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