Etiqueta: Still life

Part 2 Intimacy

Part 2 Intimacy

Assignment 2 – Still life

During the work making sketches around my home I noticed a particular subject that I wanted to explore – in our lounge dresser we have a collection of souvenirs/presents from around the world – China, Russia, England, Spain and Chile.

I was also interested in using the idea of a large group of objects as the subject – similar to some of the tables of objects painted by John Bratby – see featured image above (John Bratby. Still life with chip frier, 1954 – detail).

I also wanted to use bold colours – so I explored the use of oil pastel blended/worked with white spirit, and incorporate soft pencil (and line work) also blended with white spirit – to demonstrate use of colour in drawing, accurate and expressive depiction of form, and a range of mark making with contrasts in line, tone, texture and form.

I took many photos of the subject at different angles and because this drawing would be made over several days, I decided to work from photos displayed on my large computer screen – this also meant that I could work at any time of day. The initial exploration/experimentation worked well and I already had an idea of what I wanted in respect of composition…


I then laid out the initial drawing using a 6B pencil and whitespirit…

Then colour was added using oil pastel/6Bpencil…

When I reach what I felt was enough colour, I then reworked the lines and added deeper shadows.

My final drawing….

Souvenirs and presents. Oil pastel and pencil on A2 250g mixed media paper.


Assignment 2

The use of colour in drawing: During the course of Part 2 and in particular in this final drawing, I have used colour to render form, to improve depth and to represent accurately the objects drawn.

The most appropriate medium for the subject: In this assignment I have experimented with pencil and oil pastel blended with white spirit – something very new to me. I wanted bold colours in this drawing and I believe that I have achieved this aim. The paper chosen worked well and helped produce textural effects as in the background.

Composition and context: The objects are all housed in a dining room dresser which has large double doors. I wanted to represent both sides of the cupboard using views 90 deg apart. My daughter was a little puzzled by the white space in the middle – which could be seen as strange – however it was intentional. The use of repeated colours and more door showing on the left helped to balance the composition.  The objects were not moved at all and were drawn as seen.

The objects are a mixture of sentimental personal items, presents from relatives and souvenirs from my travels abroad.

Mark making and contrasts in line and tone: I have used various mark making techniques in this drawing – including sgrafitti, brushwork in the background, textural marks with oil pastel and line/cross-hatching with pencil, also a combination of brush and line to manipulate the pencil marks in the guardsman’s busby.

Accurate and expressive depiction of form: Within the constraints of the still life subject chosen, I beleive I have achieved an accurate and expressive depiction of form.

Experimentation with idea, material and method: This was certainly a departure from the norm for me and as a method it reminds me of a childrens book illustration (with the teddies) – the material and method was an experimentation which I believe worked except for the fact that the use of a pencil drawing overlaid with bright oil pastel in places became a little muddied.

Part 2 – Intimacy

Part 2 of this course has been an exciting journey exploring many different types of media both wet and dry, and has given me many ideas to use in future work.  I have tried to incorporate influences from contemporary artists as well as find my own application of their styles/working methods.

Demonstration of technical and visual skills:  My technical and visual skills are improving, but this is held back by the lack of time to practice daily. I work on the course most evenings and more intensely at weekends – family commitments allowing. Part 2 gave me the opportunities to explore subjects that I enjoy – in particular flowers – and use a range of potentially very expressive media that I have previously not used.

Quality of outcome:  I was particularly pleased with my still life using pastel, the monochrome study of eggs laid on newspaper, and interior sketches/final interior drawing. They have I believe shown a huge improvement in the quality of my work and demonstrate that I have the ability to achieve a positive/creative outcome to the exercises through creative experimentation/thought processes.

Demonstration of creativity: Whilst I have during this part of the course been creative in use of materials and line work – I have much to learn and still a huge amount to explore further. I will continue to explore and experiment – in particular with some of the methods used by John Piper, Frank Auerbach, William Kentridge, Raoul Dufy and Joan Mitchell.

Context reflection: I need to work on this issue more in the following parts of the course. I have read several books during Part 1 & 2 (this is something I need to reflect on), visited many art galleries and carried out a limited amount of research.  I need to include these activities more in the thought processes, methods and preparation of my future work.


Part 2 Intimacy

Part 2 Intimacy

Project 2 – Exercise 4 Monochrome

After completing Exercise 3 I was keen to make a start on this exercise which I already had in my head.

The use of chinese ink with watercolour had fired up my imagination and I wanted to use the combination again but this time with a little more delicacy and a will not to overwork the drawing.

I started with a line drawing in ink which I then very quickly enhanced by moving gentle washes from the lines drawn to find the middle and darker tones.


At this stage, I let the drawing dry completely (overnight) and the next day moved on to laying washes of blue/purple to improve on the tonal gradation of the eggs, newsprint and bowl.

In trying to keep to the brief, I had chosen three different surfaces to represent in the drawing; each with a different texture – the eggs with their perfect white profiles/shapes, the newsprint crumpled upon which the eggs rested, and a blue fairly shiny bowl.

I did consider really zooming in on the eggs, and just paint them on their own but that did not meet the exercise requirements. I also wanted to use an expressive line but maintaining accuracy of form (ink/charcoal are excellent for this but are punishing if you make mistakes!) As I had enjoyed the use of chinese ink previously I wanted to explore this medium as much as possible with pen and brush (although in the image I used the brush to lay washes and chose to not use it for line).

In considering the format I chose a portrait format on A3 watercolour paper but used a drawn border which I deliberately exceeded in some parts.

Finished drawing: 

Eggs for breakfast. Watercolour, chinese ink and graphite pencil on Hahnemuhle 300g watercolour paper.

The newsprint was drawn in using a very sharp 5B graphite pencil which worked well and did not distract the viewer as much as say ink would have done – there was also the risk of ruining the image with an ink blot/mistake and the pencil was much easier to control.

I finished the image with some more ink lines in the deep shadows which may have risked overworking them.

What worked well…

The combination of watercolour and ink is an expressive combination and worked well. I was pleased with my expressive mark making which did on this occasion maintain the forms of the chosen objects. I achieved a sense of depth in the drawing and feel that I modelled the eggs well even keeping some of the reflected lights in place without resorting to additional means such as gouache/pastel etc. The use of graphite pencil for the newsprint was a great choice and I was pleased with the result. The choice of paper and format was also a positive. (This paper is a joy to work with and I will look to buy some more whenever possible)

What did not work so well…

The deep shadows were overworked and too deep in many places. My final marks with ink in these shadows was a mistake. Next time I need to build the shadows up with layers of watercolour or diluted ink not heavy line. I represented some reflections of the eggs in the bowl but in hindsight these were too bright and distracting /confusing to the viewer.





Part 2 – Intimacy

Part 2 – Intimacy

Project 2 Still life – Exercise 3 Experiment with mixed media

For this exercise I set up quite an ambitious still life with bold colours and several extremely different textures.

I made several small sketches using different materials in my A3 sketchpad and then made two larger studies:


I liked the ideas but wanted to use ink with watercolour and perhaps gouache or/and oil pastel so I continued to experiment but on a larger scale:

Chinese ink, watercolour and oil pastel

This experiment was carried out using watercolour, chinese ink and oil pastel on Hahnemuhle 300g watercolour paper. I felt that the eggs and lemons worked but that I would have to work tighter on the chicken mesh basket and eggs in the basket! Some of the watercolour also needed to be bolder.

My next experiment was using a brush to add wash to the ink:

Chinese ink with pen and wash, watercolour, colour fineliner


Whilst I liked the effect of the chinese ink in this image, I was extremely heavy handed and need to be more delicate with this awesome medium. With the eggs I saw an opportunity to explore further with this ink in expressive mark making and use of tone all in one.

Eggs – detail

Maybe this is something I can revisit with the following monochrome exercise?

Experimenting with the chinese ink, I found that immediately after making marks it was easy to move a wash from the marks made but with EXTREME care or the ink can run disastrously.  Also I found that when the ink was very dry it was more difficult to dilute the marks with water, and that I could place a watercolour wash over the top with care.  I smudged the marks with my hand accidentally twice which was a disaster – I made two heavy mistakes this way with the result that I had to start again!

Workspace – Final piece in progress

My final piece worked reasonably well but I need to work with more care and precision – something that I am continuing to practice. During this final work I started with the ink first, then again I made a mistake but in doing so used kitchen paper to remove the mistake. I then used the kitchen paper to make similar ‘smudging’ of the ink rapidly all over the image. An innovation – but possibly resulted in the image becoming less fresh and a little muddied. Next I laid on some watercolour washes. Once this was dry I laid some heavier watercolour washes on top. Left this to dry and then worked once again with the ink. Finally I placed heavier colour over the piece using oil pastels.

Pancake day – mixed media on Hahnemuhle 300g watercolour paper

Overall I was pleased with my experimenting and use of mixed media – I feel that I have overworked the piece and lost some of the freshness available with the mediums used. I think the combination is ok and that I made a reasonable attempt at a very ambitious still life – I could have kept going with the experimentation but need to move on (and revisit the ideas in the future). Unfortunately my photos of the final piece do not do justice to the complexities of the build up of colours in the different mediums.

The approach was original and used a mixture of many ideas and influences from a wide range of images in books, Pinterest, and the internet in general.











Part 2 Intimate

Part 2 Intimate

Project 2 Exercise 2 – Still life in tone using colour

During my research and practice work for this part I completed two sketches of fruit using first just pencil – this helped visualise the tones within the still life – and then using coloured pencils:

Graphite pencil on A3 fine grain paper (detail)
Coloured pencil on A3 fine grain paper

In these studies I concentrated on the form and use of colour – also cross hatching and building up layer upon layer of colour of various shades to achieve the final result.

I tried hard to produce tone without line/heavy outlines – I believe I achieved my objective and produced a satifactory range of tones from light to heavy dark tones in between the fruits.  The LH shadow from the bowl and fruit could have been darker – especially in the colour version – to balance the offset orange.

My final study for this exercise was completed in soft pastels on black A4 pastel paper (A4 because I did not have any other size black pastel paper!)

I spent some time setting up the still life and the lighting. I wanted the vases to dominate the picture and chose three very distinct coloured vases each with a different texture, colour and pattern. I also wanted to concentrate on representing the forms of the flowers in an accurate but loose manner.


I was extremely pleased with the final result – the drawing took about 2-3 hours. Although I was totally immersed in the work, I did step back on several occasions and assess the progress (as called for in the exercise). The exercise was an exercise in tone so I concentrated on tone not line. I believe I achieved a good range of tone using colour and represented the flowers in the best way possible with the medium/format size.

Soft pastel on A4 black textured pastel paper

I felt that this picture marked a big step in my learning process and has given me more confidence to experiment and push myself more. I effectively simplified the forms of the vases and flowers using several layers of pastel to achieve the final result without using line. Another issue was composition where I used the small yellow vase to draw the viewer back from the two busy but orderly/dominant vases placed further back.  There was also a sort of grounding with this vase as it was rendered in similar colours/tones to the background.

The coloured pencil study used line and colour to achieve form – also a step forward for me in producing a piece that was like a stepping stone to more technical processes in other mediums.

Reflection on the last two exercises:

What aspects of each drawing were successful, and what did you have problems with?

Flowers/leaves can be challenging and I had difficulties working loosely but accurately rendering their forms/patterns.  Fruit is less difficult to render loosely. I successfully experimented with many different styles during these two exercises demonstrating a versatility within my work that needs to be exploited further.

Did you manage to get a sense of depth in your drawings? What elements of the drawing and still life groupings helped to create that sense?

Only in the smaller studies of flowers did I achieve a sense of depth using line and perhaps to a certain extent in the watercolour drawing. The greatest sense of depth was achieved in the last still life above where I used the placement of the vases to help with this. The use of lighter tones at the forefront of the images – for instance in the fruit grouping and the vases – also increased the sense of depth. Also see my comments above regarding the small yellow vase and its effect on the composition.

What difficulties were created by being restricted to line or tone?

Being restricted to just line or tone did not produce restrictions for me personally – on the contrary – it allowed me to look for other solutions and avenues to explore.

How did using colour affect your working method?

There is a lot more to think about when using colour – as it can alter the depth of the composition, change the focal point and even the mood of a drawing/painting. It has pushed me further … to think deeper during the execution of my work.