Exercise 3.1: Gouache Studies

The aim of this exercise is to collate, observe and record the colour palettes of a series of textiles. The notes recommended using gouache to replicate the colours and as I had never used gouache before I started by making a quick colour sample of my set and overlaid the various primaries to get a basic idea of the colours they made when combined:

Part One

The brief for Part One was to source:

  • one to three printed samples where the design contains between four and six colours
  • one to three samples of neutral (beige/cream/grey/white) textiles that have and interesting construction or surface.

Using each of the samples collected and gouache paint the instructions were to produced colour matching tests for each of the colours present in the design and create a separate colour chip. My samples with their respective colour chips can be seen below.

Reflections on Part One

Initially I had a tendency to keep watering down the gouache too much making it closer to the consistency of watercolour which meant that I didn’t get the colour as flat as I intended. By the time I got to the neutral textile sample I had started to get the hang of obtaining the right consistency. I did find that I was also surprised that the gouache sometimes dried darker than it looked when it was wet which did lead to some of my dried chips being too dark. The light blue background of the second printed sample was the one I found hardest to colour match.

A note on the presentation – I realised on typing up my blog that the exercise recommends presenting the samples simply on white paper with the corresponding colour chips and saving the incorrect colour chips in my sketchbook. I have instead presented the samples and the colour chips together with the incorrect samples nearby for comparison. I also added notes to myself about how I mixed each colour chip and how I thought I had mistakenly mixed the incorrect ones as I am not that confident in colour mixing and took a slightly more “scientific approach”. I know that if I did not include these notes here, when I looked back at this exercise I would not remember how I mixed each colour. Presenting the work in this manner allows me to retain the learning as I found I learnt more from the colour samples that I got wrong repeatedly than the ones I got right fairly easily.

Part Two

The brief for Part Two was to select one of the printed textiles, cut a 10cm x 10cm sample and place it in the centre of a square of white paper 20cm x 20cm. Using gouache paint the instruction was to extend the design to the size of the 20cm square. As suggested, I found it helpful to sketch the design roughly in pencil first to get the elements in the correct positions. As the repeat on the textile I used was small it wasn’t really possible to move the elements in a pleasing manner so I focussed on replicating the design as accurately as I could and the result can be seen below.

Reflections on Part Two

I did get caught out by the red drying darker than I had intended but in certain lights it looked closer to the correct colour. This may have been because it was a dark day and I had the lights on at the time of doing the exercise. I did realise that the design was also much finer than it looked as my 00 size brush was still not making lines that were fine enough however I am pleased with the overall result. I had to improvise to create the suggestion of some of the tiniest details and the design on the pink balloon was particularly difficult to replicate. Generally, from a distance the sample blends into the 20cm square relatively well.

Part Three

The brief of Part Three is to extend a 10cm x 10cm sample of a neutral textile to a 20cm square using gouache paint. I found this part more challenging than Part Two as the colours in that sample appeared more matt. The closer I looked at the textured sample there appeared to be multiple tones of each colour and so I painted the extension of the sample in layers to give the illusion of texture.

A couple of not very good photographs of earlier stages of the exercise can be seen below to show how I was building up the layers. Looking back at these, you can seen that my workspace was a tad disorganised during this exercise and I kept forgetting to take pictures so these are the only ones I have!

Reflections on Part Three

I knew that it was going to be difficult to replicate such a complicated texture so I focused on giving the impression of the uneven texture of the yarns and the different tones visible. Overall I am pleased with the outcome which does give the impression of a loosely woven Chanel-type fabric though I think that in daylight the sample was slightly lighter than it appeared under the artificial lighting that I was working in at the time.

Notes on Colour Proportions in the Textile Samples

Hot air balloon print – a white (neutral) background with strong accents of dark red with both a lighter and darker tone and complimented with a grey. Although at first glance half the balloons are grey, there is probably a similar amount of the mid red as it accents each of the balloons and is present in the clouds. The darkest red is used sparingly, predominantly as an outline.

Blue leaf print – Predominantly blue textile with leaves picked out in a darker tone and contrasted with leaves in white and a very pale pink (roughly equal proportions) and stems in the darkest tone of blue which give a vertical structure to the draw the eye.

Boat print – textile dominated by beige seen in the wave effect of the background. A darker beige can be seen in flecks to contrast with the green of the sail and a dark brown is used to outline the boat and pattern the second sail. The darkest shade is used more in this textile than the previous two and makes the boat stand out from the background more clearly given that it is patterned (unlike the hot air balloon print)

Neutral textile – This textile has a large proportion of its surface that is made up of the textured cream yarn which appears to be made up of multiple tones. The loose weave is secured using darker, fine threads emphasise the thickness of the lighter coloured yarn. On closer inspection the dark threads contain metallic flecks which catch the light.

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