Project 2 – Exercise 4 – Monochrome

Project 2 exercise 4 - finding composition

Did spend quite a lot of time looking for objects to pull together and a setting in which to put them.   Took loads of photos and again started with much too much and too complex to deal with.   Had been looking at quite a lot of contmeporary still life photographers,  Krista van der Niet,  Laura Letinsky and Saara Ekstrom as part of the research into still life generaly. (see images below)

Krista van der Niet

Laura Letinsky 2


So then I paired the objects down and also introduced using a grid which I had made on an acetate sheet.   The grid idea came from a life drawing class which I have been taking for the last couple of months.

Project 2 exercise 4 - final composition

Using the grid to plot the drawing more accurately I find exceedingly difficult because the eye\brain does not necessarily come up with the same outcome and is very confusing.  But I stuck to it for this drawing particularly which made me resent it somewhat and find hard to complete.

Had tried a few sketches in my book to help decide on paper and materials to use. Decided on Khadi paper with water soluble wax crayons and coloured pencils. Was and remain slightly confused by how to remain monochrome when dealing basically with a light colour like yellow. So brought in browns but did not know whether I should have found my tones using greys/black.

Project 2 - Exercise 4 - Monochrome

This piece was really a struggle.   Firstly because I promised myself that I would keep with using the grid to plot the drawing and this was mentally quite a non instinctive way of working for me.  But in terms of the compositional outcome I think it worked better than many of my previous drawings.Again I think this should be chopped down to a square.

Project 2 - Exercise 4 - Monochrome cropped

Not sure?  There is more of the dynamic of the view with the original size but it shows how I tend to tail off top and bottom of a piece and loose overall the density.

I think I have captured the two front lemons and parts of the washing-up gloves.   The corn on the cobs were fading fast by the last day and I did not spend that much time on the detail.  However overall proportion and perspective are better probably due to using the grid.

Did I think this through more – yes I think so but I found it boring as a subject and kept having to remind myself that it was just one exercise. I do like the way the paper works with the lemons and texture f the checked rug.

Overall not as disastrous as I thought it would be!


Project 2 – Exercise 3 – Experiment with Mixed Media

This time I did take lots of photographs before I started drawing.   See sketchbook for photo.  Also I became particularly interested in what the background should be and was thinking about patterned fabric.   Bought a number of 50s & 60s fabrics on Ebay to use.   Find these very evocative and the objects I chose also seem to depict different decades in my life.

Project 2 exercise3 finding still life final

Having originally placed these by a window I felt that there was too much going on and ended up back on the table viewed from above.

Project 2 Exercise 3 Mixed Media 1

Worked with markers, chalk on a pastel paper.   The design of the fabric is fighting with the objects.   I have allowed myself to loosely depict the fabric by concentrating on the pattern effect. Not really successful .   Feel however the movement of the girls dancing by not working in too detailed a fashion.

Project 2 - exercise 3 mixed media 2

Pink pastel paper with a white watercolour wash.  Used oil pastels, ball point pen and markers. This is another drawing where it would work much better in a square format.  I like the texture of the oil pastels but as yet are finding them hard to work with. Maybe it is the size of the work making detail difficult to define.   But the ball point pen unexpectedly adds something particularly for the African head and the dog.

Project 2 - Exercise 3 - mixed media 3

Oil pastels on black paper. Could work but head not well drawn.   On reflection the composition of jut the 3 objects is good – I like the tightness.Background too scribbly and distracting.

Project 2 Exercise 3 - mixed media 4

White paper pre-drawn with water soluble crayons and then water added and left to dry overnight. Had moved the composition around and guess what makes a square!  Overworked in more wax crayon, chalks, drawing pen, and tipp-ex.

What I like:

  • The density
  • The variety of mark making
  • The opacity of the African head and dog

What I don’t think works:

  • The composition
  • Sylvester
  • Everything is floating
  • Background material

Project 2 - Exercise 3 - mixed media 5

Tried again for being more defined?

Paper worked in coloured inks and left to dry over night. Worked with oil pastels, drawing ink, pencil.

Felt a bit more in control of the oil pastels and like their density. The background is still unresolved and the objects are still floating.   Is this a good or bad thing?   The relative size of the objects is not correct but resolves some of the issues caused by the dominance of Sylvester’s black and white.


Making choices in relation to materials to use is hard and deciding on what order to work on in the drawing is confusing.   Some of the drawings would have worked better if I had thought through the different stages, may be make a list of the stages I need to work through.   I am still tending to “go at” drawings in a spontaneous manner and am learning that I need to slow down the thinking.

Am caught between how realistic, perfect drawing I need to achieve versus keeping the drawing lively, interesting and felt.

This is a good link to the next monochrome exercise…..

Project 2 – Exercise 2 – Still Life in tone using colour

Fruit in bowl photo

Fruit in dish coloured pencils

OK I realise I didn’t read the instructions carefully enough on this exercise and just went in and drew using coloured pencils without restricting myself to the 3 colours which had been specified in the exercise.

However, I like what I have achieved with the fruits and bowl.  Particularly I like the build up of the cross hatching and tones created by building up the layers and different directions of the marks.

Learning: I need to read the instructions for the exercises more carefully.  Need to re-do this exercise.


Reworked the exercise using 3 colours and white.   Slight cheat!

Find it easier to work in colour than just line and tone.   However some of the spontaneity of using mark-making tends to disappear so tried to be more adventurous with this version. I think it could take even more and realise I could have gone stronger on the background tone which would have pushed the still life forward more.

Need to be more aggressive with the tones generally in order to create greater depth. Getting better at working round a drawing but need to step away more often in order judge the weights of the colours overall.

Project 2 – Exercise 1 – Still Life Using Line

Project 2 still life - line drawing 2

This was generally a difficult exercise for me.   Chose 3 round objects:- a melon, a tennis ball and a small round pewter (silver reflective) vase.  Worked with ink and a stick on Khadi paper.

I had previously tried a number of experiments in sketchbook on using line both in white ink and black ink on different papers.

Composition –  I don’t think this is very successful but had tried different placements and was trying for something more “contemporary” . However I do like the variety of marks  particularly on the melon and tennis ball which can be achieved. After a while I got into more experimentation with mark/line than being effective about being able to build up the tones and drawing the composition together.

I am interested in the pewter vase but it does not “read” as what it was/is.

Project 2 still life - line drawing 1

Moved on to depicting 3 stones gathered from the beach. Each are interesting in themselves and drawing the objects together makes the composition more effective but still not that interesting.  Tried so many placements where I could see the contrasts in the types of rock: 1 chalk, 1 flint, 1 smooth with variety of tones.

Again drew with ink and stick on Khadi paper – all laid on a piece of paper which had folds on it.  Actually think that the folded paper added quite a lot to the piece and helps with definition. Altogether it is a more successful piece of drawing and the media suits the subjects to an extent but not entirely.

Learning: Could spend more time on this type of drawing but perhaps using different materials combined.

Project 2 - still life line drawing 3

Final piece using the same 3 stones + 1 more and used a drawing pen with washable ink.   This was on plain white paper.   Composition less successful – is there something about odd numbers and composition : 1,3,5 etc.

I suppose this is a bit of a cheat by using water to create tone.   Some of these stones are really interesting and could achieve a better outcome.   Not sure that the use of line for this project works for the subjects I have chosen.

Exercise 1- Detail & Tone

Peppers detail and tone

Worked in coloured pencil to build up the detail of colour, tone and shadows in this drawing on brown paper.   Moving the mark making, cross hatching more effectively round the drawing and the object are becoming more alive because of it.   More able to produce the effects of the light bouncing off the skin of the peppers as well as more depth in the inside of the vegetables.

I think that the drawing itself is more precise that I have achieved previously although the half yellow pepper in the back is not as effective as it could be.

Learning: Taking time to build up the objects pays off but even so probably could have spent more time on this too.   I like the way the brown paper stands in for a tone in itself and helps to define the composition.

I need to do more of this kind of drawing and be inventive with mark making.





Project 2 – Still Life – Different Media

Bottle and furit photo - still life

AT this stage I really got confused and looking back I now realise that this phase of work was not about mixed media but more about trying still life with different media.

In my sketchbook I tried many different combinations again and layouts.  One thing I wanted to do was bring in different surfaces and I like pattern too – particularly strong prints.

Project 2 still life solf chalks

This piece is purely in chalks on a pastel paper. I like the mark making but tend to blur the chalks as a “cheat” way of creating density.  Some of the detail reads well, cloth, flowerpot, apple but the top of the bottle is wrong.   If the whole composition was tighter and lost the top of the bottle (a la Cezanne) I think it would work better  /Still not achieving good over all tone across the drawing.

Project 2 still life solf chalks cropped

Works better when it is tighter.

Project 2 Still life water soluable crayons

Used water soluble wax crayons, ink and graphite pencils on white paper. The tighter composition is more effective particularly the off edge bottle as a matt black ink shape. Generally more dynamic.   Building up the colour with the crayons works quite effectively but not good on detail. Again that thing about using marks moving in one particular direction to depict tone on the white cloth. Need to break the habit and describe tones articulately with greater variety and maybe more colour in order to pull a drawing together.

project 2 still life - pastels on brown paper

Working quite quickly with water soluble crayons, chalks on brown paper.

Project 2 still life - mixed media

Coloured pencils, water soluble wax crayons, ink, chalk pastels, oil pastels on pastel paper.

Like the composition although more successful again if cut off at bottle.  Why is that?

Project 2 still life - mixed media cropped

Greater focus? Density? Drawing the eye into the centre of the composition without being distracted towards the outside edge?  Maybe I should concentrate on working on square compositions?

Some aspects more successful than others as usual.   Like the patterned cloth against the linen, the flowerpot, stone and bottle.    Apples over-coloured and the plant not as convincing as it could be.   Struggled with trying not to be over realistic with still keeping spontaneity.  Shadows/tones on line more interesting and varied.

Project 2 still life - ink drawn with stick

Tried spontaneity with ink and stick on Khadi paper. Having got to know the composition whilst working the other drawings thought it might be good to work quickly on a simpler piece.

Project 2 still life - inks sketch on khadi paper

Similar thought with this using coloured inks with a brush as well as the stick for outlines.

Learning:- Composition is so important.   

Trying to get everything in is a wasted exercise for me.   Being discerning about relationships of space negative and positive is key.   At various points I have become impatient trying to “find” a composition but now realise that this is more than half of the work towards a successful outcome.

Note: – I should photograph the various stages and analyse them initially before settling on what to start working on. Not hurry into the drawing. 

Project 1 – Still Life – Sketchbook Natural Forms

Lilly - ink and negative space

Started working in my sketchbook and on separate pieces of paper with the natural object theme.   Initially in my sketchbook whilst trying to do too many things at one.   I wanted to define outline, find negative space and be representational.  Ended up with an outline drawing which doesn’t achieve any of these effectively.   Am finding that I continue to find it hard to stay with one kind of thinking and not allow my concentration to move on.  i.e. to look at negative space without looking at detail.

In the drawing above I tried again to define the negative space before laying down anything else.   Then being freer with coloured inks sought to define the objects, flowers themselves.   Considered continuing to work but there is something in the detail of the negative and outline  v the freedom of the ink that I like.   Although not a successful drawing, whatever that is I enjoy the contrast.

Learning: Could have been more careful with the ink and put in the background – see photograph below which would have given it greater definition. (photograph not the exact still life as I changed the composition along the way).

Lilly still life

Kept readjusting the composition in a way for it to become more defined, simpler to deal with and maybe more eloquent.

In the sketchbook tried working in coloured pencils then wash.   Can see that I could be working into and again out of the work by using the wash.  Tend to get bogged down in the detail  and didn’t spend long enough building up the tones and shadows.

Generally I like what the coloured pencils do and how they can be precise as well as more expressive with laying over different colours and using the cross-hatching method to gain depth.

Lilly sketchbook

With this last one in the sketchbook I drew lightly with coloured pencils, background with ink and overworked with coloured chalks.   The composition – my usual problem of not fitting everything into the page – is truncated but on reflection I quite like this and find it interesting.  Some overworking with graphite pencil in the lily flower.

Learning: I constantly move from liking the detail to liking the bigger gestures.  Also enjoy the feeling and definition created using the chalks.   There is a lot going on in this drawing that would be interesting to develop but am not sure at this point how to go about it effectively.

Am becoming aware that I tend to “fill in” create shadow using lines moving in one particular direction – need to expand this gestural marking to work with the tones and shadows of any particular composition.