Check and log: Detailed observation

Which drawing media did you find most effective to use, for which effects?

I found a fibre-tipped pen excellent for making a line drawing.  Going straight in, without using pencil to mark out the drawing beforehand, encouraged me to look at the subject (the garlic bulb) more closely, and to think more before making a mark.  Using continuous line helped in this regard, too.  Since doing the line drawing, I have acquired a brush pen, which allows for a more varied line (from very thin through to broad brush-like marks).  I’m keen to see how this will alter the character of a drawing.

Using a variety of graded pencils worked well in creating tone through hatching and cross-hatching.  I think pen could work equally well, though – either a fine liner or a dip pen and ink – although the effects created would obviously be different.  Pencil tends to produce a smoother finish.

Using a fine liner pen worked extremely well for stippling, although halfway through the drawing I really wished I was using a broad marker to stipple, as it might not have taken quite so long to do!  Although I decided to restrict myself to pure stippling for this drawing (curious to see what effect it would achieve), I would say that the same liner pen would have made laborious work of creating a wider range of effects, due to its inflexibility.  If I were to set about a stippled drawing with the intention of incorporating other marks – flicks, dots and dashes – I think I’d prefer to use a dip pen, as the flexibility of the nib would seem to lend itself to a broader spectrum of possible marks.

What sort of marks work well to create tone, pattern and texture?  

Hatching, cross-hatching and stippling are all excellent ways of creating all three.  In particular, stippling appealed to me (despite my grumbles about the length of time it took).  It seems a highly effective means of producing very subtle shifts in tone, pattern and texture.  Hatching and cross-hatching work well, too.  I feel I really made progress with them in the tonal drawing, having struggled previously.  Layering them in different ways produced a wide range of effects – hatching creating a smoother finish for the pomegranate skin, for example, whilst multi-layered cross-hatching produced good dark tones.

Did you enjoy capturing details or are you more at home creating big broad brush sketches?

I do seem to have an innate tendency towards detailed drawing.  Even when I set out with the intention of working in a looser way, I seem to gravitate towards detail almost unconsciously.  Whilst I enjoy working on detail, I do want to explore the possibilities of working in a looser way, not least because it seems to offer a different spectrum of marks – ones that tend not to work so well within a detailed piece of work.  My concern is that if I work loosely or sketchily, it will simply look messy and unconsidered.  There are innumerable examples of artwork to counter this idea, though, so I am looking at artists who work in this way to act as guides – people such as Joyce Gunn Cairns, Jason Gathorne-Hardy, Robert Hanson, Alberto Giacometti, and Denis Curry.

Look at the composition of the drawings you have done in this project.  How could you improve your composition?

Given that each of the drawings within this project asked for single items as subjects, possibilities for composition had some limitations placed on them from the start.  Apart from observing the subjects from different angles, other options might have included drawing cropped sections, or (in the case of the pomegranate) cutting into the fruit differently.  As it is, I feel I selected good compositions for each drawing – ones that picked out as much detail as possible (which was the object of the exercises).