Creating textile-inspired super textured and colourful weaving artworks with watercolour paper and inks
Below is a blog that is based on my vlog about my brand new mixed media ink on watercolour paper artwork, from my art studio in Wimbledon Art Studios. In the video, I share some of the background of my inspiration for a new series of artworks inspired by textiles entitled “Woven Contemplations”, some details about my interest in textiles, and showing you the actual weaving process I use to create my artworks. Please note, I’ve edited this blog from the original video version for clarity and brevity. To see the full video go here for Facebook and here for YouTube.
What is my weekly vlog series - Dispatches from the Art Studio videos?
Hi everyone, welcome! I’m Vera – a London-based, nature inspired abstract artist. Welcome to my weekly video series Dispatches from the Art Studio. As you know this year, one of my new year’s resolutions was to create weekly videos to share with you a bit more about my life, my work and what I create in the art studio as well as what I do outside the art studio to get some inspiration.
The genesis of my mixed media weaving artworks
The past few weeks, I’ve been working on a new series of weaving artworks. I’ll show you a little bit about how they work – I have a few on the table in the studio that I can show you. At the end of last year, we had the Wimbledon Art Studios Art Fair show in November. And for that show, I wanted to create some new work. I created three mixed media weavings and some acrylic on canvas mixed media artworks as well. At the art fair, a lot of my new artwork had really positive feedback and all three weaving artworks have now found new homes. A couple of my canvas and acrylic artworks found new homes during the fair as well. But what really struck me was how much people really responded to the weavings.
Why create textile-inspired artworks?
I’ve been thinking for a while to create some textile-inspired artworks, but I wasn’t quite sure whether they would work or whether this direction was something that I wanted to pursue. And I wanted to make sure that I had a clear idea of what I wanted to do with the weavings - how I wanted them to work and what I wanted to say. And as is often the case with art, I had a lot of testers and experiments… a lot of trying different media and different ways of creating the weavings, and figuring out what I think worked and didn’t work.
Now that the three original weavings have found new homes, part of my plan for this year is to create a few more weaving artworks. I think people have really responded to them and for me, I can really tap into a long-held interest in textiles. I adore textiles - whether it’s knitting with yarn, or rugs, or cross-stitching… I was one of those teenagers who had the very uncool hobby of cross-stitching. And over the years, I’ve done lots of crafty type things with textiles, from creating handmade Christmas ornaments by stitching felt, to stitching my own clothes at some point during the teenage years. And recently, I have also started introducing some textiles in some of my canvas-based artwork - I’ll show you some of those pieces in another video.
My interest in textiles.
For me, my textiles interest has been long-held. And I suppose for a long time, I wasn’t quite sure that I wanted to pursue it, partly because there is this idea in the art world that textiles as a medium is not considered very “fine art” by some people… not by me, but by some other people. Some people see textiles as more of a craft rather than an art-form and they think that once you introduce textiles into your work, somehow it takes the artwork away from the world of fine art and defines the work as more of a craft pursuit.
Fine art would not exist with textiles.
I disagree with all that. To me, at the end of the day, especially when you’re working in modern day society and there are lots of mixed media, surely one of the media you can use as mixed media is fibre… textiles. The other element that I’ve always found crazy as to why some people have negative interpretations of textiles in the art world, is that really fine art as many people define it (the type of art that you see in museums – in the National Gallery, the Louvre, the Prado) would not exist without textiles. A lot of that artwork is oil paintings (some acrylic but lots of oil paintings) on a surface. And that surface is mostly canvas… and canvas is always a textile – canvas is either linen or cotton or some sort of blend between the two. But really the canvas itself, the surface on which so much fine art is created is a fundamentally a textile.
To me, this whole idea that textiles is not “fine art” is just crazy. So at the end of last year, I decided why not try some textile-inspired artworks! Textiles are an interest that I’ve had for a long time, and why not incorporate them into some of my artwork. They are something that I feel very passionate about. So really, at some point, you have to follow your heart and hope that people respond to new artwork the way that you do!
watercolour paper is a textile.
In terms of talking about the surface that you draw on, I also found watercolour paper’s connection with textiles fascinating… not the inexpensive basic watercolour paper that you get which is often made out of wood pulp, but the really high quality watercolour paper. A lot of the watercolour paper that I use is made by a company called Fabriano, which is based in Italy and has been going for hundreds of years. I use a lot of their watercolour paper, particularly the kind that I use, which is acid-free, super-archival and artist quality but also has a real thickness and texture. And that watercolour paper is actually 100% cotton. And when I found out that fact, I thought to myself “isn’t that interesting!”? Isn’t that interesting that even paper that most people would assume is some sort of wood product made from trees is actually 100% textiles and in this paper’s case is 100% cotton.
In terms of the weaving artworks themselves, they start life as watercolour paper strips. I tear all these strips by hand to make sure that the edges have a bit of interest. I found early on, that when I cut them or when I use a knife to cut them or scissors, that the edges are too sharp, too clinical and too clean. This clean look didn’t really go with the look that I was going for with my weaving artworks. The look that I was going for with those artworks was much more organic and raw and more textile inspired.
watercolour paper strips - painting and texturing.
So each artwork starts with a strip of watercolour paper and then I paint on those strips with a variety of media - mainly liquid acrylic ink and some actual acrylic paint. You can see some watercolour paper strips I’ve created earlier over here on the table. Because I work with a lot of water-based media, I tend to work flat on a table – if you work vertically, then obviously all the paint would drip off. Here in front of me, I have a sea of watercolour paper strips that I have painted on and textured with a variety of tools including a screwdriver (my personal favourite), to create all sorts of patterns and colours. To me, this part of the process is super fun because that’s when you get to play with the colours and the textures and you texturize the paper itself so that each strip ends up being its own little piece of art.
It takes a couple of days, depending on the weather, for the strips to dry. And once they are dry, I overpaint them with pencil or more acrylic paint or sometimes paint pens, - this is an example of some texture that I added with some white acrylic paint. Really, I wanted to give each paper more texture and a bit more interest. I don’t do this overpainting treatment on all the strips because I found early on that there is a nice balance between adding a bit of white colour elements just to lift the composition and to give it a bit more interest versus not being too detailed… or too textured because then the eye gets lost. It’s just too much.
weaving together the watercolour paper strips
So the final element of creating my mixed media weaving artworks, which I’ll do over the next few days and weeks as I finish all the raw materials, is to actually weave them together. And when I say weave the watercolour paper strips together, I literally weave them together freeform. This is also one of my personal favourite parts of the process, because doing the raw materials (the painted and textured watercolour paper strips) is quite labour intensive as you can imagine. By the time that you tear them, and you paint them and you texture them and then they dry and then you paint some more and they dry again, it’s quite a labour intensive process. And it can take a lot of time.
weaving patterns i use
Early on, I decided that I didn’t want the weaving to be as regimented as the traditional weaving style of one up one down. If you’ve done any sort of weaving, even in school or kindergarden, or any craft classes, you know that this is the classic weaving pattern. And I thought to myself that while that works, that’s not really what I’m going for here… what I’m going for here is to still have an element of my own personality and what I think what looks good. But I also wanted to have an element of spontaneity in the weaving process. So I tend to switch around the weaving patterns – one up / one down, one up / two down, two up / one down and just to play around with some of the spacing and different colours and textures to make sure that what I create in the end is something that I find quite interesting.
And in terms of the watercolour paper strips, I have ones which are thicker, which are thinner, some which are a lot more coloured, and others which are quite neutral. It’s a matter of trying to create a composition which I think works. This can sometimes take a while and there’s a lot of back and forth – you put a watercolour paper strip in, you pull it out… a day later or a couple of days later, you think that that piece doesn’t quite work and another colour needs to go in there, or actually just moving them down so that they’re all in the position that you want them to be in.
As I’m speaking to you on this video, I’m also creating a quick small weaving so you can see the process of how I create these artworks. So this is an example of what a final weaving artwork looks like. Obviously, after I explained everything about the one up / one down weaving pattern and how I like to mix that up, I’ve ended up making this example small weaving very much one up / one down. It’s because I’m chatting with you while doing the weaving, so I’m not really thinking about the composition. And to be honest, these are not necessarily the colours that I would choose to combine in one piece - I like to have a combination of colours. I like to have some colours which are a bit bolder and some which are a bit more neutral, just to keep the balance of the colour of the final piece just right.
finishing the weaving artworks
This is just a small sample weaving artwork. Once I’m happy with the colours and the weaving, then I put the whole artwork onto backing paper (again archival artist quality backing paper), so that when the artwork is framed, you can use the backing paper to actually help with the framing. And the backing paper helps keep the weaving in place. I didn’t want to make the weaving so fragile that it’s difficult to actually frame them and they do need to be framed. They are paper at the end of the day, and they do need to be framed to be protected. So that’s why I attach a backing paper to the artwork to tie everything together, to make sure that none of the pieces come out of where they’re meant to be, and make it easier for transport and framing as well.
I like to work with a lot of colours. Here in front of me on the table, there are lots of different colours – there are some yellow ones, some orange, some greens…some reds. I’m really feeling reds and yellows right now… I don’t know why. I went through a blue colour scheme period last year and now I’m more into warm colours. But there are some purples here as well, which I adore…
let's connect in real life and online!
Well I hope you enjoyed this behind the scenes peek into what I’m working on. If you have any questions, please let me know. I’d love to hear what you think about my weaving artworks and anything else. If you want to connect with me in real life, you can always come visit me at the Wimbledon art studios, in southwest London or online, I have my website and online gallery shop at https://www.veraveraonthewall.com or you can find me on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, Ello, YouTube and others and on social media, my handle is always @veraveraonthewall.
Thank you so much for joining me today, and I hope to see you next time and I hope you’ve enjoyed this video. Thank you so much! Bye!
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