Tag Archives: Sketchbook

Artist’s profile: Elisabeth Couloigner

Boredom inspires all sorts of creativity, and so it was that I came across this French artist while idly browsing pinterest boards. I saw a number of images which were heavy in calligraphic forms and gestural lines, so looked into her a little more. She describes her practice as an exploration of the material and composition of the space offered by the medium – as an emotional and suggestive language.

“Above all, and always, there is the look at the world around, the precise listening to perceptions that question physical reality and sensuous reality. Playing with ladders, identifying analogies, making matches. 

Observe the outside world, and learn about its inner world. Confront the two in the formal game of composition. Coexist. Separate and bind, establish passages, breaches, ascensional movements, lines of communication, areas of interaction. Gather reassemble fragments and unify them into a harmonious whole. Use imbalances to create new balances. Transpose, extract, sublimate. Then, give a concrete existence to perceptions, transpose them. Shaping optical relief, giving sensoriality to matter.”

Many of her works are pure explorations of composition through material textures, line and colours. These are a selection of pages from ongoing work in sketchbooks, “I’m Searching”.

As well as the rich painted backgrounds, she also has a few more open, more heavily calligraphic works, which I very much liked, and reminded me a little of mine…




Playing with asemics

I have been slowly working on another piece of map weaving, based on experiments I did last February. 12 months ago already! I started in the new year, and have been struggling to get motivated to get it finished – it is a meticulous and laborious process of cutting, twisting and twining. Right now I am not enjoying the process as much as I did last summer – it’s just not speaking to where I am right now. What I keep coming back to instead are two older drawing themes: 1) working with stream of consciousness poetry and asemic text and 2) the ideas of anachronism (feeling out of place). I start drawing to warm up the creative juices and don’t ever get around to doing the weaving.

One of the key things my MA study showed me is that I believe art must come from your self, not your head. I’m not going to spend time developing something ‘just because it might sell’. I don’t need to get money from my art (I am going back to work in an office). Instead, I want to freedom to express the things I want to in the way that I want to. At the moment, this is through pen and ink.



My current fixation is back on playing with layering of fragments of poetry, using a range of different media to experiment with the textures and quality of the pigment.

I would like to turn these experiments into a series of different textures expressing different aspects of my poetry. Should I use of specific poem, or just the fragments which resonate at the time? I’ve never worked on properly resolving a drawing project before, so this will be an interesting adventure.

I’m also working on a sketchbook writings project – looking at creating a stream of consciousness piece every day (or at least most days….), playing with the expression of mood through the calligraphic form. Yesterday’s poem was a bit like the weather:


It’s nice to be back at the drawing table.

Visual research workshop

An unexpected workshop which I accidently gatecrashed yesterday, joining the second year students and Shane W, looking at how to utilise visual research to support our projects. Very useful, and a great reminder of how useful drawing can be in interpreting an idea – no matter how “well” you think you can draw.

Some of the exercises were very quick – 2mins for a drawing – but I thought this kept up the pace and made sure you didn’t over think anything. Then being asked to suddenly turn a 3D line drawing into 3D was really surprising.  I have always been a fan of working in sketchbooks, and this should give me a few more ideas on being more creative with it.

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Design basics 2 – thematic postcards

Hello there ,

As the next part of this series on the design basics I’ve been learning, I wanted to talk about thematic postcards. Sounds grand, but essentially I’ve found it is just an easy way to start developing ideas around your theme.

First off, if you haven’t already, get yourself a sketchbook!  If you’ve never used a sketchbook for designing textiles (or designing anything in fact take a look at this wonderful blog – The Sketchbook Challenge.

My project theme for the summer is Tree, Root and Branch. After drawing my mind map (see this post for the history), I found a few ideas which I thought were really good to investigate.

Step 1 – colours

In order to develop your idea, it’s good to start thinking about what sort of colours associate with it, so you can start to develop a small colour palette for your theme.  To help me choose my palettes, we created a whole load of small coloured squares – essentially like a home made dulux paint strip!  You can cheat by just getting hold of a whole load of ready made paint strips and cutting them up, but it’s good fun (and good learning) to mix all of the colours yourself.  (I’ll talk more about colour theory in my next design basics post).  These were the sort of coloured squares I had laid out ready to investigate…


Step 2 – colour palette 

The first idea I had was around the rich green-ness of summer trees, leaves and canopies – the idea of the dappled light which you see on a sunny day in the woods. The colours I associated with this were a mixture of rich and bright greens with shiny white of the sun peeking though the trees.

I called this palette “dappled”


Step 3 – textures and patterns 

Now came the really fun bit!  Once I had my colour palette, I started to look around for patterns, symbols and pictures which emphasised and embodied the theme. Some of these came from my photo collection and others from the internet.  This is where a pinterest board comes in handy!

Once I’d collected some good ones, into the sketchbook they go, and this gives you your “thematic postcard”. You can add other stuff to these as well as pictures – drawings, poems, textures – anything which helps you describe your theme. Here’s a few close-up pictures for dappled, and part of my sketchbook page.




 This is the start of my postcard page for dappled – still needs more work but it’s a start!

This technique is fun as a activity in itself as well as being very useful for starting of a project idea!

I’ve been doing some fabric dying for my first tree quilt project – next post I’ll have to show you!

Happy stitching!