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.
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.
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.
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.
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’.
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