Part Two, Project 4, Exercise 1- Still Life Using Line

Set up a still life group and select objects that either seem to connect naturally or deliberately contrast or clash.  Use an A3 sheet of paper and a medium suitable for drawing line (a dipping pen and ink, an oriental brush pen or a fine black pen) to make a drawn study that shows your understanding of the forms, and the connections and spaces between the forms. Concentrate on patterns, textures and shapes. You can indicate tone but this is principally an exercise about line.

I chose to draw a selection of green vegetables (linked by subject theme and colour- I was interested to see how I would differentiate them using only line).

I did a couple of sketches in my sketchbook to explore which angle to draw the arrangement from.  I tried a sketch from eye level which I initially liked but when I drew the arrangement again from above I decided that the shapes and perspective was much more interesting in the second sketch.  I realised that composition-wise there are subtle but important differences in the potential allure of a drawing, depending on whether your perspective is from above, below or at eye level.

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“Eat your greens” White ink on A3 black pastel paper.  I liked the picture shown in the course book and decided I might try to use similar materials myself..  I found it challenging and was a little confused for a while whether white represented the light or dark areas in the objects.  In the end I treated it rather like a photographic negative with increasingly white areas representing shadow and dark areas on the objects.  I tried to put in a background in the form of a wicker basket which I thought might provide interesting texture.  However, I got the perspective all wrong and drew it too wide and flat and the angle of the board under the vegetables also went rather awry.

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I tried using some white conte crayon to smudge in some shadow but it just looked messy and I wished I had left it as just a line drawing.  I was torn between heeding the instructions to make this exercise predominantly about line and my own compulsion to add  shading! IMG_0435

“Eat your greens” Black ink on A3 cartridge paper.  I tried the exercise again using black drawing pens on cartridge paper.   This time I removed the wicker basket and draw the objects on a glass table.  I tried not to get too bogged down with shading and just drew line to represent the different textures.  I just added some light suggestion of reflections and shadows in the glass surface and drew in the wrought metal structure of the table.

I was aware that my challenge was to differentiate between the celery, cucumber and pak choi as all three have predominantly linear stalks.  The cucumber is smooth and dark however, whilst the celery has pronounced stringy lines- these were difficult to represent using just line.  I had to darken the lines where the vegetables overlapped to make the shapes and orientation of each vegetable clear.  I tried not to just ink in dark bits but to apply some of the lessons learned in the previous ink drawing and to repeatedly overlay lines to create darker areas.  This was easier in the head of the broccoli than the linear areas in the celery and cucumber.

The texture in the head of the broccoli and the leaves of the pak choi were easier to differentiate as they have very characteristic features. I focused on delineating the curled veins and curls of the park choi leaves and the florets of the broccoli, which resulted in the lines naturally evolving to capture the differences between them.

I indicated just a little shadow below and between the vegetables to put them in context with their surroundings.

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