ATV – Colour Studies – Feedback

With the usual trepidation I opened my feedback for this assignment. Yet again I was impressed by Rebecca’s skill at critiquing and writing feedback. It’s clear, concise and has just the right amount of detail, but then I might be biased because it’s all good news!

Overall Comments

Sally there is evidence you have worked hard and been quite playful during this assignment. I am getting the sense that your personal design aesthetic is coming through the more you work at this course. I think you have got the balance right between concentrating to get things right and letting things happen. This has ensured your work is professional looking and well crafted yet you have expressed and developed you aesthetic sensibilities. Your Colour Recourse Sketchbook and your workbook are well organised and useful as well as being a pleasure to explore. Your online learning log is easy to navigate with evidence of developing critical thinking.

I was overwhelmed reading this, I did work hard but throughout I felt the ‘come on this is crap’ gremlin on my shoulder. I think, maybe not is the time to get over myself; stop wallowing in self doubt and just get into the experimenting and exploring. 

The danger is; will I start to sound big headed and immodest? Will I cut myself off from my friends with my superior ‘look at me attitude’? So I ask of everyone, please if I start to show any signs of being far too big for my boots, give me a slap!

Feedback on assignment

Demonstration of technical and Visual Skills, Quality of Outcome, Demonstration of Creativity

This colour studies section of the course is an investigation into how colour is used and the ways it behaves. You have carried out your investigation with care and attention to detail, using your research material and the world around you to support your learning. There is evidence you have used the tasks to develop your skill in looking, not just at colour but also at forms and composition. This is particularly so on the page in your workbook where you make links between your research material and your image of the corner of your workroom. This dissecting and reflecting on the different aspects of an image is a valuable tool when it comes to understanding how to create the work you want. I get the impression from your reflective writing that you are sometimes concerned that you have not worked carefully or accurately enough. It is good to want have well-crafted and neat work but there is a lot of value in letting things happen and taking risks. I love your collage were you say you got carried away with the doodles. This expressive and playful creativity is where the really exciting stuff will come from. I suggested you continue to work with care but also to feel you can let go and allow an idea to have its own legs.  

 I loved this bit of feedback, it gives me the permission I needed to let go and to follow my style. The emergence of hundreds of adult doodle colouring books has left me feeling that my doodle style will soon become severely passé and what began as therapy and a gateway back into art has become a stress and something that I’m almost ashamed of.  Go on say it: ‘get over yourself Harrison’!!


Demonstration of technical and Visual Skills, Demonstration of Creativity

You have a nice drawing style and work competently in a range of media. This assignment demonstrates your technical skill in using paint and yarn to colour match and create colour palettes. You also use line creatively to form designs and patterns. I suggest you continue to develop your drawing skill by expanding the range of media you use, have a go at using more ‘messy’ mediums like inks, pastels and chalk. Use your fingers to smudge, blend and spread them across the picture plain. Let inks and paints dribble and splash to create chaotic marks and patterns. This will help you develop a more risky approach to your work and learn new ways of creating the line. Use observational drawing to study your research material and explore objects and forms in the world around you. This will assist in developing your looking skills and help you become more effective in your more creative drawing.  

Messy! Yikes, that could be interesting. I am naturally messy in everything but my art. I better get my workroom tidied up so I’ve got a big washable area to get down and dirty in!


Context, reflective thinking, critical thinking, analysis

For this assignment you have gathered together a good range of research material that is dispersed throughout your work demonstrating that you understand that research is a continuous process. You have used imagery to indicate your thoughts and illustrate how colour and form influence design. Your research material also contains your critical analysis of artists and the written material that describes their work. You use the information to reflect upon your own outlook and creative output. This is a very important aspect of doing research as it helps you to learn what is important to you and develops ideas about your own creativity. I suggest you continue to research widely, thinking and writing about what you find and how this makes you think and make.

More research? No problem there, I’m a total magpie when it comes to arty information. The difficulty here is recording what I see and read about and finding a way to blog this. I’m comfortable using Pinterest and writing in a notebook but putting my views out there in a blog, especially if it’s negative is very difficult to do. 

Learning Logs or Blogs/Critical essays

Context, reflective thinking, critical thinking, analysis

Your learning log is nicely laid out with images of both your work and your research material. You describe you processes with care and reflect upon the outcomes. I suggest you continue to develop the language you use to describe and critically analyse your outcomes. Think about the scale of the work, its composition, how the forms relate to each other and how your work links with your research material. This will then help you think more clearly and understand in a deeper way how to develop your work.

Lots to think about and work on here. I’m reading an exhibition programme at the moment for X-10 Power in the Land that I saw at Oriel Davies. It was an excellent show and demonstrates perfectly how a group of artists from different genres can take on a difficult subject with lots of possibly different view points and produce a well presented and cohesive exhibition. The programme includes essays from three writers from within the visual arts field. These are providing me with lots of examples of critical writing and plenty of new words – my dictionaries getting a bashing!

Suggested reading/viewing


I think this book about how makers, artists and designers use drawing could be helpful to you. Making and Drawing by Kyra Cane published by Bloomsbury. There is also a lovely book about Henry Moore’s textiles that includes a good number of his sketches and drawings. Henry Moore Textiles by Anita Feldman published by Laurence King.

Pointers for the next assignment

• Reflect on this feedback in your learning log

• Make sure you balance your need to get things right and letting things happen

• Develop your drawing by using more messy media and doing some observational drawing

• Continue to research widely analysing what you find and relating it to your own work

• Develop the language you use to describe and think about your work

 No re-work which made my day and I like these pointers. I’m already working in this direction. I must remember to have some fun too and not just get caught up in all the words.

ATV – Colour Studies – Outcomes

Throughout this part of ATV I worked in 2 sketchbooks; trying out ideas and working on drafts in one and them replicating them in the second. This second sketchbook became my Colour Resource Book.

When doing the Gouache studies I completed the initial colour matching in a more playful and random way. Jotting down my ideas and views.


Once I was happy with the colours I would paint them onto labels and then complete the page in the display sketchbook. I was then able to add any extra experiments or playing with the colours palettes.


Overall I’m pleased with the final book. The gouache pages are bright and accurate and I demonstrated alternative options and an understanding of tone.

I expanded each of these textile pieces to enhance the page and if nothing else use up the mixed paint!

I then sought out unusual textile pieces for the exercise on expanding and replicating the colour palettes and patterns on fabric. This was more tricky, the colours weren’t as opaque as on the first three pieces and presented more challenges. I am pleased with the final outcomes and didn’t feel the need to rework them when reviewing the Colour Resource book before submitting for assessment.

Then onto the thread exercise. This one drove me mad, I really had to look at the colours and make proper decisions about quantity and accuracy. I had to concentrate, not something that comes naturally to me so I was surprised at how well the yarn wraps came out. It took me a while to find the right method to attach the wraps (Velcro in the end) but now I really like this page.

I was surprised at how much I enjoyed the Watercolour Studies, I often get frustrated mixing paints and end up making silly mistakes because I don’t clean my brushes properly and mix with dirty water. So I had to be strict with myself and take my time.

I think I might have gone slightly into over kill with the collages! I just couldn’t resist the temptation to progress each collage. I felt like I was seeking an image or a look that was just out of reach. The subject matter didn’t really inspire me and I found it difficult to find a point to focus on, an idea I wanted to project.

I made a quick magazine picture collage which I decided was too fussy and too like other collages that I’d done in the past so I decided to complete a very simple collage in draft in my working sketchbook, I liked it so decided to use the shapes I highlighted as a theme to carry through to the other collages.

Then I did quite a few more, lots more in fact. This is where I have a dilemma about the outcomes. I think I sacrificed quality for quantity, I wanted to demonstrate my understanding of colour and pattern and in doing so I didn’t give myself the time to concentrate on cutting accurate shapes and getting the placements quite right. Also in places the paint is not as smooth or as opaque as I would like.


Even with the later collages that I took more time over I am not satisfied with the final outcomes, They are vibrant and I’m happy with the colour palettes and I think I’ve met the brief but I would like to have reworked them, to have tried to make them neater and more accurate.

So whilst I was getting my head tied up with being a perfectionist I came across 2 collages that caught my eye and I had to reluctantly note that neither of them had beautifully cut out pieces. But they both still worked, they were both simple and relaxed but had lots of energy. I have aimed for this feeling with the last 3 collages and although it has killed me to leave them simple, I did go a little crazy with the tissue paper one but I am satisfied that I have tested my abilities and learnt lots of lessons from this part of ATV.

Once I had looked through the Colour Resource book and filled in a few gaps I had some fun with the front cover.



ATV – Colour Studies – Collage Studies – Part 1

This is the last of the 3 collage studies for Part of 1 of this project. This one is my exploration into unusual colour combinations. I found it difficult to think of an original combination, I had already used 2 of my strangest combinations to expand on my first 2 collages. As usual I had backed myself into a corner by doing more than was required.

I’m not sorry that I took the collages 2 steps further and investigated each one more but it did leave me in a pickle. To find some colours that made me feel enthusiastic about this collage I looked on Pinterest for some unusual colour combinations. I picked out these as my favourites.


I then worked through some ideas in my sketchbook and noticed how some of the colour combinations fitted neatly with some specific areas in my original photograph. I referred back to my studies on colour theory and selected the unusual Goldfinch, I love his subtle summer colours.

This gave me a good opportunity to paint some papers for myself so I mixed up some paint and prepared some papers and used up the left over paint in one of my altered books (I hate paint waste!).

It was so nice to mix paint and actually find it quite easy; before I started this part of ATV and with little experience of paint mixing I would have felt very daunted by this task but now it’s just a part of what I do. I’m keen to carry on and practice this skill more and more in my own sketch and day books.

Early on in this exercise I decided to use the key shapes and motifs as the element that would link the collages together. I wanted them to work together as a series. I could have gone more abstract; focused more on the colours but I felt I could not do that if I was worrying about the question of how well I was interpreting the original source photograph.

So using my own coloured papers I began to build the collage. I particularly like the way that Frida Kahlo mixed monochrome with colour and I also like the way that collage lets you can play with scale and reality.  I like the concept and what I wanted to achieve with this collage but I am not at all satisfied with the result.

It’s my fault because I rushed the outlining and the sketching. I wish I had concentrated harder when I had drawn in the jug and the reels of thread. If I had the time I would revisit this piece and rework it until I got the proportions and links as I want them.


As with the other 2 collages I continued my explorations to interpret this specific collage with the previous set themes of ‘Simple’ and ‘Complex’. This allowed me to smarten up the outlining and to add more focal points and areas of interest.


With the last one I decided to go a little bit wild with a small pile of magazine photographs and add to additional elements to further develop the theme of ‘Complex’.

IMG_0997 (1)




ATV – Colour Studies – Collage Studies – part 1

Collage, lovely lovely collage, brain mashing, fiddly, frustrating, faffy collage. Just look at my poor glued up fingers! That’s a dog hair by the way!!

Trying to make some order out of my messy, chaotic corner photograph hasn’t been easy and as you’ll notice later I’ve made a conscious effort to ignore scale, that’s one of the great things about collage; you can play with scale to your hearts content.

I started off with a very simple collage used a restricted palette of colours, dictated by the number of colours in a small pack of card that I had.

I had a play with some magazine pages, but I really wasn’t so sure about this, it was messy and I was aiming to create calm and order out of the chaos not make it worse.

Then decided I liked the layout of the simple collage best so did another one with patterned paper.

I felt quite comfortable with this, sort of, they still are not speaking to me and I think they are a bit dull but I decided to continue with the original concept and layout and experimented with the first collage in my display sketchbook.

Firstly replicating the original collage on a painted background. Keeping it simple but adding a few bits of colour to create a little bit of drama and interest.

Then, adding decoupage paper to a photocopy to create a complex colour collage based on the simple one.

Then I used paint to create another collage with an unusual colour palette.

Finally I used some of the key shapes and made a more abstract piece and couldn’t resist a bit of doddling.

ATV – Colour Studies – Watercolour Studies

Once I had had a play with the photographs of the vessels I moved the glasses around and added a vase until I got an arrangement that I liked.


There was a good mixture of colours, shapes and overlaps. The blue comes through the crystal glass catching the different shapes in the glass. The green is just visable through the orangey brown jar. There is a small reflection from the window in the jar and this light ensures a good range of tone.


I started off by splashing some watercolour paints in stripes in my working sketchbook. I prefered the more defined shapes and whilst the very wet strip was pretty it didn’t make me think of the still life arrangement.


I played for a little while; testing what it would look like if I left a white strip between the stripes and then just for the hell of it I used up the left over paint and practised my stripe painting skills.


In the display sketchbook I made the painted stripes more defined. I painted one of the whole composition and then 3 that are of the Middle, Left and Right of the gathering of vessels.

This colours make me very happy, I love the earthy colours and the way they make me feel warm. I could work with these colours every day for years and years.


ATV – Colour Studies – Watercolour Studies

This task has been quite a bit of fun; this next part started with choosing 4 to 6 glass vessels and placing them into a nice still life.

I set up a ‘table’ using a box of pebbles, a white box lid, a big sheet of paper and a light box. It was a beautiful, rare sunny morning so the light was just right. Once the arrangement was ‘just right’ then I would need to paint the colours in watercolour paints.

Although I enjoy using paint and the task didn’t ask for the vessels to be painted; only the colours, I didn’t feel confident to go straight into the painting. Instead I decided to have a play with some photographs and my iPhone apps.


I just played with the colours, brightening them up and strengthening the lines and depth of the colour. I love the way the light box light makes the glasses look like they are floating in the air.


This image has the colours inverted, one day I really must find out what that means. This version lookes more like a batik. I love the palette of bright sunny blues, purples and orangey yellows.


I used the Fragment app to create a digitally made stripe pattern of the colours in the composition, there is still so much detail. Colour just loves to be as complicated as possible.


I then added a small crystal glass and a pair of clear safety glasses and took a close up photograph. This gives the composition more compartments and lines.


Then finally I used the Brushstroke app to electronically paint the composition. I love the stripes, the colours and the way the crystal glass looks like stained glass windows in a church. Gorgeous.



ATV – Colour Studies – Translation through Yarn

Once I get into my workroom and start on these exercises I really enjoy them, the process of focusing on the detail and the colours in the textile piece, or as in the case of the lastest exercise the painting, it is very relaxing. It is theraputic, time slows down and your brain switches off.

This is exactly what Danny Gregory says will happen in his book Art Before Breakfast.  Danny tells us that ‘Art will make us saner and happier’ and I have to agree with him. Sometimes in the moment, when you’re trying to get it just right it can be frustrating but as you sink into what you are doing you can find peace and satisfaction.

It hasn’t always been easy to be peaceful when identifying and then making specific colours; I really thought this was just me until I started to read Josef Albers Interaction of Color. Right there in his introduction, almost one of the first thing he states is ‘in order to use color effectively it is necessary to recognize that color deceives continually’.

Albers believes that our ‘seeing’ of colour is always effected by any number of factors, including: lighting, juxtaposition, culture etc. He states that ‘When seeing, we almost never see a single color unconnected and unrelated to other colors, we see what is happening between the colors. Colors present themselves in continuous flux, constantly related to changing neighbours and changing conditions’.

I found this was particularly relevant when working at selecting the yarns and quantities of yarn to represent the colours in the Leonardo Di Vinci’s Painting, sometimes, when the light was right or a thread was thin and singular it matched a colour in the painting but when it was denser of placed on a different surface it changed.

Luckily because of Albers advice I didn’t get too caught up with trying to get my selections perfect, I worked at selecting yarns that gave the right ‘feel’, the right impression of the painting.

I selected, laid out, and then wrapped the yarns in an order that encouraged the viewer’s preception and imagination to see the colours as a match to the painting. By doing this I have sought to ‘write’ the colours as words not letters, because as Alber’s writes ‘… in reading we do not read letters but words, words as a whole, as a “word picture”.


The task wasn’t made any easier by my choice of a painting with so much colour. I never go easy on myself! Whilst looking through a selection of paintings by Old Masters I found myself drawn to pictures with more modern colours but when I found myself studying the picture in more detail I was still struck by how different the old colours were.


I’ve really not been looking forward to this exercise but in the end have found it very interesting. It would be nice to progress these selections/yarns into abstract snap shot stitched pieces, little inchies of colours, colours with a meaning and a reference point. This anchoring of an idea; of a design source is something that I have been seeking for a while. Maybe now I am starting to get somewhere.

This blog is dedicated to my wonderful husband who very generously bought me a beautiful rose gold MacBook for Christmas for me to use in my studies and to write these blogs on. All of his support and encouragement is greatly appreciated. I love you Harry_uk.

ATV – Colour Studies – Gouache Studies – Part 1

I’m still here plodding away at these colour studies in gouache. I’ve taken far too long over these exercises and they are starting to wear thin on my interest scale. To the point that I hit my own personal procrastination high point yesterday and made a quilt.

I Bought the stuff and pretty much finished it in the afternoon and evening. This for me is extreme focused procrastination, I’m shattered today because I worked so hard, don’t get me wrong the quilt is nice, it’s a present for a friend but it’s just not yarn wrapping.

There in lies another issue for me: yarn wrapping? why? I’m finding myself being very reluctant to ‘waste’ my precious threads by wrapping them around pieces of card. I’m going to have to get over that so I can get onto the more interesting exercise: watercolour next – yummy!

Okay, so here’s where I’m at now:

Looking at the neutrals, this was quite therapeutic and tricky, it wasn’t easy to find the slight differences that make up a seemingly solid piece of fabric.

This is the grey pieced that I had hand dyed a good while ago, I decided to include the colours created by the shadows as well.


Much to my younger son’s horror my iPhone is chocked full of apps, I’m an app hoarder, there I admit it (are there any support groups for this I wonder) and one of my favs hidden away in one of multiple ‘photography’ folders is one called Colour viewfinder. It’s a little whizz, you open the app, hover your phone over the subject and it identifies the colours and amounts. Fab, I could have saved all this faffing about with water and messy paint and just done it all electronically, but hey where would the fun and learning experience have been in that!

This is the grey fabric as ‘read’ by colour viewfinder

Doesn’t look much for the grey but here’s one for one of the colour samples. I’ve got a feeling it can tell you all the official colour names too.

My next neutral choice was a glossy piece of silky, taffeta stuff which I layered to make it more dense, I was interested in looking further at including colours that weren’t actually part of the fabric, In this case it was the paper as seen through the thready parts of the fabric.


In the display sketchook book I drew a few mark recording drawings to use up the left over paint. I love the way my new MacBook makes these little ’tile’ inserts when I select more than one photo.

For the last piece I had a play with some creamy white, ivory maybe? devoure. It’s very pale and it was quite difficult to match. I did fall in love with these pale milky colours. They took me back to the linen smocks and garments from the textile archive.

Leading on from exploring adding/identifying the colours not actually part of the fabric I tested the devoure with 3 different backgrounds in my display sketchbook.

I’m really not feeling to love for what I’ve produced so far but I’m going to battle on with the leg work and worry about the beauty of the final resource book once I get to the end.


ATV – Colour Studies – Gouache Studies – Part 1

This is just a quick update before the craziness that is Christmas properly descends!

In some quiet moments I’ve been beavering away at my colour studies. I did quite a bit of planning before starting and decided to work into a sketchbook and the ‘beautifully crafted’ colour resource book which is assignment 3 at the same time.

I’ve been finding making a ‘beautifully crafted’ book that it also practical and technical quite a conundrum. I have a scary feeling that I might yet craft another book at the end of all the exercises.

Another complication I have found particularly difficult to overcome with this part of ATV has been keeping to the brief; colour is such a fasinating subject that it’s easy to while away valuable ‘doing’ hours reading about lapis lazuli and mixing paint pigments.

Then of course there is the issue of finding 3 fabrics that have 4/6 colours . I have lots with 1 or 2 and lots with lots!! Also, looking for something that isn’t 100% patchwork fabric was tricky, especially since I didn’t want to buy any more fabric. I have enough …. or do I?!!

So in the end I selected my three fabrics and dip dyed a khandi paper sketchbook for the assignment submission.

I then cut out some squares, stuck them in my working sketchbook and got to work mixing the colours.

I took notes as I went and once the colour was right I painted a rectangular label.

Once the label was dry it made it easy for me to display in the assignment sketchbook.

The pages in the book are quite large so I have added some extras; colour facts, different combinations etc.

Now this is where I have the issue with ‘beautifully crafted’. My book is colourful, interesting but still very college sketchbook, in my mind I have a vision of one of those perfectly laid out shiny coffee table books. Umm, needs some more thinking I think.

I’m still continuing with my 2 book approach, it’s nice to have a scribble and a best work book for the exercises as they can be quite messy. Here are the other pages.

That’s me now finished for Christmas, have a wonderful one everybody and here’s to a productive New Year.

Colour Studies – Preparation and Planning

I have had a quick read through the brief for Part 3 – Colour Studies, I know I’m going to love this one. I’m a colour freak and I can’t wait to find out and to learn more about interpretating and making colour.

The assignment at the end of this part is to make a colour resource book, I’m very excited about this and full of ideas. I do already have a small colour theory book I put together on my City and Guilds course so this is a perfect opportunity to consolidate what I already know whilst learning more about what colour is and how to use it.  So what is there to say about colour?

Today I found this wonderful quote in Victoria Finlay’s book Colour – Travels Through the Paintbox (Folio Society 2009) –

“The first challenge in writing about colour is that colours don’t really exist. Or rather they do exist, but only because our minds create them as an interpretation of vibrations that are happening around us”

After you’ve got your head around that concept, she then talks about what ‘seeing’ colours in nature is –

“The colour of many natural objects derives from transformational shifts happening within their atomic structures”

It made me think that colour is a static, snap shot of a scene full of vibration, movement and change. So how does that translate to a scene of paint or a photograph, they aren’t moving, so how do we see the colour? More reading to do then.

I could easily fill a blog with quotes from Victoria’s book but I’m not sure how that works for copy write so I will simply recommend that anyone who wants to know more about colour and the stories behind colour should get a copy of this book from the library.