I seem to be turning into a ‘workshop junkie’ recently. Since October I have done three fabulous online creative courses (see my previous posts about these) and today I went on a one day workshop at The Textile Space near Goodwood, Chichester (www.textilespace.co.uk). Titled “Creating Sketchbooks” the day promised the opportunity to explore a multitude of techniques and materials including collage, paint, fabric and stitch to develop ideas on the pages of a sketchbook. The day began well with a delightful drive across the South Downs, past the rivers Arun and Rother both in full flood and through the pretty hamlet of East Dean where I had to stop and grab a snap of the flooded village green.
The very pretty flooded village green at East Dean
The Textile Space is sited in a converted barn complex in the hamlet of Charlton, opposite the quaint Fox Goes Free public house. After parking the car in the yard at The Textile Space, I was greeted by owner, Deborah Harwood with a cheery smile and a mug of hot tea – even choccy biccies were on offer! Yum! The course was made up of 5 students including me, the others being Chris, Victoria, B and Margaret; each of us from different backgrounds and with vastly differing reasons for attending.
We started the day by having a look at some of Deborah’s sketchbooks and then by making some quick timed drawings on A2 paper of an object which we had been asked to bring with us. This loosened everyone up and we then began making collages based on a picture we had brought with us; I used a photograph I had taken some years ago of a line of potted palm trees casting shadows along a path.
Now I am not a natural collagist, but I am reasonably pleased with my effort today, made entirely from pages from the sports supplement of the Guardian newspaper!
Above left: ‘fast’ drawings of a piece of jewellery Above right: collage of palm shadows
After lunch we set to with fabric to develop our collages further into small samples for our sketchbooks. I had chosen a theme of ‘Shadows’ and after making up a mind map I began making some layered samples using hand painted silk and layers of chiffon combined with hand and machine stitching.
Viewfinder sections to isolate areas of interest in my original photograph and collage
Handpainted silk and chiffon layers free motion machine embroidery
Free motion machine embroidery Velvet and charcoal
I had a lovely day and came away with some useful ideas, I do find it interesting that while I didn’t actually learn anything new, I did reacquaint myself with practical skills and techniques which I had somehow become divorced from over the past few years. What all these recent workshops have revealed to me is that you can never do enough experimenting and preparatory work, and that my obsession with the finished Final Piece is misguided. Practice really does make perfect and I am feeling more confident that I am equipped with the necessary ‘tools’ to move forward and make interesting and better art; and that can’t be a bad thing can it!