I am using this blog to chart my journey as I get involved with stitched textiles again after a gap of twenty odd years. I've tried once or twice recently to get started, but time - the lack of it - got in my way. Now seems right though, and this online diary will be my reminder not to let it slip through my fingers again.
Wish me luck.

Saturday, 17 April 2010

Painting or Pattern

Sample number 2 is in the sketchbook now, unfinished, but taken a little bit further and far enough.
So what next?
I've taken a little time to do some research, to see what other people are doing in the world of textiles.
It's pretty overwhelming, and threatening to present me with a crisis of confidence. So much variety. Where is my voice now after all this time?
There is some very challenging and interesting work being done, but there is also quite a lot of jumping on bandwagons too.
I admire so much and so many people - Jan Beaney, Jean Littlejohn, Maggie Grey the list is long.
But though I love their work, it's not me, I've decided.
There is so much "painterly" work being done in textiles - creating layers of texture and colour, with increasingly diverse techniques and materials.
 Maybe I would enjoy working that way, but really I think my roots are in pattern making. After all printed textile design was my main study.
I think that's why I feel at home working on canvas. It's not far removed from the graph paper I was accustomed to designing on.
I like the confines of the grid, but at the same time breaking out of it now and again.
I mentioned in an earlier post that I studied North African textiles in my final year at college, and I was drawn to search out more information on world textiles in general. Tonight I hit on a wonderful website selling Indian woven and embroidered textiles - and although I'm not in a position to buy anything, I found myself getting more and more excited at the complex patterns and colours.

These images above are some of the textiles on that particular website. Maybe not everyone's cup of tea, but I'm drooling.
The image below is an Albanian coat, which really encapsulates the type of embroidery I was studying at college. I loved the strong areas of pattern and colour against the large expanse of plain indigo.
And these other two images are taken from a book by John Gillow - African Textiles which I have just bought on Amazon, along with World Textiles and Indian Textiles. Pretty extravagant, but hey, I could get a pair of jeans for the same money and they wouldn't give me half as much enjoyment.
And while on the subject of pattern, I also came across an old friend, Raymond Honeyman, while trawling the internet the other day. Raymond was in the same course as me at college, and he had a very single minded approach to pattern, doggedly following his own path and ignoring his tutors. He has continued - very successfully - on that same path all this time, and I've come across his name from time to time. Anyway, I was pleased to find he has a book published , A Passion for Painted Pattern and I snapped it up. I've been dipping into it over the past couple of days and he has not lost any of his enthusiasm. It's a joy.
So now I've put my cards on the table. It's all about pattern. Handstitching, applique, canvaswork...drawing inspiration from world textiles.
PS As a footnote, I've just found this little piece of canvaswork I did a while ago called Three Cords. By coincidence,it bears some resemblance to the Albanian coat I think. Well very loosely.


  1. What a joy to read, thanks for sharing this. I think it always helps to analyse the 'why' and 'what' of art in this way.

  2. Yes Kaye. I'm trying to sort out a lot of things in my head just now.

  3. Great to see you getting back to your artistic roots, Marion! It's a joy to read :) I agree about the books, they're such a great investment!

  4. The book looks very interesting. Full of ideas to enjoy. I especially like the piece that the man is holding up. I like the patterns and colour in it. Reminds me of Pauline Hann's work.Your canvas work is amazing!Look forward to seeing what you do next.

  5. Pauline Hann is another person from my college days! And I know what you mean about her work, although I haven't seen what she's been doing lately.

  6. You have shown us some gorgeous surface pattern here and I too have the book World Textiles, it's an invaluable resource. Have you seen the books 'uncut cloth' and 'printed and dyed textiles from Africa' also fantastic for surface pattern

  7. and...how's your daughter?

  8. I'm looking forward to the imminent arrival of my books from Amazon (tomorrow I think). I'll look out for the other books you mention, Karen. Things have got busy at the moment, and I am going to be patient until this spell has passed and for now I'm going to read and absorb my new books when I can grab a free minute.
    And Laura ( daughter) is fine. I've had two calls from her in the past few days. They are coming to the end of their world tour and are quite sure that they will get their flight home from Shanghai next Tuesday without any problem. Ah, the confidence of youth!

  9. Your embroidery is amazing. Such a sense of color! I love it.
    Wonderful book. Hard to resist.