Part 1 – Exercise 2 – Experimenting with Texture

Started with frottage – trying different surfaces and different materials.


An example from my sketchbook of using different materials to depict texture.   In this case a ball of wool.


These felt successful int hat I like the freedom and movement in the marks and the way direction of the yarn is rendered in the different materials.


Tried the same kind of think using a stone as the object.   I think these needed greater nuance.   Enjoyed the fact that I was able to depict the weight of the stone.


Part 1 – Exercise 1 – Form & Gesture – Warm-up


I was standing on the platform and saw this dummy lying on the ground.   Took a photo and thought afterwards that this was an acceptable composition


Was interested in the idea of an image being temporary and outside of the Tate Britain they had just re-surfaced the road and rolled over some leaves which became embedded in the surface.   It is like an instant print which will not last as the weather and traffic wears down the surface.


Again walking along the sun came out for a fleeting second and I caught myself and the railing in shadow. This is far more evocative than I thought it would be as it has both time and place included in the image.   Also the angle of the sun means that the time of the year, autumn, is alluded to with the long shadow.


Just a fleeting shadow across the floor of my room.  Again I find this full of time, place and seasonal references.


Of course using a photograph to capture something is in itself a passing temporary moment in time.   However I was interested in how by noticing and looking more closely at the world around me I was able to find “compositions” which have a depth of interest and story attached to them.

The main learning for me is to be aware, notice more, be more curious and find the unusual in the everyday.


Exercise 4 – Shadows & Reflected Light

Exercise 4

Another struggle getting the tones. Enjoyed the drawing more than Exercise 2 . However not sure how effective the outcome is.   Definitely something I have to practice. Again aware that my drafting errors made the drawing “move” towards the left and is therefore too cramped on the right-hand side. I could have started again but thought that in a way enjoy seeing the workings of the drawing as they develop.

In the past I have used charcoal much more when drawing the figure and have not been a fan of still life at all.  So all round I am finding it an uphill task being in this mode.  Find myself irrationally angry at the struggle to find form but I know that it is good for the drawing muscles.



Odilon Redon

Odilon Redon mind map

Became really fascinated by Odilon Redon and his “Noir” drawings. The “Two Trees” represents one aspect of his use of charcoal for naturalistic forms.   The atmospheric depth achieved by his really black -black and all the nuances of tone are really affecting.  This and many other of his drawings offer a very sinister and foreboding view.   You are draw into the scene with a frisson of anxiety about what lies beyond the trees in the distance.

It appears that Redon developed a very individual technique with his charcoal drawing.   Over a couple of decades he experimented with this form as the technicalities of the medium developed over the 2nd half of the 19th century. A conservationists analysis of his work has revealed layer upon layer of working on any single drawing.

A Technical Investigation of Odilon Redon’s Pastels and Noirs

I have become very interested in his technique as well as the development of his images into the more symbolic and visionary content. In terms of appreciating what can be achieved with charcoal  this has given a great deal to think about. (Particularly as for Assignment 1 we are being asked to go back to our original mark making exercises and their emotional aspect).

“My drawings inspire and do not define themselves. They determine nothing. They place us, just as music does, in the ambiguous world of the indeterminate.”

“Black is the most essential color”: Odilon Redon’s Noirs

Redon was interested in evoking imagery from dreams and the fantastical. He was developing this work over the decades of Darwin and Freud’s breakthroughs.

I now realise that an image which I have in the past found very powerful as well as disturbing is from this series of his work.

Cactus Man Odilon REdon

Cactus Man 1881 

Lots of food for thought when approaching Assignment 1.

Review 13 June 2016

As I have noted earlier I find the whole tonal exercises very difficult. I am aware of the different kinds of reflections but not sure that I have made any distinct differences in how this has been depicted in my drawings.

To  review where I have got to I think I have been through 3 phases over the last month.   Initially I was very excited by the course and wanted to get going.   Lots of concerns but want to be engaged.

I think I have begun to look at form differently but it is far from automatic and is only achieved as I struggle to follow the exercises.

After spending sometime on the initial exercises  and looking at the OCA site and reading lots of stuff I became overwhelmed with the whole thing.For about a week I was at a standstill and beginning to worry that I have made a bad decision taking this on.

Now I think I have calmed down a bit and am getting going more tentatively.   However it is hard to let go of being successful with every exercise or sketch. I am still not that comfortable with sketching especially outside.

I have also observed that I don’t spend enough time looking and really seeing what is there as opposed to what I think is in front of me.   My concentration is developing slowly but I realise it is probably like any other muscle in the body and has to be used regularly in order to develop.

Often I find my drafting of the original image is inaccurate.   I know it is not “right” but continue.  I think this is linked to looking/concentrating.


Exercise 3 – Creating Shadow

Exercise 3Exercise 3-3

Enjoyed this much more than purely tone with charcoal.  I was able to use pens and ink which I prefer.   Not too good at formal cross-hatching but when I can be more flowing with the pen I like building up the object from the page and finding the form.

Exercise 3-4

For me there is more in this drawing – it has an energy and aliveness that I struggle to create with just tone.   Feel like my drawing skills are recovering slowly. This was drawing with a drawing pen.

Exercise 3-5

Thought I would try another one with dip pen and ink.   I like this too. Was not sure whether I could have worked this one further but somehow I like the way form is implied rather than fully drawn.


I do like working faster which working with pen allows somehow.  Or maybe it is more my thing.   As far as this way of working is concerned perhaps it points a way to use my sketchbook more – get away from pencil and charcoal and into PEN & INK.


Exercise 2 – Observing Shadow

Exercise 2

I don’t know why but I find working solely in tone really difficult and had put off doing this exercise.  So with the tried and tested method I jumped in prepared to make a mess if necessary.  Found it very difficult not to “draw” i.e. as in line rather than tone but struggled on and found some form but not particularly happy with them.

Exercise 2-2

Again a bit at sea with this.  Everything has a tendency to merge and finding the difference in the tones was a little more successful. Not very happy working in just charcoal.  Feel I am not in charge and end up making marks without actually contemplating what they are representing.


It is a hard discipline not to retreat into making outlines of objects and to struggle to find their form and make them real on the page.  One of the aspects that I have found hard coming back to drawing is developing my concentration for looking again.  Trying to stay with the task but finding I have to walk away and come back to look again.  Keeping focus is something that I will have to concentrate on developing.