Tom Civil

When we were passing through Mildura we went to ‘The Art Vault’. They have a residency program and the current residency exhibition was one by Tom Civil. My internet research shows that he does quite a few types of art, but is a printmaker, as evidenced by the above prints that were on display at the exhibition. 

I have chosen these prints to include as they are plant based images for the current exercise. I am attracted to the unusual circular presentation that gives me a sense of looking through a hole to a glimpse of another world, or looking down a microscope.  The linear nature of the images looks like drawing but with a greater variation in quality of line that is possible with a print. I’m not sure but I would think these are etchings. 

Welcome to my OCA learning log:

This is the learning log for Susan Lacey 516733 for the unit ‘A Textiles Vocabulary’.


Photos of all my works are included in the blog. The drop down heading Coursework/Part One will display all the coursework for this section, but each exercise is also individually categorised with its number in a list down the side of all posts. Research can be viewed by highlighting the Research and Reflection tab, but is also categorised into books and exhibitions, and internet. For Assignment One the Assignment tab contains only an overview and reflection.


Again the drop down menu Coursework/Part Two should display all the work for this section but each individual exercise is also categorised by number. The Assignment Two tab contains all work pertaining to the final three textile works for this. Reflection on Part Two will be found in the Research and Reflection drop down menu.


Exercises are again categorised by their number and the dropdown menu Coursework/Part Three should include all the work. The dropdown menu item Assignment Three contains a documentation of the Colour Communication book once assembled. Work that didn’t make the cut into the book is documented as part of each exercise in coursework. Research and Reflections are under the drop down menu item and the reflection on Assignment Three can also be found under the Assignment Three tab.


Exercises are under Coursework/Part Four and their number. Assignment tab has the final work and reflections.

Assignment one reflection

Some of what I think of as the stronger works from Project Two

And my favourites from Project Three


My initial response to the first assignment was that it was going to constitute a lot of drawing. I have done some drawing at Uni but I found that it can take me ages and I am very often not happy with the result. But looking at the examples given in the course handbook and the suggestions of other artists to look at relaxed me a little, and I realised I didn’t have to produce a huge folio of photo realistic drawing. Instead the exercises took me through a range of different possibilities for drawing and I was reasonably happy with the results. I didn’t feel lost as to where to start as the exercise notes were enough of a push for the ideas to start flowing. Placing limitations on me in terms of colour and trying to represent only a specific feature about the textile gave me the freedom to experiment and I thoroughly enjoyed all the exercises. 

Selection of the textile works was an adventure in itself, and I enjoyed examining each piece closely and imagining the stitcher and the wearer, and what their story may have been. I experimented with a range of drawing techniques using only ink or watercolour, on a variety of papers. I was especially drawn to the line exercise and was amazed at what I could portray using line alone. I was excited by this but ran out of time at this stage to experiment further.

Moving on to Project Three I decided to use watercolour and ink again. I didn’t feel like I had fully explored its potential and wanted to play with the wet media seeping into soft paper. I have mostly used recycled paper and my works are nearly all the same size. I haven’t been too adventurous with composition but I have tried to think about using the whole sheet in some of the works. I love colour and was pleased to be finally using colour. I had a limited palette of watercolours and I attempted to mix the shades of green I saw, but was less successful at this than I would have liked. 

I think I have definitely broadened my drawing skills through these exercises. I tried to think laterally about how I could create work and found that I was never stuck about where to start. In fact the opposite: I had lots of ideas and not enough time to execute them. 

From now on I’m thinking that a lot of my textile work will start with drawing. Taking a source material through a range of manipulations that I subsequently work from, seems like a fun and effective way to develop and test ideas before committing to a final piece. It also serves to provide additional secondary sources of inspiration that would result in a more complex and less representational work. I am looking forward to transferring line into stitch now that my eyes have been opened to the potential of line in drawing. 

Portraying by drawing. (1.8)

I have decided to start with a simple watercolour on paper of all the plants. I had used my non dominant hand and a single brush. I find that if I use my non dominant hand I have less control and the marks are clearly not accurately representational and as such have character and a looseness that I can’t seem to achieve with my right hand, which will aim for perfection and then fail,  leaving me with an image that looks like it was meant to be accurate but has not achieved that. Here I struggled with the variety of green colours that the plants displayed. I used a limit palette of primaries mostly and tried to mix the variation between greens but was not even close to accurate. 

Here I have loosely drawn the lines of the subject in ink and then overlaid with watercolour. Trying to capture the chaos of the linear grass and then separately bringing in the colour. Again non dominant hand for the lines and following the lines within the plant and looking at the plant rather than the page. This time I have reversed the process and painted first and then applied the lines over the paint. I have not traced around my paint, but redrawn the image in ink repeating lines until I felt they were right. 

I love experimenting. Here the plant had a soft white fuzz on the surface of its leaves. It suggested to me that I could use the colour in the background and create a soft edged negative space to represent the lines of the plant. 

Continuing to experiment with separation of colour and line. Here I have a deconstructed saltbush. I have looked closely at all the shapes and sizes within my tiny saltbush plant and turned the page and the plant repeatedly and drawn the line of the leaf that my eye alighted on. Then I have applied colour in thin watercolour, noticing how the waterproof ink resists the application of colour. 

I thought I would use the ink resist quality on a different scale here, but used a different pen, which clearly was not waterproof. Instead it ran and separated reducing what was once clear detailed line to colourful blurry blobs. This was not my intention but I have included it as the separation of colour does give an organic feel, that does resonate with the blemishes and holes in the leaf that I was drawing. 

Similarly to the grass image, this image was created using lots of line first whilst focussed on the plant. This line was then used to guide the loose application of appropriate colour. I was trying to highlight the spiky nature of the tiny flowers on this little plant. 

Here I have looked closely at the tiny clusters of flowers on my plant and drawn the outline in yellow ink. The configuration of these three suggested a flow across the page to me, so I have highlighted this with a swath of yellow watercolour. 

The miniscule little stamens in the tiny flowers were repeated over the paper in yellow sharpie. This configuration has moved away from direct observation a bit and is reminiscent of the fields of dandelions that grew in my childhood backyard. The sharpie resisted water even more than ink. You can’t see it in the photo but the texture over the sharpie is different to the watercolour. 

Here I have looked at the various growth stages of a flower on a single plant. I have overlaid drawings of these in sharpie ink. Then I had allowed colour to diffuse around the outside and into areas left untouched by sharpie. 

Research point 3 – David Hockney Viewed 25 August 2017

This is one of a series of 25 drawings using charcoal on paper. It shows five drawings each of five roads at the beginning of spring 2013. The simple media of charcoal has managed to capture a big variety of moods of the roads using a range of different marks. 

Repetition with variation within the set of 25 creates an exciting image that draws you in to look closely and study the differences.

The arrival of spring at Wolgate 

This is one of a series of similar drawings but this time done on the iPad. The mood is different in these drawings. Obviously colour adds another dimension but the quality of the mark is also different. The drawings have a sort of surreal quality, perhaps to do with the slightly unnatural nature of the colours, but also I think to do with the smoothness of the mark. Despite the range of marks available they all lack the tactile nature of a physical media on substrate. That’s not to say I don’t like this. I love the potential of the iPad for drawing, removing without a trace, adding without any fear of contamination. But that same lack of contamination does also mean that it would be very hard to make an organic looking image and loses the dimensions of trace and serendipity that also attracts me. Viewed 25 August 2017

I am interested in this painting because it shows the potential to create a really large painting by using multiple smaller canvases. This could be applied to quilts or other textile works, where it is difficult to work very large. I also enjoy the intimacy of holding something smaller in my hand, but then the excitement of joining it together into a much larger work with sometimes unexpected results.

Sources and media (1.7)

I have chosen a small cluster of plants from the Australian Arid Botanical Gardens in Port Augusta. We passed through there on route to Central Australia and I chose these plants as they are plants that are hardy but beautiful. Suitable for the desert landscape that I will be living in for the next few months. 

This is a view from the bird hide in the Arid Botanical Gardens

And a close up of the little tube stock plants they had for sale at the garden. This photo is taken after we moved on to Woomera, in the window of the old men’s quarters of the rocket base. I tried to choose plants that showed a variety of leaves, flowers and grass. They have travelled with me whilst I drew them.

I would like to say that I have chosen the media to suit the subject, but that is not completely true. I have chosen to use recycled paper, ink and watercolour to produce my images. I did want to include the greens and yellows of the plants, and have chosen watercolour for it’s ability to shade and vary itself. I am using recycled paper because I had a good lot of it that came in a journal I bought in Melbourne. It has the interesting quality of not being sized, so it absorbs the colour and the water quickly and to some extent unevenly. I am never after a photorealistic image, but rather just a sense of some qualities of the subject and I am happy to embrace organic marks that occur due to the nature of the media. I enjoyed the possibility of line in the previous exercises and have chosen to use linear black ink to contrast with the gentle fluffy coloured watercolour and to allow a range of possible marks. 

Research point 2

Elizabeth Blackadder:

I was expecting that with a name like this she would be a younger person that had chosen that name. Turns out I was wrong and she is a now elderly painter and printmaker known for her paintings of flowers. Viewed 23 August 2017

Flowers on an Indian Cloth, 1965, Oil crayon on paper

This is a wonderful colourful drawing with loose but expressive lines that capture the colour and life of the subject . Viewed 23 August 2017

 Another beautiful drawing. Normally I don’t like a composition like this surrounded in white, but on this occasion I think it serves to highlight the detail, variation and colour in the individual leaves.

Now here I’m guessing we are looking at the interior design company Zoffany rather than the  18th century neoclassical painter Johan Zoffany, who doesn’t seem to have done many flower drawings 😊.

I’m going to include a photo of a Zoffany fabric called Rothko in celebration of the wonderful depth of colour in a Rothko painting I assume. 

Obviously this is taken from a commercial site, the details of which are at the top. This doesn’t relate to flowers specifically but I couldn’t resist the name, the colour and the weave variation. There are other wallpapers and fabrics with repetitive damask flower patterns but the regular less organic patterns appeal to me less. 


Erdem Moralioglu is a fashion designer that studied at the Royal College of art. I was attracted to the winter collection with its patchwork of stylised flowers, appealing to my quilting background. The lush fabrics combined as patchwork give an exotic mood to more traditional stylised motifs. Normally I don’t like flowers such as these but in combination they convey further depth and story. In these works he has attempted to combine traditional English motifs with lush Turkish fabrics as a celebration of his dual heritage. Viewed 23 August 2017

William Morris: Viewed 23 August 2017

William Morris was a designer that drew heavily on floral imagery, and was part of the arts and crafts movement in the 19th century.  A lot of his imagery is densely patterned and with long repeats creating an all over design that is not immediately seen to be repetitive. In the tiles above you can seen an example of a mirrored repeat. I’m not very atttracted to repeats although am interested in the effects that can be achieved through mirroring. The use of all over design creates the luxurious effect of dense foliage. 

Takashi Murakami: Viewed 23 August 2017

Touted as the ‘Japanese Andy Warhol’, Takashi Murakami make brightly coloured works with flower motifs amongst them. He has a style he calls ‘super flat’ which references the flat nature of earlier Japanese works. 

Timorous Beasties:

Another textile design company. Lots of floral and nature based designs, with an underlying foundation of the intertwining of nature and society.  Viewed 23 August 2017 

The site had a fun program where you could input a variety of textile designs over a generic room. This is my result using all nature based textile prints.


Another commercial site. I’m not used to looking at these. I struggled here to find any information about the use of floral motifs, and in fact not much imagery of floral motifs. Viewed 23 August 2017

 Jane Askey:   Viewed 23 August 2017

On her site Jane talks about painting based on textile background. Floral motifs that are often associated with textile and flattened pictorial space. I have chosen this one because I like the way the vibrant hues in the foreground resonant with similar more subdued hues in the background. Despite talking about flattened pictorial space, the differential vibrancy does create some depth. 

Tore Boontje:   Viewed 23 August 2017

Tore is an industrial designer that uses floral motifs in his textile work, and here in collaboration with a ceramic company. He is combining an interest in nature, materials and technology to create beautiful work. 


I’ve previously considered the nature of drawing as opposed to painting or printing. I have done all three as university subjects in my ongoing fine art degree and whilst I feel once the lines between them would have been quite clear, in the contemporary university world the lines are much more blurred with increasing overlap. 

For me drawing is mark making. So any mark produced by any means, that wasn’t there before, is a form of drawing. Of course with this wide definition, painting and printmaking are in fact subsets of drawing. Not sure how painting would feel about that :). Traditionally I recognise that most people would associate drawing with more discrete marks, like line and dots, and traditional mediums of pencil and ink, rather than blocks of colour such as used in painting, but really a block of colour is just a fat line, and is certainly a mark. Watercolour seems to fall under the auspices of drawing, despite the fact that it is called watercolour ‘painting’. 

I am especially interested in setting up situations for the creation of serendipitous marks in my drawing, and would like to embrace a wide range of marks, mediums and substrates to achieve the results I look for.

My choice of medium and substrate for Project 3 is dictated by availability as well as the media I would like to experiment with more. I like things that have some degree of unpredictability and organic random marks. I like to work to a ‘rule’ that is guided by my observation of the subject matter. I want to include colour, not just because it is fairly intrinsic to the observation of plants, but because colour is important to the aesthetic I am looking for. 

Research point 1 – Wabi-Sabi

I had already come across the concept of wabi sabi in the past and feel a strong affinity with it. After I saw this reference in the course material I also purchased Leonard Koren’s two little books and have read them both. I have previously been interested in the idea of entropy – the movement of all matter from order to disorder. I have made art works exploring this and looking for beauty in the complexity that develops on the way to degradation and disorder. Part of the wabi sabi concept includes acceptance of the ephemeral and transient nature of the world, finding the beauty in this transition from order to degradation. Embracing the organic aesthetic that evolves from this process. It is part of the reason I have come to textiles in preference to paper or paint. There is a certain resilience in textiles not found in some other mediums, but this is combined with an ability to manipulate the surface, or let time and nature manipulate the surface, so that trace and serendipitous marks can also be more fully explored. 

Wabi sabi is certainly in evidence in my textile collection – especially in regard to the futon cover, which is a heavily repaired piece of cloth, that is both stained and degraded. It was originally a working textile, providing warmth in a hostile environment, but has subsequently been sold as a collectors work of art. It highlights the boro technique of combining and repairing textiles, that was originally a practical technique, but is now more purposely used to create art textiles. 

After reading Koren’s book I thought that rather than being just a narrow aesthetic, wabi sabi felt more like a way of seeing and a way of living. Not dissimilar to practising mindfulness, where you really see what is in front of you, rather than living too much in your head. Wabi sabi aesthetic also often hints at the passage of time, and brings with it that feeling of pleasurable melancholy that I associate with that. 

Detail and definition (1.6)

Some of the earlier works have already looked at detail, but for this section I decided to use 3 colours of sharpie pens and five pieces of square printmaking paper that I had torn for another project, to create a small series of simple drawings of detail from my textile pieces. I have tried to utilise the tendency of the Sharpie to spread and run into the soft paper to create a (somewhat limited) variety of marks.