‘Imagined seascapes’ in search of (im)possibilities with Amanda Hislop

Just before ‘lockdown’ I was happy to receive a small package from Derwent, containing some sample paint palette boxes. Having written previously on my use of Inktense pencils and blocks as versatile sketching mediums, I was given the opportunity to try out the new Inktense Paint Pan Pocket Set Palette #02 and Graphitint Paint Pan Set.

These new boxes sat for a while on my work table while my mind adjusted to the lockdown situation. I looked to positives as a way to move forward, with two possibilities as a guide; my love of seascapes and the theme I had been exploring for some time ‘In search of (im)possibilites’ for an exhibition with Prism textile group postponed until spring 2021 with the unexpected addition of an online exhibition and festival.

After some musing, I came upon the idea of exploring the present impossibility of actually visiting the sea (I live in Oxfordshire) by immersing myself in sketchbooks created as a resource for my book for Search Press ‘Stitched Textiles: Seascapes’, and searching for possibilities using these Derwent art materials combined with some old favourites. I have used Graphitint pencils for some years, the muted shades fitting with my preferred earthy colour palette, so using the Graphitint Paint Pan Set and a grey and sepia fineline drawing pen which are my favourite drawing tools, I began making studies of a small collection of shells and stones gathered as a connection to ‘place.’

These observation drawings began to reveal the possibilities of the paint sets, the Graphitint palette fitting perfectly with the subtle colours and tones found in the pebbles. The small waterbrush in the Graphitint Paint Pan Set is a versatile tool, good for picking up colour and making a variety of marks from broad washes to fine detail. In the first drawing below, I used a fineline pen in sepia, drawing without lifting the pen from the page. I then worked in colour using the Graphitint palette. I then used a pencil to draw the stones, adding colour wash detail with Graphitint Paint palette.

I then moved on to a series of small (7 x 7cm) ‘imagined seascapes’ using the Graphitint Paint Pan Set and Inktense Paint Pan Set #02 taking inspiration from sketchbooks, full of seascape observations of ‘trips to the sea’ in recent years, conjuring up the colours and textures of the shoreline in my mind’s eye. These images were built up in layers with detail added using Graphitint pencils (left), fine brushwork with the waterbrush (centre) and opaque colour detail using Inktense white over layers of Inktense colour (right).

The two sets of paints have particular qualities, the Graphitint are subtle and muted shades with a graphite ‘sparkle’ contained within the paint. The Inktense colours at first seemed too bright and strong, but I found that using a limited number of colours and careful mixing helped to create my preferred more earthy natural palette. The addition of Payne’s Grey and White to the set is useful allowing for adjustments of tone, the addition of opaque shades and the possibility of layering.

I like to create surfaces to work on by tearing and joining torn Khadi cotton rag paper in layers to suggest the textures and surfaces of the shoreline and these I have used as a background (approx 18 x 20cm) to explore the paint sets. I first work in some drawings using Sepia Line Maker pen and a Graphitint pencil.

In my sketching kit I use a piece of candle wax to create a resist effect suggesting light on water and dramatic skies. A product I have found which replicates this is ‘Brushable Wax Resist’ by Zest-it, which I have used to suggest the texture and movement of water over the shoreline and in an ‘imagined sky’.

Next I have worked a combination of greys and blues over the surface creating the moving water surface, the marks made with the ‘Brushable wax resist’.

This is the final image and detail showing colour and textures achieved; with this method of working with joined pieces you get an uneven edge which hints at the landscape continuing.

I tried the same process using the Inktense Paint Pan Set #02 using a reduced palette of Sherbet Lemon, Bright Orange, Navy Blue, Ionian Green, Red Oxide, Payne’s Grey and Antique White (all available to purchase separately here). The colours needed a little knocking back to create a more natural earthy palette, for example adding a smidge of Bright Orange to Sherbet Lemon to make a warm ochre sand, with a little more Bright Orange to make a burnt sienna. These colours can be layered over each other without muddiness. The torn edges of the paper draw in the colour and the ‘brushable wax resist’ makes a pleasing texture; candle wax or white oil pastel could be used to create a similar effect. Antique White is used over colour to suggest sea foam and the opaque effect of water washing over the shore which can be seen in the detail below.

‘Stitched Textiles: Seascapes’ published by Search Press September 2019. Stitched Textiles is an exciting series in which leading textile artists present their work through step-by-step demonstrations, techniques, projects and inspirational techniques

Amanda Hislop’s Seascapes is a wonderful reference tool for all textile artists, whatever their skill level. Amanda puts particular emphasis on taking your work from initial inspiration through to the design stage. Her advice and guidance is all clearly explained through practical exercises and inspirational examples that then lead to projects which build upon and consolidate the lessons learned.

Textile artists, embroiders, painters and quilters whatever their skill level will be inspired by Amanda’s deep love for and fascination with the varied moods of the sea and coastal landscapes.

Thank you to Amanda for providing us with this interesting blog. For more of Amanda’s work, please use the links below.

For more information on and to buy Amanda’s book ‘Stitched Textiles: Seascapes’, please click below.