Sunday, 17 April 2011

Assignment two done at last

I have had the equivalent of writer's block for the last two months, but at last I have completed this assignment. I am not sure what it is about it that has been so difficult, given that there were elements of it that I really enjoyed. Playing with colour was good fun, particularly having read an article in Artists and Illustrators maintaining that cyan, magenta and yellow are the primary colours and not the traditional red, yellow and blue. I spent quite a while experimenting with these three colours to see how many colours I could get, and it shouldn't really have been a revelation that I could get any colour I could think of: these are our printer colours after all. After that, I read as many different versions of primary colours as there were books/websites I could find: that there are three primaries (the usual or the cyan, magenta, yellow theory), or that there are actually six (warm and cool versions of each of the primaries), etc, etc. I don’t think it really matters, but one article I read suggested that whatever you do as an artist, only ever include colours in your palette that you love. Wise advice, I thought, as I threw out the raw sienna (I have never liked that colour!). I also found a few new colours I love: Windsor blue (green shade), potters pink and cobalt turquoise light amongst them. The cobalt turquoise is expensive, but I dare you not to smile when you pop it on the paper or fabric and let your mind drift back to beach holidays past. Anyway, once the colour exercises were done, it was on to design work then stamping, lino-printing and fabric dyeing. I made a load of stamps of all shapes and sizes (no problems with copyright if you create your own!), and discovered the joy of gouging chunks of lino out to make pictures: very therapeutic. I think these were probably the most successful of the various bits of this assignment. The first time I tried it, I did it freehand direct onto to the lino with no thought of what I would get, but ended up with a landscape which printed perfectly straight away. It was really quite exciting seeing the reverse image staring back at me after only an hour or so. My next few goes were far from constrained affairs: sketched, designed, traced, traced onto the lino, carefully cut and so on…but the excitement at the end wasn’t quite the same (the lino owed me after all that effort!) Then came fabric dyeing. I scrunched, tied, twisted, dripped, resisted, discharged my way through the packets of dye, and learned this: when they tell you to wash fabric first (to remove the factory finish), they are not wasting your time: If you try it without washing first, it’s you wasting your time! I used Dylon dyes in every shade under the sun, and they worked wonders. I didn’t really follow the instructions that closely, and found that if you drop tiny amounts of non-diluted powder onto wet cloth they can create a really nice effect depending on how wet the fabric is: you can’t control it though, so it would need a few experiments and some patience. My favourite achievement is my repeated design (brown fabric paints on beige dyed silk). It isn’t perfectly printed, but I quite liked the effect of the varying tones of brown that emerged. The emergence of this design from a 2” by 2” thumbnail sketch from a fossil photograph was great fun. Making the stamp took forever, as I had worked out by now that unless you have some decent printing kit, printing or stamping on fabric with fabric paints using most of the types of stamp materials I had used, just didn’t work well. I used a thick foam (kid’s section of well-known chain hobby store), which seemed to produce a better print. Tricky to cut, though! Anyway, onto the next assignment with a sense of relief…manipulating fabric here we go…

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