Exercise 32: Drawing with other colour media
Make some drawings of the same subject as before in other colour media. Experiment with mixing the media. Reflect on how the task changes with the different media. How does the change in medium affect your style and the outcome?
I was glad to have the opportunity to explore my previous subject matter further in this exercise. Because the last piece took so long, and was so painstaking, I was intent on working in a very different way for this set of drawings. I wanted to see what would happen if I worked fast and loose – two things that elude me, generally. To focus my mind on working like this, I decided to make all the drawings in my A4 sketchbook. It turned out to be quite enlightening. To begin, I used watercolour over wax crayon (see above). This was a joke I had with myself whilst I laboured over the coloured pencil A2 piece – that the next one would be a crayon scribble! To my surprise, though, I ended up quite liking the result. I think the stems/buds look fairly dismal, but I do like the looseness of the flower heads themselves. Using watercolour washes over wax produces unpredictable results, I find, but that’s perfect for an exercise such as this, which is focused on experimentation and exploration. This sketch took me about 25 minutes. The extension of the yellow crayon beyond the flower centres was a spur of the moment decision – it added vibrancy to the existing sketch, I think. I was struck, too, by the way the flowers seemed to be floating in water (probably because of the colours I chose for the background)… this came to mind (not to make a comparison, in any way… just that my sketch brought it to mind).
For the second drawing (see below), I used Fibralo marker pens. Japanese anemones are beautiful forms, and seem almost intrinsically ‘stylised’. So, I was curious to see how they would work using a more graphic style. I deliberately kept the line drawing very simple, in keeping with my chosen approach. To further enhance the simplicity, I restricted my choice of colours. The patchiness of the markers aside, I think this could be quite a striking way of working, although it’s more illustrative than painterly. I spent about 45 minutes on this one (the bulk of which was adding colour).
For my third piece (see below), I wanted to move away from the natural colour of the flowers. I chose to use three colours of ballpoint pen – red, blue and purple. I’d chosen three colours as I thoughts that might give a greater impression of depth, however the purple didn’t feature much, in the end, as it was starting to dry up. With this in mind, I decided to ignore depth altogether, and focus on shapes. I used a continuous line technique for this. In all, it took about 20 minutes, and I really liked the effect. A good way of loosening up for sketching, I think.
The next sketch (below) was made using acrylic inks, applied using a combination of brush, chopstick and dip pen. I added Neocolor crayons too, washed over with water at intervals. The pink (ink) is lurid, and definitely something I would do differently if trying the same thing again. However, I had resolved not to redo/undo anything on this exercise, so the lurid pink stayed. This was the main point of enlightenment for me in this exercise – working in a series of uncharacteristic styles, quickly, loosely, and with an intention to accept whatever mistakes were made along the way, was proving so much harder than I had anticipated. I had thought I might enjoy the change of style, but what actually happened was that I found myself worrying about being judged. All my controlling instincts were fighting working in this way. It was very tempting to abandon the whole thing, and begin again. However, for that reason alone, I knew it was more important to persevere with my chosen path. More potential for learning. I have to say, though, it felt horribly uncomfortable. This one took me nearly an hour.
For the penultimate sketch, I reverted to colour pencil (see below), but used it in a different way to the previous exercise – line, broken line, hatching, varying colour outlines, and so on. Spent about 15 minutes on this, and I liked the effect of varying the colour of the outlines.
The last sketch (below) was done in soft pastels. I quite like the combination of soft tone and fine line, and was intrigued by the lines made by rolling and dragging the pastel on the paper. I used this approach for the stems, and it suited the strange curves and bends of the real thing. Of all the drawings I did for this exercise, I think this is the one I felt happiest with – it was done relatively quickly (for me), and retained a loose quality. This took about 25 minutes.
Of the pieces I did using mixed media, I think the crayon and watercolour one has most potential. It might work better if I were to sharpen the crayons to a finer point, as there would be greater potential for control. The varying natures of the different mediums was very marked – pen/ink/marker produce more graphic results, while crayon and pastel are far softer, and seem to encourage a more expressive style.
Overall, I found this a difficult exercise – somewhat surprisingly. It showed me that my tendency to want to control is far more pronounced than I had previously thought. Possibly the greatest lesson it offered was that it’s vital to be able to produce sketches/drawings/work of any kind without the expectation that every one will be completed to my satisfaction. I need to allow myself to make mistakes, and to do things I simply don’t like. That’s a struggle, and something that will need far more work.