Monthly Archives: May 2017

Assignment two (and reflection)


(1) Firstly I drew the ‘frames’ on my A1 drawing paper.  These frames will hold the different drawing media and different supporting media.

1 hour:



They are also meant to give a seperate geometric structure to the still life and act as an abstract ‘still life’ with it’s own dynamics.

I changed these slightly from my plan… as I thought more about how the shapes worked together. I changed the small square to a circle as I thought the circles would attract each other. And also repositioned the bottom right rectangle so the gaps to the side were the same.  It introduces some symetry within asymetry.

When I’d drawn the frames (sorry it’s so light) I moved my paper around and decided that it worked better upsidedown – that is with the circles supported on boxes like debris at the bottom of a mountain. My original orienation made the boxes hover in mid air and looked odd.

(2) Next I drew the rubber plant.

1 hour:


I really enjoyed this and love the patterns the leaves make.

It’s the second time I’ve drawn this rubber plant and I noticed the leaves all have different ‘feelings’ so I tried to make them work together. A bit like 3 D chess till they made a pleasing arrangement.

This was cool as it’s like speaking to the plant – which I know sounds bonkers. Maybe more like having a conversation with what you’re drawing but not using words… being in the moment.

(3) Painting the frames.

2 hours:


My original idea had been to make a montage by sticking different material for the different frames – I really like the idea but due to time contraints decided to paint them in acrylic.

I’d hoped acrylic would be thick and opaque but it reminded me of liquid watercolour. Given more time, and when I finish, it might be nice to experiment with brushdtrokes… I had a little go with the silver paint and liked the effect.

I chose gold for the wide frame because big old frames are gold. Black for the circle because intuitively I wanted to paint that next and gold and black seemed a nice combination. Next I did the white circle so the circles would contrast and all the rectangles would have the colour.

Lemon yellow because it went with the gold… and finally red because there’s going to be lots of green in the drawing and the contrast might give it some energy.

(4) Sticking in the supporting media.

2 hours:


I’m using the drawing paper for:

(A) Pencil and art pen; (B) Marker pen and highlighters and (C) Pencil crayon… but in my preparation noticed that drawing paper was a bad choice for pastels and watercolour.

I traced the drawing then cut out and stuck in the different supporting media, then traced the drawing back on top.

(D) Watercolour paper… the little circle.

Wow!!!! It’s so thick – like card. I had no idea. No wonder the drawing paper didn’t work.

I’m going to test my watercolours on the bits I cut off as I’ve never used watercolour paper before.

(E) Pastel paper – the big gold frame. I only had A4 pastel paper… again I’ve never used it. It’s thicker than ordinary paper and has a bit of a bite so should be good.

As I had to use more than one piece of paper I used different colours to see how that might affect the colours of the pastels. I’ve no idea but I’m sure to learn something!

(F) Acrylic paper – in the black circle. I just thought the oil pastels might work on a canvassy supporting medium as I had such a lot of trouble with the drawing paper. And a friend bought me some acrylic paper as a present. So why not.

It’s nobbly and a bit shiny… might even be plastic on paper?? Anyway, it’s a bit like a canvas so we’ll see what happens!


DRAWING… famous last words but I’m going to try and limit myself to an hour a drawing and another hour to tidy up???

We’ll see!

Saturday 13th May… well, I didn’t manage 6 hours… it took 12 and an hour to tidy up.

Posted it off yesterday (Friday) to my tutor with lots of drawings she asked for and prep work – guarenteed delivery Tuesday 16th May. I’m really excited that she can see the physical work and looking forward to a chat.

Firstly a note on each medium:

A) Art pens: (on drawing paper)

I didn’t expect this to work so was really pleased with the result. It ended up a bit Van Gough like but that wasn’t my intention. And it looks like a negative sun – almost expressionistic?

But my intention was to gradate the blue to give the fall of light on the wall (I made the wall up) and some interest to the background… and for the change in intensity to lead into the plant.  My solution (as you can’t do washes with art pens – or I couldn’t) was to join lines and gradually add more dark blue.

However, having spent ages planning the design I wanted this to work as fine art so once I picked up the pens I worked intuitively and let the colours guide me. I was in the moment and it wasn’t a conscious excercise.

The process was a constant stopping looking and feeling what colour would go best next. I also felt like I was touching the leaves (which may sound a bit weird) but I was absorbed by the plant rather than being seperate to it.

Amazingly this produced quite realistic leaves.

Two more happy accidents were the overlapping of the blue lines and tiny gaps. This gave the ‘wall’ a lovely quality and made it more like sky. It made me think of a cactus in the desert.

I found by leaving gaps in the leaves and dotting I could make reflections which was really cool. And the precision of the Art pens meant I only made the marks I wanted to… but I also had to be strict and stop when it felt right.

All in all I really enjoyed using these and what I thought would be an ‘artificial’ and flat medium sprang to life.

That would never have happened if I hadn’t done a worked drawing using the Art pens.


B) Pastel: (on different coloured pastel paper)

The pastel paper was lovely to work on. It ‘soaked up’ the colours much better than drawing paper so it took a lot longer before the paper was ‘full’… (like a spoon of colour to a bucket) – this meant there was much more scope for mixing/subtle shades and intense colour.

I used my finger a lot for general mixing/smudging. This was great for the flow of the leaf but you had to be careful with your finger hygene… as the colours soon mixed to grey and if you went from one area to another without washing your finger you got a big ugly smudge!!!

I also used a pointy paper thing to butt up blocks of color where I’d left a tiny gap.

Having never used pastel paper before I would definitely use it again.

I tested out whether the base colour made a difference but it didn’t seem to do so – which might be because I used such heavy applications of colour?

It feels naturalistic and wistful to me.

It was very intersting how each medium has it’s own feel. Like different instruments in an orchestra.

Finally, when I fixed it it initially darkened but then went back to the normal colour – on drawing paper it seemed to lose it’s brighness. So I don’t know if that’s another benefit of the proper paper?

I masked off the rest of the drawing so I didn’t get any pastel dust on the clean paper or the Art Pen work I’d completed.

C) Watercolour: (on watercolour paper)

I found this really, really hard.

I’ve never used watercolour paper before and it’s got little indentations, it dries and absorbs differently to drawing paper and technically needs a lot of practice.

On drawing paper the colours were easier to spread and it didn’t pool.

The supporting medium is almost like having another drawing medium in that it affects how you use the drawing medium so radically.

In the end I couldn’t achieve what I wanted but it has some nice qualities in the surface of the leaf… however the highlights look stilted and don’t work.

D) Oil pastel:

I love oil pastel – the colours are so rich and vibrant and blend so well.

It’s like sculpting with creamy colour!!!!

The drawback is the mark making is so blunt and the pastels spatter and crumble. I want to get physical with these.

So I got lost in this – it doesn’t help my reflection but it was like dancing. Blending, touching, adding and smearing.

I don’t have the language, but it’s beginning to work in places. By work I mean it sings rather than reflects a certain exterior reality.

E) Pencil crayon:

This was a revelation.

Pencils… they’re for kids… right?

It’s going to be awful.

And yet they produced something that’s very effective… the table and the leaf have a texture. You can mix and overlay, the colours are bright and strong.

I’m particularly happy with the aerial perspective???? on the table. The gradation in color makes it look like the table is 3D. And the little leaf at the front. It’s like a little smile and works really well for me.

It has the feel of hightened reality and reminds me ever so slightly of Andre Derain’s use of colour. With an element of aesthetic expressionism (I just made that up but I think it expresses what I mean?!)

F) Markerpen and highlighters:

Really, really, really strange.

This is perhaps the most effective piece of the drawing and it’s the most ‘unrealistic’.

I expected it to be the worst.

I used a black, blue and red marker pen and highlighters I use on my notes.

It wasn’t planned I just picked them up and went for it. Working very quickly… mixing by overlaying one on top of another.

For me this part of the drawing comes alive.

I would NEVER have used them for a drawing if the course hadn’t taken me there and I don’t know why it works… but it does.

I’m very happy with this section of the drawing.


(1) Demonstration of technical and visual skills:

I think I put a lot of effort into using the different media – each of the six areas uses a different drawing medium and several use different supporting mediums.

It’s forced me to use them in a piece of fine art – I really wanted this to work as a complete drawing – and I’ve learnt a lot about their different voices… and how they work on paper.

The design and composition was carefully thought out then integrated into the whole by using a single rubber plant as te focus for the drawing.

(2) Quality of outcome:

I’m not sure about this as I don’t fully understand the language.

But my intent was to creat a drawing that investigated the nature of seeing so each frame was a window onto the same “reality” but changed it. Just like no two viewers view an event in the real world in the same way.

And to stimulate the viewer into thinking about ‘reality’ in a wider context.

In that sense I think it’s coherent.

It applies my knowledge (technically – if that’s what is meant) as I’m working to the edge of my ability (and learning) by applying all my ideas about colour mixing/perspective/direction of movement in a drawing as best I could.

(3) Demonstration of creativity:

A difficult one but I did a lot of prep and put a lot of thought into both the fine art side and design side of the drawing. Hopefully it was an imaginative response to the brief… to draw a still life showing understanding of: colour, composition, line and tone, accurate depiction of form and experimentation.

The colour is not realistic though parts are – I tried to use it aesthetically and expressionistically; composition involves a six frame device; the drawing incorporates lines and tone within the plant and of course strong lines (and colour) in the frames; The plant – in form is an accurate depiction of form but the way it’s rendered involves a lot of experimentation.

(4) Context reflection:

This is a sum of everything I’ve done to date. Researching classical, Dutch and modern still lifes and constant reflection in my log book.

So I hope I’ve fulfilled this element too.



Assignment 2 (Preparation: 6 of 6 quick sketches of my still lifes)


Pencil crayon sketch…

In my terms, I had to rush this having had a timely nudge from my tutor to finish Assignment 2.  The candle was done in a couple of hours a few days ago and the rest of the picture finished tonight in about three hours.

Pencil crayons are very difficult to use.

They lay colour down in a really weird way. It’s difficult to explain… they have a quality I can’t put my finger on.

I’ve found in these preparatory sketches that each medium is very different, both to use and in how it looks/what’s it’s best at. It’s almost like each is a different visual language. It’s also teaching  me something about myself… about controlling colour (watercolours) and broad blocks of colour (pastels)… and that I really like the way colours work together.

And using the same supporting medium for each has shown me that that is nearly as important (maybe as important) as the drawing medium.

So, in no particular oreder this is what I’ve learned from pencil crayons:

(1) In life there are no pencil lines… a pencil line is a convention to show where two colours butt up. A visual shorthand… and when you use pencil crayons (which are very transparent) the pencil lines show through. This really brings home negative and positive shapes and forces you to consider exactly what you are drawing.

That is, the line takes on a different meaning. Rather than ‘being’ the drawing it becomes the contour of a 3D shape. It makes you ‘see’ both the line and the subject differently.

Sometimes the pencil line serves an artistic purpose and a lot of artists use line to delineate their shapes, but that’s a choice. If you ‘draw’ a shape and then colour it in with pencil it’s almost impossible to fully lose the line. So in my case the line is dictated by the medium not by the artist.

(2) The cover of pencil crayons is grainy compared to watercolour or pastel.

(3) It’s very difficuly to mix pencil crayons on the page to create new colours.

(4) My crayons kept breaking when I sharpened them which was very frustrating – I think the trick is to buy expensive crayons that don’t shatter.

(5) Mine also wore down very quickly which meant I had to keep sharpening them as they blunted and it was difficult to know where they would make a mark.

(6) The crayons left little bits on the paper which made tiny pimply marks when I colored over them.

(7) The sketch paper compressed when I pushed down with the crayons – this made it shiny and it didn’t pick up the colour very well.

(8) The colour had a certain quality I couldn’t put my finger on which will be great for something but emotionally I found it thin and watery. But maybe that was the quality of my crayons.

(9) Perspective: The candle took me an age to draw as each face has a different perspective. I tried by eye but couldn’t get it right as all the faces have to work together. I then found the vanishing points of the candle in my photograph by drawing them out on a big bit of paper and mechanically imposed them on my drawn candle.

It was very interesting to find how this changed the shapes and lines and I could see where I’d not drawn what I’d seen. But imposed what I thought (knew) on my drawing. In my head I ‘saw’ the left hand side as quite big – because I know its a flat slab of candle – and drew it bigger than it was. In fact it takes up only a tiny bit of paper

After a while I eventually managed (I think) to get all the faces working together.

(10) The composition isn’t right but I’m not sure what’s wrong with it. I think the objects are too spaced out and in a circle. There’s not enough connection between them, no visual gravity.

(11) Colour wise I like the greens and reds but I think the reds need to move nearer the greens as at the moment they are too far away to create any dynamics.

(12) Although I don’t think the drawing works as a whole (and I rushed the wooden table) parts of it are beginning to work individually.

a) The red byro and white paper are pleasing… I think this might be to do with the angles and geometry and the way the byro cut the corner of the paper making triangles beyond the paper which you mentally complete. And the highlight on the byro links with the white paper.

This is interesting too as I drew it very quickly.

b) In the photograph (I’ve never done people before) and like the way a few marks can suggest a face. My son actually looks like my son!!!! (At least to me.)

c) The green on the mug works… I think the angle of curve is right.

d) Even though it’s very overworked the candle is pleasing as it has some solidity.

(13) This drawing made me think that the human eye sees a small part of a vista in focus and ‘correctly’, and stitches together a big picture by tiny head and eye movements so what we actually ‘see’ in our head is never normally distorted.

In drawing a big picture we are actually putting together a series of small pictures with slightly different points of view.

In this photograph because the lens was too near the still life it caused distortion. And I’ve drawn that distortion… but tried to also make everything real. This is a valid technique if used consciously for a purpose and makes me think of some 1930’s? Italian painting and German Expressionism where the artist deliberately disorintates the viewer by changing the normal perspective.

In my case it was an accident of the photograph.

Finally, I know it’s taken ages but in my preparatory drawings I used different media properly for the first time and it’s given me a real feel for their possibilities in Assignment 2.

Now, I’ve just got to sleep on it and see what I can come up with tomorrow.

I’ve got to crack on!!!!!!