Mixed Media with Jo Dixon, Oxford Summer School 2012

The following are samples of work I produced during five days of working with Jo Dixon.  We started bu making backgrounds, mainly on tissue paper and tissuetex, using acrylic paints and brusho inks, using stencils and blocks and rubbing over various textues.

These are some of athe blocks and stencils I made.  These 2 lino blocks on the right are etched using castic soda mixed with wallpaper paste.  I love this method.  The block below uses foam that you draw into, also very successful.





Here on a piece of callico I monoprinted with black acrylic, used printing blocks and did rubbings over textured plates with wax crayon.  The black shapes near the top were made using part of a stencil.  I’ve called this an experiment with windows and arches.





This is another experiment on the same theme.  Here I first painted on a layer of gesso, then added some modelling paste onto which I pressed the stencil of ovals while the paste was still wet.  I added paint through the stencil with bits of painted tissue in some of these.  This probably needs more doing to it, but at present I am undecided as to what.





The following two pieces were originally one piece of cloth.  When I started inking in the stems at the bottom, I decided I didn’t like them so I left them partially inked on the second piece.  Before that, I painted the background with diluted paint, used string for rubbing and monoprinted.






This one simply uses a painted background and a block print of the stem and leaves, partially inked.







Having done a lot of experimenting over the first 3 days, it was time to think about a finished piece of work.  I had done this sketch of the the village of Bedoin in Provence in June viewed from up the hillside.






This is the finished piece.  It is done on cartridge paper, with first gesso to give the brushwork texture, then painted.  Lots of layers of torn tissue paper prepared as backgrounds earlier were glued on to give the complex effect.  The church and houses were cut out out of thin cardboard, then painted with details inked in.  Additional houses are just painted, again with detail inked in.  Some sand mixed with modelling paste was laid down for the path.  Lino prints were used for the distant trees.  I am reasonably pleased with this work, although the perspective is not quite right when compared to a photo taked from that same spot, but in essence I think it achieves the effect I wanted.



My final work was based on this sketch of old gnarled vines, again in Provence.




This is again done on cartridge paper, with gesso painted on first.  I then painted the sky and layered on the prepared tissue papers. The green foreground is tissue paper that had been rubbed with wax crayon over the wallpaper in  my B & B!  Everything can be put to use!  The vines were made separately on another piece of paper using moulding paste, painted when dry and cut outglueing them on in part only so that they stand pround and hopefully look more three-dimensional.  I glued a piece of thread behind them to represent the wire they had been trained on.  It was very stoney terrain so I used some pieces of card covered with textured moulding paste for these.  More paint was added once they were glued down, the darker being flicked on from the brush.  The post is a torn and painted piece of corrugated card.  I am really pleased with this work and I feel gives these old almost dead vines a creaturelike existence.

Chapter 5



As well as the traditional way of using a lining that does not show on the outside of the work, sometimes it is effective for the lining edge to show as a contrast to the outer fabric.  The backing of a quilt or hanging could be used in this way.


I like the idea of using tabs as a way of hanging a work.  Having made my Monet inspired quilt as part of Module 1, I hadn’t decided how to hang it, so this seemed like a good answer.  I didn’t want to detract from the quilt itself by making the hanging part too ornate, so kept the stitching very simple.  each tab is secured to the back of the quilt.  The tiny bit of white that appears in places is from the fabric of the quilt lining which was white with black wavy, water-like lines over it.








I will use a simple bamboo pole on which to hang the piece.


Fringes and tassels could be used as a decoration on all sorts of items, from lamps, to cushions, jewelry, belts etc. the following are samples I have made:

The top fringe was printed using a wooden block once made.  Bottom left is made from machine wrapped cords and bottom right from two different coloured narrow ribbons.





The left hand tassels are made from wool, middle from embroidery thread and the right one is metallic thread threaded through a bead.  I can see the possibilities of using these in many ways, for example on the corners of cushions, or as part of a tie for a handmade book.






1. Amanda Hislop

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Amanda studied woven textiles and painting and this influence is evident in her work. She says:

 ‘The essence of the landscape and natural forms inspire my work. I use drawing to record fleeting fragments observed and absorbed; I look at the familiar, see the extraordinary and respond to subtle changes in view in the rhythmic motion of walking. The evocative moods of seasonal change and atmospheric qualities of light and changing weather experienced when walking are a constant source of inspiration’ .

She produces work inspired by sea and landscapes, layering papers, fabrics, textures, together with paint and stitch.  The different layers often appear woven into each other.  Some are quite representational, like the cow parsley and the shell; others are more abstract, but all I think all are very atmospheric and give a sense of having minutely observed what is around her.  You get a real sense of her connection to land and sea. I love her use of subtle colours and textures.  Much of this is laid down in the backgrounds, but it is the different coloured threads used in the embroidery that really bring the works to life.  The stitching is freehand, simple, like drawn lines and often fairly minimalist.

I love Amanda’s work and find it very inspiring.  I did a week- long workshop with her three summers ago and it was she who introduced me to the concept of mixed media and in particular of combing this with stitch.  It was also after this that I decided to study machine embroidery.

Information and photo taken from Amanda’s website.  Images of her work from the website and from a booklet ‘landlines drawn lines stitch lines’.




2. Val Holmes

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Val trained as an embroiderer and has taught this for many years.  She is constantly experimenting with different media and developing new techniques, the latest of which is the use of collagraphy for textile artists.  I think that she would consider that her most important role is to allow her students to find their own creative path, rather than to be prescriptive in her teaching.  I keep finding myself repeating her mantra ‘less is more’ – in other words how to produce the effect you want by suggestion rather than overkill, to really consider how stitch will integrate with a surface you have produced.  I hope this influences my own work.  Sometimes her stitching is quite complex and is like a painting ( eg ‘Blossom in the Drome); at other times it blends more into the overall image (eg. ‘Mist in the Marshes’).  Most of her work uses free embroidery with some hand stitching.

Information and photo taken from Val’s website.  Images of work from the website and from two of her books:  ‘Textile Art’ and ‘Collage, Stitch, Print’.



 3. Tilleke Schwarz

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Tilleke is from the Netherlands and trained mainly in painting and drawing but now uses textiles in her work.  Folk art, cats and daily life are her inspiration and her style is naïve, quirky and humorous.  She says her mother taught her embroidery and there is a certain ‘old fashioned’ style to much of it.  Most of it is hand embroidery, with a little free machine embroidery.  She calls her works maps of modern life and indeed you need to study them like a map to understand what she is trying to say, reading the words as well as the images.  This is not a style that I am drawn to at all, although I appreciate some of the humour.  I think I prefer work that is more subtle, which has an immediate appeal to my senses rather than to my mind.  How colour is used is very important to me and here it does not work for me.

Information and photo taken from Tilleke’s website and book ‘Mark Making’.