Shadows and Reflected Light

photo-19-01-2017-10-09-55This was the first drawing in many months so I am somewhat content that I am just getting back into the swing of things. Having had surgery on my finger in December I am finding it challenging, not to mention painful, to draw again. Sketching is probably good exercise so I am endeavouring to get things flowing again.

Whilst I always read and re-read the directions, I am often plagued with self-doubt, asking myself am I doing what is required from the exercise. I do start off following the advice but then seem to end up doing my own thing. My first thought is always to notice where I’ve gone wrong in proportion, size, the composition feels a bit cramped here. Not a bad first attempt to represent reflections and shadows but decided to keep working on it.


I wanted to get a bit more space and softer although I actually prefer the first drawing as I think this now lacks definition and the shadows are unconvincing. Am still struggling with a stiff finger so the tea-pot looks a little off.I also changed the bowl for a jar for a change.


conte sticks

My third and final attempt, I wanted to use something other than charcoal which seems to be my go-to tool, so I chose conte sticks, grey, white and black. I swapped the objects again, and enjoyed drawing the jug. My accuracy is still lacking but am pleased with the reflections although the shadows are not very convincing. More practice required!



Creating Shadow using Lines and Marks

Using a variety of drawing tools; mechanical pencil, biro, pigment liner and, being brave, dip pen and ink, I focused on two shapes, rectangle and sphere.


Sketching Exercise in Tone

After this I did a selection of shapes using different techniques. Here’s a selection:

I found elements of this difficult so spent time on it using different techniques and tools, it was enjoyable and relaxing although I found afterwards I had misread it and had to start again. Nevertheless I was glad I had the patience to practice, especially the stippling as, although laborious I think it gave a good effect, in fact I was surprised by the effects produced using scribbling. Perhaps my favourite was the pen and ink, again challenging but good practice, using just ‘w’ shapes. I don’t think I am ever fully satisfied with the result when it comes to reflecting on them, I spot mistakes or areas I could have worked better but this is learning!

My final drawing of 4 objects was done quite quickly in pencil, mainly because I work faster this way. Distinguishing between light from the primary source and the reflected light was at first challenging but depended a lot on the materials. I found using a small desk lamp useful. I think I have always struggled with depicting tone but two key pieces of information have helped: there should be four distinct grades of tone and that shadow will always be the darkest point. From now on I will look closer at tone and try harder to demonstrate it. In future drawings I will be more conscious of tone affecting my depiction of form, I think I am more aware of it now.


Observing Shadow Using Blocks of Tone

I’ve been reading Experimental Drawing by Robert Kaupelis and decided to start off with an apple and an egg (page 67).


For my first attempt I was fairly satisfied with this although I can see now that it is not well finished. I started using a chunky piece of charcoal but eventually swapped it for a finer one. Funny how when you take a photo you can see what you couldn’t see on the page, I must try taking photos and viewing them this way whilst working, it was helpful. The egg was, of course, difficult to render and again, lighting is a bit of an issue.

My next attempt also involved two eggs, not surprisingly they are proving difficult to master. I figured though this is good practice so I kept at it. I’ve been using coloured sugar paper as I think it’s not a bad medium to work with, for some reason A1 paper seems hard to acquire.

photo-17-10-2016-09-54-46I was having problems with my eggs so ventured onto YouTube and watched somebody else draw one, I did learn something so would recommend watching others practice art this way. One tip I learnt was that the shadow should be the darkest point, not the egg, which makes sense. I decided another attempt was going to be the one to crack this.

Photo 17-10-2016, 09 55 11.jpg

My some miracle I bought some A1 paper, turns out this did not work well with charcoal, there is not enough tooth in it so blending and erasing was a bit of a nightmare.  Came back to it later in the day but of course the light had changed and so did the shadows. There is still room for improvement, the lines are too hard and need to be softer, that’s partly down to materials but also user error but I think progress was made.

Groups of Objects


After selecting my household objects, I did a quick blind contour sketch,before attempting to get the shapes correct.  Whilst I was happy enough with the arrangement I knew immediately that the bowl would be a problem so I spent some time practicing ellipses.

The above image is my first attempt and was a fairly quick capture. I spent more time on the following piece:


There were a few problems to overcome; drawing on a large scale, working on the positions of the items and how they relate to each other, proportions and negative space. Lettering was difficult so chose not to focus on that today. The black granola box turned out to be a bad choice because it was hard to see the difference in tone, it was too solid. Lighting was also a problem, it’s not particularly well lit where I am working, some of that is seasonal, but will have to rig up extra lighting in future, as it was difficult to see all of the shadows.

There was a lot of editing, erasing and redrawing to get everything more or less in the right place, which I did fully achieve. Next time I will place a white sheet underneath to improve shadows and perhaps add a table light. Whilst trying to capture the weight, shine,transparency etc, have I been too rigid? Is this loose enough? I suspect not.Have I evoked some kind of expression in the marks and the relationships created inside and around the edges of the forms and the picture plane?? Whilst I have tried to add expressive marks, I’m pretty sure I have failed this exercise. I think I will need to reconsider this drawing.