ARTIST TEXTILES: PICASSO TO WARHOL - PART 2

Following my post ARTIST TEXTILES: PICASSO TO WARHOL - PART 1, PART 2 transports us into the fashion world with a cornucopia of patterns from (of course) Picasso and Warhol, alongside a host of other important designers from the twentieth century.

Artist Textiles - Picasso to Warhol by Rebecca Johnstone

Andy Warhol, the epitome of Pop Art. Some of his textile designs are only now coming to light. The collection shown as part of this exhibition include food-related ‘Pop’ textiles for his friend Stephen Bruce, proprietor of legendary New York restaurant, Serendipity 3.

Artist Textiles - Picasso to Warhol by Rebecca Johnstone

Starting with these ‘ice cream’ patterns from Andy Warhol, the colours here are whimsical yet vibrant. That punch of purple is delicious and the lime green against the orange makes the whole combo ‘pop’.

The sketches seem so simple, naive, yet the placement of each design and the consideration of negative space is what connotes a true master at work.

In some of the patterns, the motifs are temptingly only part in colour, and this sketchy style is what makes them so wonderful and accomplished. (Know the rules, break the rules.)

The silky lustre of the fabric makes them even more sumptuous.

Artist Textiles - Picasso to Warhol by Rebecca Johnstone
Artist Textiles - Picasso to Warhol by Rebecca Johnstone
Artist Textiles - Picasso to Warhol by Rebecca Johnstone
Artist Textiles - Picasso to Warhol by Rebecca Johnstone
Zandra Rhodes

Zandra Rhodes

John Rombola, screen-printed cotton in ‘Circus’, 1956

John Rombola, screen-printed cotton in ‘Circus’, 1956

The lure of the circus will never fade, and again this wonderful sketchy style just adds to the whimsy of the design and I can imagine, the mood of the wearer if this were a dress or a other item of clothing.

So much of what we wear is a uniform or an essential or just a ‘cover-up’ to keep us from the cold, so ‘fashion’ in the true sense of the word should be clothing that perhaps is not essential wear but that makes us feel good about ourselves, fun, motivated, and crucially, helps us express our unique style to the people around us.

Often I feel like wearing a dungaree dress with my favourite t-shirt and trainers and not doing my hair. Other days I love taking time to put on make-up and something a bit more special. Fashion comes and goes as our own moods do the same.

Artist Textiles - Picasso to Warhol by Rebecca Johnstone
Artist Textiles - Picasso to Warhol by Rebecca Johnstone
Artist Textiles - Picasso to Warhol by Rebecca Johnstone

I love seeing words and phrases scrawled over images, forming part of the design, especially the French words!

Artist Textiles - Picasso to Warhol by Rebecca Johnstone
Artist Textiles - Picasso to Warhol by Rebecca Johnstone
‘Shift’ dress made from Picasso’s textile ‘Frontispiece’, screen-printed cotton c1964-5

‘Shift’ dress made from Picasso’s textile ‘Frontispiece’, screen-printed cotton c1964-5

The numbers are also a pretty cool addition, looking genuinely like workings-out or old coffee sacks, the simple shift shape complementing and counteracting the busy surface decoration. I could see myself wearing this because it also has a rebellious edge to it, like something a member of the resistance might wear because a red beret is just too obvious.

Artist Textiles - Picasso to Warhol by Rebecca Johnstone

Picasso was the most dominant and influential artist of the first half of the twentieth century. Associated mostly with pioneering art movements such as Cubism, he also invented collage and made major contributions to Symbolism and Surrealism. His behaviour has come to embody that of the bohemian modern artist in the popular imagination.

Artist Textiles - Picasso to Warhol by Rebecca Johnstone
Artist Textiles - Picasso to Warhol by Rebecca Johnstone
Artist Textiles - Picasso to Warhol by Rebecca Johnstone

I always want to attribute Matisse with the ‘invention’ of collage, if indeed that’s what you could call it, so finding out it was actually Picasso, is a bit mind-blowing. He truly was a master of his craft, moving and morphing (and inventing) so many different art phases, like a butterfly.

Artist Textiles - Picasso to Warhol by Rebecca Johnstone

In the 1960’s, Pablo Picasso collaborated with two American textile manufacturers (Bloomcraft and White Stag), seeing his designs adapted and produced on fabrics as diverse as corduroy ponchos to PVC-coated rainwear. Both companies invested heavily in modern marketing techniques and the collaborations were a huge commercial success. The designs sold from between $9 and $30 apiece, with fabric at only $5 a yard.

Artist Textiles - Picasso to Warhol by Rebecca Johnstone
Artist Textiles - Picasso to Warhol by Rebecca Johnstone
Artist Textiles - Picasso to Warhol by Rebecca Johnstone
Artist Textiles - Picasso to Warhol by Rebecca Johnstone
Artist Textiles - Picasso to Warhol by Rebecca Johnstone

I appreciate the simple repeats as much as the more intricate designs, sometimes more so, especially when it comes to these fun button and butterfly repeats in typical ‘vintage’ palettes.

Buttons conjure a certain nostalgia for me - Nana’s button box, my mother re-sewing buttons onto my winter coat for school, or even modern-day crafting with vintage and second-hand buttons. They are so unique in their colours and shapes, their texture and their transparency.

I love finding buttons in charity shops though I have far too many of my own now at home. Who wouldn’t want to use a button-print textile in their home or fashion designs?

Artist Textiles - Picasso to Warhol by Rebecca Johnstone
Artist Textiles - Picasso to Warhol by Rebecca Johnstone
Artist Textiles - Picasso to Warhol by Rebecca Johnstone

Collage-style and dolly-mixture prints never go out of fashion for me, from Matisse to modern interpretations. The more colours the merrier, though of course, monochrome never goes amiss.

Artist Textiles - Picasso to Warhol by Rebecca Johnstone
Artist Textiles - Picasso to Warhol by Rebecca Johnstone
Artist Textiles - Picasso to Warhol by Rebecca Johnstone
Artist Textiles - Picasso to Warhol by Rebecca Johnstone
Artist Textiles - Picasso to Warhol by Rebecca Johnstone
Graham Sutherland, ‘Rose’, screen-printed cotton, Preston c1949

Graham Sutherland, ‘Rose’, screen-printed cotton, Preston c1949

Artist Textiles - Picasso to Warhol by Rebecca Johnstone
Artist Textiles - Picasso to Warhol by Rebecca Johnstone
Graham Sutherland, ‘Snowdrop’, screen-printed cotton, Preston c1949

Graham Sutherland, ‘Snowdrop’, screen-printed cotton, Preston c1949

Artist Textiles - Picasso to Warhol by Rebecca Johnstone
Artist Textiles - Picasso to Warhol by Rebecca Johnstone
Artist Textiles - Picasso to Warhol by Rebecca Johnstone
Hammer Prints Ltd

Hammer Prints Ltd

Artist Textiles - Picasso to Warhol by Rebecca Johnstone
Artist Textiles - Picasso to Warhol by Rebecca Johnstone
Artist Textiles - Picasso to Warhol by Rebecca Johnstone

The detailed line-work is fantastical here and takes me on a dizzying trip to another place and time.

I love the use of the architectural details of the train station, trains coming in and out, the archways, and the cornicing and curliques somewhere between art deco and art nouveau - and how that translates into the tailoring on the dress.

These drawings are so rich and I think of the artist scribbling away at a blank canvas, how their life might have been and their inspirations. Freer in some senses but perhaps not in others?

Artist Textiles - Picasso to Warhol by Rebecca Johnstone
Eduardo Paolozzi & Nigel Henderson, ‘Portobello’, London, c1958

Eduardo Paolozzi & Nigel Henderson, ‘Portobello’, London, c1958

Artist Textiles - Picasso to Warhol by Rebecca Johnstone
The rich etching of fruit and leaves. I’m guessing this could be William Morris?

The rich etching of fruit and leaves. I’m guessing this could be William Morris?

Artist Textiles - Picasso to Warhol by Rebecca Johnstone

The doorways here have so much energy and must surely have been inspired by the Mediterranean, as the colours evoke such warmth and delight. The brushstrokes are masterful - seemingly rough and almost abstract, yet the details are depicted in a finer hand, the light playing against the shadows.

Artist Textiles - Picasso to Warhol by Rebecca Johnstone

The colours and pattern here are so modern yet vintage - the sign of a true classic, timeless design.

Artist Textiles - Picasso to Warhol by Rebecca Johnstone

Working through these images again reveals another layer of richness and awe, as well as renewed inspiration for my own work from these masters of the last century. I’m so glad their work is preserved here and in the textiles they created.

How wonderful would it be to discover one of these original pieces of textile or a dress, featuring the handiwork of Picasso or Warhol, in a vintage treasure trove somewhere? I can dream…

Artist Textiles - Picasso to Warhol by Rebecca Johnstone

NB. I’ve credited the artists where possible, but as I saw this exhibition a year ago, some of the details that I would have had fresh in my mind, have gone. Apologies! I remember I’d wanted to purchase the book that was produced in conjunction with this exhibition, however it was sold out at the time and I think is perhaps no longer in print . If you recognise any of the works, please let me know and I will add the credits.

Thank you!

Acorns, acorns, everywhere

In responding to a themed call-out last week via Pattern Camp for pattern designs featuring or inspired by 'ACORNS', I've become a little obsessed with them the last few days, like a squirrel scavenging, well...acorns.

ACORN, noun: the fruit of the oak, a smooth oval nut in a rough cup-like base

My first step was to create my motifs, and I chose to use ink for the first time. (If there is anything I've learnt about creativity, it's that experimentation is A GOOD THING.)

I was really pleased with the results of the ink, which allowed a level of precision and intricacy which I hadn't anticipated.

'ACORNS' surface pattern design motif in ink

I enjoyed layering up the colour, starting with a pale grey wash, building up the intensity and adding in finer details with the tip of my brush.

Turns out I love ink!

Next, I used watercolour pencils to draw some similar acorns but this time in colour.

As a final touch, I outlined them in gold pen.

Golden acorns are the best kind aren't they?

'ACORNS' surface pattern design motif in watercolour

Both sets of acorn motifs made pretty patterns and I'm pleased with the results. But I want to make more.

One comment I loved on this black and white version was how 'sophisticated' it made something as simple as acorns look - and I agree, so I'm stealing that (squirreling it?) and calling this pattern 'SOPHISTICATED ACORNS':

' SOPHISTICATED ACORNS' surface pattern design, simple repeat

I also liked these alternate versions: the autumnal colours of SAGE and BRIGHT RED for different backgrounds, the faded look, the shiny MAHOGANY BROWN. It's just a shame the colour bled through the non-enclosed spaces that were white #backtothedrawingboard

These are simple repeats using a 'scatter' technique, which is fine, but...

For the coloured acorns, I thought I'd get a bit fancy and try a half-drop repeat.

A bit more technical, I always get confused half-way through, but you can do so much more with a half-drop, and dare I say it, make even more sophisticated acorns:

'ACORNS' surface pattern design, half-drop repeat

It was OK plain, but then I added this orange background - which I'm calling 'burnt sienna' (great colour, amazing connotations).

I toned down the acorns and feel this combination really makes them 'pop'. It feels the most autumnal, too.

'ACORNS' surface pattern design (burnt sienna), half-drop repeat

I love the way this pattern has a 'rope' effect, like banisters on the stairs.

I can see this working for thanksgiving or Christmas, but especially - and this is particularly sophisticated - in a squirrel's pantry!

What do you think?

'ACORNS' surface pattern design (burnt sienna), half-drop repeat

I could have made the background a bit more detailed, rather than so plain, but that's for another day; I'm not that fancy yet.

I'll leave you with these lyrics from this song, which has a really lovely message

"Be like the squirrel girl, be like the squirrel", Little Acorns, The White Stripes

'You Cut Me To The Quick' 'GREEN' Collage

Through The Collage Club, of which I am an avid supporter (if sporadic contributor), I heard about the call out for GREEN themed collages. I did a GREEN collage a few years ago, which my local council featured in their newsletter (I used elements of their printed newsletter - oh the irony), but this time I took it a step further.

It didn't need to be 'green' in colour but you had to explain how the finished collage would meet the theme brief of GREEN.

In my head I saw a steep rainforest of green trees with dotted lines intersecting them, like a blueprint for destruction (a green print would be more apt here).

It sounds like a negative image, and indeed, the culling of trees and the destruction of natural habitats for endangered animals is not a happy subject, but it's a subject I'm passionate about and having this image fired me up to create.

I started with a quick watercolour of simple triangular shapes representing trees, adding in pencil marks and patterns once the watercolour was dry.

Watercolour & collage forest

Next, I layered ripped papers, some featuring handwriting (like words of the law, like an agreement with nature?), to make a more cohesive forest.

I then photographed the page to manipulate digitally.

As I worked, more ideas came to me and I was inspired to layer a photograph of a glorious orange sunset over the forest.

I positioned it so the sun was visible and allowed the forest to show through. The thinking behind this was of 'the sun coming down on the forest' if it was set for destruction.

Mmm, still quite bleak. But it's an important message because this stuff is really happening.

Sunset through trees, winter in ScotlandSunset through trees, winter in Scotland

Next, I started hacking into my beautiful, serene image with 'digital scissors', leaving empty spaces where the trees used to be.

This created jagged edges and sharp lines that 'go against the grain' of nature (like destruction), and I left them because they are the essence of my point, the prism of my view.

I still think the image is rather beautiful in a haphazard way, if a little...'busy'. But then destruction sites tend to be busy, don't they?

Finally, I added a few pairs of scissors and crude broken lines marking out the areas to be cut, destroyed, taken out, burnt away.

'Cut Me to the Quick' collage

Effective? I called it 'You Cut Me To The Quick'.

Today the list of successful contributors was released, and I wasn't in the line-up. I'm not surprised or disappointed because the image I created relies a lot on digital elements and is more of a 'statement' than a beautiful 'finished' scene.

I wanted to share it anyway, and also shout out my lovely #creativesister Karen Lynch, a fellow Collage Club creative who is in the line-up - yay!

Check out who else made the cut.

Oh, and then I made a repeating pattern with the original watercolour. I like this pattern much more than the collage, and I've produced it in multiple colour-ways:

'Green Forest' & 'Autumn Forest'

'Green Forest' Repeating Pattern 'Autumn Forest' Repeating Forest

My inspirational message for the day?

No creative work or effort is EVER wasted.

Designing the French Riviera S/S 2017

For the last week I've been obsessively designing patterns for the Make it in Design 'Beginner' Summer School. It's been so much fun! The brief was for simple, stylised designs for multiple applications across fashion and home.

The colour palette was provided as Pantone colour samples and I used these by colour matching them in Photoshop/Illustrator using the eyedropper tool (I haven't worked out how to load Pantone palettes yet).

My first thoughts were of palm trees, ship's wheels, sunsets and prawns. A heady mix for the French Riviera jetset!?

Palm Tree Line Drawing

I'd forgotten how tricksy Illustrator is. Why can't you move between artboards and still have the colour selected? #firstworldissues

I managed to learn a few new Illustrator skills in the process. Like adding gradients (a key element in the design brief), and isolating different elements of an image-traced live-paint group to change colours.

After playing about with the below design for a while, I couldn't decide which version I liked best - thoughts?

Then I had to remind myself: gradients don't repeat, but they still look nice for a single placement.

I can see this design on a beach towel, face cloth, napkins, plates (especially picnic plates!), t-shirts, a beach bag. Loads of possibilities.

The limited palette really helped me to focus on the designs, and re-use colours where I would normally have gone for more of an obvious impact. I think it's proven to me how much cohesion it creates too. That's particularly true with the pink ship's wheel design below. I created it in another colour way (not shown here), and had fun playing with scale.

Here's a few of my other favourite designs for this brief:

French Riviera SS17 'Graph Prawn' surface pattern design
French Riviera SS17 'Leaping Prawn - with Gradient' surface pattern design
French Riviera SS17 'Pink Ship's Wheel' surface pattern design
Print
French Riviera SS17 'Leaping Prawn' surface pattern design
French Riviera SS17 'Sunset Palm' surface pattern design

Most of the designs are simple grid repeat vector patterns, but the 'Graph Prawn' is a single 'placement' design. He's cheeky isn't he?

Which one is your favourite? I'd love to know.

***Update, Update 15.08.16***

So excited to find out that I WON one of the '20 ways to draw...' books for sharing my pattern-progress on Instagram. Taking this as a sign to focus more on my patterns and design work!

Mountains of Pattern

Last month I learnt how to make digital patterns, and then DIY got in the way. But as I slowly work my way back to creativity, I've found myself obsessed all over again with mountains. Last year I made a book called 'My Experience with Mountains' featuring the glorious hulks of snow-capped landscape that I'd witnessed on a trip to Glencoe.

Mountains take your breath away and provide (creative) perspective. They are giant and almighty making every problem seem less, reduced, inconsequential next to the majesty of a mountain. And they're free to enjoy. Immovable. Permanent (earthquakes notwithstanding), unique, in abundance. A feature of our world; a natural beauty.

So I've started experimenting with ideas and creating patterns to complement all I have to say about mountains: the marriage of art and words in mountains.

Doodling and scribbling. Looking up co-ordinates and plotting out colour-ways. Mountain mists and mountain tracks.

I'm drawn at the moment to winter white, mauve, lilac, misty blue, purple.

'Mountain Tracks'

And I've started a little Pinterest board to save my mountains of pattern inspiration:

https://www.pinterest.com/daintydora/mountains/

What are your thoughts on mountains? Which mountain ranges are within your grasp? I'd love to visit the Andes and the Pyrenees...