Reflective commentary – Assignment 1

Project 1 – Making Marks. This involved exploring expressive mark-making. The first exercise included making marks that are expressive of words like: Fast, Slow, Hard, Soft, Sharp, Delicate, Bumpy, Smooth, Sensuous, Sad & Happy. Although I have done similar exercises before I did find this one more difficult than expected. Especially when trying to make a happy or sad mark. Fast, Slow, Sharp, Soft etc. are quite self-explanatory but expressing emotion? Anyway I think I achieved it in some way with marks that were like explosions or implosions, jumpy or slightly wavy.

Next I moved on to using a wider range of materials. This produced some really expressive marks and textures and was by far the easiest for me to create the marks I wanted. I found that it was quite simple to create the marks to express the words using these different methods combined with colour to hint at mood. I loved the effects I created with the inks, from soft flowing marks to sharp angular lines they really were very versatile and very ‘stitchy’ at times.

My favourite were the exercises in stages 3 & 4. I feel this was because they related to a source rather than just random mark making. I felt it was less prescribed and I could let my hair down more and be more experimental.

Overall I enjoyed this project as it really helped me to think about the marks I make using a wide range of mediums and techniques. Some were more successful than others, but I feel I achieved a nice collection of ideas to carry forward.  Although I have done design courses before, this was a new approach for me. I had never attempted to show emotion through mark making before so this took a little time to get used to. Once I started to open up to the idea I started to enjoy it and found it fun as well as challenging.

Project 2 – Developing your marks. To start I chose some of the marks that I had made during project 1 and tried to re-create them in stitch. I used a mixture of hand and machine embroidery concentrating on one or two basic colours.

I really enjoyed playing with direction of stitch in this section and felt I created some interesting effects. Again I used both hand and machine techniques to create my samples. I found that particularly placing stitches in blocks of varying direction created the best effect on shading depending on how the light hit the thread. It was more marked on the machine stitched samples probably due to the thread being quite shiny.

I enjoyed working all my samples and experimented a lot. Overall I enjoyed working with the machine more than by hand as it has always been ‘my thing’. I feel more inclined to experiment, but I would like to mix the two together more.

In conclusion I feel that I have made a good start however, I need to organise my time better and get more work done in my sketchbook. I also need to get to grips with the research side as I haven’t managed to get around to that yet.

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About Julie Hooker

Having recently returned to my roots in Surrey, I am currently studying a BA Hons degree with the OCA. My work is often inspired by the local countryside in the beautiful Surrey Hills area and the wild rugged nature of the North Cornish coast. Steam engines and abandoned industrial history are also recent themes. A free machine embroiderer and felt maker; I like to explore the use of natural, found materials to create my art, whether that be as raw materials to stitch or weave with or as a material with which to produce dye or print with. Previously, I completed City and Guilds parts 1 & 2 Creative Embroidery at the East Berkshire College in Windsor in 2007. I was also awarded first place in the wearable art section of the National Quilt Championships 2008 and 2009 held annually at Sandown Park.
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