Part 2 – Project 1 – Exercise 1 Detail and Tone

Project 1 was on the topic of detailed observations of natural objects.  I initially focused my attention on shells as I had some sitting in the garden that had some interesting weathering effects to them.  I experimented with different media, initially starting in my new preferred media charcoal and concentrated on trying to show the texture of the shell.  I then tried soft pastels, pencils, ink, frottage, pencil and chalk experimenting with loose and tight strokes.
One thing picked up in Assignment 1 was not showing in my sketchbook how I was experimenting with compositions and layouts.  So I took this as an opportunity to experiment, both with physically moving the shells and doing quick sketches of the layouts.
I also experimented with using sandpaper as a background material and so stuck a piece of this in my sketch book.  It really didn’t work as well as I had planned and needs much more experimenting with.
I then re-read the task we were asked to do and realised it was more about tones and colour.  Although my shells had some colour I felt like I needed to use something with more varieties of colour so I went back to something I had experimented with early in my sketchbook.  I picked out a selection of oranges and first played with different media.  I used crayons, pencils, ink pens, oil pastel and soft pastel.  I liked the watercolour nature of both the crayon and the pencils but felt the crayon worked best with water on this paper.  The pens were a disaster as the colours did not blend at all and my mark making was not as effective as it could have been.  I liked both the soft and oil pastels as the colours layered and blended well so show all the orange tones in the fruit.
I used the oil pastel to draw one composition:
However, upon reading the task again I realised we were supposed to use pencils and so I reverted back to my coloured pencils to draw another composition.

Reflections on Project 2.

Project 2 was all about shapes and fundamental form.  In it I have practised drawing various 2D and 3D shapes, put groups of objects together to look at the shapes they make, the spaces between them and how they impact on each other with shadows, I have also experimented with tone and used various media to depict these tones and shadows.

I feel like this project has been a mix of success and failure.  I feel more confident in sketching the different shapes now and have practised ellipses in particular and my cylinders have improved as a result.  I experimented with backgrounds for the group of objects which didn’t go that well, the acrylic paint was too smooth to get good sketch on top and the paint was too dark at the top of the paper.  I feel like my charcoal sketches have gone well, I can produce much looser emotive marks with that than with the pencil which seems to hold me to perfectionism too much.

I have learned a great deal.  I now appreciate the importance of ellipses and drawing realistic cylinders.  I have learned to be looser and more free in my marks and I have learned to look at negative space between objects as well as the shape of the actual object.

If I were to repeat this I would spend more time with different backgrounds, try different papers.  I am also not happy with my hatch marks and feel like they need to be more fluid in the future.  I need to experiment more with these marks and try different types of pencil to do this particularly with length of mark and pressure applied.

I have achieved confidence with working on a larger scale and with media like charcoal that I don’t normally use.  Using charcoal is something I am going to take forwards in the future.  I have also learned to look closer at the tones, shadows and reflections objects make.  This awareness of tone has helped me to make more natural looking drawings.

I have used the tips in the course handbook to half close my eyes to look at tone and to not concentrate on details but look at the object overall to get the tones and shadows.  I have also taken note of the tip about not outlining shadows as this is something I have done in the past.  I feel like these have helped me to become a better drawer and will reflect in my paintings too.

In the future I plan to experiment more with these marks, use the techniques in my painting too.  I also plan on sketching more everyday objects as highlighted in the still life documentary I watched: sometimes regular overlooked objects produce the best ideas.

Overall I feel like my work is improving, this has made me focus on tones and shadows but I feel like I still have a long way to go.

Project 1, Exercise 2 reflections

This exercise was all about experimenting with texture, I did so using a variety of different materials in my sketchbook.  Details of which can be seen here.

Overall, I am fairly satisfied with the results but I also feel I have a lot more experimenting to do in this area.  The frottage was an interesting experiment with mixed results, some of the textures didn’t show well at all with the graphite and paper I used.  The sketches themselves again are mixed.  Some of the textures I feel I captured well like the softness of the wool but others I feel I was concentrating too much on making a sketch that looked like the object instead of just focusing on the texture itself.

I learned that sometimes you get better results by narrowing in on one small aspect of an object rather than trying to look at the object as a whole.  I feel I got better results with the orange skin when I did this and took time to look really closely and feel the texture rather than looking at the whole fruit.  I also tried some new mediums like a new ink and new water soluble pastels.

I don’t think I really took enough time to feel the objects and their textures before drawing them.  I concentrated on too much what the texture looked like rather than using a mix of senses to get a feel of the texture before trying to draw it.  If I were to repeat this I would try to draw what I felt alongside what I saw.  In fact this is something I think I will try very soon.

I stepped out of my comfort zone slightly as I do usually portray texture with layers of paint and so this made me concentrate on the 2D representation of texture.  It has also made me research more about texture in paintings and drawings and how different artists show this.  I do need to put into practice and experiment with techniques I have read about more.

I think this exercise is helping to improve my drawing and alongside the first exercise on emotions my drawings are becoming more expressive rather than just flat copies of what I see.  This is something I plan to use more of in the future.  I now need to focus my research on textures and apply some of these techniques in my sketch book.  I would also like to repeat some of the drawings focusing more on how an object feels rather than just looks.

When I started this exercise I was a little unsure of the direction to go in but now I feel like I understand more of the importance of texture and how to show it in drawings and paintings but also feel I have a long way to go!

Texture – Exercise 2 Project 1

We were asked to collect a selection of objects with different surface textures and experiment with depicting the textures in our sketchbooks.

My first page, I was quite lazy and didn’t particularly go hunting for objects but started with objects I had in the same room as me – this may tell you something about me already!
As I usually paint and like to create texture within paintings using the texture of the paint itself, I wanted to try and force myself initially to just create the texture in 2D using simple materials.  Therefore, the first six sketches just use pencils and the sketchbook paper, not something I do a lot.  I started with a piece of ripped corrugated cardboard and wanted to get the 3D texture of the ridges in a 2D form.  The second simple sketch is a small piece of crumbled soft pastel, again just using graphite pencils.  Next, I wanted to try something with a harder more solid texture so tried to do one of my daughter’s lego bricks.  As I didn’t feel I captured the shininess I focused on something with a lot of shine – an empty foil packet.
The next 5 sketches all focus on a clementine, I started with a simple very quick pencil sketch of the whole fruit but didn’t feel happy with the way I drew the texture of the skin so decided to experiment with different ways of portraying this.  Sketch 5 is still in pencil but I wanted to focus on a small piece of the skin and really concentrate on the pitted texture, still not happy I used the skin itself with ink to print what the texture is actually like.  Zooming in further I used a hand lens to really magnify the pits themselves and tried to create this texture with charcoal.  Finally I couldn’t resist getting the paint out and using a very stiff stencil brush I used a mixture of cad orange and black acrylic paint to try and recreate the pitted textures.
As I felt my first few sketches were really just warm up sketches and after enjoying trying to portray one texture in different ways, I took this idea forward and concentrated on four objects but focusing on each one in four different ways:

The first object was actually a wool hat but I concentrated on the texture of just a section of the knitted part.  Using pencil I wanted to try and get the repetitive pattern of the knit but also show the irregularities in the texture as parts had been stretched and twisted slightly.  I then concentrated on just one strand of the wool to try and capture the softness and cable like qualities.  Again zooming in further the final two wool sketches are using different types of graphite sticks to concentrate on just the softness of the texture.

In contrast, my next object was a hard plastic button, as I had struggled with the hard plastic nature of the lego brick I wanted to try different ways to get this quality in 2D.  Again I tired to use different materials to capture the hard texture, pencil was first and again I struggled with this.  I then drew around the button to get the exact shape and used charcoal sticks to focus on the hard outline created by the button.  The third drawing was using a black ink pen and simple cross hatching and the fourth section were experimental drawings using a mix of pencil and pastel, this time focusing on the shine element.

The third texture was a soft piece of cloth.  Again starting with pencil I tried to show the soft pillowy texture with a very quick outline drawing.  Using some acrylic paint I then focused on the detailed texture the cloth made when itself was used to apply the paint.  I like the effect this produced so tried to copy it using some soft grey ink and a mixture of firm and soft brushes.  The final drawing in this section was experimenting with some new water soluble pastels to see if I could portray this soft texture.

The final item was a metal key.  Again I wanted to try and concentrate on the shine as I didn’t think I had done this well earlier.  The top left drawing is using watercolours and I found this difficult to get the shiny texture and so switched below to pencils and ust concentrating on the cylinder of the key tried to get this shine to come through.  The final two images are focusing on the end part of the key which when you touch you can feel the squares pressing into your skin.  To show this I used ink and the actual key as a stamp and then I used these shapes underneath to do a ‘walk the line’ type drawing just using a black pen.

My final experiment (for now) with texture was using a frottage technique:


I used a thinner piece of paper than my sketchbook paper and a soft graphite stick to create an impression of different surfaces.  The surfaces were: a key, wooden floor, terracotta tiles, lemon zester, plastic clothes peg, wool rug, metal cupboard handle and a brick.

Reflections on Exercise 1

On paper this seemed like a relatively straight forward exercise and it was one that I thought I would do fairly quickly.  In reality I ended up spreading it out over a few days and really tried to give myself chance to get into the appropriate emotion before carrying on.

I decided to use the same set of 4 materials so that I would have a direct comparison at the end with the emotion being the only altered variable throughout.  The materials were: a charcoal pencil, acrylic craft paint with a skewer, soft pastel, watercolour pencils.  Out of these materials the paint is the one I am the most familiar with, although I have never applied it with a skewer before.  I have used the watercolour pencils before but as a colour medium rather than just a drawing one.  I have also used the soft pastels before, but again never in monochrome.

Overall I am pleased with the final 4 A1 sheets and can see a distinct difference in the type of strokes and movements used.  They aren’t finished pieces of work by any means but they are the starts of learning to use more expressive marks.

I actually learned a great deal from this activity, more than I expected to.  I learned a lot about my own emotions and how easy and difficult it is for me to express certain emotions.  Also, due to my research I took the time to learn some basics about abstract expression and how other artists have created expressive marks to show emotion in their work.  As for the materials themselves, I learned how applying different amounts of pressure can change the look of pastel and charcoal significantly.  Another interesting concept in the acrylic paint rectangle was the volume of paint used and how leaving different amounts of negative space alter the end result.  However, my most important learning point was about the creative process itself.  I hadn’t realised before but when I have created in the past I have always had quite a fixed end result in mind, this process was a new way of working for me as I really had to let go of the end product and just focus on the process and where it lead me.  I had no idea what the final results were going to be in any of the cases.

Emotion and the impact on pieces of work is something I want to explore further and if I were to repeat this I would combine the different materials and focus just on the emotion rather than the choice of material too.  I did feel restricted only using one colour each time and I would like to explore the importance of colour on emotion too.

I’m not sure I have yet put theory into practice, I feel my research is limited so far and I haven’t really incorporated that into my work yet.  I would like to research more in this area and then apply the techniques to my own work.

This has definitely led me to understand the creative process more and I will use this technique in the future to let the process decided the end result for me.  This is somewhat different to me but I did feel I connected with the piece more and it had more of my own personality in there.  This leads me to have some worries as I think this has shown me how I respond to sadness more naturally than joy and I hope this is something for my own personal state of mind that can perhaps change in the future.