Part Two; Project 1; Exercise 2 Compositional Studies of Natural Objects (p38)

Looking at compositions of natural objects I focused on an “autumnal grouping” of a log/ pine cone/ ivy and mushrooms.  I was not keen on the log as it was very difficult to give it form without it just becoming a lot of squiggles.  So I changed it for a large pine cone.  I felt the layouts were more contrived than the lego and ironically did not achieve the same sense of randomness.  I was not so keen on the more contrived groupings.

However, the fact I did not have to be so accurate meant I could be freer, creating organic shapes rather than exact machine tooled shapes.



I had a go at a final drawing using Dip pen and indian ink on A2 mixed media 250gsm paper.  I liked using the pen but was aware I wanted/needed to loosen up, which I found hard to do.  However, I was not keen on the finished picture.  I felt it was flat and uninteresting, especially from closer up and from a distance it looked a little like a henna tattoo- lots of thick lines!  I suppose part of the problem is the fact it has no background and maybe I should have tried to add one.  However, I was put off by the unpredictable nature of the pen and thought adding background detail might just look even more messy and confusing to the eye.  I also struggled to create shades of grey through shading so the final picture looks flatter than I wanted. I feel it is more pattern than form- a little like a stencil


Pine cone arrangement-  Charcoal, tinted charcoal pencil, oil pastels, watersoluble crayons, conte crayons and colour pencils on A2 mixed media 250gsm paper.


I went a bit mad in search of colours and used almost everything in my “pencil arsenal”!  I was aiming for a grey tone understated colour finish and didn’t want to use bright unnaturally intense colours. (I felt that aiming at some realism restricted my colour palette)  I enjoyed building layers of colour to create form and texture.  I felt that the cone worked well and also the mushrooms which needed paper to show through to create roundness of shape and highlights.  The final colour spectrum used worked well on the whole.  The area I was lessee pleased with was the ivy- the leaves became a bit over-worked and as a result in places the leaves look a bit flat and lacking in contrast of shading.  If I were to do this again I might add more background to place the objects in context.  However, I am pleased with the way the shadow grounds the objects on a surface without being too dark and competing with the detail on the objects themselves.


Review your work for the last two exercises and make notes on the following:

  • Is it easier to suggest three dimensions on man-made or natural objects? Try to explain your answer.   I thought it was easier to suggest three dimensions on the manmade objects.  This may be because I choose very exact machine-tooled cuboid objects which had very clear sides and depth of shadow.  The natural objects were more random, which on one level was a relief, as if the drawings were a little inexact it didn’t really notice.  However, the light and shading needed to be more clear to create a sense of form.  It is as if the brain could be slightly lazy and leapfrog to understanding the predictable shape of a lego brick but needed more “explaining” about the shape of natural organic objects.
  • How did you create a sense of solidity in your compositions?  Solidity was created by giving the objects a sense of form through shading, tonal values, line weight.  Also by giving them a foundation surface to sit on so they were not floating in air.   The colour intensity also gave a sense of solidity- whether the bright bold colours of the lego or the muted tomes of the natural objects.
  • Did changing the arrangement of your composition make a difference to your approach and the way you created a sense of form?  I do not feel that the arrangement made a difference to the sense of form.  However, in both cases I kept the objects in groups.  Would spreading them out have affected this?   Putting objects in front of each other gives a sense of solidity.

Assessment criteria points

  • Reflections this part of the course:   I have tried to observe and draw detail and to experiment with different materials and techniques and compositions in this part of the course.  I have had various success and believe some elements of project 1 have been successful.  Those that have not I put down to learning and experience.  I am trying to be more experimental in my use of media and to use media that I would not usually choose.

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