Project 2: Building a Response – Colour Palette

Project 2 aims to use the drawings created in Project 1 to build a response that can be further developed into a textile collection. The first part of this project focuses on identifying and presenting a colour palette.

I found it easiest to create colour chips at the same time as the simple stripe designs. I naturally want to work this way as I can keep records of the colours mixed (in a similar method to keeping a lab book during science experiments) and it also allowed me to see how the colour scheme was building up overall. The image below shows my working colour chips complete with codes for the colours mixed and small tests and experiments:

The first striped design I created was based on the collage of a passionflower (shown below) and used gouache to replicate the density of colour:

The striped design I created from the tea stained abstract print can be seen below.

In contrast to the striped designs above, I wanted to take the vibrant background from the dyed paper rubbing to create a more vivid stripe design. I chose to use watercolour to replicate the unpredictable patterning and mixing of colours.

After completing this striped design in watercolour I was intrigued to see whether the colours would look significantly different when painted in gouache. The resulting striped design seen below and has less transparent stripes though appeared very similar.

In these sketches I had pushed myself to use complementary colours as this isn’t often a feature of my work. I used the variety of greens present in layered print below to create a new striped designs with pops of red to add interest.

Based on Angie Lewin’s approach in Spey Path & Strandline I chose to look at small sections of this pastel drawing to create stripe designs to restrict the colour palette.

Although the section shown above contains a lot of red, I decided to omit it and experiment with the pastel tones of green and purple. In the first design I tried to leave white sections to suggest the highlights and kept the stripes roughly the same colour to emphasise the repetition of structure in a lavender plant. In the second design I chose to paint green stripes in large blocks to emphasise the bulk of the plant (and the lower half of the section) and created stripes of the different tones of purple I could see in each flower head. The repetition seemed fitting as the plant (and sketch) are punctuated by repeating vertical structures that hold the flowers.

The watercolour sketch below was done a week or so after the others as I had to wait for the plants to bloom. This felt advantageous as I was prepared to create the stripe design at the same time as the sketch. I intentionally left a lot of white space in this design and tried to mimic the rough proportion of the different colours. I felt that this created a sense of space in the prints and allowed the colours to appear their most vibrant.

When I looked back over the stripe designs that I had created I was struck that the one inspired by the tea stained sketch was very reminiscent of a barcode. I repainted that stripe design without the background colour to help emphasise this similarity.

This similarity to barcodes gave me an idea to translate my own NHS and hospital numbers into barcode form. As someone who currently has to spend a lot of time in hospitals, I am probably more aware of my numerical designations than most of the population. These numbers are used to find you on computer systems and you are also “tagged” with them whenever you have a procedure in surgical suites. There are also barcodes on every box of medication and at times this administratively necessary process of being allocated a number can give the impression of being a commodity being transferred.

Obviously it was prudent for me to encode my numbers for data protection purposes and so the image below shows my sketchbook pages where I reminded myself how to translate numbers into the relevant sections of barcode. The page on the right has my sketches of what these numbers would look like.

The next stage was to draw out the barcode and paint it. The first choice seemed to be black as this would draw the greatest parallel between stripes and barcodes. Black and white stripes are also associated with zebra stripes It happens that the awareness ribbon for Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome is zebra print so this had another layer of meaning to me. That said I wanted to see whether using colours from the colour scheme building from this project gave different moods. The first pattern in the second row has coloured each digit separately to show how each digit is represented by two lines of varying width in a barcode. The last one on that line allocates a different colour to each number and creates a completely different design depending on the repetition of the numbers. The stripe pattern on the far right on the top line and the middle bottom pattern both use line thickness to determine the colours used and give a more random look.

At this point I decided to go one step further and scanned each set of stripes and loaded them into Adobe Illustrator so that I could play around with the variety of designs that can be created depending on how the stripes are repeated. There were endless variations but a selection have been placed into my sketchbook for Project 2 and are shown below:

[All links accessed on 19/7/19]

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