Exercise 25: Still life group using line

~ still life group using line

~ still life group using line

For this piece, I chose an artichoke, a red pepper, and some beetroot. All seemed to have potential interest for a line drawing.

compositional pencil sketch

~ compositional pencil sketch

I began by making a couple of quick pencil sketches in my sketchbook, looking at various compositions. In the first one, I felt there was too much foreground.

~ second compositional pencil sketch

~ second compositional pencil sketch

The second one was better, I thought, but I still felt that the composition could be improved. I liked the vertical format, but wanted to show the inside of the artichoke and pepper.

~ compositional sketch using brush pen

~ compositional sketch using brush pen

Having cut the artichoke and the pepper in half, I made a quick sketch using a Pentel brush pen.  Again,I liked the vertical format, but wanted to see how horizontal format might look, using the same arrangement. At this point, I decided against using the brush pen, as it was hard to achieve fine lines.

~ compositional sketch using Fibralo markers and liner pen

~ compositional sketch using Fibralo markers and liner pen

I then re-drew the composition in a horizontal format, and much preferred it. From the outset with this picture, I was determined to work in a looser style. I think I achieved that here! For this sketch, I used Fibralo markers and a fine liner pen.  I drew using very loose lines, and then added colour with ink washes, using acrylic drawing inks. The colours were very bold, and I enjoyed this approach, as it made such a change to my usual style. However, I thought that the colours might be a bit garish…

~ preparatory sketch using dip pen and ink wash

~ preparatory pen and ink sketch

Next, I made a sketch using a dip pen and Indian ink, and felt happier with the variation of line that the dip pen offered. Once again, I added colour using light acrylic ink washes. I also indicated the spotted blue tablecloth in the background and the chopping board on which the vegetables sat. If this sketch hadn’t been drawn in an A4  sketchbook, I would have kept this drawing as my final piece. The looseness was exactly what I was hoping to achieve. However, the course book had asked for the picture to be drawn on A3  paper.

~ trying out hatched shadows using dip pen

~ trying out hatched shadows

Prior to starting work on the final picture, I made a printout of the last sketch, in order to see how it might look with some hatched shadows added in dip pen. I didn’t like this effect at all. The darkness of the lines distracted from the overall composition, I felt.  As tone was not the focus of this drawing, I decided to indicate the main shadows using darker ink washes.

Just before starting the final picture, I watched an OCA video on the subject of studies and final pieces. This was to serve as a reminder to myself to try and retain the loose feel I had achieved in my sketch. However, I do feel some of it was lost in the finished picture. I found I had to force myself to stop drawing before I actually felt ready to do so.  Part of me still wonders whether it wouldn’t have be a better idea to leave the drawing only partially coloured (as below).  However, as I wanted to include some reference to the background, I decided to go for full colour, as the partially coloured drawing looked odd with a blue background.  It didn’t work for me.

~ partially completed drawing

~ partially completed drawing

That aside, I feel relatively pleased with this drawing. I began with a simple pencil outline, to establish the correct placement and proportions – there are faint remnants of pencil still visible, but I quite liked that, so left them in.  They give it an added energy.  I deliberately chose a restricted palette, mixing colours from the few I had chosen when another was necessary. The greens do feel slightly lurid, but I think that’s because I have an innate dislike of yellow! However, I think that the pale blue background works well, acting as a cool contrast for the foreground colours. The shadows were minimal,  with the light coming slightly from the right, but mostly from above. As stated above, I included these using slightly darker ink washes. I found it hard to predict how light or dark the washes would be when they dried – there didn’t seem to be a definite pattern of behaviour.  Consequently, some of the darks are lighter than I’d anticipated, as that’s the way they dried, despite repeated applications of increasingly darker washes.  I didn’t want the paper to buckle any further, so decided to leave it as it was, eventually.  Lesson learnt, though.  Ink is not predictable.  As in my previous sketch, I strove to vary the lines, using differing pressure, and broken and continuous line. This was the first time I’ve drawn a composition from the viewpoint directly above the subjects. I liked the sense of completeness it offered.  I wanted a feeling of fluidity, and the beetroot worked well for this as it was able to wrap around the other items. I think that this creates a connection between all the forms. I also think the colours provide a good contrast to one another. The emphasis here is definitely more on shape than texture. However I have used minimal line to indicate elements such as the pepper seeds, and the tapering, slightly gnarled edges of the beetroot. I was pleased, too, with the suggested shape of the artichoke.  It has a feeling of roundness.

The two things I most wanted to achieve with this picture were looseness and simplicity, kind of in the style of line drawings by Picasso and (especially) Matisse , and I feel it has been successful in both.

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