Evaluating the FMP

Evaluating the whole process. 

Thinking back to my proposal and the original concept of wanting to explore portraiture and emotion and feeling through expression reminded me of this quote from Walt Whitman.


The starting process for my work, was to examine the current refuge crisis and take inspiration from the emotions shown through their eyes and especially those of the children. This gave me the freedom to explore portraiture. what I discovered through this process was that my mood started to become effected by the distress of the situation I was trying to portray. The pictures I was concentrating on where predominatly black and white which was appropriate for the context of the subject matter, yet was creating a darkness and gloom.

What I noticed start to happen was an involuntary use of colour in my work, I was being drawn to inspiration form artist’s who in the main use colour. What I discovered was that I naturally wanted to lift my mood by introducing colour.

This in turn led to an inter respective look at myself and the reasons why I produce art, this led naturally onto self portraiture. I found a need  to reflect and deliberate as I had to examine my feelings around showing self portraits and the uncomfortableness I felt around displaying pictures of myself. The journey and maturity necessary to examine my internal emotions on the subject reflected the passage of my life that would be represented in the three different age’s.

Contemplation and consideration was given over to how I would construct the portraits and I felt that to keep the context of my previous work and mediums that I feel confident with, that I would construct the portraits with a type of stitch. I also decided to represent my life in three age periods.

This led to many experiments, I still like print and I explored mono, lino, hand painting with inks  and screen printing. I discarded mono printing as the effect was too blurred and didn’t give a clear identifiable portrait. I found that with practice the linocut improved in clarity yet I would need a large piece of lino which would implement on the final costings greatly to produce the size of images I wanted, so I decided to settle on screen printing.  I used photoshop to blur, distort or change the images to allow greater freedom for the final stitch. These altered images where then used for the final screen prints.

I spent time stitching fabric portraits of my face with scraps of fabric influenced by artist such as Sophie Standing and Hetty-Van-Zande but was unhappy with the final results they looked to untidy and unprofessional. I spent time with using inks to paint the portraits and then stitch fabric on top but yet again I was unhappy with the final process.

I started the screen printing process and wanted to introduce four colours orange, black, yellow and turquoise.  I tried various combinations of screen printing and when reflecting back on my experiments the ones which where overlapped and gave a blurred look to my portrait where the ones I prefered. I chose to use muslin fabric in preference to thicker fabrics as I wanted to create a sense of transience which I felt represented the passage of time well. I also was encouraged by a fellow student in one of the critiques to place the portraits in front of each other to allow the viewer to see through each portrait to give a sense of context to the passing of time.

I also discovered that black, yellow and orange became my preferred colours as they gave a riot of colour that was I wanted because I wanted a joyous celebration of life that I felt was represented well with bright colours. I discard the turquoise.

I experimented with various different styles of stitch. I also wanted to allow the stitch to grow as I wanted to have an experimental feel to my final pieces. I was looking for freedom of expression in my stitch. The burring of images through screen printing also increased my confidence in producing self portraits as they gave an essence of my face yet still kept the clarity of the portrait and allowed for experimentation that would naturally happen through stitch.

I knew that I wanted to complete the three portraits with different types of stitch to challenge myself and show different skills.

Each piece required hours of work as they needed a build up of colour to give the effect that I wanted, I also discover that the more I worked each portrait the better it looked. The hand stitched portrait had many layers of built up colour to give a sense of pigmentation and shading in the features and contours. Also consideration had to be given to continuity and unity with in the project as each one was different. I used the same background fabric, thread colour and the backing hessian to complete this.

Many different considerations had to be given to the final display as to whether I would want the fabric free flowing or attached to the frame. I decided on attaching the portraits to a frame as the rigidity this gave would allow the viewer to see the portrait clearly. I spent time experimenting with coloured perspex  attached to the back of each portrait and decided that the portraits would look better with coloured gels on a spotlight shining through. As I found that the reverse of the work added interest to my work I hung the pictures to allow the viewer to walk around each portrait to look at the front, back and through all three images.

Am I happy with the end result? yes, would I have done things different ?I would use different mediums to construct different portraits and experiment with different types of print, fabric and stitch but I am happy with the overall finished look. This project  has also helped me to discover a little more about who I am as an artist and what is my preferred medium. I have been able to examine the thought and decision making process around work that is personal to me. Reflection has been with me at the start and the evoloution of the work . I have discovered not only the skills of different mediums but also about myself.



Peer critique on the final installation 

I spoke with a fellow student about my plans to set a light behind the images to allow the viewers to see through all 3 pieces. He suggested placing colour Perspex which is attached to each frame and then the lights will pick up colours. We spoke about the colour pallet and weather to use coordinating or contrasting colours.

Finishing off piece no 2 

Dyeing hessian to make a border for all 3 pieces to give unity.

This piece was to be a culmination of different skills used in the first two pieces. I wanted to use a variety of media to represent variety of life and experience learnt as represented by this stage of life. The starches are overlaid a screen print which has three blurred images of myself used to give a representation of age through the blurring.

I have used

  • tea bags
  • hessian threads
  • wool
  • embroidery silks
  • machine stitch
  • hand stitch.
  • dyed fabric

Reflection week 6

This week has been a busy week with a deluge of sampling. I have spent many hours dyeing fabrics, painting and bleaching and drying out teabags. I have used one of the photoshopped images to try and create an image out of fabric that has taken inspiration from artists such as Kathryn Harmer Fox, Dorte Jenson and Joe Cunningham.

I used the contours of the image to try and recreate in fabric. I wasn’t happy with the dullness of the colours blue, grey and brown so I tried to change to brighter colours and again I was not happy with it. I feel the image is not clear enough and not the professional look I was aiming for.

This is a common theme I have come across whilst working the image I have in my brain does not transfer to the work I produce.

The screen printing was considerably more successful. I was happy with the strong colours and the faded aspect the prints give to my work. With experimentation I discovered that varying the amount of dye and pressure of the application gave me the faded blurred effect I was looking for. This is important to my work as I am wanting to represent the ageing process of the portraits. I was also able to experiment with double exposure and overlaying of the images to create the abstract effect I want. Due to insecurities that I have already outlined the blurring of the images coincide with this feeling. 

The colour pallet I had origonally chosen did not really have a set pallet other than bright colours which I want to use to represent the brightness and positivity of my life. Yet through the screen printing process I discovered that I liked orange, black and yellow. This theme will need to be carried forward through all my portraits to create cohesiveness. I also need to make a choice on the style and weight of fabric that will be used in the final pieces.

Problems with uploading images to the digital printer.

I tried to use my images that I have manipulated on photoshop onto the digital printer. I have limited skills in photoshop but I have spent time on editing photos to the best of my ability and asked for direction if anyone was near me was around to offer advice. I spent time experimenting with different outcomes and was happy with the end results. I chose three portraits of myself aged 16, mid 30’s and myself now. I did want to try and create an image of myself in the future but as yet I advent been able to create one that I am satisfied with.

I experimented with blurring or distorting the images for two reasons,

  • One being, that I am drawn to abstract painting. What I like about abstract painting is that I feel an interrelation with the chaos and roughness I see in abstract paintings. I connect with the madness and explosion of colour and it allows my imagination to run away with itself.
  • Two being, that I feel more comfortable with a blurred image of myself due to issues with confidence. That said I think abstract also will best serve my style of stitch that I intend to use.

I tried various methods of saving to JPEG, TIFF and Photoshop but I had no success. I spent most of the day trying to upload the images but to no effect. I also elicited the help of peer students and tutors but I had to admit defeat in the end. I then thought about using the images in a different ways because what I am looking for is an image that I can apply stitch to.

I have experimented with screen print, lino print and mono print. I thought I would experiment with screen print first and see weather I am able to get the image that I want.  I sent a job sheet in requesting a screen printed frame and a list of colours. I chose orange black yellow and aqua blue/grey.

Critique week 5

I outlined my process to date to the group and gave the reasons for my proposal and showed the them my work so far. I spoke at some length at my insecurities towards my work which include’s feeling uncomfortable with creating self-portraits as I have never felt at ease with my image. I also spoke about the nervousness I felt because this is my FMP and that I do not want to display any work that I don’t feel happy with or am proud to exhibit.

I realise that this prosess will require constant reflection as I work through my project. I spoke about my reasons for using bright colours is because I want to recreate a sense of fun, brightness and positivity to my portraits as I feel this is how I want to show my life. I explained that I am wanting to show the different ages of me through a variety of mediums. It was pointed out that I would need to carry a cohesiveness throughout the project if I am to use varied mediums. This will show a coherent unity and a sense of balance.

Ideas that the group passed 0n where helpful and thought provoking as Julia suggested that I try and place the images in front of each other to give a view of time passing and that you would be able to look at each individual piece but also all of them together.

I was given suggestions for tecniques and artist inspiration. They also passed on positive feedback about my work which gave me confidence to continue.

Picture 1 complete/ or maybe not

Finished I think unless I decide to add a little more abstract splashes of green to the background I’m still undecided. 30 hours of work and I’m still not totally happy. This is taken from a portrait of me at 16. I was trying to get a 3D abstract image I wanted to raise the cheek more but yet not make it too relisitic.

I’ve learnt it’s hard to interpret shade into colours and the skill needed to create a choice of colour from ones own interpretations requires a great deal of skill. Due to wanting the portrait to represent me in my youth I refrained from wrinkles and creases as I felt this could confuse the age.

The time which it takes to complete the picture is excessive but I was aware of this from previous sampling and mistakes can be costly time wise.

I think if I had interpreted the image on photoshop and created the colours on paper first I could have experimented with these and settled on what works best.  This could have saved some time on unpicking mistakes.

I chose to work with the colours as it occurred to me there and then. But I think this is a disadvantage and if I where to repeat the process would design the colour patten on photoshop first.

I now need to work out how to flatten the picture and weather to hang it so the back is visible also.

I’m still not sure but need to walk away and assess what the piece still requires. I’ve cut away at the wool because it wasn’t right. This piece defiantly needs more contemplation time before it is complete.

Reflections  week 4

So to put my work in order at this moment in time. This is subject to change.
Image 1 – youthful image represented by bright fresh colours in an abstract painterly way. This is using the medium of stitch.

Image 2 – current age with a element of distortion to represent periods of confusion and distressing life issues.

Image 3 – older image looking into the gutter represented by fading and lines. I’m not sure yet if this will be black, grey and white.

Distorting images through various mediums. 

This effect feels to clumsy and untidy.

What is it that I am trying to find in this work? I want a blurred image that will represent age.

With the distorted image I am trying to recreate discord which represents certain times of adverse emotion pressure.

So reflecting on this experimntation I’m am after two different effects .

So to put my work in order at this moment in time. This is subject to change.

  1. Image 1 – youthful image represented by bright fresh colours in an abstract painterly way. This is using the medium of stitch.
  2. Image 2 – current age with a element of distortion to represent periods of confusion and distressing life issues.
  3. Image 3 – older image looking into the gutter represented by fading and lines. I’m not sure yet if this will be black, grey and white.