Part1, Project 2, Exercise 4- Shadows and Reflected Light (P26)

Draw two objects with reflective surfaces.  Using charcoal, putty rubber, on A1 or A2 paper fill the paper, showing the reflected light and shade.

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Attempt 1- teapot and mug.  Vine charcoal on the smoother side of A2 mixed media paper.

I chose a shiny chrome teapot and ceramic mug with interesting contours on its surface.  I positioned them so that the mug reflected onto the teapot- there were also reflections of windows and the room in its surface.  I positioned them so natural light fell from the right- natural light gave a subtler range of tones than when I shone a light on the composition.  However, I read somewhere that a still life should be lit from the left so the viewer reads it like a book (L-R)- is this true?

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I felt it was important to try to observe and protect the white areas from the start to prevent the drawing becoming dulled and muddy and to let fresh white paper shine through.  I used the side of the vine charcoal to lightly describe the main areas of shade and slowly built up tone from there using a combination of the side of the charcoal, its sharp tip and using the putty rubber to lift out the light tones where needed.  I was not altogether happy with the rough finish caused by the rough texture of the paper- even though i tried to smudge it smooth using my fingers.  I finished the picture by adding finer detail using a conte stick- this gave power to the denser blacks and lifted the drawing.

I am pleased with the shiny finish on the teapot lid, and the dark tones and textural contrast of the lid handle brings it to life.  I am also pleased with the reflection of the mug in the side of the teapot.  I was less pleased with the contours on the mug which lack subtlety and would have liked the side of the teapot to look more “shiny”.  I felt overall the proportions were accurate.  I Like the strong blacks created by the vine charcoal and how it can be smudged back to change and reduce areas as required.  It allows experimentation and enables the picture to be created in “layers” without spoiling the finished drawing.

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Attempt 2. “The Odd One Out?” Vine charcoal on  A2 cartridge paper.

I wanted to try the exercise again to see if I could create a smoother effect on smoother paper.  I chose to draw salt and pepper mills and an oil diffuser which were similar shapes but differed in their details. They all had brushed chrome surfaces with interesting distinct patterns of light and card across their surfaces.  This arrangement made me think of playground infighting at school- how in a group of three friends, one is often left out!

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I was concerned not to muddy the finished drawing- I wanted bright highlights and details and clear contrasts of tone.  I’m happy with the finished drawing- I finished it off with charcoal pencil.  I am not 100% sure I should have added the background shadow- it looked cleaner without, but having it in does contextualise it more.

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Attempt 3. Compressed charcoal in shades of grey on grey A3 pastel paper.

Every morning I look at a vase on the fireplace in the bedroom and think I should try drawing it.  It is a large glass vase, against a grey wallpaper (hence the choice of paper).  Alongside it is a decoupage model- a giraffe dressed up as a zebra.  Using just grey compressed charcoal I did a reasonable background sketch of the subject but it looked a bit flat- partly because of the grainy texture of the charcoal and partly because the colours were not intense enough.  I used white chalk, white pencil, charcoal pencil and vine charcoal to intensify the lights and darks and to define detail.  Making the reflections whiter gave the picture more of an illusion of 3D form.  Also, using a blending tool to remove graininess and smudge the blacks and whites of the giraffe, brought it to life more.  I wonder if I have made the vase too distinct?- (looking at the actual object it almost disappears into the wallpaper).  Maybe I should have just hinted at its form more using light colours and fewer dark colours.  I like the highlights on the giraffe and its reflection in the vase.  It made an interesting change to draw something that was level with/above my eye-line.

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2 thoughts on “Part1, Project 2, Exercise 4- Shadows and Reflected Light (P26)”

  1. I really like your glass vase on the grey paper. I have just done this exercise and wondered about using a toned paper but didn’t. I think I will have another go and use that now, so thank you!

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