Drawing with Thread, Paint, Paper & Pen

One of the things I love about the artistic process is that we all share the need to put our creative energy into practice, we do it in so many different ways, and yet we usually have a lot of overlapping interests.

Whiskey Creek (Spring) By Kate Harding, 2008, Mixed media found leather garments, thread, grommets, and steel hooks, 54 x 35.
Whiskey Creek (Spring)
By Kate Harding, 2008,
Mixed media found leather
garments, thread,
grommets, and steel hooks, 54 x 35.

The one that springs immediately to my mind is a focus on drawing. Across media—including oil painting, collage, watercolor, sculpture, pen-and-ink, charcoal, fabric, and mixed media painting—I've found that the artwork that really stands out and captures my attention has a solid foundation in drawing.

Drawing and sketching are sometimes relegated to the equivalent of art in first gear, perhaps because drawing is what many of us learned first when we were growing up. But I see it a different way—drawing is an essential! It's the basis of most artistic practices (think about all the sketchbooks you've gone through over the years), and it's how we work out design questions and wrestle with challenging compositions, create compelling figures or motifs, and even incorporate gesture and detail into a finished work.

Whiskey Creek (Autumn) By Kate Harding, 2007, mixed media with found leather garments, thread, snaps, hook and eyes, grommets, and steel hooks, 54 x 89.
Whiskey Creek (Autumn)
By Kate Harding, 2007, mixed media with
found leather garments,
thread, snaps, hook and eyes, grommets,
and steel hooks, 54 x 89.
Whiskey Creek By Kate Harding, 2007, graphite drawing and tape on paper, 17 x 23 1/2.
Whiskey Creek
By Kate Harding, 2007,
graphite and tape on paper, 17 x 23 1/2.

Fiber artist Kate Harding predominately uses graphite on paper when designing her sculptural works, the most recent of which she has made from scraps of leather garments. Her Whiskey Creek series is made up of pieces that represent the landscape of her Midwest childhood home as it changes throughout the seasons, and each finished piece was made using the same drawing as a template.

The artist has done similar works based on views of New York City that she has drawn over the years. "I started looking at those sketches…and made patterns out of them and sewed them together the way you sew pieces of fabric together when you make a garment," Harding says. "They ended up as mural-size sculptures—painting without paint."

Harding's approach is just one way of incorporating line drawing, tracery, patterns, and sketching into the artistic process, but all of these have drawing principles and practices as their source. What makes her work compelling is that she uses cloth and fibers as her primary medium, but explores her artistry with a sound footing in traditional skills. Just think of all of the creative possibilities! Creative Catalyst sure has. Many of their art workshop DVDs like Collage and Text & Texture cover a range of media and focus on how to enhance your art when working with materials that go beyond canvas and paint, paper and pencil. No matter what materials you use, Creative Catalyst DVDs offer tips and techniques for sparking creativity, viewing materials in new ways, and seeing the work of contemporary artists who are creating noteworthy things, all of which may provide renewed inspiration and energy for your own practice.

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Courtney Jordan

About Courtney Jordan

  Courtney is the editor of Artist Daily. For her, art is one of life’s essentials and a career mainstay. She’s pursued academic studies of the Old Masters of Spain and Italy as well as museum curatorial experience, writing and reporting on arts and culture as a magazine staffer, and acquiring and editing architecture and cultural history books. She hopes to recommit herself to more studio time, too, working in mixed media.   

One thought on “Drawing with Thread, Paint, Paper & Pen

  1. Courtney—

    There haven’t been any comments on this one so I’ll throw in a few thoughts.

    Why not free-standing fabric collages? “Whiskey Creek, (Autumn) and (Spring) are interesting designs with beautiful color—and they have dimension. They are fairly large and they must have a rather commanding look hanging on a wall.

    If a repair man does show up tomorrow, I may decide to take up fabric art myself. The sliding door in the family room will not open and I haven’t been able to get out to the studio since tuesday.

    Paul

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