The image above is an experimental drypoint etching I made a few years back. The inspiration for the drawing came from looking at preserved herbarium specimens of the cotton plant. At the time, I wanted to find out more about cotton, a plant that we use everyday in such a wide variety of ways. I started looking at some of the many variations of the plant, displayed systematically on sheets of paper at the Herbarium of Liverpool Museum. I was inspired by composition of the various parts of the plant, dried and placed on sheets of parchment.
To make the print, I etched a loose line drawing into a sheet of aluminium, the drawing method I used helped me lose control, creating a more obscure image. I hope that the image obtains an abstract quality, that’s subject matter is left to the imagination. In a sense, it is my attempt at interpreting the beauty of a highly complex and important material.
The following images were generated through randomly cropping parts of the above print on the computer and flipping and repeating to achieve something that looks a bit like a pattern.
Following my previous post, ‘The Joy of Paper’, here are some patterns developed from the paper collages. After cropping the collages into small squares of colour combinations and compositions that I found interesting, I experimented with flipping the images to make repeat patterns in Adobe Illustrator. Here are the results.
For the past few days, I’ve been enjoying experimenting with shapes and colour. Following on from my last blog inspired by Matisse’s cut outs, I’ve been exploring painting blocks of colour with goache onto sheets of newsprint paper. Using a felt pen, I played about with taking a line for a walk, making loose, unplanned shapes which I then cut up and put aside.
I then selected coloured shapes at random and firmly glued them to a blank piece of paper, the result was a very busy, cluttered collage with many overlapping shapes.
My plan was to then simply fold the A4 paper into quarters and then eighths, to create compositions. By rotating and cropping, I am now able to decide which compositions (if any) I would like to develop further.
The below images, show how patterns can begin to emerge through reflecting and rotating in Adobe Illustrator.
In the late 1940s, Henri Matisse turned almost exclusively to cut paper as his primary medium, introducing a new means of expression known as the cut-out.The cut outs had the scale of grand paintings, the three- dimensional presence of sculpture, and the linear quality of drawing. What Matisse had invented brought these art forms into one by created something all together new.
I am very much taken with my print of Blue Nude IV, (Spring 1952), which hangs boldly on my wall.
It’s confident, bright and beautiful and reflects Henri Matisse the Master Draftsman; celebrated for prints and drawings that could describe a figure in fluid arabesque lines.
The cut-outs Matisse made towards the end of his life (1936-1954), brought together magnificently both Matisse the colourist and Matisse the draftsman. The results were striking, exuberant and often large in scale; they adopted an engaging simplicity alongside a great deal of creative sophistication.
The process involved deploying two materials, white paper and goache. The use of goache (similar to watercolour but with added opacity and a chalky matte finish) provided the wide-ranging colour and complexity. The sheets of paper would be painted with watered down goache and left to dry, from these sheets shapes were cut. Shapes were pinned into position, until suitable compositions were created. The medium provided Matisse with a solution for solving compositions of large scale paintings but what started as a means to an end, became an end in itself. The cut-outs as a medium for finished works of art was an inventive development by Matisse, reflecting a renewed commitment to form and colour.
The works are renowned for their vitality, their striking play with colour and contrast, their exploitation of decorative strategies, their lively compositions and their economy of lines. But what is remarkable and truly inspiring is that Matisse created these works of beauty under a cloud of illness and exhaustion. If Matisse could no longer get out into the world, he would recreate the world in art – in all its beauty and colour.It shows remarkable strength and passion for art and life that Matisse was able to produce such bright and exuberant pieces of work, that have gone on to be enjoyed by so many.
The famous blue nudes form part of Matisse’s extensive collection of ‘cut outs’ which could be seen together as part of the Tate Modern’s 2014 exhibition, ‘Matisse:The Cut Outs’ (organised by MoMa in collaboration with Tate Modern) which went on to be exhibited in New York at MOMA.
Sir Nicholas Serota, Tate’s director, said many would view the exhibition as “the most evocative and beautiful show that London has ever seen”.
He added: “When you see them together, the skill and sheer exuberance of the material will be apparent. People sometimes say these could be done by a child, but it’s only an old man that has this incredible freedom of mind.”
The visually striking cut-outs make highly stimulating viewing; when brought together in a large scale exhibition we are free to enjoy them for what they are as well as consider the tensions that exist within them between finish and process, fine art and decoration, drawing and colour.