Collect a range of objects with different surface textures. These can be simple domestic items such as pottery, clothing or other textiles with interesting surfaces and skins, a bathroom sponge, fruit peel, woven material, tree bark, velvet, silk, etc.
In your sketchbook, divide a page into four squares and experiment with depicting the textures. Make curved, straight and wiggly lines. Try streaking, smudging and dropping ink onto wet and dry surfaces and try to describe what the texture feels and looks like. Be as free as you can and experiment with materials and tools to create interesting effects. Make notes in your learning log; these will help later when you come to look back at your work.
Experiment with frottage. This involves placing paper over a rough surface (e.g. grained wood) and rubbing the back with a pencil to create an impression of the surface quality of the object. This can then be incorporated into your image to create an interesting effect but it usually works best when confined to a small area.
The image below is a direct rubbing (or frottage) from a dinner tray used for many years in the sick bay of a school. The shadow of a crucifix, embedded in the layers of scratched words and images, adds a sense of time passing.
A not so easy to peel ‘easy peeler’ orange sketched from four different arrangements. I know it was an orange peel, but I’m not sure that’s how it looks! From top left clockwise – almost like a fallen cracked nut from a tree; shell-fish like; scorpion like; and well probably the most orange peel like depiction.
Three objects – a bathroom spiky sponge, a face cloth and lump of wax. From top left clockwise – a spiky sponge – lots of small marks in a kind of random order that somehow pulls together to make sense of the object; Different angle, more of the same, but this time using rubber to pick out highlights; a ‘pointilist like’ face cloth?; and finally – a lump of jumbled wax and marks, a kind of sculpted form. But so are the other sketches sculptural in a sense that they appear more three-dimensional than the actual solid wax lump.
Some dead seaweed and a few chips of tree bark – who would imagine what could be made of these – seaweed like a stag’s antlers and a wood chip tree bark Shetland Isles and brewing storms. Lot’s of fun in the making, if not a bit gluey (and smelly).
I wasn’t too sure about this ‘frottage’ experiment when I started out, and although not particularly very dramatic, they do reflect the surfaces rubbed. Somehow the brick and paving slab rubs seemed to lend themselves to the rendition of some garage tools – a sort of industrial look and feel. In comparison, I decided to leave the speaker grill and bamboo wallpaper alone to stand for themselves. In my thoughts, I can almost hear the music coming through the speaker grill making soft resonances on the surface. The bamboo strips within the wallpaper rubbing have a look of fairly aggressive movements under a microscope.
This was a completely random splattering of indian ink onto wet paper allowed to run and then washed in with a brush. What dried out to me had the look of a circus clown or juggler doing acrobatics and keeping the balls/spheres in the air – the bent legs and fast moving invisible arms are left to the imagination, as is the overall perspective!
Stuart Brownlee – OCA 512319
9 July 2015