Painterly Patches

Can you tell I’m not an artist?

That’s a good title, isn’t it? It’s the name of the WEA course that I am attending at the UCAN Centre in Farnworth, near Bolton.

I’m not sure if I can adequately explain what the course is except to say that it involves colour, pattern, fabric and stitch. What I am able to tell you is that the group of people on the course are very friendly and welcoming. It is a real pleasure to be there. I think that most, if not all, of them knew each other prior to the start of the course. However, that does not stop them from greeting newcomers with open arms. It is a refreshing change from some courses I have attended.

I missed the first week of the course but was able to catch up easily when I attended the second session. Apparently participants had spent the first session cutting and sticking colours and images from magazines which was to be used for inspiration at the second session.

Erica’s work from Week 1
Ann wanted an Egyptian flavour
to her design

When I attended on Week 2 I didn’t actually do any cutting and sticking but rather began with the next step which was using visual resources as prompts for ideas for patterns to draw and colour on paper.

An example of the visual
resources available

Our tutor, Shenna Swan, provided a wonderful array of resources. Apologies but I didn’t think to take any other photos of them! These are the scribblings [patterns!] I came up with:

The sheet on the right was my first attempt

Drawing, in any way, does not come naturally to me. I admit that I am poor at letting my imagination guide my drawing. I have a tendency to draw geometric designs, badly, as you can see from my first attempt. At the bottom of that first sheet I became distracted and began drawing loops similar to those I would like to achieve when doing free machine embroidery. I was quite pleased with the result of that particular experiment. I think I may try drawing in this way immediately before attempting free machine embroidery, to see if it helps my sewing to ‘flow’ more easily on the fabric.

I was trying to be more free in my drawing

Our remit for this session was for our drawing to express how we were feeling. I managed that to a certain extent in this piece. The lines represent me in the centre and my newly-found relations around me. The lines continue off the sheet as there are more cousins whom I have not met and the family extends farther and they are curved as I feel good about having this new family. It may be a basic drawing and concept, but it works for me so I am happy.

This was my attempt at merging colours

The final example was inspired by one of Shenna’s resources. I like seeing colours that merge together, flowing from one shade to another and one particular design used this motif to show that. This is my feeble attempt to achieve that effect. I know a poor workman blames his tools, but I did find it difficult to blend the oil pastels that we were using. The other medium we could use was brush-tipped felt pens and I was also unable to blend those. I think I would have had more success with pencil-type crayons.

On Week 3 we began to transfer our patterns onto fabric. We are using recycled cotton sheets which have been cut into sections. We have a selection of ways in which we will be able to use our finished pieces. I decided that I wanted to build on the theme of family and produced these three fabric pieces:

When I have finished drawing the designs
the colours will be set and the pieces
embellished by stitching

The UCAN Centre, where the course is being held, is a tiny community centre owned by a housing association, and seems to be a hive of activity. One of the projects under way is a ‘signature’ quilt. People who attend the centre are invited to stitch their signature onto a ‘brick’ of fabric.

Two of the signatures

The bricks will be stitched into a house shape and the roof will be signatures of staff of the housing association, as the housing association puts a roof over the heads of those whose names are on the bricks. I was a litle concerned when I was asked to create a brick as I do not live in a house owned by the housing association but, as Anne [who will be putting the quilt together] explained, the housing association have provided the building for the course so have provided a roof over my head for that. Isn’t the quilt a lovely idea?


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