieces made me think of over populated cities, then huge boxes of goods, then piles of rubbish or rubble and from a distance moon scapes and mountain ranges. 

This piece was my favourite, I love the colour palette; the jagged edges and the depth of the colour. It is just simply beautiful.

Really, please go and visit these exhibitions if you can. This museum and gallery is one of those hidden gems you can often find just off the beaten track in many of our cities.