Part 2: Project 6: Exercise 5 – Mixed media

Brief

Assemble a range of drawing media including coloured media such as oil pastels, watercolours, ink and coloured pencils. You might also incorporate small areas of collage (using found images, scraps of newspaper, etc.). You may need a heavier paper if you intend to use watered down PVA glue or flood large areas with wash.

Work on a large sheet of paper, A2 or A1 divided up into two or four boxes. alternatively work in your sketchbook. Glance through the studies you’ve made so far and notice which have been most successful in terms of pictorial effect. Work either from direct observation of your interior view or from one of your exercise studies. Try mixing media you are less familiar with and experiment with several studies of the subject, looking at it from different viewpoints.

This exercise is more about experimentation than accuracy, so let elements of abstraction or distortion enter to help you to express your subject. It may be interesting to have a title in mind such as ‘My clutter’, ‘Shoe cupboard’, ‘Cat’s corner’, ‘Tobacco plant in candlelight’ – offering the hint of a story.

Think about interesting formal compositions using negative spaces, interesting shapes, patterns and textures – for example, large leaves from a houseplant in silhouette, lines on a rug, some areas in deep shadow and others brightly lit. Artistic devices such as these help express mood and feeling.

Introduce colour. You could make a further tonal study in which you limit the palette to one or two colours to express atmosphere and tonal values.

These preparatory exercises should help you to focus and select both your subject and your handling of it so be experimental and work outside your comfort zone.

Process

Part 2 Project 6 Exercise 5 - Mixed media - 'My guitar gently weeps'
Part 2 Project 6 Exercise 5 – Mixed media – ‘My guitar gently weeps’

Using a prepared ground of ink marks on paper pressed into sand I picked out one of the guitar images from my quick sketches around the house to lay down a vibrant image of how I feel about the guitar – a love/hate relationship! I used gel pen and felt-tip pen and ‘strung’ the guitar with cut lengths of wine-bottle-cap metal twining and staples.

Part 2 Project 6 Exercise 5 - Mixed media - 'Take a seat, any seat'
Part 2 Project 6 Exercise 5 – Mixed media – ‘Take a seat, any seat’

On a prepared canvas sheet with dark grey gesso, I tried out several media here to capture a different, quirky angle on the small bathroom chair from my previous sketches around the house. There is an abstract feel to the picture, with the upright chair given tone and the background chair depicted in pure pop-arty like colour. I used marker and felt-tip pens for the chairs and oil pastel for the background negative shapes.

Part 2 Project 6 Exercise 5 - Mixed media - 'Bye, Bye Teddy'
Part 2 Project 6 Exercise 5 – Mixed media – ‘Bye, Bye Teddy’

Marker pens and ink on canvas sheet again refer back to the small chair and teddy bears of previous sketches. This time there is definitely a spacey feel to the composition, with the background chai appearing to capture/consume the teddy-chair drifting in space. I like the perspectives. This was the first time I had used Inktense blocks and a water brush pen – I’m hooked!

Part 2 Project 6 Exercise 5 - Mixed media - 'Whatever happened to Cecil?'
Part 2 Project 6 Exercise 5 – Mixed media – ‘Whatever happened to Cecil?’

My take on a recent news story of ‘hunter kills nice lion’. Using one of my prepared papers pressed onto black ink splattered on sand the ‘splatter’ looked to me like gunshots on a target. I used the elephant statue from my living room sketches to occupy the space and drew the picture with Inktense block and water brush pen. To the bullet hole splats I added some red and silver gel pen marks to add drama to the scene.

Stuart Brownlee – 512319
14 August 2015

Part 2: Project 6: Exercise 4 – Line and wash

Brief

This exercise will encourage you to convey mood and feeling by making rapid statements.

Select a range of media including pen, soft pencil, oriental brush pen, charcoal and oily pastels. Work on any scale but be aware that small paper will limit your gestures. Warm up by drawing continuous line in different media without looking at the page. Try to maintain a loose approach and keep working until you feel confident that you understand the different qualities of each medium.

Work on creating interesting tones by using just one or two colours mixed as a wash (watercolour is best for this). If you’re using inks just use one colour as it is easy to pollute a whole bottle if colours get mixed. You could use Indian ink for the darkest areas for dramatic effect.

For the lightest tone, you could try a wax resist technique using a light coloured oil pastel or wax crayon overlaid by a darker wash. This technique is most effective when used sparingly.

Experiment and enjoy the freedom of drawing loosely with wet and dry media.

Process

Part 2 Project 6 Exercise 4 - Line and wash 1
Part 2 Project 6 Exercise 4 – Line and wash 1

From top to bottom:
Ballpoint pen
9B pencil (side)
9B pencil (tip)
Broad nib pen and indian ink
Size 12 Round brush and indian ink
Charcoal stick
Conté stick
Charcoal round (on side)
Oil pastel
Soft pastel

Varying thickness and darkness of line from the different media. I particularly like the boldness of the ink and the soft pastel strokes and also find the charcoal round on its side drawn across the paper and the oil pastel can add some interesting texture to the marks they make.

Part 2 Project 6 Exercise 4 - Line and wash 2
Part 2 Project 6 Exercise 4 – Line and wash 2

Red, blue, orange and green water colour washes in three tones – the red being the most successfully executed. The dark washes of the blue, orange and green probably need another wash of their respective colours to provide darker tones.

I found that using a brush and indian ink achieved more distinct results and you can easily see the tonal differences of these washes – raw ink for dark and thinned progressively with water through to light.

Stuart Brownlee – 512319
14 August 2015

Part 2: Project 6: Exercise 3 – Tonal study

Brief

By now you should have a clear idea of the basic elements of your drawing. For this tonal exercise, work on a large scale (A2 to A1) and use light marks to map out the composition. Be sure to use all of the picture space.

Look carefully at how the light falls across your subject. Half close your eyes to help you see the broad tonal areas. Think about how you can convey the volume of forms in your drawing. Explore your subject using the techniques you learned in Part One.

Notice the lightest areas and map them in. Using charcoal, soft pencil, conté or pastel, work out the mid-tone areas and the darkest. Find a way to convey the subtle gradations within these areas. All of the media mentioned will give you problems of smudging, so work from the centre of a dark area outwards so that your hand doesn’t rest on an area of heavy charcoal or graphite. Don’t worry if you lose lighter areas; you can use a putty rubber to pick out highlights. You could also use white paint, chalk or conté for this, but be careful not to overdo it. Look for the lightest tones again when the drawing is almost finished.

Keep looking from your subject to your drawing while squinting to check on tonal values.

Part 2 Project 6 Exercise 3 - course notes image
Vincent van Gogh, Cradle, (pencil on paper)

Process

Part 2 Project 6 Exercise 3 - Tonal study - outline sketch in charcoal
Part 2 Project 6 Exercise 3 – Tonal study – outline sketch in charcoal

The basic composition to build on. On A2 fine grain heavy weight paper.

Part 2 Project 6 Exercise 3 - Tonal study - first pass
Part 2 Project 6 Exercise 3 – Tonal study – first pass

A first application of very light charcoal stick all over the composition to lay down a base ground was followed by a pass of slightly heavier shading to catch the mid-tones.

To add to the weak daylight coming in through the bathroom window above the sink basin I had added an artificial light bulb from above the back corner to give a more dramatic look to the foreground.

In this first pass I finished with marking in the darker tones, particularly in the shadows.

Part 2 Project 6 Exercise 3 - Tonal study - second pass
Part 2 Project 6 Exercise 3 – Tonal study – second pass

Using a putty eraser I picked out the key highlight areas in the composition and started to tone down some of the lighter areas in the foreground.

My feeling is – leave it overnight and take a fresh look in the morning – maybe some more darker tones requires in the deep shadows.

I need to watch that I don’t over work it.

Finished drawing

A last tweak to the back chair leg next to the set of drawers to slightly thicken the width below the chair seat in order to align it up better with the upper part of the leg back above the seat. I started out to darken some of the deeper shadows but soon discovered that what I was adding made no noticeable difference – dark is dark and can’t be made darker? I was also in danger of smudging and overworking – so I stopped. This is my finished drawing. Only thing left to do is apply fixative:

Part 2 Project 6 Exercise 3 - Tonal study finished drawing
Part 2 Project 6 Exercise 3 – Tonal study finished drawing

Stuart Brownlee – 512319
14 August 2015

Part 2: Project 6: Research point – Unusual & multiple viewpoints

My workbook notes for this research point [click on each page to enlarge]:

Part 2 Project 6 Research point - page 1
Part 2 Project 6 Research point – page 1
Part 2 Project 6 Research point - page 2
Part 2 Project 6 Research point – page 2
Part 2 Project 6 Research point - page 3
Part 2 Project 6 Research point – page 3
Part 2 Project 6 Research point - page 4
Part 2 Project 6 Research point – page 4
Part 2 Project 6 Research point - page 5
Part 2 Project 6 Research point – page 5
Part 2 Project 6 Research point - page 6
Part 2 Project 6 Research point – page 6
Part 2 Project 6 Research point - page 7
Part 2 Project 6 Research point – page 7

Stuart Brownlee – 512319
14 August 2015

Part 2: Project 6: Exercise 2 – Composition – an interior

Brief

Look carefully at the angles and areas of your chosen interior view and note where objects are placed. Keep shifting your viewpoint until you find one that pleases you. Look for strong tonal contrasts, textures, linear qualities and strong positive and negative shapes.

Establish your observational position – standing, sitting on a chair or on the floor. Ensure you can work comfortably and see clearly. If you’ve chosen to work in an area that requires daylight make sure that you can set aside two to three hours at the right time of day to return to your drawing project.

Make four quick sketches to outline basic shapes and map out tonal areas using a soft pencil, conté or charcoal. In each sketch shift your viewpoint or eye level. You’ll notice the apparent distortion of certain forms due to foreshortening. (Look this term up if you’re not sure what it means. You’ll return to this in Part Three.) Vary your studies by shifting the viewpoint up or down, or moving in and out.

Format
Do studies in both portrait and landscape format. You may find that the portrait format can be more dynamic in terms of perspective while the landscape format an offer a sense of intimacy. Play with these ideas and think about looking up, down, to the side, straight ahead. Also look at the objects and forms that will make up the composition and consider whether a strong vertical or horizontal plane will work best. You may find that you can’t fit all of your subject into the picture space. Don’t be afraid to cut off part of the subject, as happens with photography. Consider how this might add dynamism and interest to your composition.

Choose your view
Compare your preliminary sketches to help you decide on your composition. Half close your eyes in order to ‘read’ the tonal values better. Note which tonal and linear arrangements work best, and decide on the basic structure, outlines and format for your interior study. You can change your mind at any stage as you progress through the following exercises. Keep looking, evaluating and experimenting.

Process

From my preliminary sketches (exercise 1) I chose to focus on the bathroom sketches, and in particular the fourth sketch of the tiny bathroom child’s chair.

I made a further four sketches of this subject, selecting angles/viewing points from above, below, side and front. Two sketches are in portrait, one square and one nearly landscape. In each sketch I have marked out the tonal areas and while the tonal contrasts and linear lead-in arrangement in composition sketch 3 might seem more pronounced and provide depth of view, my compositional preference is for sketch 2:

Part 2 Project 6 Exercise 2 - Composition - an interior - sketches
Part 2 Project 6 Exercise 2 – Composition – an interior – sketches

I think at this stage that the view of the chair in sketch 2 provides a definite focal point to the subject and would make a striking portrait composition. Although, if I redefined sketch 3 I might also be able to produce an equally dynamic square composition.

Returning to the interior sketches the next day, I decided that sketch 3 gave the best opportunity for defining strong tonal contrasts:

Part 2 Project 6 Exercise 2 - Composition - an interior - chosen view for composition
Part 2 Project 6 Exercise 2 – Composition – an interior – chosen view for composition

However, my thoughts were that the composition needed tightening up a bit. I cropped the image at both sides and brought the focus onto the chair, leading past the set of drawers towards the suggestion of the sink pedestal. I also decided to leave a suggestion on the left of the open door. I think that this is now a composition that provides for achieving strong tonal contrasts while also leading the eye into the composition from bottom front left to upper rear right. I also like the balance of negative spaces on the wall behind the set of drawers and the floor leading into the sink. Their are also small areas of highlights that can be picked out:

Part 2 Project 6 Exercise 2 - Composition - an interior - chosen composition (cropped)
Part 2 Project 6 Exercise 2 – Composition – an interior – chosen composition (cropped)

One last look before confirming intention and I spotted a tweak that would make for a better end result – the seat of the small chair needs levelling out slightly so as not to appear too tilted – a small adjustment, but one that I will make in Exercise 3 ‘Tonal study’:

Part 2 Project 6 Exercise 2 - chosen composition - adjustment required
Part 2 Project 6 Exercise 2 – chosen composition – adjustment required

Stuart Brownlee – 512319
14 August 2015

Part 2: Project 6: Exercise 1 – Quick sketches around the house

Brief

Take your sketchbook or larger sheets of paper fastened to a drawing board together with a selection of drawing media. Aim to work your way around most rooms in your house over several sessions and maybe also rooms outside the house such as the garden shed. In each room make four quick sketches, turning 45 degrees after each one to face another area of the room. You’ll find that looking into corners works best.

Make fast visual notes without getting involved in detail. This exercise may take several days to complete depending on how long you have available for each session. Try to work without preconceptions. Observe, note and reflect. Your drawing approach is up to you. Some drawings may contain few marks, some will be simple line drawings, some may have elements of tonal analysis. Don’t worry if some of your drawings appear childish or scribbled or wrong in some way. Keep moving on but notice and note down any errors in observation or execution.

You’ll probably find some areas very difficult and frustrating to work on while others will attract your interest and stimulate your imagination. Think about why that is and record your thoughts in your learning log.

When you’ve completed this exercise, look at all your drawings carefully. Which are the strongest and why? Which drawings did you enjoy the most? Which area in which room do you want to study further? Use this exercise both as practice in fast observational drawing and to locate the area that you’ll study in greater detail in the following exercises

Part 2 Project 6 Exercise 1 - course notes image
A Flat in Mud Mansions, The Parade, France: a British officer’s dug-out from a sketch by himself, from The Illustrated War News, c.1914

Process

I used Derwent graphic pencils for all the sketches.

Part 2 Project 6 Exercise 1 - Quick sketches around the house - sketches 1
Part 2 Project 6 Exercise 1 – Quick sketches around the house – sketches 1

From top left clockwise: starting in the kitchen looking out through the side door into the porch; moving to the kitchen area itself (corner view); round to the side window view into the dining area; and then moving to the internal view from dining area into hall.

Part 2 Project 6 Exercise 1 - Quick sketches around the house - sketches 2
Part 2 Project 6 Exercise 1 – Quick sketches around the house – sketches 2

From top left clockwise: living room looking out into the hall; over to outside corner behind couch; outside wall corner with woodburner; then to inside corner on kitchen wall.

Part 2 Project 6 Exercise 1 - Quick sketches around the house - sketches 3
Part 2 Project 6 Exercise 1 – Quick sketches around the house – sketches 3

From top left clockwise: back bedroom from outside corner with sofa bed; from bedroom into hall with dog blanket (for dog); inside corner with bed; outside corner with guitars.

Part 2 Project 6 Exercise 1 – Quick sketches around the house – sketches 4

From top left clockwise: bathroom sink and bath taps corner; toilet corner; bath corner; bathroom out to hall.

Stuart Brownlee – 512319
14 August 2015

Part 2: Project 5: Exercise 4 – Using source material

Brief

The aim of this exercise is to start with a found image but then build on it to create something more personal.

Find scientific and biological sources for animal anatomy in libraries and online; look for images that clearly show the mechanics of different animals’ bodies. Copy interesting images loosely, but make them into something more than a replica of someone else’s work by adding your own touches. Think about the parts that make up the whole, and about movement and stillness, emotion and detachment.

Use your compositional skills to position the subject within a believable scenario or space. You may want to use the scaling up grid or some other device to adapt found images and small studies onto a larger scale.

As you work, think about some of the things you’ve already learned about – positive and negative spaces, measuring, gestural and expressive line, etc. – to help you create more interesting drawings.

Process

“In drawing, painting, and sculpting animals, one must begin with a general, understanding of the entire animal (shape, proportion), and then concentrate on its specific parts and details. This is called working from the general to the specific. For example, rough-out the shape of the entire animal first, define the shapes of the torso, the individual limbs, the head, and the neck, and then finally add the details of the individual muscles and tendons. Artwork can be embellished with the most numerous of details, but it must conform to a greater concept of larger shapes and volumes.”
Goldfinger, E. (2004) Animal anatomy for artists: the elements of form.
[Kindle -e-book] New York: Oxford University Press, location 239 [p.24
in converted pdf].

This is my finished drawing from the previous exercise and I chose this to explore in more detail in relation to the bird’s anatomy:

Part 2 Project 5 Exercise 3 - Live animals using line and tone - finished drawing
Part 2 Project 5 Exercise 3 – Live animals using line and tone – finished drawing

Bird characteristics: body covered in feathers; feet and toes usually covered with thickened skin (scales); three toes point forward and one toe points backwards and all four toes have claws; no teeth and a horny beak; short flexible tail (pygostyle) ends in a stout bone for supporting tail feathers.

Chicken 1
Chicken skeleton (Gallus gallus) – Goldfinger, E. (2004) Animal anatomy for artists: the elements of form. [Kindle -e-book] New York: Oxford University Press, p.714
Chicken 2
Chicken muscles – Goldfinger, E. (2004) Animal anatomy for artists: the elements of form. [Kindle -e-book] New York: Oxford University Press, p.717
Chicken 3
Chicken skeleton (front view) – Goldfinger, E. (2004) Animal anatomy for artists: the elements of form. [Kindle -e-book] New York: Oxford University Press, p.719
Chicken 4
Chicken muscles (front view and left wing back view) – Goldfinger, E. (2004) Animal anatomy for artists: the elements of form. [Kindle -e-book] New York: Oxford University Press, p.720
Chicken 5
Chicken skeleton (rear view) – Goldfinger, E. (2004) Animal anatomy for artists: the elements of form. [Kindle -e-book] New York: Oxford University Press, p.722
Chicken 6
A rooster – Amberlyn, J.C. (2012) The artist’s guide to drawing animals: how to draw cats, dogs and other favourite pets. [Kindle e-book] New York: Watson-Guptill Publications. p.765
Chicken 7
A rooster – Amberlyn, J.C. (2012) The artist’s guide to drawing animals: how to draw cats, dogs and other favourite pets. [Kindle e-book] New York: Watson-Guptill Publications. p.766
Chicken 8
A rooster – Amberlyn, J.C. (2012) The artist’s guide to drawing animals: how to draw cats, dogs and other favourite pets. [Kindle e-book] New York: Watson-Guptill Publications. p.767 The hen’s comb and wattles are much smaller than a rooster’s. Piercing eye to the fore!

Finished drawing

Using my hen chicken drawing from the previous exercise as inspiration to explore further and having researched some of the anatomical and drawing guidance from my two chosen sources, I drew the outline of my ‘specimen’ chicken with a 3H pencil. Within the outline I then drew in the skeletal structure as I saw it from the source material to give an impression of that sitting within the basic outline. I think the skeletal structure is fairly accurate, although the anatomical placement is probably not totally accurate.

Part 2 Project 5 Exercise 4 - Using source material
Part 2 Project 5 Exercise 4 – Using source material

Next, I used indian ink pens; felt-tip pens and fineliner pens to add colour to the skeleton and also the body/feathers. Lastly, I marked in some of the major skeletal elements as indicators to the bird’s structure.

I chose to concentrate on this one subject rather than hop about between different animals to assess their anatomical differences because I was influenced by Eliot Goldfinger’s Animal anatomy for artists: ‘’Although each species is unique, with its own shapes and proportions, there are very close similarities between species because they all share a common ancestor”.

Goldfinger postulates that their is a basic body plan for all animals:

“There is a basic body plan common to most of the animals presented in this book. At its most obvious, they all have a head, a body, and four [two or] limbs. Most are four-legged and stand on all fours, and are described as having front limbs and rear limbs. The front limb is anatomically equivalent to the arm and hand in humans and primates, and the rear limb to the human lower limb. The animals in this book are surprisingly similar in many ways. The head is connected to the rib cage by the neck vertebrae and the rib cage is connected to the pelvis by the lumbar vertebrae. The two front limbs are connected to the rib cage, and the two rear limbs are connected to the pelvis. These units move in relation to one another, establishing the stance, or pose, of an animal. Animals differ primarily in the shape and relative proportions of these structural units, in the position of the wrist, heel, and toe bones when standing and walking, and by the number of their toes.”

Goldfinger, E. (2004) Animal anatomy for artists: the elements of form. [Kindle -e-book] New York: Oxford University Press, p.37.

Stuart Brownlee – 512319
14 August 2015

Part 2: Project 5: Exercise 3 – Live animals using line and tone

Brief

In this charcoal and conté study of deer, the artist has taken a different approach, blocking in strong monochrome tone to create form and using loose, fine, unfinished lines to indicate the silhouette of the animal and just enough detail to make it interesting.

Part 2 Project 5 Exercise 3 - course notes image
Mark Adlington, Fallow Bucks, Richmond, 2006 (charcoal and conté on paper)

Using both line and tone can create a sense of volume and movement through space. For this exercise, you’re free to work in any combination of media. You can make a study that is monochrome or use colour to render tonal value or add visual interest. Using coloured sugar paper or Ingres paper will give you a mid-tonal ground and you can then use your drawing materials to establish lighter and darker tonal areas. Allow the paper’s ground colour to work in your drawing by leaving some areas clear or by shading lightly so that it shows through. Work on large paper so that you can explore tonal values freely. Remember to vary the pressure and speed of your lines to create a sense of dynamism or stillness, enhancing the stance, gestural posture and strength of the animal.

Process

I needed to look no further than our garden and adjoining field for subject matter for this exercise – a roaming pheasant and strutting hens. I worked quickly to sketch down the main elements of the forms using colour brush pens and then worked them up in some more detail with regard to line and tone later on in the studio:

Part 2 Project 5 Exercise 3 - Live animals using line and tone - sketches 1
Part 2 Project 5 Exercise 3 – Live animals using line and tone – sketches 1

A trip out to the east coast cliffs allowed me the chance to capture a nesting cormorant, again quickly, this time using Artbar wax colour bars. I left this sketch in its original rough form. I sketched the local cow using Artbar as well, but this time back in the studio I used a fine brush and water to blend the colours:

Part 2 Project 5 Exercise 3 - Live animals using line and tone - sketches 2
Part 2 Project 5 Exercise 3 – Live animals using line and tone – sketches 2

Finished drawing

I was struck by the energy and style of the strutting hen sketched earlier and decided on this as my chosen live animal. My medium this time though were Faber and Castell PITT artist pens on A3 Daler 90gsm sienna coloured Ingres pastel paper (the photograph of the drawing has lightened the paper):

Part 2 Project 5 Exercise - Live animals using line and tone - finished drawing
Part 2 Project 5 Exercise 3 – Live animals using line and tone – finished drawing

I lightly drafted in the outline using a cadmium yellow pen and then spent a happy couple of meditative hours building up the lines and tones using a range of coloured pens. Making small marks loosely with the pens allowed the paper’s colour to show through and merge with the different coloured strokes to suggest the texture of the plumage.

Critique

Once started on this exercise I became a bit less intimidated by the brief and had fun with the sketches and techniques of using the different media. I am reasonably pleased with the final drawing, although if I’m honest I prefer the original sketch for its spontaneity and dash – a hen with attitude. My feeling about the finished drawing is that it appears to me to be overly stylised and has lost some of the spark or verve of the sketch.

Stuart Brownlee – 512319
5 August 2015

Part 2: Project 5: Exercise 2 – Tonal study of bones and shells

Brief

Find your subject and decide on the best media for conveying its characteristics. Would the subject lend itself to a strong tonal handling with heavy shading using a solid graphite pencil or charcoal? Or do you want to make a more delicate visual statement? In this case a mix of soft and harder pencils or a drawing pen might be better. Or try both approaches.

Try to ensure fairly constant light for around two hours. Move your lamp or the object itself so that shadows fall in a way that adds interest or highlights and provides dramatic possibilities. How can you convey the volume and solidity of the object?

Notice how the surface textures catch the light. Think how you can convey the subtle gradations of tone from the lightest areas to the darkest. Work out where these areas are and shade in with the side of the pencil or by using hatching techniques. It can be useful to work with less pressure to begin with and, once you’re satisfied, go over these areas with much heavier shading for the deepest tones. If you’re using hatching, try to follow the contours of the object with the direction of marks that you make. Lighter tones and highlights can be drawn in lightly with a putty rubber towards the end of your drawing.

Remember to half close your eyes when you’re surveying tone, both when you look at your subject and as you’re drawing. The size of the work is up to you but it’s usually easier to work out tonal values on a large-scale drawing.

Part 2 Project 5 Exercise 2 - course notes image
Christine Gregory, Fish Head (pencil)

Process

My chosen subject for this tonal exercise was a stag skull and antlers from our garden. We have a lot of deer here in Glenurquhart and this was a found skull from the forest through natural death of a fine animal. We have looked after it for over 19 years now and I thought it would make a great subject for a drawing.

Part 2 Project 5 Exercise 2 - Tonal study of bones and shells - sketches 1
Part 2 Project 5 Exercise 2 – Tonal study of bones and shells – sketches 1

For the sketches I used Graphite pencil – a mixture of H, F and B – and places the skull in several positions to sketch with a natural lamp moved along the top of the subject which was lying/standing in a number of positions. As suggested in the course notes I started light and built up pressure to pick out the mid and darker tones. I also let the white paper shine through in places to capture lighter areas and highlights.

Part 2 Project 5 Exercise 2 - Tonal study of bones and shells - sketch 2
Part 2 Project 5 Exercise 2 – Tonal study of bones and shells – sketch 2

For this sketch I used pencil to draft in the outline and shades and then used indian ink pens to capture some of the essence of the ‘greened’ bone. I like the effect the green and yellow inks have on the structure of the posed subject. I think the pencil shadows on the foreground could have probably been a bit darker.

Finished drawing

On A2 fine grain heavy weight drawing paper I chose to slightly rearrange the positioning of the skull by lifting it up into a more standing position leaning against a back support. I also changed my own position in order to draw the subject from a side angle:

Part 2 Project 5 Exercise 2 - Tonal study of bones and shells
Part 2 Project 5 Exercise 2 – Tonal study of bones and shells – finished drawing

My chosen medium was Conté – black and grey sticks. I sketched in the outline using an H grade pencil and started light again (or as light as I could with Conté stick) overlaying the outline and shading in the tones dark to light. Using a paper stub (tortillon) I took time to try and capture the form of the antlers first and then moved down to complete the skull. I used a grey stick to put down the shadows. Finally, using a putty eraser I removed selected areas of the Conté to create highlights.

Critique

I got a lot of pleasure from using my chosen subject and found my skill in using the different media is improving. I think this was aided by taking a more relaxed approach to the exercise and I am particularly encouraged by my handling of the Conté sticks in the final drawing. The composition of the finished work is, I think, more pleasing to the eye than the straight on view of sketch 2. I also think that I have managed to capture some of the impressive nature of the subject – it’s solidity, sweeping lines and texture combine to present a dramatic sense of the longevity and strength of the bone of a long-dead animal.

Stuart Brownlee – 512319
4 July 2015

Part 2: Project 5: Exercise 1 – Animal line study

Brief

Select your animal – easier said than done, perhaps, but here’s your chance to be creative and spontaneous. Keep your sketchbook with you and seize any opportunity as it arises.

Look for the basic shapes that make up the animal’s form. Do a series of small and fast line sketches of different poses. Experiment with different media – thick and thin, soft and hard. Do as many studies as you can. Spend a couple of hours on these preliminary sketches and then spend another couple of hours a few days later trying to capture the essence of the animal through intense scrutiny of form, colour, texture, character, scale, stance, movement and so on.

Once you feel comfortable with your subject and you’ve experimented with a range of media and poses, make a large drawing (A2 or A1). Consider how best to fit the overall form into the rectangle using a vertical (portrait) or horizontal (landscape) format. For this drawing concentrate on expressive and gestural line and use variations of pressure, speed, line lengths, etc., to give the animal a sense of weight and vitality. Position your subject within an atmospheric and realistic environment.

Part 2 Project 5 Exercise 1 - course notes image 1
Patricia Farrar, Student sketchbook

For example…
In the sketch below Lucian Freud has managed to capture the essence of the pigeons. He has used fine lines and the pattern made by the feathers to create the impression of roundness and softness in the more detailed bird. Monet’s study of two turkeys adopts a looser approach but again models the body through patterning across the surface of the animal.

Part 2 Project 5 Exercise 1 - course notes image 2
Lucian Freud, Two Pigeons,1947 (crayon on paper)
Part 2 Project 5 Exercise 1 - course notes image 3
Claude Monet, Two Turkeys (pencil on paper)

Process

Our rescue collie ‘Lotty’ was the model/poser for this first set of sketches. She’s 12 years old and although still reasonably active – she love’s playing football (in lieu of herding sheep) – but likes to relax and watch the world go by even more. So, asking Lotty to take time out and pose for these sketches was no problem. [H&S/PC alert – no pet was harmed in carrying out this exercise as I had a) a willing model, and b) they were all done at different times over a couple of days.

Part 2 Project 5 Exercise 1 - Animal line study - sketches 1
Part 2 Project 5 Exercise 1 – Animal line study – sketches 1

I used Derwent Graphic 5H and 5B pencils for these sketches.

Part 2 Project 5 Exercise 1 - Animal line study - sketches 2
Part 2 Project 5 Exercise 1 – Animal line study – sketches 2

Our other dog ‘Salty Dog’, a long haired German Shepherd and two local cats ‘Bali’ and ‘Amber’ – all now deceased. I used photographs I had taken for these sketches and a variety of media – pencil, oil pastel, marker pen, coloured pencil and felt-tip pen.

Finished drawing

Part 2 Project 5 Exercise 1 - Animal line study finished drawing
Part 2 Project 5 Exercise 1 – Animal line study finished drawing

The reliable Lotty in a favourite pose – sitting contemplating and not that eager to move (unless another dog comes into view). This sketch was made in our garden with Lotty sitting on the path below me. I have used an A2 200gsm fine grain heavy weight paper and Staedtler fineliner pens for the main drawing and DJeco gel pens for the background setting and shadows.

The focus is on the eye (she was eyeballing me as I was sketching) and I am pleased with the touches of colour there, in the mouth and collar. I think I could have done better with the legs and paws, but my eye was drawn upwards.

Critique

My favourite medium for this exercise were the Staedtler fineliner pens for their good colour and ease of use. Having said that, the Graphic pencils and felt-tip pens were also fun to use, and I think that I have managed to make fairly good attempts at producing sketches with expressive and gestural line. I tried to vary the mark making to depict hair, but it is quite a tricky skill and I am sure that with more practice I could achieve even better results.

If anything I would say that my work is more in line with the detail of Lucien Freud’s ‘Two pigeons’ rather than that of Claude Monet’s much freer ‘Two Turkeys’.

I am quite pleased with my final drawing, although I did chose a challenging angle and did not get the lower elements quite right in terms of scale and balance. Mind you, Lotty is a dog with a very trim back end and she carries most of her weight on her chest and front legs – maybe my drawing of a ‘top-heavy’ dog gives some idea of this.

Stuart Brownlee – 512319
3 August 2015