A2; Response to Tutor Feedback

My recent Tutor Feedback can be viewed here.

Overall

Cari has identified lots of positives from my response to Part 2, I was particularly pleased that she felt the work was ‘investigative and questioning’ and could see that I generated ‘some more really interesting ideas’.

Sketchbook

She has acknowledged my efforts to include more drawing and reduce the number of diary-like entries in my sketchbook. This now forces my attention to my blog, which:

‘At times, the learning log can be diary-like, focussing more on what you did rather than why or whether it was successful’

Blog

I really struggle with the blog, I find it the hardest part of the course. I need to change the way that I use it and find a way to make it work for me. At the moment, I still view it as a loathsome necessity, merely a hoop to jump through. I often leave the entries until the practical work is completed, this contributes to the ‘diary-like’ feel because I am recounting what I did, instead of puzzling what I should do next.

Having concentrated on improving my sketchbook in Part 2, I intend to now turn my attention to my blog. I want to fully incorporate it in my practise so that it becomes a useful tool, that works for me.

Samples

It seems some of my samples were well met, particularly the more experimental, less well refined ones. I predicted that ‘Washing Machine Spoon’ would be deemed successful, having taken less that five minutes to create. My ‘patchwork and quilting’ samples that took far longer were not so well received ‘a little too easy, perhaps too practised or comfortable’.

I am coming to terms with this. It is difficult, it feels like it is challenging me at my core. I need to lose my ‘neat’.  ‘Push yourself to keep exploring imperfection and irregularity’ –suggests I am beginning to do this. I want to do it but I feel a resistance- like I am going to lose who I am, in a bid to be what tutors/assessors want.

One of Cari’s pointers for the next assignment is: ‘Emphasise experimentation over refinement’. I may have to make this my mantra!

Context

I completely agree with Cari about the relevance (or rather irrelevance) of the Contemporary practitioners I used in my study. Looking back, my response to Ptolemy Mann was hugely inappropriate to the brief. My focus shifted from Joining to Colour and Pattern. I think there is probably quite a fine line between a lateral personal response and going off at a tangent!

The comment…

‘Critically consider how your research informs the work in a relevant way. Focus on artists who use appropriate materials and processes to help inform your investigation’.

…really hit home. I began working on Part 3, pending this feedback and I can now see I have made exactly the same mistake again!

I set off with really good intentions of allowing the materials to guide me. Yet in my sketchbook I can already see my attention wandering: focussing on Rachel Dein’s use of composition rather than the material qualities of plaster and clay.

Just before I received  the feedback I caught myself planning an intricate Paolozzi style cast of objects. I’m really glad the hot weather intervened and broke the clay tile because I was about to pursue a considered outcome with a material I knew very little about (latex).

‘Avoid considering outcomes/products, focus on generating a wide range of samples which exploit the creative potential of both process and materials’.

I need to go back and look at the Envisions Group again. I found their approach of exhibiting ‘everything but the end product’ helped me to understand this way of working.

Right now, I am at a bit of a loss as to how to proceed. I almost want to destroy what I have done so far and start again (not the OCA way). At least my mistakes should serve to demonstrate that I am willing to take on board tutor advice and to learn from it.

A2; Tutor Feedback

Once again, I feel that my tutor has ‘hit the nail on the head’ with my feedback. I wasn’t surprised by what I read, I sort of had a sense of what was working and what wasn’t, I just couldn’t quite put my finger on it. Cari has been able to identify exactly what the issue is and steer me back on the right track.

Tutor name: Cari Morton 
Date:  30th May 2017

Overall Comments:

Another well-developed submission, Nicki. Overall, the work felt investigative and questioning. Some more really interesting ideas have emerged through this projects. The ‘wrap/unwrap’ idea, in particular, could be really interesting to explore in part 5.

Assignment Feedback:  Context, reflective thinking, critical thinking, analysis, Demonstration of technical and Visual Skills, Demonstration of Creativity: 

You’ve developed a good body of samples in response to the exercises. It’s great to see you react to your ATV feedback by exploring scale to a greater degree. The washing machine pipe completely envelops the spoon, changing its role within the structure and creating a form completely different to your other samples. It was good to see you trying to work more quickly to develop less refined, more experimental samples like this. Keep working in this way in future projects, putting the emphasis on playful investigation over refinement. Well done, too, for leaving unresolved ideas within the blog and sketchbook, ignoring the urge to resolve everything prior to presenting it to tutors/assessors.

You question in your reflective writing whether your samples are ‘mixed media’ enough. You’ve used a range of unusual materials (e.g. washing machine tube, strimmer cord, etc) but there are times when more traditional approaches have resulted in less experimental samples. Your use of patchwork and quilting felt a little too easy,
perhaps too practised or comfortable, at times. You return to it a lot, perhaps at the expense of more experimental methods.

You’ve made good use of found materials to create interesting forms and patterns. Rather than “is this mixed media enough?”, perhaps the question could be “have I transformed the materials?”. The hooks and keyrings were unified by a lively repeat pattern; the slices of plastic tube knotted together with loose red and green threads, again became part of a new cohesive structure.  These samples transformed the materials into something new and novel. Your use of hot glue, which can be very hard to use in a sophisticated manner, was also interesting. The foiling completely changed its visual impact: it highlighted the irregular form of the glue in a way that made it a relevant part of the design (rather than a bodged joining method, as it so often looks).

Whilst the contextual research clearly informed your work, sometimes it seemed to draw you away from the key focus of the exercises. I loved your passionate response to Ptolemy Mann, resulting in the development of the striped organza piece but this focussed more on the coloured pattern than the nature of the join, which took time away from experimenting with other methods. You discuss in your log a desire to “stop diversifying and ‘go deep’“. Remember to balance this desire against the focus of the L1 courses on exploring new materials and processes, and challenging yourself in new ways. You highlight this urge to resolve and refine yourself, and it was great that you found Rebecca Fairley’s ‘A Question of Development’ post helpful in exploring when to stop and move onto the next idea.

Sketchbooks:  Demonstration of technical and Visual Skills, Demonstration of Creativity: 

You’ve developed a good body of drawing and used it well to both plan for and document your samples.

Far fewer ‘diary-like’ entries than before. Keep working on this to minimise the number of paragraphs, so you rely more on succinct notes and visuals to communicate and evaluate your ideas.

It’s great that you regularly evaluate your approach to your sketchbook in your reflective writing. It was good to read you considering the role of space in the sketchbook and how it allows more ‘silence’ within which the drawings can be heard. Not all drawings need this kind of space, for example quick developmental drawings make sense as part of a cluster, jostling for space with notes, as your ideas unfurl. More refined drawings do perhaps need more room to breathe. Consider the role of the drawing and whether it needs space to communicate clearly.

Learning Logs or Blogs:  Context, reflective thinking, critical thinking, analysis: 

At times the learning log is can be diary-like, focussing more on what you did rather than why or whether it was successful. Try to emphasise the evaluative over the discursive. Also consider the quantity that assessors will have to read through at assessment.

You’ve posited on the blog that your learning log might need revising. Consider the question I asked in part 1 feedback: what is the role of the learning log in vs. the sketchbook? Now you’ve refined the sketchbook, how does this change the role of the learning log?

In terms of context, you’ve looked at quite a lot of practitioners, Scott and Gomes particularly relevant to the focus of this part of the MMT course. Some others may have prompted you to stray away from that focus, e.g. Delauney and Mann took you towards pattern, shape and colour. They seemed to inspire ideas somewhat tangential to the exercises. You realised this issue with your Mann-inspired organza quilting, so you incorporated the sponge underneath. Mann’s use of colour within structures could have been used to inform more targeted use of colour within your wrapped samples, for example, rather than a flat pattern. Critically consider how your research informs the work in a relevant way. Focus on artists who use appropriate materials and processes to help inform your investigation. Discuss their work more formally on the log, considering how they use materials and techniques, as well as the ideas that underpin the work. These entries can be more academic in tone and will prepare you for the essay in the next level 1 course.

Suggested reading/viewing:  Context: 

I recommend Bruce Mau’s Incomplete Manifesto for Growth as a way of encouraging you to think laterally, to approach an idea from an alternative direction.
 
Pointers for the next assignment:

  • Reflect on this feedback in your learning log.
  • Explore the broadest potential of the materials and processes you’re exploring – be experimental with structure, scale, shape and volume, as well as pattern, texture, colour and decorative elements.
  • Push yourself to keep exploring imperfection and irregularity.
  • Avoid considering outcomes/products, focus on generating a wide range of samples which exploit the creative potential of both process and materials.
  • Emphasise experimentation over refinement.

 

I will reflect on this feedback in my next post here.

A2; Self Assessment

DEMONSTRATION OF TECHNICAL AND VISUAL SKILLS:

I feel my samples are of my usual standard. I tend to work meticulously and as a result many of my samples appear quite resolved. For this Part of the course, I have tried to push myself to work in other ways, for example, working very quickly:

In these instances I tried to use the quality of my drawing to balance the ease with which the pieces were made.

I suspect I have always equated ‘skill’ as the length of time it takes to make something.  I would probably have judged the composition of the piece below to be more successful than those above because of the stages of planning I went through to get there. I am beginning to question the validity of this.

QUALITY OF OUTCOME:

I really hope my sketchbooks and the inclusion of more drawing, demonstrate my capabilities better this time. I was disappointed with the work I submitted last time in the A4 binder. I have taken on board the advice I was given about separating out work for sketchbook from discussion on the blog. I have really tried to avoid diary like description.

Working conceptually was quite new to me. I have previous been much more concerned about visual appearance than the ideas behind my work. I will actually be interested to see if I communicated my thoughts well, particularly those about the memory of a wrap.

DEMONSTRATION OF CREATIVITY:

I took some risks with ideas, particularly as I became more aware of my own thoughts and interests. I think my drawings show experimentation and invention. I feel much stronger sense of ownership over this submission than the last. I feel I had several successful outcomes in my sampling but am forced to question whether this is because I played safe with my choice of materials. I found this difficult, at one point I even considered whether Mixed Media is really the right choice for me. I should have pushed my creativity further by being more bolder and experimental.

CONTEXT:

This was the area that really let me down for ATV. I think in my previous work research has been too broad and focussed on the past. I have tried this time to mainly to think about contemporary artists. I looked for themes that reoccur in different artists work. Most importantly I think I began to ask myself questions, instead of taking things at face value.

Cari, having read my ATV report and become more familiar with my work, I wonder if you have any pointers to please help me develop this area?

A2; Written Reflection

Although my posts for Part 2 have often expressed difficulty and frustration, I have really enjoyed it. It felt like a long and sprawling investigation of yarn and material that reminded me in some respects of Part 4 of ATV, which I found both the most challenging and rewarding.

Some of the samples I have made felt new and exciting while others more familiar and comforting. I really enjoyed working on the concept of memory during Ex 2.2 and hope this is something I can continue to think about in the future. I have loved the amount of sewing I have been able to incorporate into both Joining and Wrapping, but also the amount of drawing I have done.

Responding to my last feedback by greatly increasing the time I have spent drawing has made a large impact on the body of work I have produced. After Part One I felt rather lost, like the work didn’t belong to me, but this time I feel a greater sense of ownership.

Receiving my feedback for ATV part way through Part 2 influenced me greatly. I was advised to focus more on contemporary textile artists and to consider the context of my work.

This led to a great deal of soul searching on my part about who I am and what I want to do. These are both questions I have avoided in the past. As I described in a previous post, I have been using Jane Dunnewold’s book: Creative Strength Training to think about what drives me. I feel the work I have submitted, touches the surface of the thinking and learning I have done. Part 2 has felt rather transitionary, like things are shifting. I have a sense that my responses are a bit more grown up this time?

I also addressed my feedback by subscribing to Selvedge and Craft Council Magazines, I realised exactly what I had been missing as soon as I received the first issues. I don’t usually ‘do’ social media, beyond Pinterest, but I made myself an account, just to follow contemporary artists, galleries and stockists. This removes the distraction of becoming involved in the pets/children/dinners of everyone I’ve ever met! The Entangled Exhibition also had a huge impact on me, opening my eyes to working with conceptual ideas as well as focussing on making.

I have in the back of my mind been dreading Part 3, thinking that as someone who likes to work flat, that I am going to struggle. Reviewing my work for Part 2, I realised that actually, I have managed to produce some spatial samples. I have worked effectively with paper mache in the past and recall casting concreate for my A Levels years ago. I actually feel really positive about the next project, I think it is going to be exciting trying something that I am unfamiliar with.

A2; The Selection Process (2)

P2: EX 1~ STRAIGHT WRAPPING WITH THREADS

P2: EX.1 #12 (DRAWING IN SKETCHBOOK) Unfortunately ‘Washing Machine Spoon’ is too large to post it is a particular favourite. The sample was initially rather tongue-in-cheek, poking a bit of humour into a task I found slightly strange (an idea I later discovered Erwin Wurm exploring). The more I studied the way the pipe coils around the spoon the more I began to actually like it. It is bold yet simple, I thought it very different from my usual type of work but actually there is something about it that I find familiar. I equated the experience of this wrapping to a recent foray into hand building with clay. These experiments gave me confidence in my ability to work spatially and explore scale.

 

P2: EX.1 #13 (DRAWING IN SKETCHBOOK) I think ‘Washing Machine Spoon’ loosened me up a little, this drawing feels fresh and energetic. My experience of drawing with OCA so far has been that a representational likeness does not always have to be the objective, here I have concentrated on capturing colour and texture.

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P2: EX.1 #14 (SAMPLE) This sample represents me exploring a bit more colour theory, using an image to inspire both colours and shapes. I really enjoyed making this. It seems quite remote from the sparseness of #12 but was created in a similarly intuitive way. The white yarn that radiates from a central point allowed me to relate to the division of circles that inspired me in project one.

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P2: EX.1 #15 (SAMPLE). This wrap was inspired by seeing Sonia Gomes work at Entangled.  My version is nowhere near resolved, the colour doesn’t work and the wrapping is perhaps rather too controlled but I like the way shapes are treated in sections that weave in and out of one another. It felt really important to echo Gomes use of found or gifted fabrics by selecting yarns that I had ‘rescued’ and added to my stash. Recycling and sustainability are issues that need to be addressed in textiles because of our throwaway, disposable lifestyles. This has the potential to be explored further.

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P2: EX 2 ~ WRAPPING WITH MATERIALS AND THREADS

I became particularly engaged in this exercise, which unfortunately left little time to explore P2; EX3. I think the time I spent on these pieces was worth it, I felt I was beginning to pursuing ideas rather than technical possibilities. For example #16, #19, #20 and #21 show me exploring how the memory of a wrapping can be preserved.                #18 and #19 revisited fast and intuitive construction, like Washing Machine Spoon.

P2: EX.2 #16 (SAMPLE). Researching Jeanne Claude and Christo really interested me. I love how driven they are take on grander and more ambitious projects; their integrity (not relying on sponsorship) and their bravery in allowing the projects to be so impermanent. I began thinking about residual memory and tried to find a way to record the wrap after it had been dismantled.

This was my third attempt at preserving the memory of a wrap and as soon as I saw it I was excited. The marks that remain form a wonderful composition that radiates from a central circle (a reoccurring theme in my work), the quality of each line is slightly different because of the way the pen was applied. I haven’t decided how to translate these marks yet but this is something I would like to return to.

 

P2: EX.2 #17 (DRAWING IN SKETCHBOOK). Draping the watering can like a dressmaker would a clothe a human form resulted in deep folds of fabric. Again I experimented with a way to maintain the shape once the object inside was removed. Although I really enjoyed the stitching that ensued, I don’t think the results were as effective as this simple tonal drawing.

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P2; EX.2 #18 (DRAWING IN SKETCHBOOK).  Developing #17, involved switching the crisp cotton for a soft chunky knit.  I took the concept from Johnny Vegas’ One Minute Teapot (demonstrated on the Great Pottery Showdown) and blended it with Erwin Wurm’s One Minute Sculptures. Teapot Shape + Woolly Jumper + 1 minute = #18!

I think the sample shares the speed and irreverence of Washing Machine Spoon; I hoped to balance the silliness of the sample with a fairly sensible drawing.

 

P2: EX.2 #19 (SAMPLE). Using rust to record the shape that the fabric once contained. The ‘memory’ in this sample is soft and faint, the colour and process reflect time passing. I resisted the urge to iron it flat believing the creases visually add to the story. Beyond this, I wasn’t sure what other action to take. Other experiments with stitch proved fruitless, detracting from the motifs. Something to ponder on?

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P2: EX.2 #20 (SAMPLE). Knowing how short of time I was, I really chanced my luck and experimented with wrapping objects that were coated with wet paint; I am so glad I did! I am thrilled with the prints I made, some contain these intricate webs of organic tendrils, while others were more abstract. I love the soft colour and complex pattern interspersed with delicate florals, it reminds me of a William Morris wallpaper or a wood engraving. I wish I had time to explore where this enlarged, close up image could lead ~ embroidery, embossing?

P2: EX.2 #21 (SAMPLE). One of the more abstract style prints (as seen on sketchbook cover) this time printed on silk. For me it felt quite risky printing such a bold image onto something as precious as silk (another unspoken rule broken), it makes a nice contrast. I think this made me more aware of the potential for printing onto different surfaces, which I will be mindful of when I get to Part 4!

 

P2: EX 3 ~ UNEVEN WRAPPING

Having planned my time really badly, I concentrated my efforts on this sample ‘Flowering Can’. I returned to the Mother’s Day Bouquet palette, floral shapes and intuitive building techniques I used in P2; EX1. I used weaving, knotting and sewing in combination with straight wrapping to cover the can in a ‘second skin’ that reflected the purpose of the object within. I came across the term second skin being used by several contemporary artists (Vasconcelos, Ptolemy Mann, Sanne Schuurman and Ann Hamilton) and found it an interesting metaphor with a lot of scope.

 

I felt really unhappy and quite angry during the early stages of constructing this sample. If I had time to develop this exercise I would have looked at wrapping as an expression of emotion. For example: How would the wrapping of a precious memory such as a photograph of my sons as babies differ from that of a written recollection of something horrible somebody said to me?

A2; The Selection Process (1)

I produced two A3 sketchbooks for Part 2, one for Joining and one for Wrapping. The first thing that struck me, when I reviewed them to select what to send to my tutor, was how long ago and remote the Joining Exercises feel. I have taken just over three months to complete this Part of the course, which I find disappointing because I thought I was going to be able to speed up a bit!

This time, I think I have put a great deal of effort into my sketchbooks and in recording my making through drawings. I feel that the books tell the story, this submission revolves around them, rather than the making. This was important because many of the later exercises required wrapping and unwrapping, destroying each previous sample before moving onto the next.

The question of what to select to send is difficult, a lot of things I meticulously worked on, no longer hold any interest for me. Most samples are documented in the books and many no longer exist. Maybe a better way to consider the problem is to decide where to direct my tutor?

Which pieces hold most potential?

P1: EX.1 ~ JOINING STRAIGHT FLUSH EDGES

On reflection, I went way to deep into this exercise, the time I spent ‘fiddling’ here would have been much more beneficial later on.

P1: EX.1 #1 (DRAWING). Looking at Louise Bourgeois helped me to inject a sense of urgency and aggression into my drawings. Had a I not done this research, I think my drawings would have been much more diagrammatic. I found this approach to recording stitch juxtaposed perception of stitching as a serene hobby nicely. This drawing felt important because it seemed to symbolise the freedom and fluidity I was looking for in my work.

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P1: EX.1 #2 (SAMPLE). I very much enjoyed relating Joining to the work of Fashion Designers Viktor and Rolf. I have no aspiration to become part of the industry but love to relate to the colours, shapes and ideas seen on the catwalk. I never usually work with yellow because I find its value extremely dominant. Here I found it enlivened the earthy oranges and browns produced something fresh and fun. I like this piece because it builds on the Victorian Crazy Quilt idea from Part 1; it also encouraged me to take quilting in a different direction using mixed media.

 

P1: EX.1 #3 (SAMPLE). This reversible sample built on the idea of #2: a fabric constructed of smaller pieces. It was inspired by the quote “the fight between demolition and development” used in relation to Karen Margolis¹. Having researched Margolis and Elisa D’Arrigo, I chopped up some Gelli Plate prints and began reassembling with stitch. I don’t think the construction is great- rather flat and too precise but I do find the colouration of both the saturated and muted sides rather appealing.

 

P1: EX.1 #4 (SAMPLE). This sad, rather crumpled sample came about as I drew the previous sample. I switched between drawing space and negative space, chasing the idea of maps and arterial roadways, linking Bourgeois ‘L’Infini’ to Susan Stockwell’s laser cut vinyl ‘River of Blood’. Again I feel the sample is too flat: If only there were a way to join the layers of tissue into a more three dimensional scaffolding type structure…..

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¹ patternprintjournal.com

P1: EX 2 ~ JOINING STRAIGHT EDGES WITH A GAP

P1: EX.2 #5 (SAMPLE). Previously (ATV PT5), I worked on using machine stitch without any ground, inspired by Meredith Woolnough. Here I explored bridging the gap between two pieces of felt. I really liked the difference between the barbed, floating stitches and the delicate embedded ones, this was a reversal of what I expected.

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P1: EX.2 #6 (SAMPLE). ‘The Scumption’, a purposeless curiosity that evolved from my agonising over how flat my work tends to be. Satisfyingly strange, the ‘Scumption’ caused me to wonder about classification and labels in Art and Design. As much as it intrigued me, I couldn’t replicate it…. leading me to think about where ‘art’ comes from and the role of the unconscious mind in the creation of solutions.

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P1: EX 3 ~ JOINING CURVED EDGES.

I had several samples that I could have submitted for this exercise, however, most no longer hold any appeal. I think I had very specific ideas about what I wanted to produce but they were all very similar to what Karen Margolis had already done -only better.

P1: EX.3 #7 (SAMPLES IN SKETCHBOOK). This selection really only represents an idea that I had. In Sample #5, I explained my interest in stitch without ground. These little samples push this idea by suspending the embroidery within circles and concentric circles. I considered ways of layering the thread designs in a book format. If I am honest I think at this point I felt a bit resentful of the course and not having enough time to devote to personal projects. Although this feeling passed, I still feel the strength of the idea on returning to it. I take this as an indication that I need to return to this at some point in the future.

 

P1: EX 4 ~ OVERLAPPING EDGES

Having just got over my little tantrum about wanting more time to develop an idea but having to press on with my coursework, I was extremely shocked and surprised to have the same thing happen again.

P1: EX.4 #8 (SAMPLE). Often samples leave me feeling rather ambivalent but this one fills me with hope and excitement. (It looks better in real life than in the photo!) I thoroughly enjoyed the creative process that informed it, which began with me following up a recommendation from my tutor to look at the work of Ptolemy Mann. I was able to draw on colour research and my meticulously neat making technique to create a piece of fabric that I am keen to develop further.

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P1: EX.4 #9 (COVER OF SKETCHBOOK 1). Unfortunately, being me, I managed to turn my positivity about Sample #8, into a worry that I can’t ‘do’ mixed media, that the sample is too simple, that it only uses one type of material etc. etc. I forced myself to recreate my initial painting of the sample in a manner I felt more appropriate to the term Mixed Media. I include the cover as one of the pieces for attention, as it marked a turning point in my attitude toward my capabilities. I sort of feel that it was unnecessary to devote so much time to this piece but I felt I really needed to work on combining materials (gouache, wax crayon, rubbing and tissue paper) in a way that made sense to me.

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P1: EX 5 ~ FORMING CORNERS AND ANGLES

This was always likely to be a tough exercise for someone who likes to work flat! I investigated several possibilities but kept finding myself running into dead ends. The two samples I selected are very simple and not especially what I would determine as good examples of Mixed Media. I think perhaps once more they represent an idea rather than a solution.

P1: EX.5 #10 (SAMPLE). As mentioned above, a very simple solution to forming a join in a curved edge, as each circle meets the edge of the next an angle is formed. This sample develops my interest in concentric circles (also seen in Sample #7). As simple as it is, I have found this Sample extremely engaging. It has been pinned up in my work area since I made it and its perpetual motion will be sorely missed. In my sketchbook I related this constant motion to Sonia Delaunay’s paintings, although the quiet green I have used is much more restful and calming than her dizzying simultaneous combinations.

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P1: EX.5 #11 (SAMPLE). Another version of the concentric circle idea, made in colours that appeal to me. Having tried and failed to adopt Delaunay’s vibrant colour combinations in my drawing of the sample in my sketchbook, I reverted to what felt natural to me.

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