Tutor Feedback – Introductory Assignment One

I received my feedback report on Assignment One from my Tutor a couple of days ago.  I have read it through a couple of times and again today.  Overall I am happy with the report.  The feedback on Demonstration of Technical and Visual Skills, Quality of Outcome and Demonstration of Creativity were pleasing.  As noted by myself in my written analysis of my work I have to work at my drawing.  I think I have always been an outline sketcher rather than a drawer so as my Tutor says I need to practice, practice and practice.  Rebecca offered some very helpful comments on ways to work on my drawing using different approaches and a wide range of mediums as well as reference to the OCA Pinterest pages on sketchbooks and drawing.

Under the area of Learning Logs or Blogs/Critical essays the Tutor thought that I had made a good start on my online learning log.  Rebecca noted it was well organised with lots of images of my work.  In terms of research she also pointed me to the Weareoca blog post on using research material.  Finally she suggested I look at a new book Slow Stitch: mindful and contemplative textile art by Claire Wellesley-Smith published by Batsford. and also Drawing Projects: an exploration of the language of drawing by Mick Maslen and Jack Southern, published by Black Dog Publishing.  I have ordered both books.

In summary, my Feedback was really helpful.  It reinforced my need to work on my drawing and indicated that overall I am travelling on the right track.  Providing additional reference material/books for me to work through was really good too.  I plan to draw regularly (daily is the aim) and to remember to use a range of mediums.  I also need to research widely and add to learning log.



I will be submitting this work using this blog.  I hope that this works well for the Tutor. I have struggled a little with a Learning Log versus my Assignment and have tried to be reflective in my comments but I will appreciate feedback on this aspect.

My first response to brief.

I liked the brief I thought it was well set out in terms of what was required of me.  I love Tropical Tourist as I explained and can relate better to this theme than say Iced Landscape because I rarely see snow and never ever within 400 kilometres of where I live.

The requirements for lots of drawing and mark making made sense to me more after I did the Research on the eight artists.  I really found that an eye opener for me and has already opened doors in my thinking and in actions outside the course. I liked that the drawings related to the collection theme and not just abstract words.

Techniques were explored through selection, drawing and mark making?

I used a variety of media like pens, charcoal and Indian ink and various approaches like smudging, collage, ink wash to try to get across the actions I was trying to create. Also paper.

Strong points weak points

My enthusiasm is a strong point I think and willingness to keep an open mind. Weak point to me is to practice drawing, drawing and drawing.  I think my photographs on the cream paper are not as good as I would like.

New Skills

I undertook previous City and Guild but the exercises I was required to do did not come alive for me like this Assignment. They were exercises this is more than that it opens doors in my learning.  I also have not really believed in the connection between the sketchbook and your art/textiles.  I know to do it but it is not emphasised by some non UK tutors.  Their approach is different. Now I do see the connection and the possibilities.

Develop my work

In future I will be paying far more attention to my sketchbooks and the opportunities they present to explore subjects by developing close-ups, big drawings, negative space, small marks, big marks, pattern and trying to capture weight. Also thinking about texture in terms of the base material used.

Assignment One – Stage 2 Observing Qualities

Following on from Stage One of Gathering Materials it is time to draw, sketch and make marks on paper of the Tropical Tourist Collection with the aim being to capture an impression of the display not an immaculate drawing.  I need to try to translate the energy, contrasts and surfaces and get on with making marks to represent what I see.  I found the blank page hard so I spent time going round Jakarta  trying to find different types of drawing material and paper (a challenge).  Finally as time was marching on I started with this simple sketch of my objects. IMG_7641

I found a Moleskine A4 sketchbook but I realise the pencil does not show up so well in the photograph.  Moleskine is an off-white colour. Next I decided to draw in the remainder a collaged photo (not sure what this technique is called) to encourage me to work with the pineapple shape.IMG_7643Then I decided to be inspired by Rosanna Wells and mark make into the negative space.  I could see this so easily as a stitch piece.IMG_7642After this I decided I was playing safe and there needed to be some more energy so I tried a like one minute approach.IMG_7644I came back the next day and looked at the aftersun bottle and decided to draw that. This time I tried charcoal pencil. I liked the charcoal and tried to get some idea of the roundness of the bottle.

IMG_7645I tried a simple drawing of one of the shells this time I took some Indonesian timesheet type thick paper and drew my impression in an abstract sort of way the marks on the shell.IMG_7646

I still was not happy re capturing movement and energy so did this really quick sketch with a felt pen to see if I could create something along these lines.IMG_7647Played with charcoal and eraser using detail from the turquoise table runner showing the running stitch and then close up detail using the charcoal with a putty eraser to remove parts of the charcoal.IMG_7648I

I considered the charcoal further and did a more abstract drawing.IMG_7649

I was looking at my paper collection and found a thick paper bag from one of the merchants and I squeezed it up many times to soften the paper and then I cut out the brown shell (in my Collection) and used a white waxed pastel to rub over to create an impression of the markings on the shell.  I was happy with this one.


Another day followed and I decided to dissect the hibiscus flower and do some thumbnail sketches of the various components. I found doing this focused me on the detail of the flower and the shapes.

I managed to find a shop that had some Japanese rice or silk paper so I painted the paper with Indian Ink and drew a “whole” hibiscus with white charcoal.  I liked the paper weight as it conveyed to me the fragility of hibiscus petals and I liked the contrast of the black background with the white drawing.

I love pattern and mark making so decided to focus on some work using articles from my Collection.  First the pineapple texture using charcoal.  I was interested in the smaller drawing how quickly I found a pattern from the china pineapple! The second larger drawing I tried smudging to get an idea of the centre although it would have been better probably to fill in the centre and smudge the outside to better capture the height. 

I used the inspiration of the shells close up to make marks.  I like these I like the way the water soluble pen created movement in the top work and I like the movement created with the pen marks in the bottom work.


I took the words from the After Sun lotion bottle and just wrote it many times over to create texture in the top work.  Finally it was the turn of the sunglasses and I decided to create a type of pattern with the shape. I used an eraser over the soluble ink to create the smudge movement.  I thought these two works were successful.

IMG_7661Overall, once I got going it was fun.

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 (riekokoga.fr) 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









Assignment One Stage 1: Gathering Materials

I am feeling more confident with WordPress.  I had to start out on my iPad because I have been in Java Indonesia for several weeks and my computer was at home.

I have chosen “Tropical Tourist” as my theme because I love the Pacific Islands.  Have visited a number of them, was married in Vanuatu and holiday often In Hawaii. Below is the Mindmap I drew to get me started on my theme.

Mind Map Tropical Tourist

I searched around the house for objects to form part of my collection that best reflected my response to the Theme.  I looked for variation in height of the objects, different shapes, texture, form and relevance but still trying to capture the essence of  a tropical adventure. My collection is shown below:


I played around with the arrangement particularly the shells and looked at various options.  This one was chosen sitting on the turquoise cloth which represented colours of the Pacific and tactile woven texture.  The shells were picked up by me in Vanuatu (formerly New Hebrides) and I love their shape and particularly the markings. One of my favourite things are pineapples because of their shape and rough prickly texture. I collect pineapple objects like ornaments, jewellery and have even grown some pineapples here in Brisbane.  I think they represent luck and happiness.  Because of the intense heat a tropical tourist really needs sunglasses and aftersun spray.  Lastly the hibiscus is such a beautiful flower and comes in lovely bright colours and some amazingly big blooms.  I am not sure how to make my photos bigger on WordPress will investigate.