Part 2: Project 4: Exercise 4 – Monochrome


For this exercise you’ll work towards creating an image in a single colour – combining natural and man-made objects and contrasting materials. In the image below the student has used mackerel and a blue patterned plate. The mackerel shimmer with their fine, almost metallic surface; the ceramic plate shines in a different way that’s harder and colder. The forms that make up the composition are also interesting: three similar forms overlap onto the ‘frame’ of the plate below. The plate in turn sits on a plain band of pale blue that echoes the lighter tones of the fish, contrasting with a darker, more patterned background in the top third of the image. The main oval of the plate is very slightly off centre with a glimpse of another object coming in from the right margin. Think about this carefully and be adventurous in your choice of subject.

Select a medium that suits your subject. Are you aiming for detailed complexity of line or an expressive looseness of mark, for example? Ensure you’re able to create a range of tones for your chosen colour by practising in your sketchbook first. Work on approximately A3 size paper.

Lightly sketch the composition. Consider your viewpoint. If you were working on the subject below, for example, you’d probably need to sit in a slightly elevated position to get the best view of the fish. When drawing the plate you’d need to consider whether you wanted to draw the whole plate or allow the paper edge to cut into the plate.

Part 2 Project 4 Exercise 4 - course notes image
Student drawing

As you work, begin to build the colour up, looking at the way the light catches on the subject. Look at the tones that make up the surface of the objects. Look at the different kinds of texture and pattern. Consider how to capture detail, which tool to use and whether to work with a light or dark line or mark. Look at contrasts – for example the decoration on the plate as a contrast to the pattern on the fish’s body. Drawing a fish is very different from drawing a plate. The surface texture feels and looks very different.

When you’ve finished your drawing, be critical. Look at the subject again. See what you’ve managed to capture effectively and what hasn’t worked so well.


My composition is of a cutting of Yellow Archangel from our garden, green and silver variegated leaves, lying across a sketchbook of hand-made paper sitting on a book rest. The pen and ink set to the side is intended to indicate the story of the possibility of using this to sketch the foliage in the sketchbook. A bit convoluted perhaps, but it works for me:

Part 2 Project 4 Exercise 4 - Monochrome - sketchbook ideas
Part 2 Project 4 Exercise 4 – Monochrome – sketchbook ideas

I decided not to use any of the colours used for the sketchbook ideas as none seemed to me right for the subject – just a feeling. I can see why blue is a good colour for the fish on a plate drawing. I tried out a Dark Naples Yellow and a Burnt Ochre polychromos pencil and chose to go with the Naples Yellow as it seemed to me to capture an underlying match for all the objects:

Part 2 Project 4 Exercise 4 - Monochrome - colours
Dark Naples Yellow and Burnt Ochre

Deciding to use a Dark Naples Yellow pencil for the drawing I chose a sheet of 90gsm artist’s block paper to draw a slightly cropped version of idea sketch 2 from my sketchbook. Taking notice of the brief I wanted to introduce the wooden pen and ink well holder into the drawing from the right hand side and also let the paper edge cut off the lower part of the leading wooden leg of the book rest:

Part 2 Project 4 Exercise 4 - Monochrome - finished drawing
Part 2 Project 4 Exercise 4 – Monochrome – finished drawing

The composition is looking down onto the arrangement with the light source coming down from the top left. Having lightly sketched in the outline of the objects I then began working on building up the tones. I found it quite difficult to achieve the darker tones and shadows and had to go over these areas a number of times to build the colour. At the other end of the scale, achieving light tones was equally challenging and the mark making here is not solid but rather stroked and lets the white of the paper show through in patches.

I think I have achieved a silvery look to the variegated leaves and these contrast quite nicely with the intricate design of the sketchbook cover, which is actually a rich dark red with golden etched design, black corner tabs and spine. Because of the angle of viewing the book rest doesn’t show its other set of legs, which instead have to be imagined by the viewer. What there is shown of the book rest though is fairly solid and I think that the mark making here contrasts with the delicate leaves. The introduction of the truncated pen and ink well provides a suggestion of the intention to make a sketch of the cutting.

As a last note, my new Dark Naples Yellow pencil ended up a stub!

Stuart Brownlee – 512319
27 July 2015

Part 2: Project 4: Exercise 3 – Experiment with mixed media


This time, experiment with using both traditional art tools and ‘non-art’ media. Use wax crayons, ballpoints, highlighters and fat marker pens together with pencils, dipping pens and oriental brush pens (and so on). Think again about your support; perhaps use a coloured wash and/or collaged, textured surface. Whichever media you choose, make notes on how the drawing style, visual effect and conceptual possibilities change or emerge with your use of the different media.

Part 2 Project 4 Exercise 3 - course notes image
OCA student, Stephen Powell, Pineapple (mixed media)


I had previously prepared some grounds using a technique from an earlier exercise – dropping ink at random onto a small sand pit and laying/pressing an A4 sheet of sketch book paper onto the surface. This resulted in some fairly interesting/erratic surfaces of which this is one example – green ink drops and drops with a sandy texture.

On this surface I sketched my chosen still life of an apple, lemon and orange:

Part 2 Project 4 Exercise 3 - Experiment with mixed media 1
Part 2 Project 4 Exercise 3 – Experiment with mixed media 1

My mixed-media tools were:
• Highlighter pens for first application
• Djeco pastel gel pens for more body and shadows
• Lumocolour pens for definition and highlights.

The highlighter pens colour was basically lost against the ground but was enough to pick out the outline of the objects enough to then add body using the gel pens which laid down a nice creamy application of colour. Picking out the highlights gave just enough added definition to keep the objects recognisable in such as strange background.

There is a kind of alien feel to this study, suggested I think by the buggy eyes and creepy exploring tentacles of the ‘green monster’.

Part 2 Project 4 Exercise 3 - Experiment with mixed media 2
Part 2 Project 4 Exercise 3 – Experiment with mixed media 2

Another of the previously prepared grounds. Same objects, different composition and this time initially sketched using crayon, which was pretty hard to make an impression on the surface and looks scratchy, understated and insipid.

Same sketch redone with added Spectrum Noir alcohol makers, ballpoint pen and finally UniPOSCA marker pens. Brighter and bolder – jumping and buzzing;

Part 2 Project 4 Exercise 3 - Experiment with mixed media 3
Part 2 Project 4 Exercise 3 – Experiment with mixed media 3

Stuart Brownlee – 512319
23 July 2015

Part 2: Project 4: Exercise 2 – Still life in tone using colour


You’ll work very differently in this second still life exercise. Set up another still life group. Before you begin, screw up your eyes and identify the darkest areas. (You may need to adjust the light using a lamp or strong sunlight.) Use a coloured pencil or pastel to sketch them in roughly, using the side of the medium to create broad strokes. Then, use a different colour to sketch in the mid tones, and yet another colour to sketch in the light tones. Work your way around the composition, adding layers of colour on colour, varying the type and pressure of mark, building up tone, shadow and contrasts.

Think carefully about using a variety of effects, pattern, sweeps of colour, etc. Work quite fast to keep the activity and the image spontaneous and energetic. Don’t be surprised if this image becomes slightly messy and don’t be tempted to fiddle or overwork the image.

Part 2 Project 4 Exercise 2 - course notes image
Simon Fletcher, Breakfast for WK (pastel on paper)

Step back from your studies often, and review how it’s going. When you’ve finished, consider whether you’ve made good use of line, tone and colour –if not, start again. You may end up doing several versions but at some stage you’ll know that the image is good enough. When this happens, stop working and reflect on your progress in your learning log.


A selection of material and tools from the studio (paraphernalia) laid out on pink pillow-case with a blue backdrop. I used soft pastels to create this drawing. I had tried out different arrangements before selecting this one – I had scissors in the clear jar and then lying on the ground; and I had several goes at trying out different positions of the objects.

I settled on this arrangement because I felt it gave a pleasing juxtaposition of lying, standing and leaning objects.

In writing this up I now realise that I didn’t exactly follow the brief for the exercise as I used more than three colours of pastel – blue, green, yellow, brown and red, as well as white and a touch of black. So, I will have to do this one over again. But first, I will finish this drawing.

Part 2 Project 4 Exercise 2 - Still life in tone using colour 1st draft
Part 2 Project 4 Exercise 2 – Still life in tone using colour 1st draft

I added some more depth to the darker shades on the draft for the finished drawing.

I think that I managed to achieve a reasonable balance of line, tone and colour in the drawing; with some soft and hard edges (masking tapes rolls); light and dark tones in the objects and their shadows; and a pleasing colour mix.

The hardest aspect was trying to capture the glass jar with the suggestion of the brush handle inside.

Part 2 Project 4 Exercise 2 - Still life in tone using colour - finished drawing
Part 2 Project 4 Exercise 2 – Still life in tone using colour – finished drawing


Review your work on the previous two exercises and make some notes in your learning log in response to the following:

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

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

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

• How did using colour affect your working method?

I feel that the compositional arrangement of each drawing added an
ambience and particular dimension that suited the content and that my
rendition of the objects was appropriate subject matter and technique
used. Problem encountered in exercise 1 was simply just getting started
and growing confidence in laying down, mark making using line alone – but I think I got there in the end. In exercise 2 the main problem was in not reading/understanding the brief properly. Secondary to that was my ability to capture/suggest folded/creased fabric covering and backdrop, and in particular the effect of light and dark on the surfaces. Capturing the effect of the clear glass jar and it’s contents was also a challenge.

I think that both drawings (exercises 1 and 2) show a sense of depth, mainly achieved by the positioning of the objects and the angle of view from above the arrangement in both cases.

I didn’t find any particular difficulties in being restricted to line or tone.

Using colour affected my working method in the first instance as I
misinterpreted the brief for exercise 2 (deliberately or not I can’t decide). Anyway I am going to give this exercise another go, restricting myself to three colours only to see what occurs.

Exercise 2 reworked

This is my understanding now of what the brief was aiming for – use three colours to identify the tones – I chose the three primaries: blue pastel for dark tone; red pastel for mid-tone; and yellow pastel for light tone. I began with a freehand sketch marking in darks, mids and lights – blue, red, yellow.

Part 2 Project 4 Exercise 2 - Still life in tone using colour - redone 1st pass
Part 2 Project 4 Exercise 2 – Still life in tone using colour – redone 1st pass

Next, I worked over the three colours – blue, red then yellow to build up more of a body to the objects in terms of tone, shadows and contrast. It is still recognisable for what it is, but certainly much different from my first attempts which now definitely look like they were aiming for a more ‘perfect’ rendition of the arrangement. This looser drawing using just three colours is much more spontaneous, energetic and less ‘studied’.

Part 2 Project 4 Exercise 2 - Still life in tone using colour - revised finished drawing
Part 2 Project 4 Exercise 2 – Still life in tone using colour – revised finished drawing


In the end, it might have been better to use red (warm) for dark and blue (cool)  for mid-tone, but then it maybe doesn’t really matter as the exercise is about using colour to display tonal differences in a still life composition.

Stuart Brownlee – 512319
23 July 2015

Part 2: Project 4: Exercise 1 – Still life using line


Set up a still life group and select objects that either seem to connect naturally (i.e. are similar in one way or another – shape, height, pattern, texture, function, story, etc.) or deliberately contrast or clash.

Once you’ve decided on an interesting placement or composition, think about how you’ll tackle this exercise practically as well as conceptually. How will you treat the objects? How will you make their connections apparent? How will you capture the differences between the objects? How do the objects relate to the background? What is your viewpoint? Will you look straight ahead, to the side, from below? Think about and test all these elements before you commit yourself to a ‘finished’ piece.

With these questions in mind, use an A3 sheet of paper and a medium suitable for drawing line (a dipping pen and ink, an oriental brush pen or a fine black pen) to make a drawn study that shows your understanding of the forms, and the connections and spaces between the forms. Concentrate on patterns, textures and shapes. You can indicate tone but this is principally an exercise about line.

Part 2 Project 4 Exercise 1 - course notes image
OCA student, Carol Smith, Driftwood (white ink on black paper)


For this exercise I chose wood blocks, a hatchet and a hand saw as my composition objects. These are things we have contact with almost daily at home in order to keep the wood burner alive!

Part 2 Project 4 Exercise 1 - Still life using line
Part 2 Project 4 Exercise 1 – Still life using line – sketchbook ideas

Of the four idea sketches, number 4 probably meets more fully the overlap of rule of thirds and outside triangles in providing a balanced composition and I am tempted to chose it for my final drawing in this exercise. All four arrangements have an appeal. Number 2 does have a sense of depth to it with overlapping objects moving backwards in the space rather than across it from a front-on view, more so than ideas 1 and 4. However, I decided to work on idea sketch 3 as I believe it offers a more unusual and unexpected perspective to the composition than any of the other arrangements – it has a different light source direction and also has the benefit of nearly loosing a log, which I will have probably already burnt by the time I get round to the final drawing!

I used a number of Rotring rapidograph and isograph pen nibs for the draft sketch after I lightly sketched in the outline of the objects using a 0.5 mechanical pencil, Nib sizes ranged from 0.35, 0.4, 0.5 through to 0.7, 1.0 and 2.0. I have had these pens for years and this is the first time I have used them in ages 0 so a thorough clean was required before filling the cartridges with black ink.

I was a bit apprehensive with my mark making to start with, but soon got in the swing of it and I really enjoyed using the pens again and am pleased with the range of marks placed on the paper (Daler & Rowney 250gsm mixed media paper).

If you look closely you will see that I didn’t burn the smaller middle log after all, although the composition might have been slightly simpler without it.

Part 2 Project 4 Exercise 1 - Still life using line 1st Draft
Part 2 Project 4 Exercise 1 – Still life using line 1st Draft

Finished drawing

Having left the drawing overnight to reflect on it I kind of had a wee rush of blood to the head and decided I needed to lose the white paper background. My thinking here was to give a better sense of space and depth and so I watered down some black ink and used a soft sponge to lightly wash in over the main shadow areas still leaving a few areas of white paper showing through.

I may have overdone the wash a bit in places, such as the arrow-head space between the hatchet handle, head and saw as well as on the hatchet handle stock itself. Apart from this, I think the overall effect gives some additional tonal interest to the composition.

I feel that I have achieved a pen and ink drawing that addresses the brief and makes good use of line to capture a sense of the patterns, textures and shapes of my chosen objects.

Part 2 Project 4 Exercise 1 - Still life using line with ink wash
Part 2 Project 4 Exercise 1 – Still life using line with ink wash

Stuart Brownlee – 512319
19 July 2015