Monthly Archives: May 2017

Module 2, Chapter 9: Letters and Pattern (Klimt)

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I used the small, small, square sketchbook for this chapter. I’ve always rather liked the ornate patterns and lavish use of gold in Klimt’s paintings, but I didn’t know much about him. I was going to do a potted biography, but there is a lot of information available, and I didn’t want to spend ages and ages on research, like I did with Jasper Johns, so I’m trying to stick to the task in hand.

Klimt 1 (2)

Klimt 2 (2)

Klimt 3 (2)

Klimt 4 (2)

Klimt 5 (2)

Klimt 6 (2)

Klimt 7 (2)

Klimt 8 (2)

Below is Klimt’s ‘Portait of Adele Bloch-Bauer 1’ (1907), n the front cover of another charity shop buy about Klimt. This is A4 size, and shows details of the motifs really clearly – I found it very useful.

Klimt 9

Below: My notes on Klimt’s motifs.

Klimt 10 (2)

A drawing in the style of Klimt. I wasn’t happy with the bottom right-hand corner, so I stuck paper over and redid it, but I’m still not happy with it. However, I love the rest of it, and really enjoyed this exercise. It reminded me of the Zentangles in Chapter 2.

Klimt 11 (2)

Below: Experiments before painting – because I’m not very good at painting, and I was disappointed with my painted zentangle, and disheartened with my Jasper Johns.

Scan xtra 2 (2)

More experiments…

klmt xtra 1 (2)

And, finally, a painting! It’s not perfect (and the bit with the pinky red background halfway down on the right is not right), but I am so pleased with this – absolutely delighted. It’s way better than any of my other painting efforts, and I feel a real sense of achievement and satisfaction. It’s recognisably based on Klimt, and there’s lots of colour and gold although, sadly, the gold looks kind of brown here. I loved doing this, and enjoyed working with the Koh-i-noor water-based dyes and the gold paint (gold water colour, with a bronze felt tip for the darker details).  The experiments with paints etc were a bit time consuming, but well worth the effort.

Klimt 12 (2)

2.9.2: Below is my illuminated letter ‘C’ decorated in the style of Klimt. I was going to try painting my pencil drawing, but I did it on the back of the other painting, and some of that design shows though in places, and I got worried that if I paint this it may spoil the other painting. so I’m going over the lines with a 0.05 black marker, then I’m going to photocopy it onto a page torn from the sketchbook (because it’s better quality than printer paper, then I’ll try painting it.

Klimt 13 (2)

Below: The painting. Again, I used Koh-i-noor water-based dyes, metallic felt-tips and gold water colour, but I’m not sure that my colours or patterns worked quite as well as the first Klimt-style painting. Somehow the design seemed to lose its flow and freshness when it was photocopied, and I ended up with lots of lines – there was the original pencil drawing, overlaid with black marker and then a photocopy. Another time, I’d do another drawing. But despite my criticism I’m pleased with the result.

painted c (2)

2.9. Extra Activity: Use a design from 2.4 which shows symmetry or a repeat pattern and give it the Klimt treatment, using cut out motifs, metallic paints and foils. I opted use a symmetrical pattern from Module 2, Chapter 4, where a letter S formed a knot pattern. The original (pictured below) didn’t go quite as planned, so I re-drew it.

Activity 6

I painted it with watercolours, then used paper and foils to decorate it. Here it is partly completed:

Klimt Symmetry (2)

And here it is more or less finished. I enjoyed myself immensely, but I think I rather lost sight of what I was doing – it’s more kaleidoscope than Klimt! The aim was to have a design that was symmetrical in all directions: top to bottom, left to right, and diagonally. But I didn’t line up my letters properly, and the paper is slightly higher than wide, which affected the design a little. I enjoyed working on this, but I couldn’t make my mind up what should go where – I ended up with dozens of little cut-out shapes, which I kept moving around, changing, abandoning, replacing. The black dots and wiggly lines are actually gold foil, though you wouldn’t know it from this picture. The blue is metallic, with a foiling design, and there is a lot of gold, on the cut out papers, but it is not showing up well.My printer/scanner is rubbish. I feel as if I could have been a bit more creative here – this hasn’t turned as planned, so I hope it is OK.

Klimt symmetry 3 (2)

Personal Evaluation

I stuck to the activities and didn’t let myself get sidetracked on this chapter, so I think I was fairly focused, and reasonably well organised. I schemed in time to experiment with painting, because it is an area I am not confident about, and I think this paid off when it came to doing the two paintings, because I had a clear idea of what materials I wanted to use, and how they would handle.

The symmetrical design using cut out shapes and foils was an interesting experience, but a bit more haphazard, I think I could have been more adventurous on that and made better use of the materials I had.

Overall I enjoyed working on this chapter, and was pleased with the results, and feel as if I’ve made some kind of progress with painting!

Health and Safety

  • Water: Water for pints and dyes in old jam jar is fairly stable, but is kept away from electrical plugs, sockets, wires. equipment in case of spillage, and emptied when work complete.
  • Scissors: For cut-out shapes, put away after use.

Bibliography

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Module 2, Chapter 8: Using Your Camera

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Activity 2.8.1: Make an alphabet in photographs. Use your camera to take photographs in your local environment to represent each letter of the alphabet.

Introduction

I wanted my alphabet to be of things in the environment that look like letters, rather than examples of actual letters, or letters I created using sticks, stones, writing in sand etc – but it was fun to explore those areas as well, and I have a few snapshots ready for another collection. I used man-made and natural shapes, because I thought it might be difficult to stick to one or the other, but I’d quite like to separate them out and fill the gaps in each category.

Mostly I’ve cropped the pictures, to make the letters more obvious, but others were more apparent uncropped. You may need a bit of imagination with some of them, and you’ll have to ignore a lot of the backgrounds. I’ve used edges, and solid shapes, and empty spaces within things, and a couple were flipped or rotated because I could see the shape I wanted, even though it was upside down or back to front, so I’ve included a key.

 

KEY

A Shadow made by trees on the ground. Not sure how clear this will be.

B Patched surface on footpath.

C White fungus around base of tree.

D Window (rotated).

E Cracks in a wall.

F Telegraph pole.

G Part of floor tile pattern at Worcester Cathedral.

H Strata in rock on a Devon beach.

I Smeaton’s Tower on Plymouth Hoe.

J Part of an exercise machine in Castle Grounds, Tamworth.

K Pine needles on pavement.

L Edge of a bench.

M Arches at the Old Grammar School, Plympton

N Bicycle rack.

O Flower centre.

P Street light (in Great Yarmouth, I think)

Q Another bicycle rack (sorry).

R Willow leaves on the pavement making a perfect letter R.

S The ‘Barbican Prawn’ sculpture at Sutton Harbour, Plymouth, which isn’t a prawn at all (it has a cormorant’s feet, a plesiosaurus’ tail, the fin of a John Dory, a lobster’s claws and the head of an angler fish), but it makes a jolly nice letter S.

T I couldn’t resist this shot of a broom resting against woodwork on a boat, in Weymouth. It looks rather surreal I think.

U Carving on a stone (a font or something perhaps) in the garden at Hereford Cathedral.

V Road marking.

W Marks in the sand at Ulverston, Cumbria. They are quite natural – the sand there is too soft and sinky to venture very far, so I shot this from a safe distance and cropped it in and enlarged it.

X Strange marks in the sky – cloud or vapour trails. Not sure how clear this will be.

Y Tree in the Castle Grounds.

Z Tree trunk (again).

Extra Activity 

I’ve added in a few of my other photos, because I like them so much – here are some As, and a lot of Os, and a couple of Cs.

 

Personal Evaluation

I enjoyed this activity tremendously, and I’m fairly pleased with the results although, as always, I’d done some things differently – I could have been more imaginative, and selected different photos for my alphabet, and got better angles for pictures, and improved my cropping. I carried it out over a period of time, while I was working on other chapters, so it kind of did itself really – I usually have a camera in my bag, and I always snap away while I’m out and about, because I like taking photos, and I like to keep a record of where I’ve been, and the changing wildlife in my local area. Some letters, like O and I, were there in abundance, but others were much more tricky. It was like a treasure hunt, and even my husband got caught up in the project – he was quite triumphant when he spotted the more unusual ones, including a Q! Some things could have provided more than one letter, but I’ve tried to get some variety.

I’ve ended up with a lot of spare photos – deciding which ones to use was the trickiest part of this task, and in some cases I have letters I liked better, but I decided to use what seemed to be more unusual things, like the shadow A, or the X in the sky.

This activity really made me take time to look around at the man-made and natural environment and, surprisingly, it made me consider the shape and design of letters far more than any of the chapters in this module. There are fabulous features out there which could be used for some unusual or highly decorative letters, and I would love to try and use some of the letters I found in some other way, or even to create a complete alphabet from one of them.

Health and Safety

  • Don’t trespass on other people’s property.
  • Don’t put yourself at risk trying to get a perfect shot (eg not walking on those shifting, soft, muddy sands at Ulverston).
  • Don’t get the camera wet.
  • Keep camera on a strap, to prevent dropping it.

Module 2, Chapter 7: Jasper Johns

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Introduction

I went back to the smaller, square sketchbook for this chapter, and I’ve scanned the pages in, and I think they are fairly self-explanatory. I spent too long researching Jasper Johns… I got a bit obsessed with his work…

Jasper Johns 1 (2)Jasper Johns 2 (2)Jasper Johns 3 (2)

Here’s a picture of him (I like to know what artists look like):

jasper_johns

Jasper Johns 4 (2)

 

Jasper Johns 5 (2)Jasper Johns 6 (2)Jasper Johns 7x (2)Jasper Johns 8x (2)

I looked at his work really carefully to try and work out how he did it. And, since this involves acrylics, and I always mess up with them, and I’ve never tried using really thick, textured paint, I had a practice:

Jasper Johns 9 (2)

Jasper Johns 10 (2)Jasper Johns 11a (2)

Jasper Johns 12

Jasper Johns 13 (2)

Still looking at his work… Anything to put off the moment when I have to start painting…

Jasper Johns 15 (2)

OK. Here we go. My version of Jasper Johns. I decided to do my initials, and I only did two letters. Pages in my sketchbook are roughly eight inches square, and I’ve covered a page, which is probably all that can be said for this C.

Jasper Johns 16 (2)

It’s fair to say I struggled with this, but the H is a bit better I think:

Jasper Johns 17 (2)

Comments on my efforts:

Jasper Johns 18 (2)

And another little play to see if I could introduce more texture (I couldn’t):

Jasper Johns 19 (2)

But despite my failure (there’s no way I can replicate his style) I remain fascinated by his work, especially the way he reworked his themes using different mediums and techniques.

Jasper Johns 21 (2)Jasper Johns 22 (2)Jasper Johns 23 (2)

Personal Evaluation

I started off not liking Jasper Johns, but the more I found out about him the more interested I got, in his work, and what he said about it. I’m not sure I would want one of his pictures hanging on my wall, but he kind of got inside my head. I especially liked the way he took a subject (like the numbers) and re-worked it, using different mediums and techniques. And I loved his maps, and the flags, and some of later work, with collage and found objects, and the beer can sculpture. However, I think I spent too long on the research (which I enjoyed, but one thing led to another, because I kept looking up references to things and people, like abstract expressionism, Dadaists, Neo-Dadaists, Modernism, Marcel Duchamp etc).

And I had great difficulty trying to paint letters in the same style, which was the main point of this activity. I always struggle with acrylic paints, and I couldn’t get the texture or the balance of colour right. I used the paint straight from the tube, with a stiffidh brush, and an old credit card, and a children’s model-making tool, The paint on and around the letters is just too random, and I don’t think the results are very successful – I would go so far as to say I hate this piece of work, and I wouldn’t want to do it again.

But I would like to know how I could improve it! I suspect a more positive attitude might help when it comes to working with acrylic paints – I cannot get to grips with them at all, and I always make a mess, and somehow I expect to fail, and then I do. I love texture, and I’m much braver with colour than I used to be, but this process was way outside my comfort zone, and seemed alien to anything I enjoy or understand – I much prefer a slightly more structured approach to pattern and colour, and I’d rather work with paper, fabric, threads, printing etc. I guess different techniques suit different people.

What I’d really like to do is to try out some of those other techniques – layering letters on top of each other perhaps, or some monoprints.

Health & Safety

  • Electrical Equipment: I used the hair dryer to try and dry the paint more quickly, because it took ages. I switched it off, unplugged it, and kept it safely out of the way while it wasn’t in use, so I couldn’t trip over the wire, knock the hair dryer off the work surface, or spill water over it.

Bibliography

Module 2, Chapter 6: Printing

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I’ve used the big A3 sketchbook and loose sheets of paper for this. I like printing, but I’m beginning to feel as if I will never finish this module, so I’ve kept things simple. The pages shouldn’t need much explanation, because I’ve tried to keep notes in the sketchbook as I went along.

Again, I’ve had problems scanning work in, because my printer/scanner is only A4, so I’m posting half-pages here and hope that is OK. Some pages are quite self explanatory, others have notes with them.

Printing 1Printing 2

Jasper Johns 3Printing 3

Below is the scan of this page (in two halves) but it hasn’t come out any better than the little photo I stuck on the page.

Printing 14Printing 15

I worked directly into the sketchbook to try and create some patterns with printed letters, but wasn’t very happy with the results.

Printing 5Printing 6

More printed letters…

Printing 7Printing 8

And a few more… Before I gave up…

Printing 9Printing 10

Below: Letters printed on to a stitched paper weaving from Chapter 5. I could have over-printed the letters in a different colour, but I kept it simple. The surface was painted white acrylic.

Printing 11 (2)

Below, letters printed on to a paper and paper string weaving done a little plastic frame for Chapter 5. I painted the surface with white acrylic, which was soaked up fairly quickly. A second coat, or gesso, might have given better cover, but I quite like being able to see the surface.  The ‘a’ was stuck on to its mount the wrong way round; ‘b’ and ‘d’ get very confusing when you are viewing them back to front, and the ‘C’ was stuck on correctly but I held it upside down.  Writing the letters on the other side of the foam board would help prevent mistakes. Despite the errors, I was quite pleased with this, as I had no idea whether I could paint and print onto to an even woven surface, and I think the result is quite effective.

Printing 12 (2)

Below: Used train tickets zig-zagged together with free machine stitch, painted roughly with white acrylic, printed with black acrylic and overprinted with red, using children’s sponge alphabet shapes. I might print over them again with white, but I quite like this. It’s my attempt at urban grunge!

Printing 13

Below: Another page of scraps stitched together on newspaper, painted with acrylic and printed. The letters are a bit small for the space, but I quite like them, and I like the way you can see the printed lettering on the paper.

Below: Stars cut and stitched from old star map pages. then printed and overprinted. I didn’t paint the surface, and I think it was one of those ideas which didn’t quite work out. Painting first might have helped, or using brighter, more contrasting colours for the lettering. It is supposed to say ‘S is for Starlight’ but it’s not that obvious.

Below: Paint and print over my snowflakes from Chapter 5.

Printing 22Printing 21

Below: This was my effort at weaving paper with wavy strips, but just about everything went wrong with it. I tried using embossing powders and a heat tool to make raised edges, to accentuate the waviness, but it wasn’t very successful, so I used a black felt tip on some bits, and left others. And I couldn’t get it to hold together or lie flat – I tried machine stitching, and glue, and nothing worked. In the end I cut through the bumpiest bits at right angles to the strips, so I could glue them flat, and it still didn’t look right. I was going to bin it it, but I thought it looks such a mess adding printed letters can’t make it any worse, so I used the ‘As’ I already had, and made some more (funky foam and foam board) and printed them all over with black acrylic paint. And it still looked awful! So I sloshed coloured inks over the surface, and it suddenly sprang in to life!

Printing 18aPrinting 19

Health and Safety

Cutting: I used scissors to cut letter shapes out of Funky Foam, and a craft knife for the foam board backing. To prevent damage or injury I cut against a thick plastic ruler (metal would be better), and away from myself, on a self-healing cutting mat. And I put the cover over the craft knife while it wasn’t in use.

Personal Evaluation

I enjoyed making the print blocks (though I did stick one or two letters the wrong way), and usually I like pattern making, but for some reason my efforts at pattern making on plain sketchbook pages were totally rubbish, and I’m not sure why. Just a bad day perhaps. I think I left too much space around the letters on the blocks – I should have trimmed the foam board closer to the the letter. And perhaps using the corners to make pencil marks as guide lines on the page might have helped with the placement of letters.

What I really loved about this chapter was printing on decorated papers, especially the recycled stitched papers from Chapter 5. I was wary about it, as I thought I might ruin my work, but I had planned on doing this activity, and have photos of what I did originally. I gave up trying to print patterns, and stuck to printing letters or words. I think I’ve  transformed my recycled papers and made them much more interesting, and I’m really pleased with the results. Hopefully, I can carry on with my plan and use some of these to make stitched books for Chapter 10