Bringing in the Catch
Thread Sketching in Action No 82 – Inspiration: Turner (subtitled Bringing in the Catch) is an exploration of the use of colour by the famous British artist – J.M.W. Turner.
If you are visiting London, no trip is complete without making the short journey to Tate Britain on the banks of the River Thames – one of the UK’s most marvellous art galleries, and the home of a permanent (and large) collection of works by Turner.
Learning from the ‘greats’
Everything we learn in life is, at its most basic, learned from someone else, or from experiences as we journey through life. From birth, we learn to imitate our parents and siblings – this is how we acquire the most basic and necessary skills, such as eating nicely and speech.
Great artists were also students once, and they, in their turn, learned from other great artists. Until quite recently, art education was quite often spent in the major galleries of the world, copying and imitating the techniques of other great artists. In this way, they developed the basic skills required for them to then further explore their own artistic expression.
No 82 – Inspiration: Turner
Thread painting inspired by Watercolour artists
So how can we, as artists working in fabric, thread and stitch, be inspired by, and learn from the techniques of great artists?
It comes down to the fundamentals of all art – Line, Form, Colour, etc.
I have had a long fascination with the watercolours of Turner – especially his later more Impressionistic landscapes – and his spectacular use of colour. He achieves a translucency that is little short of breath-taking.
The permanent Turner exhibition at Tate Britain is a wonderful place to study Turner’s techniques, as many of the pieces on display are, in fact, no more than sketches on paper or in sketch books.
The exhibition changes frequently, due to the delicacy of the watercolours, but the display of sketches and studies gives a fascinating insight into how Turner developed his ideas, working from concept to finished work.
Use of Colour
There is a marvellous book (shown here) Turner Watercolours, by David Blayney Brown (Tate Publishing) that is a never-ending source of inspiration and study of colour for me.
When I last visited the gallery, a small study on display, depicting an Impressionist view of fishermen hauling in a net on the beach, caught my eye. It is this study – most particularly the use of colour – that inspired my work Bringing in the Catch today.
My goal was not to copy what Turner had painted, but to use his suggestions to inspire my own use of colour, built up not with paint, but with thread on a fabric base. Never having mastered watercolour painting, it is through thread painting that I have found a medium that suits me and gives me my way of ‘painting’ with a watercolour effect.
This piece is, in itself, also just an exploratory sample – seeking out blends of colours and the tones, shades and textures that result from these combinations. If you have seen the Turner study I am referring to, you will notice the similarities – I state here most emphatically that I have used Turner’s work to study his techniques and am not putting this design forward as my own idea. However, the use of stitch to interpret the shapes and colours is, indeed, mine, incorporating my own signature thread painting techniques.
Examining my piece closely does not do it justice – as with most paintings, whether they are worked in oils, watercolours, acrylics or some other media, it is best viewed from a distance.
From a distance, the effect of the blended colours allows the viewer to see the shape of the land, the hills in the background, the sunset, and movement in the figures, and the overall effect of the various shades, tones and textures in the thread.
If you’d like to learn more about my thread painting techniques – or anything else that I do – please check out my online Arts Academy and take a class with me – I’d love you to join me!
Thanks for visiting!