Pattern play: building from the blank page up

One of the main reasons I wanted to start getting back in to journalling via a blog was to share and record experimental drawing processes. Often, when I'm drawing, painting or playing with materials, I'll go a step too far and instantly regret it. By recording the journey on paper through photos, I'm forced to pause and also able to go back and take note of where I could have stopped, pivoted or edited.


This is the first time I've photographed my mark making and drawing process start to finish, and tellingly, at the end, I stopped and placed the 'finished' piece next to my first marks on paper and felt they were so much more successful with their simplicity and ease in connecting to organic, natural forms.


Still, I enjoy the process of layering with different mediums, the environment of play and letting go:



I started out by scattering some small banksia leaves on some watercolour paper to act as a quick stencil before spattering some watercolour paint over the top using a toothbrush and the back of a spoon. This was a unfussy way to get colour and form onto a blank page with little thought or messing around after the xmas/new year break in the studio. It felt good to loosen up quickly.



I really liked the soft effect the leaves left using this method, so wanted to try the same effect with a variation on the method. I started by painting a base of black food colouring onto a a piece of A4 watercolour paper. In this photo, the food colouring is still wet and reflects my silhouette taking a photo which is interesting in an obscure, artful kind of way...


Once the food colouring was completely dry, I repeated the stencil and spatter process, but this time using bleach. This effect was magical to watch develop...


I recommend using gloves, a smock and some kind of eye protection when doing this, as there is very little control over where the bleach ends up.



At this stage, I trimmed down some smaller bits of the experiments to play with smaller pieces. In the top left two, more bleach is painted directly onto the paper with a paintbrush. I wanted to keep the motifs looking organic or somehow relevant to the banksia plant.


Getting to more traditional means of painting using watercolour and a brush was much more welcoming on this textured paper. Here, I started picking up some motifs and shapes from the banksia leaves, seed pods and flower.



Once the foundations and general structure of the plat were on the page, I started adding more detail, pattern and definition with a darker concentration of the watercolour paint and an 8B (dark, soft) pencil.


There is something so appealing and way more successful to me about the simplicity of the marks on the left than the final result. Although, I do really love how they compliment one another as pattern ideas.


Playing with pattern and paint was a great start to the first week in the studio for 2019! Have you been doing anything to loosen up, shake off the dust and kick off 2019? Comment below!