Research – Assignment One – Some Practitioners

In the coursework notes there is a section listing references to some practitioners who use drawing and mark-making as an important component of their work.  I went through the list and looked at each of the artists.  I found this research so energising and exciting and also challenging to think of drawing and stitch and the relationships.

This has made me question my previous approach  to drawing and mark making.  First I watched the three OCA videos on Drawing and Markmaking by OCA Tutor Jane Lazenby.  First impressions from these videos were the freedom to express yourself, not constrained by the perfectionist approach or attempted approach.  I them looked at Contemporary Drawing by Margaret Davidson (2011)and this lead into examining the work of each of the eight artists listed.  My notes on each follow:

Rosanna Wells – UK 

Overall Impression

Loved her work – the way she plays with Negative Space – the use of long skinny chain stitch, the light and dense running stitch – her use of seed stitch.  To me she is drawing or mark making with hand stitch and I found that so exciting.  Her use of black and white and shades of grey in her work impressed me.  I love colour but what Rosanna has achieved with a monochromatic scheme made me stop and think about my own colourful work.


Rosanna’s work is based on repetitive mark making and it is related to “themes of mass groupings, collective presence …”.  She calls herself a “visual artist working with process led techniques, contemporary drawing, graphical hand embroidery and wood carving” (R Wells, website).

Kate Sollohub UK


Kate is a painter and in instances she uses drawing before she undertakes her painting. She lives at Shoreham in the UK and she comments on her love of the light in this area.  I watched a great video of Kate called “Drawing Big” and it made me want to try big drawing to exaggerate and enlarge shapes for different effects. I noted that Kate uses her iPad also to draw using the Procreate Drawing App.  I downloaded the App but realised it will take a major effort to be able to use it so will have to wait until later.

Debbie Smyth UK

I looked at Debbie’s website and video clips.


I found Debbie’s work wonderful.  The way she uses nails and threads as her drawing tools and how she adds lines and more lines like you would with a pencil.  Debbie’s linear works are “drawing inspired by commonplace objects”. She noted that everyday we see strong linear structures, architectural forms, iconic objects and she likes to capture these but play with the angles and perspective to give extra depth to the drawing.


Her drawings are first plotted to give her the “bare bones of the image”.  She then gradually exaggerates and adds more thread and knots just like you would add shading to pencil.  Debbie comments that she sees thread as such a pliable and soft material with great line quality. The video shows Debbie stretching the thread between accurately plotted nails.  Some of her work are really large installations and she had undertaken work for multinationals like logo work and it pushes the boundaries of stitch. Embroidery magazine (p. 30Nov/Dec 2014)comments “These thread lines, lifted from the surface and held at tension, create a maze of shadows, in lesser hands it could all quite easily come chaotic, but Smyth’s eye for graphic accuracy results in clean lines a a calming, unexpected beauty.”

Michael Griffiths – UK


Michael’s work is great. To me it is very free form, loose, energetic lots of movement.


Michael uses charcoal, oil pastel, oil paint stick, acrylic paint in his work.

Hilary Ellis UK


I so loved Hilary’s work, the repetition, layering, patterns and how the work had texture. I found looking through her work produced a constant flow of ideas for me in approaching fabric, line, and surface embellishment.


Hilary describes her work as mixed media.  I noted that she uses stitch as pattern and mark making as pattern.  She currently has a solo Exhibition at the Leyden Gallery in London (so wish I lived in UK) and the Gallery has provided the following comments on its website which I have reproduced in full to aid my study.

Hilary Ellis works are mixed media aggregations of repeated marks and actions which are intended as exact replications but whose inevitable deviations expose the frailty of the human hand in attempting the pursuit of mechanical process.  The use of thread and beads is deliberately reminiscent of the labour intensive toil of the sweat shop whose employee’s existence is reduced to a series of stitches. The works’ restricted and predominately muted palette hints at the ennui of such ritualistic and repetitive creation yet touches of colour – a pink bead, red thread – constitute a glimmer of optimism.”

I also looked at Hilary’s Pintrest pages to see where she might find inspiration. I particularly liked the work of Japanese artist Rieko Koga ( who lives in Paris and has produced some visually interesting mark making with thread.  Rieko uses black and white often too.

Alex James Chalmers UK

Alex is an artist and architect. His work includes site specific drawings on windows.  I did not really connect with Alex’s work I could not really get the passion in it.

Alison Carlier UK


Alison’s work really challenged me.  Her sound piece which won a major drawing prize stretched my paradigm of drawing.  But I found it interesting.


Alison holds an MA in Drawing from Wimbledon College of the Arts 2013.  In 2014 she won the Jerwood Drawing Prize with a sound work. This challenged the traditional view of drawing associated with the piece.  The sound pieces was a one minute 15 second audio work entitled “Adjectives, lines and mark” which Alison depicts as “an open-ended audio drawing, a spoken description of an unknown object.”

Louise Bourgeois


I have looked at Louise Bourgeois’ work before, particularly her fabric work and her fabric books.  She was such an amazing artist with such a wide portfolio of activities. For this assignment I have focused on her drawings.

I was drawn to her minimalist approach to drawing, shapes, circles, outlines. I noticed she used red sometimes and I found that bold in the work. I have only skimmed the surface of her work The sheer volume of her work has overwhelmed me really and I think I should just focus on an area at a time. On my return to Australia shortly I will be able to access some of her books but in the meantime I am looking on the MOMA site.


Margaret Davidson, “Contemporary Drawing”, 2011, Watson-Guptill, New York

Embroidery, 2014, Nov-Dec


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