Some coloured triangles

Some coloured triangles: the latest stage in exploring triangles has been to add colour. I’ve used watercolour for the illustrations below of what I’ve been up to. I could have used gouache or acrylic, but actually, I really like the transparency and slight variations you get with watercolour. First, here’s a photo of my watercolour box:My watercolour box

I’ve been adding to this box for the last ten years or so. Often, when I visit an art materials shop, I come away with a pan or two in a different colour in the Winsor & Newton range. I discovered a long time ago that with watercolour it really is worth spending the extra money on artist quality materials. It doesn’t make much discernible difference with many media but artist quality watercolour is vastly superior in most colours to student quality. The problem is, of course, that it’s expensive, but watercolour pans last for ages and if you buy only one or two at a time over a long period you don’t notice the outlay so much. Having said that, there are some colours that I end up replacing more frequently, including Payne’s Grey and Davy’s Grey and pretty much anything in the yellow range. The yellowy/orange that’s almost used up there is the original version of Gamboge. Winsor & Newton have replaced this with something called ‘New Gamboge’. I don’t know what its constituent parts are but presumably it does not include gamboge which is the resin of the garcinia tree which is found mostly in Cambodia (gamboge is a version of the name Cambodia). I read about this in Victoria Finlay‘s book Colour: Travels through the Paintbox. She says that ‘Winsor & Newton have been receiving small parcels of gamboge from their South-East Asian suppliers since before anyone can remember and probably since the company started in the mid-nineteenth century’ (page 245). Sadly, not any longer. (Incidentally, I can recommend this book; very interesting and full of information and anecdote. The link above is to VF”s blog, which I’ve only just discovered). I love the original gamboge and was fortunate to find a little horde of the original W&N watercolour gamboge in a closing down sale in an art shop in Kendal a few years ago. I’ve still got a couple left, but then after that I’ll have to go for gamboge substitute.

Well, that was a unplanned and nerd-y digression. Sorry.

Back to the triangles. First of all, I drew some identical triangles on a sheet of watercolour paper, then had fun colouring them in using different shades of mostly yellow, but also some blue-ish and purplish greys. Have a look: Triangles on watercolour paper

Mixing the blue-ish greys and yellows together, not unnaturally, gives greenish shades. I thought these colours looked lovely together. The next stage was to cut them out using a steel ruler and craft knife. Then I spent quite a long time putting the triangles together in different ways. Here’s an example:Coloured triangles experiment

And another:Coloured triangles experiment

Eventually I stopped playing with them and stuck them down onto a page in my sketchbook.

This exercise was very absorbing and interesting, and I discovered, not for the first time, just how much variation you can get from mixing one predominant and one subsidiary colour. Brilliant.

I’ll keep on posting about the progress of this sketchbook but the next post had better be about Ditchling Museum which I visited last weekend. Please keep reading!

More on triangles

Today, a little bit more on triangles. Over the last few days I’ve been busy, as usual, with other things. The weather has been wonderful and I’ve spent some time trying to beat back the enormous weeds in the garden. However, I’ve found time for a bit of playing around with triangles. Here are some of my monochrome, or largely monochrome efforts:Triangles - monochrome

This is s simple drawn grid, coloured with three different greys in the Karismacolor range of coloured pencils. These pencils, incidentally, are wonderful – waxy and highly pigmented. I bought a large supply several years ago when they were still available in the UK. I think they may still be sold in the US – any intel on where I could buy some more would be very welcome. I’m gradually running out of colours and I’m being very parsimonious with myself in the use of the greys in particular.

Triangles - freestyle

This is a freestyle doodle of joined up triangles. I cut the sketchbook page into a triangle shape so you can see some of the drawing underneath. I really like this trick – you see an image with hints of other images around it.

Finally, another freestyle set of triangles, with some shapes emphasised. This is all great fun to do – none of this takes a long time, but it’s really useful to see what can be done with just one shape.

More freestyle triangles

Doodling with triangles

I decided to award myself a little bit of time off this afternoon to do some doodling with triangles. I think I mentioned a few weeks ago that I’d been thinking about triangles…. well, I’ve continued to think but haven’t had time to get anything down on paper.

So today I broke out a new sketchbook and did a little bit of triangle work:

Doodling with triangles






Here’s a close-up: Doodling with triangles

Off to the left you can see the pencil I used. This is a Palomino Blackwing 602. Last month my husband gave me a box of 12 of these pencils which he’d bought in a shop in Ladbroke Grove in London where he was told they were the best pencils in the world. I have been so busy with work since then that I haven’t had the time to even try them out till now. I’ve just been looking up some of the fulsome praise for them on the internet, and they certainly have lots of fans. And I have to say it’s beautiful pencil – a very smooth, very black line, and it seems to hold its point for quite a long time. Best in the world? I wouldn’t like to say unless I’d tried all the pencils in the world, but it’s pretty good.

I have plans to do some more sketchbook work on triangles. Will I ever get it done? Watch this space….

Triangles sample finished

I’ve finished the triangles sample that I wrote about last week and here it is all hemmed and tidy. Triangles sample finishedYou can see from the photo that it’s not just, or even mostly, about triangles, because they started insinuating themselves as I was working. However, it’s been enough to make me think that I must do some further explorations on the same theme, so watch this space….

A very useful feature of simple running stitch is that it can suggest movement. In the close up you can see the effect of movement suggested by the triangles placed in different ways on the cloth.Triangles sample completed I like this, and would like to explore it further. This sample is really very plain, which I like, but there’s room for more complexity in the design. With stitching I think you learn certain things through practice that cannot be learned in any other way; not through books or instruction or even video demonstration. You have to actually go through the process yourself, absorbing the fine motor movements over a long period of time, and this is one of the joys of hand stitching. I’ve learned something from this piece of stitching, as from them all, which, I trust and hope, will feed into future samples and projects.

I think my next move with triangles will be to do some drawings and possibly paintings, and then I’d like to start piecing some triangles together. I won’t be getting on with this in the very near future, though, as we’re shortly going on holiday. I’ll be taking some handstitching with me, and will continue to write posts about this and that while I’m away. The holiday involves a long train journey there and back, and I know I will enjoy my time on the Eurostar and French railways (especially the latter; the TGVs are so comfortable, especially when compared to most British trains which are cramped and vile) having a good time stitching for many hours. Just hope my thumb holds up….

Thinking about triangles

Yes, I’ve been thinking about triangles recently. I’m keen on geometric shapes and my all-time favourite is the square (e.g. my piece that’s currently on display in the Living Colour! exhibition comprises a series of squares), but that doesn’t prevent me appreciating and thinking about other excellent shapes. An important limiting feature of the square is that the only thing you can do to it is make it larger or smaller. But triangles have a lot more potential for variation. I didn’t much enjoy learning geometry at school, but I do remember liking to draw triangles with my protractor and dividers. And I especially liked the names: not so much equilateral, which is a bit dull, but isosceles and scalene which are lovely words. One of the few advantages of being a maths teacher must be the opportunity to work these words into conversation, an opportunity that doesn’t otherwise arise very often.

I’ve been planning a quilted piece based on triangles for a while now, but haven’t done anything about it. Maybe I’ll get round to it eventually. Most of my stitching time is taken up with working on my entry for the Carrefour Européen du Patchwork (I wrote a post about this last month). However, I do have a sample in production, which is just something for me to carry around and do when I’m not at home. I was away for a few days over the weekend and did some stitching on it. The stitching started off as straight-edged blocks, but I was intrigued to see some triangles started to emerge. I hadn’t really planned this, but then I hadn’t really planned any of it; it’s just a sample to keep my hands busy. Here’s a photograph of the work in progress:Sample with triangles



And another below:

Sample with triangles

This piece, incidentally, uses some of my naturally-dyed fabrics. The yellows and oranges are onion-skin dyed, and the blue is logwood. Once I’ve finished this sample, I think I’ll go on and do some more pieces with triangles. I’m also collecting images with triangles for a Pinterest board; there’s not much on it at the moment – a mere 15 pins –  but I hope to add to it over time.