Part Five Building a collection. Project one

Strengthening a theme:

I’m going to revisit tropical tourist. When I last did this theme I was on Hamilton Island. This is a commercial tourist resort island with some permanent residents, large hotels and an airport. I used garish items obtained from the local souvenir shop for my still life.

Insert photo here when I have access to my old photos again

This time I will be taking a slightly different slant on the theme. We are holidaying on Heron Island now. Heron is a remote coral cay on the barrier reef. It has a resort and a marine research station. It is a haven for birds, fish and turtles and is situated right on the coral of the Great Barrier Reef. I plan to use found items only for this still life. It will be a combination of natural and unnatural objects from the beach and the local environs I will need to return any natural material as it is a national park and no natural material can be removed.


I plan to use a range of drawing techniques and the first I am currently experimenting with is cyanotype. This involves using chemicals to sensitise fabric to UV light and produces a Prussian blue pigment in the exposed areas.

My first idea was to walk around the island regularly and collect any rubbish left behind on the beach after the high tide. Fortunately I guess this didn’t really result in much. Mostly small pieces of glass. My first attempt at a cyanotype drawing here with the found rubbish is above. I was using rubbish partly because I am allowed remove that from the beach to set up a still life. But I don’t think this will result in enough variation of texture and interest to create a still solely from this. There are so many wonderful nature colours and textures around that it would be a shame to ignore all that.

So I moved on to considering including natural objects.

I set up a couple of mini still lifes in situ on the beach and was quite pleased with the results.

Insert photo of result here

My next thought was to bring some of these objects back to the cabin and work with them there to create various still lifes that I could draw and then return the objects later.

Unfortunately once I had set this up I watched it for a while and noticed some of the shells moving. I realised that I had taken living creatures from the beach and felt I had to return them as quickly as possible. So this turned out to be a one shot only still life. I felt bad and hope I didn’t damage the creatures.

Here I am returning them to the beach.


I was excited when I saw an old rusty wreck beached off the island and immediately thought of documenting this through rusty fabric. I successfully snorkelled out and attached a piece of fabric to the boat at high tide.

This photo was taken at low tide when I discovered you could walk out to the boat.

It didn’t seem to be rusting much so I moved it to another spot. Unfortunately after 24 hours it was gone. I attached it tightly so I’m hoping someone simply removed it thinking it was rubbish. I chose silk in case it did come loose, thinking it would be biodegradable, but I’d hate to think that somewhere a sea creature was caught in it in the meantime. I seem to be having a run of endangering creatures in the name of art and I don’t like this.

I have tied silk in a couple of more accessible spots that I can check regularly, and where they are tied firmly through a loop so cannot come loose.

And yesterday I added a new spot just around the high tide mark. I had to change the position because when I came to check the high tide wasn’t quite reaching it.

It’s on a chain that is fixed to a block of concrete in the sand under those rocks which I placed to mark it.

These wonderful tide marks were present in the sand when I last checked the fabric.

And this is a 97 sec video on the tide just reaching my work in progress.

Ink and Watercolour

I’m going to move on to some ink and watercolour drawings from photographs of reef life. It’s not possible to include these in a still life as they are part of the living reef but they need to be included in a documentation of the island as they are such an integral part of this beautiful place.


I’m going to use adobe Capture to look at various colour palettes for the area.

This is the gentle palette I created from the sand water and sky at sunset. I loved this when I came out of the bush and saw it.

Sea star from the reef walk. I’m going to look at all the colour palettes and then create my own. Probably a blue green palette. In the meantime I’ll do some colour drawings in these palettes

Pisonia tree salt leaf. Apparently all the salt that builds up is directed to single leaves in order to sacrifice a few for the good of the tree.

Seaweed growing along the bunt wall


Purple coral

Plant printing

I’ve buried some paper and fabric under the Pisonia tree near our hut and I’m watering it and compressing it with my feet. Probably won’t get much but I’ll be able to augment with drawing.

These spiders and spider webs in the forest also make great imagery.

The drawings

I decided to take some small items from above the high tide mark that definitely don’t contain animals.

This drawing takes the colour and some of the linear elements and form from this little still life.

I have used textile medium primed silk and then watercolour and acrylic ink. The idea is to produce a washable drawing and I have had some success. Some of the watercolour did wash out but most stayed. That was only with handwashing though and it’s likely that more would come out with machine washing. Also the fabric has gone very translucent which is not fantastic. Next time I will try with watercolour diluted with textile medium and see how that goes.

This is an example of a cyanotype still life I did yesterday.

In progress

After processing

And this is a cyanotype on paper instead of fabric

Unfortunately it got a hole during processing. I guess I’ll repair with stitch or reverse appliqué

Silver eye birds nest made from Pandanus fibre

Ink on stone paper

Ink and a “nest” of tangled silk fibre from the edge of my fabric.

Ink, water and glue on stone paper. From a piece of dead coral.

Purple and fushia pink/orange coral. Unfortunately the color looks totally wrong in this photo. Only slightly better in real life.

This is watercolour and textile medium on silk. I am learning that textile medium will bind watercolour to fabric. An additional bonus is the effect of irregular colour where the dots of textile medium have been placed.

Clam in ink watercolour and textile medium on paper. These ones had to be from photos and on site observation.

Coral cells and seaweed. Ink on stone paper.

I have retrieved two of the rustings. Hardly any marks but the photos look ok.

This was the result of rusting around a chain, with the tides.

Those tide patterns in the sand are created by tiny balls of seaweed and the shadows. I have tried to use that idea to inform the mark I made for this drawing.

Textile medium on paper sensitised with cyanotype and exposed. The pale areas are areas of washout of chemical before they have been fixed with exposure.

Another cyanotype moved by pouring water along the base.

Rebecca Baumann

When I was in the city heading to the Japanese Grocery store I noticed a colour artwork high on the wall in the mini shopping mall of Trafalgar Place.

As I was thinking about colour for this unit I photographed the work and went to the internet to find out it was by an artist called Rebecca Baumann.

On her website Viewed 31 Dec 2017 there is an article about this type of artwork which is called Automated Colour Field

Click to access 7.Cavaniglia,-Consuelo,-‘Automated-Colour-Field’,-essay-from-NEW11-exhibition-catalogue,-2011.pdf

In this article Cavaniglia discusses Rebecca as having researched the connections between colour and emotion, and an artwork like this is referred to as describing a ’24 hour emotional cycle’. Each little colour chip flicks over every minute or so creating a constantly changing interplay between colours.

A couple of extra little projects just for fun.

In Mount Gambier I was taken by the colours of Blue Lake and Valley Lake. Blue Lake ranges from a bright teal to a deeper royal blue in summer, compared to the normal winter steely grey. In contrast Valley Lake does not do this and appears a muddy green when we were there.

Using a photo of Blue Lake I created a series of watercolour puddles trying to match the colours of the photos. For the photo I had first tried to edit it in situ to match the colour. It was a real struggle and the result was only a rough approximation at best.

Valley Lake was even more of a challenge. I had many goes trying to match the colour and in the end had most success using a green base and adding some purple and white. You can see by the bottom right attempt that some of the puddles became so heavy with pigment to become almost black as I added green and complementary over and over in a futile attempt to get the right shade of green. Still it was fun.

Outback palette:

I took this photo thinking it depicted most of the outback colours I had observed. It included the blue grey stormy sky and the clear blue sky, the orange/red earth and the olive and gold of the bushes.

This was the result from experimenting with Adobe Capture to create this palette by sampling the photo. Now I went to all my fabrics that I had spent time dyeing from life in the outback and tried to do my best to match this palette.

I was pretty pleased that I had these colours in my stash that I had dyed. I also have many more dyed fabrics that are also variably true to this palette.

I plan to include a both of these additional exercises in my colour book and this last one should then lead on to my Ebb and Flow Quilt.

Collage studies (3.4) Part Two

I have chosen this collage to further develop. I know it is simple but I am attracted to the colour combination of blue and brown and the contrast between the colours and texture.

Black and white collage:


Here I have used thin tissue paper over a black card background. I have tried to create different thicknesses of white tissue in order to create some areas of grey, but now I’m thinking about it, I think that the brief actually called for strict black and white. If I get time I may try this one again to stick to black and white. My decision about whether the triangle and the background would be black or white was largely based on viewing a range of black and white versions of the colour collage and making a decision about which one was the most aesthetically pleasing.

I chose this one, but I now realise that I was meant to develop the collage using only black or white. I will try and find time to do this one again using white opaque paper on black background but using a sort of ‘threshold’ approach where the areas are divided into blocks of black or white by making a decision about whether an area is closer to black or to white.

Another photo placeholder:

Monochrome collage:

In this collage I have more successfully created shades of blue but adding various thicknesses of white tissue over the blue background. It too is not as successful as I would have liked in that it the number of shades is quite limited before it becomes simply white. I have tried to improve the situation by sanding but that was only minimally helpful. Again if there is time I might try painting out papers to try again.

Collage studies (3.4) Part one

Simple Collage:

I have translated my digitally drawn sketch book image into a collage. The rules I have set for the simple collage is that the colour is flat and saturated and I have simplified the image down to seven colours. No colours overlap except for being placed on the background so they are all largely seen as interacting with the brown background only. I have tried to use flat colour paper but I was a little limited by what colour papers I had and a couple of the papers were shiny which I would have liked to avoid. The colours are all primary or secondary colours and I have tried to make them as “simple” colours as I could, meaning they pretty much correspond with colour made up of only one or two elements, i.e. I have chosen from red, blue, purple, yellow, green, orange. I have used brown for the background because it was the best match for the photo but I guess in order to follow this rule I could have simplified that to orange. I’m also not happy with the purple because it is really a bit more “complex” in that it is not pure saturated colour but a tone or tint and possibly also includes some complementary.

I have had another attempt here and stuck strictly to primary or secondary colours. For each colour in the image I have chosen the closest primary or secondary to that colour. I created the papers used by painting with the process colours in painting and creating the secondaries from these. So the papers were made with magenta, blue, yellow and black.

Unusual colour combination:

Here I have attempted to create a background with a range of thin tissue papers in various bright colours in order to create an organic brown representative of the earth and earth tones and over this I have superimposed a bright glossy geometric blue. I think of it as unusual to combine organic earthy tones with artificial vivid tones and I felt that this suited my image, where the blue rubbish stands out harshly against the background earth.

This was my first go at the unusual colour combination. I was trying to use coloured tissue on an earthy background in an attempt to get more subtle earthy tones as background. I don’t think they melded as well and the tissues I had to hand were not really earthy tones but more brights.

Complex colour combination:

For this collage I have used all the colours I could see within the image and included some patterned papers as well. I have used primary colours and mixtures, as well as a variety of tones.

Research Point 2

Adobe Capture:

This was a really exciting find. Link 10 led me to this app which I can use with my adobe account. It is an app for creating colour palettes (as well as lots of other things) and I started by using the internet version of it to try and capture the colours of the outback from my memory.

I was really happy to find that I could change the colours in to a CMYK format, as I wonder if this could help me mix the colours myself in dye or paint. I have been trying to mix colours based on a six colour system of warm and cool primaries with moderate success, but don’t really understand why the four colour system of cyan, magenta, yellow and black is not used for mixing paint. It is the printmaking standard and obviously can make a big range of colours for use in printmaking. I’d like to try doing that and I could use printing primaries in screen printing ink to try. I’d also like to try it with dye.

I then discovered that I could take a photo on my camera and use the app to try and analyse the colours in it. I have been trying to edit photos in the field to match the colour on the camera whilst I have the landscape in front of me, but I’m not sure whether the limitations of the screen match the data input. I understand from speaking to a man in a camera shop, that you can get a tool, like a calibrator I guess, that can match your screen on the computer to the printer profile that the camera shop uses and then should be able to print accurately.

But at least this adobe capture app can get you in the right ball park for the breakdown of colours in your photo, and I’m excited to try and mix the colours using CMYK suggestions. I’m not sure if this tool allows you to vary the number of colours or create a weighted palette with different amounts of each colour and that does limit things a bit but for my purposes I can create a number of palettes to combine in my work if necessary.

Here is my first go at outback palette which I am trying to develop for my quilt show quilt. I was surprised to find that there is not the strength of green in the photo that my eyes are seeing. I often find that my palettes are much too primary and maybe I impose my own perceptions on the actual colours I am seeing. For example I see green in this photo because in my mind trees are shades of light and dark green close up. But in this landscape view the app tells me that this is not the case and that the trees are much more brown and gold. It makes a more harmonious palate than the one I created from memory above.

And here is the breakdown into CMYK

This is taken from my photo of the greenish lake at Mount Gambier, which I was using to contrast with the famous Blue Lake there. I spent a lot of time trying to match the colour in my lake photo with a puddle of watercolour and it was very difficult. I hope to use the CMYK breakdown to try again and see if it makes it easier. One thing I don’t fully understand is the role of white. The colour wheel seems to suggest there is “white” with the dots placed towards the centre of the wheel, but I guess this really just represents the density of paint/ink in relation to the white substrate. So in watercolour it would equal water and in screenprinting ink it would have to be clear or white print paste without pigment. For dye it means a higher water to dye ratio, or really just less dye related to substrate. In painting it could be achieved by actually adding white. This is what I did with my watercolour which did also provide a white pigment. It gave an opacity to the watercolour which suited the lake colour.

I’ve done a number of colour matching studies with the green and blue lake photos and I will write them up and include them in the blog soon.

Finally Adobe Capture allows you to play with patterns based on your own photos. This is a manipulation of a photo of one of my glass watercolour studies.

Has great potential for designing my own quilts with unique patterns and colour palettes

Collage studies (3.4) Part One, sketchbook planning

I have created this sketch in Adobe draw, by inserting the image underneath and working directly over the image to translate the image into basic geometric shapes and a small palette of representative colours.

This is planning for my simple collage.

Next I’m thinking about what might be an unusual colour combination. I already find the above a slightly clashing combination because it uses natural browns and greens with man made vivid blue and red. Perhaps I could highlight this by muting the natural colours and highlighting the man made. So I would be combining an earth palette with a brights palette. Not something I would usually do or like but that might make it unusual. As far as layout goes I think I could use a variegated natural background with a flat tone brights slashing across the middle.

Here I have tried to create a muted natural colour background predominantly brown and green, and tried to introduce a harsh red and blue overlay. The tonal difference is probably not striking enough. I want the vivid colours to be a pure tone, no complementary and no black or white, and the background colours to be mixtures with complementary and black and white. I didn’t realise this until I had started the image and then tried to push back the background. I have some papers that I created with natural variegated tones and hues that I have painted to try and match with the photo, and I could create further colour contrast by using commercial flat colour papers for the vivid items. Not sure how successful this is and I don’t like it, but I am trying for unusual.

The traditional unusual combinations of blue and green ” blue and green should never been seen without a colour in between” I actually love and use a lot. One thing I note though doing this exercise, is that the combinations become more unusual and perhaps unpleasant when you vary the tone as well as the hue. So pastel blue and vivid emerald green would look more unusual.

Another “unusual” combination that I love is pink and orange. Pastel pink and vivid orange would make this more unusual.

Finally a complex colour combination. I’m not really sure what this means. Perhaps it could be including as many as possible of the colours in the photo. Or building up the colours by using fragments of multiple colours to create the final overall appearance. I think my idea of complexity in colour does mean breaking things down into lots of subtle colours with unexpected juxtapositions.

Here I have included lots of colors in each different area and tried to break the image down into its composite colors with a touch of complementary. Thinking of fragmenting this collage into lots of small pieces of different colors that work together to make a good representation of the whole.

Watercolour studies (3.3)

For this exercise I set up glass objects that I could find in the apartment we were staying in. The Pyrex dish had a beautiful blue hue, whereas the glasses were green and the lamp stem had a hint of a dull pink. I set it up with a white background and sitting on a daylight light box. The lamp was on and had an incandescent globe and a brown shade which no doubt influenced the colours I saw.

The inclusion of the crystal seen above was as a special treat for me, but it was disappointing. The crystal itself was very clear and although it did gather and fracture the light from around it like a prism, it didn’t have the interesting shades of subtle colour in the body of the crystal itself, the way the glass did.

I struggled with this exercise. I could see colours but had more difficulty in mixing them in watercolour. The colour on the palette was difficult to see without constantly testing it on a piece of paper, and then I seemed to run out or overshoot quickly. When I made the lines touch, as asked to do, they rewet the adjacent colour and created a third colour which was not what I was seeing. ( I like that look though).

No matter how gentle I tried to be I also found that the colours came out stronger and less subtle that what I was seeing. This was a valuable learning exercise in creating subtle colour but not my favourite one.

I’ll probably present my samples as squares around the photos of the glass objects, as the layout from which I drew the colours was a square layout.

Translation through yarn (3.2)

This was my first attempt at representing the colour in my Vermeer postcard with thread and yarn. For this attempt I did not blend anything but used what I had with me. At this stage I could not purchase anything but I had planned ahead and brought thread and yarn with me. This is a unsubtle representation of the colour and it was much too messy as I had difficult keeping the thread taut as my card was too soft and caved in.

For my second attempt I took on board the suggestions from the facebook page of double sided tape and stiffer card and used toilet roll inserts to provide a curved surface that was easy to wrap, and then flattened these. Still not sure how I will mount these in a book but I am thinking about sliding a card through the middle and then using slits in my page to secure it from the back. In the top one I have used purchased ribbons and trims that I have tried to match in store now that we were in a city again. And for the bottom one I have used threads that I have blended using a hand spindle. I think the blended threads give quite a goo representation of the colour and more subtle that the ribbons which were all still not quite right. I have not kept strictly to the proportions in the photo but rather given emphasis to the red blue and yellow which seem key to the painting to me.

And finally I just wanted to try a little weaving using a combination of the trims and blended threads. I have organised this from top to bottom trying to keep proportions roughly correct. I think it makes a more interesting colour study to use a range of textures but I would have preferred a cleaner edge like I could achieve with the wraps. Still I spent a lot of time on proportion and examination of the colour in the postcard and the threads and I think I will include it.

I had a lot of fun trying to blend threads to match the colours and I was surprised to find that I could include complementaries as I would in painting to change the overall colour. I had to be careful they were similar in tone but if this was the case then even quite disparate colours would blend to create a new colour.

I can really see how this unit is giving us the groundwork for textile art and a variety of tools to use to create different effects.