Part 1: Project 2: Exercise 4 – Shadows and reflected light

For this composition, use two objects with reflective surfaces, such as a stainless steel coffee pot and ceramic sugar bowl. The different reflective surfaces will provide an interesting interplay of light and shadow.

Use charcoal, a putty rubber and decide on the size of the composition. Use A1 or A2 paper with a tooth so that you can do bold strokes using the side of your charcoal or conté stick.

Try to fill the paper with your objects. Show the reflected light and shade of one object falling on another and leave as little background space (‘negative’ space) as you can. Look carefully at the shapes, shadows and light before you start drawing. You might find the annotated example below helpful.

Draw the basic pattern of shadow first with sweeps of charcoal and/or hatching marks and spots. The white paper will represent your lightest tonal value, so start with the mid tones and then build to the darkest tonal value, as in previous exercises. Observe the reflected pattern of light and shade and work it into the surface of the object. Lift out the smallest lightest tones with the point of a putty rubber, and use the sharpest edge of the charcoal or conté stick to add the smaller finer marks.


Shadows and reflected light 1
Shadows and reflected light conté stick

Conté on A2 paper – I didn’t quite manage to get the highlights as I wanted as I found it difficult to use the putty rubber with the Conté stick. No matter however many time I needed the rubber to get a clean edge or tip it smudged rather than lifted the black from the paper – I think you can see the effect of this in the image of the drawing above.

Nonetheless, I am quite pleased with this first attempt and there are some picked out areas of reflected light, including the suggestion of a reflection of the ceramic cheese container against the stainless steel kettle.

There is also an indication of reflected light from the kettle lid against the under side of the black handle, but it could be better defined I think.

The source of the light on the composition is marked with an arrow (top left).

Shadows and reflected light - charcoal stick
Shadows and reflected light – charcoal stick

I decided to try another version of the same composition – this time using charcoal – and changed the ground surface from paper to an A2 sheet of canvas with a heavier tooth.

I took a slightly different stance behind my drawing table in front of the composition to give a different viewpoint. The light source was the same, from the top left.

Working with the charcoal sticks was much more natural I found – layering middle tones, working to darker, picking out highlights with the putty rubber and finally marking in some of the darker strokes.

It was a very enjoyable exercise working with the charcoal – laying down marks and using the putty rubber much more effectively to lift charcoal from the canvas surface to create highlights. I also used my fingers in scrumbling some of the mid-tone areas.

While I am reasonably happy with the conté stick drawing I feel that the charcoal stick one meets the brief more accurately. I get a better feeling of the ‘roundness’ of the kettle in this composition and the darks, lights and reflected lights seem more natural to my eye.

I think that the different angle of approach to the drawing also makes for a more pleasing composition and treats the negative space in a more interesting way than the conté drawing. My last thought is that I made the kettle handle a bit too thick on the left.

It only remains to treat each drawing to a dose of fixative to combat any excessive smudging.

Shadows and reflected light pdf file

Stuart Brownlee – 512319
25 May 2015