I recently wrote a review of Carole Robson’s latest book Painting Expressive Landscapes
(Search Press, details at end of blog) As it was written for the website of the WOWbook, it wasn’t generally available. However lots of people asked me about it (after I posted on Facebook) so I decided to write about it here.
When I review a book that really grabs me, I tend to do a little workshop based on it for the WOWbook website – huge fun for me and a chance to see how something like a book on watercolour techniques can relate to textiles. As my current work has been an exploration of print techniques and image program designs on fabric, it’s a great chance to explore that aspect as well. The partly stitched piece shown here illustrates it.
Watercolour effects translate beautifully into textile designs, possibly using silk paints on fabrics. I like to use watercolour directly on paper and then scan and print on silk or cotton. This book on landscapes is ideal, as many of the finished pieces offer ideas for further embellishment. The suggestions and techniques may not be new to any of us from a City & Guilds or art-based background but I like the way that Carole combines them and her instructions are clear and helpful.
The book begins with the usual introduction to materials and basic techniques. We cover a lot of ground, moving swiftly from the absolute basics of mixing paint, dropping paint on wet paper, the infinite variety of pigments etc., then colour and tools (I love the spread on ‘painting without a brush’) and the techniques section where the action hots up. These range from some of our well-loved methods such as cling-film over wet paint, flicking paint from a brush and the use of salt. I loved the idea of drawing with a tube of paint, making use of the dried up stuff around the top. This gives a really bright pop of paint.
In the workshop I wrote based on Carole’s ideas, I was excited by the possibilities in manipulating the cling film to suggest elements of a landscape. This resulted in the sample shown below. A single colour was used (my favourite Nordic Blue) to produce a great interpretation of an overgrown forest. It was painted on heavy watercolour paper with quite a wet wash (see sample below).
This led to further experiments with additional colours. I outlined some of the shapes with a graphite stick.
How to incorporate the paper samples with stitch? I like inkjet printable fabrics by Jacquard and keep a small stock of the silk, cotton and organza packs. It’s not the cheapest method, but I fund it by filling the entire page with images and using any left-over bits for cards, which I sell at shows or use as birthday cards for stitchy mates. The resulting print is lightfast too, which is important if you sell work. In the pic below, you can see the original artworks, together with prints on both silk and organza.
I leave the prints overnight, before fixing them to a background fabric with fusible webbing, such as Bondaweb. I bonded the two stitched pieces shown onto felt, as I like the slightly quilted effect that this produces when stitched.
The tree was lightly free-machined with a few squiggles to suggest branches and a light outline of the trunk – it needs a bit more work as it looks a bit like a lollypop at the moment. I have begun to add more foliage with hand stitching in blue-green colours.
I always enjoy the experience of trying out ideas from books and appreciate the fact that Search Press are happy for me to do this. I took the book in to my stitchng group and everyone was impressed. We are going to have a ‘Messy day with Carole’ for our next meeting.
We have many extra workshops, by well known textile artists, in the WOWbook Members’ clubs on this website – so you don’t just buy the WOWbook but an ongoing experience.
Here’s the details about the book.
Painting Expressive Landscapes
Search Press www.searchpress.com