I’ve been reading The Art of Abstract Painting, by Rolina van Vliet. It’s an interesting book, and guides you through a few different ways of taking an image as a starting point and working it in the abstract. It seems like an interesting technique to use for designing tapestries. (Just in time for the class!)

I started with this watercolor:



Quick sketch of basic shapes


Watercolor & ink, primary colors


Ink sketch, less details


Mostly monochromatic watercolor


Moving the shapes around

None of the quick studies I did are anything I particularly like, which is fine, as that isn’t the point. Rather, it’s the difference between the last image, and the original watercolor, the way there seems to be almost no connection between them, that really interests me:


Pastels, softening the shapes


Coffee or Tea?

I belong to a lovely FB page, Sketchbooks and Experiments for Textiles, full of talented artists, where there is a July challenge to post something daily. I won’t bore you (there is a you reading this somewhere, right?) with all of them (I certainly haven’t managed daily contributions!), but here are some experiments I did on making the background with tea leaves or ground coffee:

top:silver tip white lower L: blueberry black lower R: Moroccan green

top: silver tip white
lower L: blueberry black
lower R: Moroccan green

I wetted the paper, sprinkled the tea leaves, then sprayed them with water. After it dried, it looked like this:


A whole page, ready to use:

Blueberry Black Tea-stained background

Blueberry Black Tea-stained background

Finished piece:

Stamped with weeds, dipped in watercolor

Stamped with weeds, dipped in watercolor

Same technique for the background, only using ground coffee instead, then sprayed watercolors around a stencil:

Coffee-stained paper, watercolor

Coffee-stained paper, watercolor

Next, using a piece of cotton fabric:



Fabric wrapped, soaking in wine

Fabric wrapped, soaking in wine


It just looks sort of old and dirty, though more interesting in real life than in the photo. Perhaps another dyeing session, Shibori-style?


Sketchbook Work

This is my starting image, from our recent trip to Ireland:


Collage, image cut into strips

Collage, found papers

Collage, found papers


Collage, image cut into random shapes

Watercolor, painted and rolled on

Watercolor, painted and rolled on

I like the last one best, but the others give me more ideas to work from in the samples I’m working on for the Fabric Manipulation section of the course. Especially when they’re all viewed at once:

IMG_2916 Describing the relationship between the arches and the view, framing was the obvious choice, but also limiting, revealing/concealing, focusing, obstructing. One of the themes I’ve chosen for my samples is Stacked & Layered, and my material is tulle. How, or even if these images will inform those samples, I’m not yet sure!

Exercise 2.5 prep

The last collage assignment is Stripes and Spots, so I’ve been looking at images for inspiration:

IMG_2244 IMG_2245

The assignment says to “select some of your strongest collage drawings to develop your design ideas.”

These are the collages that I feel are strongest:

Part Two, Exercise 2.3

Part Two, Exercise 2.3


I also think this work I did for the Sketchbook Development Course could come into play:


You can see how these sketches developed from the photo of umbrellas in the crosswalk at the top of this post!

Now to get some input from my tutor before moving forward…

Collograph, Part One

Here’s what I’ve been working on for Rosemary’s course, all leading towards a collography project:


Using different tools, stencils

IMG_2186 IMG_2185

IMG_2184 IMG_2183

Rosemary recommended that I make photocopies of my work so far, cut them up and rearrange them:

IMG_0075 IMG_0076

I chose to copy them in B&W to get a better sense of the values.

(It had nothing to do with low ink levels. Nope, not at all.)

Not much to look at, but it did make me feel that at least one element of the picture should be less random.  That shaped my next sketches, along with these images:


I liked many of the sketches on this next page, and could see coming back to them for a different project, especially the one on the right side of the page:


However, I missed the more organic, natural feel that was in the original photo that started all this.


I think the bottom sketches are what I’m after, though maybe somewhere between the two. I intend to choose materials for the collograph base block that will give the result a less structured feel. So, mix of neutrals vs. one bold color? Wavy lines across the whole image or shorter ones? Lines angled, horizontal or vertical?  Decisions, decisions…

Watercolor TV

I don’t remember who on the OCA FB page introduced me to this, but Matthew Palmer’s Watercolor TV series is great fun. He has a nice teaching style, very relaxed.


B.C., Lesson 1

Whenever there’s a point where we have to wait for something to dry, he suggests it’s a nice time to get a brew, my kind of guy! I see the potential for an art class drinking game. One shot each time he calls a color juicy, chug a beer when it’s brew time…


B.C., Lesson 2

Seriously, the videos are well done, and as a complete beginner, I’m learning some much-needed basic techniques.


A.B.C., Lesson 1