Assignment 1 – Still Life

What did I do?

I created a still life of objects that were important to me, placed them at eye level and then lit them from above from a single light source.  I used A2 newsprint and sketched the still life using a charcoal for one image and a polychromos pencil for the other.

I also tried to apply an effect that I had been trying out via extra work done during the weekend, to see if this would provide me with anything good or different or interesting.

How did I feel or think about it?

It was interesting to have to collect objects that were important to me and it was difficult to pick the ones that would best suit the still life.  I wanted to pick things that were relevant and important, so I chose the things that help me through my studies and other areas.

Glasses – without these I can’t see a thing so they’re extremely important to me.

Rescue Remedy – study and work brings on a lot of stress for me so this is a gem of a thing to have to hand.

Half a lemon – this is a life saver for indigestion and since taking it in water for the last number of months I have found my digestion normal again.  A combo of age and inactivity are to blame for the problem in the first place.

Ear muffs – they help prevent ear infections by keeping my ear warm during the cold months and although a hat is good, it doesn’t target the important bits that cause me trouble.

Anti wrinkle night cream – a miracle and it helps me feel like I can face the day.

Irish breakfast tea – the best tea out there for starting the day with, it just sets me up nicely.  I’m not sure what I would do with that.  Earl Grey and Lady Grey are fantastic but not at 6.30am.

How well did it go?

The charcoal was great because I could block in the items quickly and use the pressure to assess the tone of the shadow to work with.  It got very messy so there wasn’t a lot of key detail in it, but for capturing the placement of objects and providing a rough idea on an image it was good.

It wasn’t something I wanted to go into detail with though and so tried the pencil to assess whether this would work better.

It did not.

I did achieve more detail with it but the colour of the paper coupled with the polychromos pencil just didn’t pop off the page.  It really wasn’t what I was after.  Having used different paper earlier in the week I thought that might be the problem, but the paper I was using as a backdrop was giving me some great shadows and none of the coloured paper I had would have complimented the set up.  A lavender perhaps or even a dark grey, but the colours I had were too garish.

The pencil was finished off with an ink pen and then it was given some colour with other pencils.  I had been avoiding using colour as I wanted to explore the shadow and light aspect of the still life.  However in this instance, in order to bring it to life as such, I needed to inject something.

What did I learn?

Pencil is fine for smaller work – or so I keep telling myself.  However I still need to draw bigger.  An A2 is best and I need to loosen up and go with the size of the page.  I’m still finding myself going to the corner of the page or trying to contain it but it needs a blast of going out the edges and beyond.  I can see that and I just need to retrain myself to do that.

The charcoal is great but the willow charcoal might be better for mapping it out on a coloured page.  More A2 and A1 sheets in colours I like – definitely a must.  I did enjoy exploring charcoal and this has put me on the road to a happy place.

The hatching and line making for shadows wasn’t fully explored in the charcoal drawing but I did employ it in the pencil one.  It worked but somewhere along the line I felt that it made it look too cartoon like.  Then I went and outlined it in ink to make it pop again.

The final images were the ‘glitching’ effect I kept trying out.  The frottage aspect for me was employed in the ear muffs that had a knitted effect and the reflection of the glasses and glass bottle employed the lessons from the earlier exercises.  The lid of the moisturiser was also highly reflective.

As the light was strong the shadows were strong so this is shown in the pencil exercise.

I achieved a good tonal range in the pencil drawing but not in the charcoal.  The glitching was applied to give an effect that I see in painting, but it could be interpreted as a ‘rubbing’ or ‘smudging’ to distract from the image.  I’m not sure if it added to it or is simply a distraction or misdirection.

How can this help me in future exercises?

  • Bigger paper
  • More muted palette for the paper
  • Use artbars
  • Try to pick out objects that frottage could be used for
  • Be more experimental with the hatching for shadow – soft lines even