I’m most probably not the first to discover this, but it is entirely new to me!
Early this morning, I added some alcohol markers to a pen drawing I’d finished. I’d drawn over a Distress Ink background with some old book pages collaged and gessoed onto it.
I know gesso coats a surface with a waterproof and slightly textured finish. I do know this. But that didn’t occur to me as I added alcohol markers to the drawing.
I was absolutely delighted with the interesting variations in the intensity of colour that resulted. Also, the application of alcohol marker also brought out the texture where the gesso was patchy, even a little bit. The paper soaked up so much more colour than the gesso – duh go me for not realising that first, but that’s not the important thing – it’s the effects that result!
It’s not all that easy to see on the image to the left. But, behind the triangular pattern, I used just one soft blue marker, but you can see the variation in intensity! Usually, it would be a very flat kind of colour. The darker areas are where there is no gesso.
This is something I really want to use as I go forward. I love the crazy, random variations in colour and texture that happen. It seems to me a way to bring a little unpredictability to the rather predictable results you get with marker pens.
This was a lovely way to start my day. At the bottom is a tangle pattern that is new to me – Zhuer by Yuru Chen.
I also wanted to add a motif across a couple of boxes in the sample. This one ended up like a stylised ear of wheat. As I look at it now, I wish I’d had it going behind the boxes and maybe the top bending towards the left and reaching outside of the upper box. That’s something to think about for the next motif I add.
Still, it was a nice half hour or so before my attention turned to inking in colouring templates.
I’ve seen a bit about slow stitching recently. It kept on catching my attention, so time to take a look at it a bit more.
Permission is given!
I lost my way with textile art many years ago – my attention went to other things. I still have a sizeable stash of threads and beads and sequins and so on. I got a couple of Slow Stitching books on my Kindle, had a quick read/flick through and had a realisation. Slow stitching gives me permission to create with stitches with a similar mindset to my more abstract art – to lose myself in the flow of creating, of just letting things happen and going with it and enjoying the process!
Being given permission – that is such a powerful thing! So often many ‘rules’ seem to be set about how you ‘should’ use a particular medium, or how you ‘should’ draw or create. It’s so refreshing when someone gives you permission to just do want you want, whatever brings you relaxation and pleasure (talking about stitching here!).
The stitching doesn’t have to be perfect. It doesn’t have to look like anything. It’s just creating pattern and texture with colour and so on in a way that is pleasurable to you, to me.
It’s taken me a long time to give myself permission to draw the whimsical art I draw, or the more abstract stuff I do. But sometimes it really does take someone else to give that permission, either overtly or tacitly.
So, last night I dug out some felt and embroidery threads and needles and just started to stitch – cross stitch, seed stitch, running stitch and French knots. I’ve never been able to do French knots before!
Fond stitchy memories
As I stitched I had fond memories of Friday afternoons in primary school, I must’ve been 9 or 10, and being able to take out a sturdy cardboard box that stored my sewing project. Everyone in the class had one of these – boys and girls. A rectangle of navy blue Aida fabric, with the holes forming fairly large grids. A blunt needle was carefully stored in the fabric, and there was a selection of embroidery silks on the teacher’s desk to choose from.
Each week, we added another border or row to this fabric, learning different kinds of decorative stitches as we went. The Aida fabric made it easy to do, the only tricky things were not pulling the thread too tight and getting twisted, tangled and knotted thread!
Eventually, a panel was completed and the entire project was turned into a kind of pouch for pens and pencils. I had to add a linking – bright red – and stitch everything together by hand.
I remember being really proud of what I’d made and I treasured that pouch for years, even when black ink stained it, in one corner. I don’t know what happened to it. It just seemed to disappear at some point never to be found again by me. I remember being a bit upset at it going missing.
When I was in University, studying Chemistry and Environmental Pollution Science, I often used to get acid splashes on my jeans. So, rather than throwing them out, it seemed sensible that I use simple stitches to turn the holes into flowers and extend that pattern beyond the holes.
Over the years I’ve dabbled with cross-stitch and stitched tapestry and patchwork, but nothing really grabbed my attention until I did a lot of textile work during my A-Level art in my early 40s. Yet, that went by the by as other art took over, particularly when I started to work for publishers. I even won an art competition with one textile piece.
Returning from a little trip down memory lane, I wanted to take a look at this slow stitching. It feels right that I revisit stitching with the aim of incorporating it into my drawing and hand-lettering work. It may take me a while to work out how I’m going to do that, but unless I make a start it may never happen.
Felt is OK to work on, and I may return to needle-felting beautiful fibres onto black felt and then using slow stitching and beads to embellish the work. First, I have to get some black felt! I have loads of the rest of the stuff in my stash!
I also want to explore stitching on paper, using the stitches as a way to collage papers and so on. Like in the photo above.
Working on paper also gives me the opportunity to draw and/or paint patterns or textures alongside the stitches; giving me the opportunity to find different ways to combine my favourite things!
It may not be everyone’s cuppa, but my first attempt is making me smile and there’s a small sense of achievement.
I have no idea where this will take me, nor how persistent I’ll be with the stitching thing. It is, however, one more technique to add to my toolbox of arty techniques to choose from. And another one that is both relaxing and pleasurable, especially now it’s ok for me to do what I want when it comes to stitching!
Oh this was a lovely pattern to explore for a page in my sketchbook. It’s quite simple to draw, but it has so many possibilities that I’ve barely touched upon in this video.
The page I’m drawing on I coloured with various Distress Inks – Mustard Seed, Wild Honey, and a touch of ripe persimmon around the edges. I also used some Abandoned Coral to add subtle patterns through a stencil.
It’s always a pleasure to draw on paper that is coloured. The colour always brings some interest to whatever is being drawn, or so I think. Not that I’m averse to drawing on white paper, but colour adds something I can’t quite put into words.
As well as using black 05, 03 and 01 Sakura Micron and Uniball Unipin pens, I added some vintage red from an 0.5 Zebra Sarasa gel pen.
For shadows, I used a purple-grey Stabilo Carbothello chalk pastel. White highlights were created using a white charcoal pencil from General’s.
Exploring a totally new tangle pattern may not have been the best choice for me as I wait for the last pain of a migraine to go so I can sleep the rest of it off! Plenty of mistakes and not good choices here, but plenty of opportunities to learn from.
In today’s video on YouTube, I first make some Distress Ink backgrounds, then I explore this lovely tangle pattern, mangling it completely at times! This isn’t a problem as it’s all sketchbook work!
I really do enjoy exploring tangle patterns, as well as all my favourite motifs. They are such a good way to get creative juices flowing, but also of practicing your drawing skills, as well as other techniques, such as adding shadows or colour, or further patterns.
Watching some arty videos yesterday, I stumbled upon one that involved creating “Polaroid Pops”, part of a challenge hosted by AALL and Create back in January 2022. In this challenge, you had to create mixed media polaroid ‘photos’ using stamps by a specific artist in the AALL and Create range.
I really liked the format of the images created and thought it could be fun to try this for myself!
Polaroid photos have the following dimensions: The image is 3.1″ x 3.1″ (approx. 8cm x 8cm) The whole photo is 3.5″ x 4.2″ (approx 9cm x 11cm).
So, yesterday I cut up some of my Neocolour II backgrounds to 8cm x 8cm and got to drawing on them!
I really like the square format. At 3.1″ x 3.1″ (8cm x 8cm), they’re only a wee bit smaller than a standard Zentangle tile. And they do look fab when mounted on the white card to create the polaroid.
After drawing a kind of botanical scene in silhouette (not quite my thing, but you have to try, you know.), I tried popping a hand-lettered monogram into the square and using Zentangle patterns to fill in the negative space.
That was much more ‘me’. And in today’s video, I continue with the letter B, though it looks like an R because I deliberately drew it as bigger than the ‘photo’. Duh, didn’t check for it looking weird before inking it in. Luckily, there’s space on the white background to write in what it is!
While the video was uploading and processing, I drew the ‘H’.
I think I may make an alphabet collection for future reference and inspiration! So, if you fancy having a go take a look at today’s video on YouTube.
After getting my daily quota of sketches done for the next Creative Haven book, I turned my attention to some sketchbook work. This time I chose to do a tangle pattern exploration of Kangular by Tomàs Padrós CZT.
I love all of Tomàs’ patterns, and Kangular is no exception! It’s a charming, geometrical pattern with lots of possibilities for variations. And there’s only a small number here.
Adding shading really brings volume to the individual fragments and overall pattern, as does the use of fairly high contrast.
It’s a funny old day today. I think I’ve overextended myself in exploring/experimenting with art. I just felt I needed a bit of ‘comfort art’ today. It’s like comfort eating, but healthier! Something familiar, not too taxing, soothing to the senses and mind. So, some pattern exploration fitted the bill!
The pattern I chose to look at is Nova by Beth Gaughan. It’s a lovely pattern but not one that I would ordinarily choose. Just challenging enough to make things interesting, but not so challenging that I get more and more disheartened with artwork.
It turns out that Nova was a good choice. There are some interesting variations to be explored for sure.
I hope you’ll come and join me in drawing these variations over on YouTube. This kind of exercise is good for getting the creative juices working, coming up with ideas in my sketchbook, and continuing to work with and understand how to vary tangle patterns. In turn, these things have an effect on my other art.
I have a big fondness for Tomas Padros’ tangle patterns, particularly Taiga. Blooming Kangular is new to me, and it’s lovely as is. But, it’s fun to do some pattern exploring to understand the tangle, and it’s possibilities, more.
Some of these patterns remind me of snowflakes. Another of star anise. And of course there are plenty of flowers too!
I had a lovely time drawing these, and I hope you will go take a look at the video and have a go a drawing along with me too!