Tutor Report Assignment 1

Overall Comments

Your work for this assignment indicates that you have made good links between, expressive mark making and interpreting surface qualities through stitch. The selection of a range of images to work from suggests that you already have a good level of visual awareness as well as an understanding of design and compositional skills.

The samples you produced show that you are able to make appropriate choices of materials, processes and techniques in order to realize your intentions and you have produced work of a good standard.

Your reflections on learning outcomes and progress to date indicate a willingness to engage in critical debate regarding outcomes and to look at further ways of taking your ideas forward. You have made a good start to the course, Amanda. I look forward to seeing assignment 2.

Assessment potential (after Assignment 1)

Formal Assessment: You may want to get credit for your hard work and achievements with the OCA by formally submitting your work for assessment at the end of the module. More and more people are taking the idea of lifelong learning seriously by submitting their work for assessment but it is entirely up to you. We are just as keen to support you whether you study for pleasure or to gain qualifications.  Please consider whether you want to put your work forward for assessment and let me know your decision when you submit assignment 2.  I can then give you feedback on how well your work meets the assessment requirements.”

Feedback on assignment

Project 1: Making Marks


  • To help you to explore simple and expressive approaches to drawing
  • To help you to build up confidence through using a wide range of drawing media.

From reading your comments, I think you found a return to basics very exhilarating. Certainly the range of media and mark making techniques you explored produced some lively and stimulating outcomes. I particularly liked the way in which you combined these in the two collaged sheets. They were very different in outcome I thought. The first sheet with its uncanny resemblance to the Pollock painting highlighted the different quality of the marks themselves. Maybe this was due to the rather muted grey tones. The brightly coloured sheet really brought out the contrasting textures in the marks. Both of these sheets will be a good point of reference for the future, particularly in terms of using marks as stitch.

Your choice of paintings by Picasso and Van Gogh gave you the chance to explore how both artists used mark making but in very different ways. By looking at your responses to each work I think it is possible to see these differences very clearly. The Picasso marks are much softer and less aggressive than those of Van Gogh.

The first photo you chose to work with was a good one in that it provided contrasts of scale, texture and surface quality. I think it is a very good idea to annotate your images as it can be an aid to thinking about how you might represent what you see. It is also a useful reminder for the future. You experimented successfully with a number of processes. I agree with your comment regarding the success of the wax resist. Although it softened the image, the marks you produced were very expressive. You mentioned a further development into collage. I think this would be a good idea. Another possibility might be to approach it as a sampler where you are working the different textural areas in close proximity to each other.

The second photo of the rough blocks gave you the chance to extend your range of media. It also highlighted the need for careful selection in terms of realizing your intentions. I think that in this respect, the graphite pencil was suitably robust to suggest the highly textural surface of the blocks.

I can well see why you chose the final image of the rusted boat and why you were so reluctant to move on. I would have had the same problem. What beautiful colours and textures. You might like to have a look at the work of Antoni Tapies. He uses surface in a very similar way although his intentions can be very different to those suggested by the quality of his paintings. Your choice of layering and collaging as mark making was a very appropriate choice for this piece and the textural qualities were lovely.

I was very glad that you decided to go ‘off piste’ with the slashed fabric sample. It happens to us all and sometimes, it just has to be done! This is an exciting piece which links well with this final exercise. It’s also one you can legitimately return to in assignment 3.

In your review of this project, you suggest other approaches to try such as stencils, transfer prints etc. You will have discovered by now that these are included in assignment 2. You might like to use some of the prep work from this project as a starting point.

Project 2: Developing marks into stitch/making textures


To help you to develop your awareness of how fabric, stitch and thread can be manipulated to explore line and texture

When I looked at your first stitch as mark making samples, I was immediately struck by how well you had assimilated the idea of stitch representing a graphic mark. This was accentuated by the use of a largely monochromatic colour scheme which emphasized the marks themselves without the distraction of colour. In the second and third samples, you made sound judgments regarding the relative weights of threads, stitch and fabric so that none dominated. Instead, they complemented each other very well. One stitch you didn’t use which I think would have worked well in terms of creating line is couching. It is relatively fast to do and provides a great opportunity to work with a greater variety of thread thickness.

A sample

This showed me that you already have a good grasp of the design process, by which you work through from an initial starting point, select several areas for further exploration and then refine your choices. This lent a good level of coherence to this sample. A further strength is your willingness to work with materials which are not traditionally associated with textiles.

The composition of this piece was well thought through with a good contrast of surface. You might like to give some thought to how you could grey down the colours a little more. One way would be to overlay with a fine, darker net in some of the areas. This would also give the illusion of greater surface depth.

Another approach which would keep the whole thing lighter and more delicate would be to trap the fabrics between two layers of bondaweb. There is an illustration of this process in assignment 3. This would also allow you to trap some threads or couch some of the lines to give your marks greater fluidity. I felt that in some place, around the orangey red, blues and black, they were a little too spiky and angular.

The final samples you produced on the basket weave fabric were a useful addition and established further links between the two projects. As you found, this fabric can be tricky to work on as its structure tends to dictate the outcome of the stitch. French knots also disappear!

The final sample really focused on building up texture with yarns and threads. You mention wrapping the threads round card. You can include preparatory work such as this. This was a great composition to work from and you achieved a good contrast of surface texture. My only comment would be that some of the delicacy of the original photo was lost. Maybe you could have used slightly thinner layers with a more gradual blending of tone, particularly in the white, grey, black area at the top.

Learning Logs/Critical essays

Despite your initial concerns regarding the keeping of a learning log, I think that the ongoing commentary which accompanies your work gives a good insight into what you have learned whilst demonstrating your ability to take a critical stance in terms of outcomes.

Suggested reading/viewing

Antoni Tapies

Pointers for the next assignment

You express some concern regarding drawing and sketchbook work. Your project work to date has made good use of drawing and I think maybe you are interpreting the term rather too literally. I will send you some suggestions as to how you can broaden out what you consider to be drawing. You might also like to look at Kay Greenlee’s book on Sketchbooks for Textile Artists.

Free machine embroidery. Depending on the make of your machine, you may be able to get a small metal plate which covers the feed dog.

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