Last Thursday and Friday (June 28th & 29th) was way too hot to be inside but that’s what 11 students and 1 tutor did! Julia travelled from Durham to teach one of her design skills workshops to 11 experienced students.
Now it might seem odd that students who have a wealth of experience in all areas of textile art decide to do what you would think of as a basic skill in any form of art but re-visiting the basics is always a good way to keep improving your work – I always think that none of us know everything plus, colour is so important!
The workshop was at The Ridgewood Community Centre – a venue that I have discussed in a previous post as being an important part of Yate, Chipping Sodbury and the surrounding area right from its workhouse days through to being a war hospital, a care home and now a community centre in use every day, all day and by all ages. This time we were in the art rooms – a suite of interconnecting rooms (The Ridgewood is a real rabbit warren!) with the main work space in one room then a kitchenette, toilet and sink are off the second room which holds extra seating/storage. The advantage of using the art rooms is that we can make a mess and not have to worry about the carpet! The disadvantage is that it is up a flight of stairs and in an ideal world would have better sink facilities. It might not be a fully equipped professional workshop (& I’d love the space and money to afford one of those!) but it is the next best thing!
We started off with a discussion about colour – what is it?; how is colour used?; what words are associated with colour?; what does colour convey? etc.. and Julia finished the discussion with an interesting thought:
“Colour can be a lifetime study and the more you learn, the more you realise you don’t know”
We then moved onto a series of exercises, firstly looking at all the words used to describe shades of green
and each painted six 4” squares of 6 specified shades of green from memory. Once dry, Julia took all the squares and laid them out first without labels and then with. It was fascinating to see the similarities yet also the many different shades we created and all from memory!
Moving on to the colour wheel, we learned how to make the best primary colours from the paints we had. A technique most of us had never been taught and one I can see myself using as I tend only to buy the basic colours and mix the colours I want from these. Following on, we mixed secondary colours and different shades of complimentary colours.
We ended day 1 by making two collages – one of warm/hot colours and one of cool/cold colours using magazines as source material. Those who had time, matched the colours in the collage with paint chart samples and thread.
On day two we started looking at how we could use the techniques learned in our own work. Sticking with sketchbook exercises, we had each found a picture to use as a source of inspiration and started examining the picture for the colours we could see and the proportions of each colour. We created a quick colour chart of the colours in the proportions that we had determined using threads. I found it quite difficult to match the colours accurately with the threads I had, so chose to try matching with paint charts, which was surprisingly accurate!
Using colours found in magazines and matching the source colours as closely as we could, we made collages and since my source was a graffiti image, I chose to make my collage more like a landscape. Everyone’s source image was different so each collage was different!
It was now time to take the exercises into fabric (and stitch if you got that far!) and create a fabric collage – again matching colours and proportions.
For those who finished the collages, there was a final exercise. Using an isolated section of either the warm or cool collage, we traced the shape within the section to create 6 copies and then using 3 colours (light, medium & dark) to create new designs.
It was a packed two days and some fantastic sketchbooks were developing! We all came away having not only learned something new but feeling refreshed over the basics we had all learned previously.