End of Part1 assignment

Well it’s that time already…

Time to put all the elements of part one of the drawing course together and produce the assignment pieces.

The assignment was to produce the sketches and compositional work for 2 still life pieces – one with man-made objects and one with natural forms.

The object of the assignment was to produce pieces showing the ability to use a range of marks and apply perspective and tone knowledge to create objects with form on the page

Peppers and pears

I first started to ‘loosen up’ on a few items from the kitchen.  There were a couple of red peppers, a wizened bit of ginger that was on it’s way to the food recycling bin on it’s own ;0) but had some great texture a pear and some roses.

I decided to work on the natural forms piece first and after an hour or so I decided that a shopping trip was in order.  Like most artists I drift into another world when I’m drawing, so after an hour of looking at and thinking about textures I had decided what should be on the shopping list.

  • Lemons or limes, or both
  • A pineapple
  • Sweetcorn
  • Bell pepper
  • Figs
  • A garlic bulb

I initially looked at a piece that I had created a while ago for my pet portraiture course

Kitchen objects - click to enlarge

It was a mixture of items from the kitchen and I had combined a selection of textures both man-made and natural into the one piece.  I created this piece in pencil on bristol board.

The intent was to portray not only textures but a range of reflection types on the different materials in the collection.

I love the sublety of pencil work, so right up to sitting down to work on the initial sketches I was convinced that one of my pieces would be rendered in pencil. so off I trotted with the shopping list.

Natural forms sketches

Armed with a carrier bag of goodies I started to arrange.

I chopped one of the peppers in half because I thnk that the internal structure looks much more interesting than the outside.  I did the same with a lime across the ‘grain’ so that the segments were on show.


Natural forms 1

It looked like I was preparing to cook some sort of sweet and sour dish so I decided to stick with this as a theme.  I tried several layouts with the pineapple laying down or standing and quickly realised it looked better standing as it provided some height to the composition.

I also decided that the pineapple would be the focal point in a portrait composition in which case I wanted to place it on the right hand third of the

Natural forms layout 2

frame.  I also liked the idea of having both halves of the pepper, but placed one upside down so that you also get to see the smooth skin.



Sweet and sour still life sketch


Earlier in the blog I wrote a page  which briefly looked at van Gogh and in particular his mark-making techniques.  This had set me thinking about using different marks for rendering textures.

I went back to my mark making exercises for inspiration.

Despite initially thinking that this would be a pencil piece I was wondering what it would look like if I used non water-soluble uni-pens with some kind of vibrant but transparent colour wash over the top.  I had like the transparency qualities of the watercolour inks.

Experimenting with pen and wash to render the lime


I wanted to try and use the most appropriate mark for the object that I was rendering.  In the case of the lime I used an almost pointellist style to describe the form and tone on the skin.  Using the finest pen (0.005) I suggested the juice capsules in the cross-cut segments with short curved lines.  White space was left to indicate the pith and a sort of linear hatching produced the shadow.

Sweet and sour natural still life - assignment 1 - click to see larger image

I loved the result and decided that the best surface for pen and wash would be watercolour paper.

I like the finished piece.  I think that the pen and wash idea worked well and overall I am pleased with the composition.

On reflection I think it would be improved if the objects were on a wooden chopping board to ground them more firmly and add a stronger base in terms of colour.  At the moment the objects don’t seem to rest on an obvious enough surface.

Love the rendering on the lime though ;0)


Man-made objects still life

Kitchen objects

OK, so one final piece complete now for the second. In re-visiting previous works I recalled how much satisfaction I got from the challenge of recreating the reflective surface of the the steel milk jug.  Sos much so that I selected another one along with an espresso cup, sugar stirrer and spoon.


Man-made objects: layouts


I started to create some rough compositional sketches of the objects and no matter how I arranged them, nothing grabbed my attention.  Everything looked too contrived; too posed.

I took all the objects away with the intention of starting again.  I was left with the spoon and the jug and wondered if I dared be so minimal.

Reflected spoon Still life: click to enlarge

I loved the colour reflected in this simple jug and the abstract nature of the reflections.  I wanted the viewer to percieve the jug as stainless steel and the work of achieving that perception is in rendering the reflections and light accurately.

I also plumped for pastels on velour this time – a medium I use almost exclusively for pet portrait commissions, but have not used for still life.  I felt comfortable that I could produce the necessary detail using this medium.  Overall I was very pleased with the finished piece.

Reflections on this assignment and part 1

This has been a great start to the course.  I have enjoyed the mark-making immensley.  I don’t think I’m alone among artists in not wanting to ‘spoil’ a pristine new sketchbook by such a thing as drawing in it :0)  I know that might sound wierd, but I don’t think I’m alone.  I’ve a feeling that this may come from a reluctance to draw something that might not turn out exactly as first imagined.  Well I can tell you I’m now on the way to being cured of that.  I am now more happy to ‘doodle’ and see where it leads to.

I loved the technical foray into perspective and plan to extend my research in that area as the course progresses.

I think I still have a way to go with my compositional sketches. At the moment, as soon as I create a thumbnail that I think will work, I am happy to go straight into creating the finished piece.

I do know that life got in the way a little towards the end of this module.  As a result I have skimmed through the next module already and created a ‘timetable of exercises’ with a little extra time built in – just in case…

I’m looking forward to starting on Part two this weekend, so watch this space for progress.



Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: