Material Differences

It made sense to carry on with the staircase as my subject, as I have spent so much time in the hall recently, and it was the one I liked most from the previous exercise.

Having already drawn it four times, I decided to do a quick sketch trying to decide on composition and perspective. This is the sketch. My main aim was to get the proportions and relationship between all of the elements balanced.

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quick sketch of hallway

Even though I marked the heights lightly I got a bit lost drawing the newel post and consequently the proportions are wrong, made a mental note to get the height right next time. I also decided not to draw the whole door but to cut part of it off. I’m trying to think why this image appealed to me and I think because there are a few possibilities in it, meaning you can go through the door, or up the stairs or turn around to whatever lies behind.

Here’s the final product:

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final drawing of the hallway and stairs


I used A3 paper as this particular pad has a hardback so was easiest to work on. I started off using a mechanical pencil as I knew I would need to work slower and be more careful with the smaller details. I then used compressed charcoals for tone. I used the pencil again to add texture and detail and used about 3 or 4 erasers trying to get highlights, remove smudges and try to correct some wonky drawing. I finished off using the darkest compressed charcoal to add contrast.

As you can see, I need to practice drawing straight lines, there is some wonkiness in places, not helped by the drawing being photographed ever so slightly askew. However, I am happy with the tonal values, especially as I had used a white charcoal for the highlights and ended up rubbing it out as I didn’t like the effect. There was a lot of erasing and redrawing this one, trying to get all the intricate details right. It forced me to slow down and really take my time over it, which is good because I often work too fast. It shows a few different marks, which I am always trying to expand on, the tonal values have variety and the perspective is not too far from reality, so overall not a bad attempt at this exercise.


Contemporary Look at Domestic Interiors

In researching contempory artists who focus on domestic interiors, I happened upon an interesting article by Nicola Moorby on the Tate website. It discussed how artists from the Camden Town group often painted women in domestic settings, whilst excluding female artists from membership. It’s also interesting to note that at that time, men were responsible for decorating and furnishing the house.

In the Edwardian era things changed, the campaign for women’s suffrage grew and more women worked out of the home. Traditional roles were challenged, as husbands commuted to work so the decoration of homes fell into a woman’s domain. In spite of exclusion from various groups, female artists began painting domestic life from their point of view, finally able to display their own tastes. They painted their tastefully decorated rooms ( see The Chintz Couch), places where they were comfortable, whereas the male artist depicted them engaged in domestic activity, such as Douglas Fox Pitt.

How times have changed, but what I liked about women artists from this time, such as Ethel Sands and Vanessa Bell, they began to include themselves in the domestic interiors in a different way. In Vanessa Bell’s Conversation Piece at Asheham, 1912, the only thing that is missing here is the artist herself, she is very much a part of this social interaction, making a social statement about equality.

Going forward, I discovered some contemporary artists interpreting domestic interiors.

Njideka Akunyili Crosby


Njideka Akunyili Crosby, Tea Time in New Haven, Enugu, 2013, Acrylic, coloured pencils & transfers on pencil

Njideka is a Nigerian-born artist, now living in America, her work combines elements from both countries in a mixed media format. This is a large piece of mixed media which perfectly combines many elements, with multiple layers,  representing herself and telling her story.

This is a different way of showing the dining room, the composition has the table almost coming out of the picture, pushing up right into the face of the viewer. The shadows of the chairs are made of other images. The table has many objects, arranged in a casual, non-formal way.

Whilst seemingly an ordinary, everyday scene of a dining room, there is clearly more than meets the eye, there are references to Nigeria and America, making a more global and political. The many layers express her personal journey from her home place to the life of an immigrant. Undoubtedly there are questions of identity, nationality, and gender, woven into a scene, mixed with memories from Africa.

The next image is a very different view of an interior by David Diao which caught my attention for this very reason.


David Diao, Salon 2, 2011, acrylic and silkscreen on canvas

The image on the right shows Andy Warhol, David Whitney, Philip Johnson, John Dalton and Robert Stern in Johnson’s house, a famous modernist building, The Glass House.  The left image shows the artist, comfortably reading a newspaper at leisure, in the same interior. His image is smaller and depicts his own artistic connection to the men on the right, famous architects, artists, the trendsetters of the day, and yet he feels apart from it, perhaps diminished.  Apparently, all the men on the right are gay so possibly there is a connection there too.

The colour turquoise sets a tone of calmness and creativity. and may be a link to another artist, Barnett Newman, an abstract expressionist and colour field artist who often painted in a different shade of blue, known for his existential tone.

To understand this, Newman’s quote about sense of place seems to express it perfectly “The painting should give man a sense of place: that he knows he’s there, so he’s aware of himself. In that sense he relates to me when I made the painting because in that sense I was there… [Hopefully] you [have] a sense of your own scale [standing in front of the painting]… To me that sense of place has not only a sense of mystery but also has a sense of metaphysical fact. I have come to distrust the episodic, and I hope that my painting has the impact of giving someone, as it did me, the feeling of his own totality, of his own separateness, of his own individuality and the same time of his connection to others, who are also separate.”¹



They are after you, whoever they are. You are not playing against him tomorrow. You’re playing the system itself, 2012. charcoal on paper

Rinus Van de Velde is a Belgian artist who, in dealing with the realities and challenges of life, he has created his own fictional characters. His black and white charcoal works are like photographs, documentary style, adding to the effect of someone playing a role.

Van de Velde says that photographs are viewed as being true and factual whilst drawings are not, they are seen as fictional. He is playing with idea of what is reality, by using a character in his work,  this allows him to depict different situations with changing points of view, without revealing his personal beliefs. In this way, his themes can be universal and have multiple viewpoints.

At the same time, he often uses references to real life people, here it is Bobby Fischer, making a connection between the chess player and the artist. He has said in an interview²  that the caption is clear and specific, adding that we should not trust the drawing. He is testing the possible meanings in an image, and believes that the art work in isolation has no meaning, hence the long captions. He is asking us to question the work, what is real, what is imagined and leaving to us the viewer to decide.

It is an interesting viewpoint from above, reminiscent of a scene from a movie, looking down on the character, trying to get into their mind. The composition cuts diagonally across the paper, the man lies in an awkward, uncomfortable way. The viewer feels the tension which is uncomfortable, looking at this scene.

This effect is similar to that experienced when looking at Philip Pearlstein’s nudes, he uses mirrors to reflect further angles and views. It feels very matter-of-fact, but the complex composition of limbs and cropping the view, adding many folds of fabrics, adds a dynamic quality of movement, direction, form and structure, see Two Seated Models in Kimonos with Mirror 1980. The image seems cramped with so much to take in, it is hard to know where to focus, challenging the viewer.  Extremely realistic, yet we don’t have a full view, often we can’t see their faces fully, or their heads are cut off. Almost as if he is deliberately keeping the full story from us. some would say this makes it more abstract, it certainly makes us detached from the subjects.

Even though this is a photograph, by David Hockney, it’s an excellent example of an image taken from multiple viewpoints and a little reminiscent of Anthony Green’s Study for Mrs Madeleine Jocelyne with her Son, 1987. Taking an everyday object and making into something more interesting, more complex, playing with the horizontal lines of the desk drawers and the vertical ones of the floorboards. The factual nature of a photograph is embellished with a narrative of the multiple views, as if we were actually walking through the room and past the furniture and able to see everything.


David Hockney, The Desk, July 1st 1984, Photograph

Hockney believed that photography was flawed because it only showed one single perspective, by using this method it allowed for more and yet these works were inspired by photography.  He called these images ‘joiners’ and believed he could add movement, space and time by using this technique, better than the effect of wide-angled lenses.



  1. Sylvester, David (1998). The Grove Book of Art Writing. New York, NY: Grove Press. p. 537. ISBN 0802137202.



Vitamin P3, New Perspectives in Painting, Phaidon


Composition – An Interior

The only place I could find that seemed to fit all of the criteria was the staircase, which may sound odd but there was a lot of different lines going on, contrast between light and dark and also a mixture of textures. As I could not think of anywhere elseand I spend far too long already agonising over what to draw, I decided to just do it! (this has become my mantra, in an attempt to stop overthinking and procrastinating)

For the first drawing, I sat on the stairs, looking through the banister, using willow charcoal for a fast sketch.

Photo 20-04-2017, 11 20 52

on the stairs in willow charcoal

Not surprisingly, I found the angles difficult to capture but I think I got the turn of the stairs almost right. I’m not sure if you can make out that the items hanging behind the banister are coats but they look like fabric at least.  As is happening frequently of late, as soon as I see the uploaded image, it doesn’t look finished so I end up going back and working into it some more.  Hopefully, the fact that I am recognising this means I am growing in some way and am able to admit my mistakes and go back and rework drawings. The first attempt seemed weak and bland before so I have added more contrast and some depth.

My second attempt was sitting near the front door.

Photo 20-04-2017, 14 24 37

hallway in willow charcoal

I struggled with drawing what I could see in front of me, finding it difficult to fit it all in! By coincidence, it was interesting to see in the OCA weekly round-up today, Jim Unsworth discussing Lesley Norman’s work. She has distorted perspective to get more viewpoints in a scene. In case you missed it, here’s the link Lesley Norman. I think I am trying to draw what’s in front and also to the sides of me.

Again, I reworked this slightly as it didn’t have any tone or contrast. The banister was a nuisance, quite fiddly to draw with charcoal so I compromised, I can see areas that are slightly off but I’m happy with the coats hanging, that’s probably my favourite part. I haven’t quite managed to get the depth of the under stair recess though so, on reflection, this needs more attention.

I was feeling quite frustrated with this by now and re-read the exercise and concluded that I had done it all wrong so impulsively went off and drew something completely different.

Photo 20-04-2017, 14 31 49

dining room window in willow charcoal

After I did this I thought it was awful and quit drawing for the day. Now, I think it’s not that bad and has quite an interesting composition which may need further investigation, and maybe more care and attention.

As I did not want to redo the whole exercise, I decided to go back to the stairs and finish the job.

Photo 20-04-2017, 11 06 55

upstairs and downstairs in willow charcoal

I was halfway up the stairs on the turning point so had two different views. I had a view of upstairs and downstairs at the same time. It was somewhat confusing, so much so that I drew a chair that is downstairs on the upstairs landing before I realised how very strange that looked. The downstairs do not look convincing and I pretty much hate the stairs by this point. Even though there are a lot of mistakes I actually kind of like the movement happening here though.

Finally from the hallway

Photo 20-04-2017, 11 07 18 (1)

stairs in willow charcoal

Have to admit I was glad this was the last one but again, I quite like the end result, it seems calmer than the previous one. I’m happy that my strokes are stronger and bolder, because I can be quite unconfident when I’m drawing. This exercise was difficult, perhaps because I haven’t drawn anything like this before, I have a fear of straight lines. Sometimes I feel like I have so much to learn and it can be daunting but occasionally I think I am improving. I have preferred the portrait versions, perhaps because they are cut-off from the full view so you just get a glimpse of something and makes you a little curious. This is something to consider in future.

I googled for paintings of stairs and found, of course, Escher, I don’t know how he had the patience to draw that!

I found another one that seems more inviting by Edward Lamson Henry and also James Neil Hollingsworth.

In conclusion, interesting drawings can be made from staircases, I think it took several drawings to discover this.


Quick Sketches Around the House

On reading this exercise I can honestly say it seemed a bit of a chore, it didn’t really appeal to me. However, I decided I would limit myself to sketch a few at a time so as not to get frustrated.

Deciding to make the most of it and get comfortable in my living room, I drew three scenes.

Photo 10-04-2017, 14 58 58

living room in graphite stick

Have to admit that wasn’t as bad as I thought, the door didn’t come out that well but I made the sofa look like a fabric sofa so for that I am happy. I’m not a confident drawer when it comes to single line drawings so this is something I need to work on.

Photo 10-04-2017, 14 59 08

living room fireplace

This was not successful, I really lost interest in the detail of all the little nooks and crannys and the perspective is off, perhaps I should have sat at an angle, rather than directly in front of it.

Photo 10-04-2017, 14 59 24


I discovered it was quite difficult to get everything into one drawing, so bad planning there. Also, the window isn’t quite right so that was an error but I like the composition, cutting off the edge of the chair, although have to admit that was accidental!


Photo 10-04-2017, 14 59 34

window desk

I found this desk quite tricky so it wasn’t very successful either, I think I would need to spend quite a bit of time getting the angles right on furniture if I was to draw in more detail. Although I think the magazine rack worked out ok.

I moved upstairs to attempt the bedrooms.

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master bedroom with conte stick


For some reason I really enjoyed drawing the material of the sheets and I think the nightstand and books have worked out ok.

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bedroom door


I tried a different view of the same room, drawing the door and also the mirrored doors of the wardrobe. I enjoyed drawing the dressing gowns on the door but had a few problems with the reflection in the wardrobe mirror. I think this is something that could have been resolved if I had spent more time at it but I kept to the brief. Even when sketching quickly I need to plan more and think about the composition.

Photo 10-04-2017, 15 00 07

bedroom 2 in willow charcoal

Apart from the perspective issues, I thought this was more of an interesting drawing and it works better than the others. Perhaps the stronger, bolder strokes help add interest or perhaps the items on the storage box and around the window just add interest. I’m not sure why but I prefer this drawing to the previous ones. On reflection I think the mixture of verticals and horizontals works well.

Finally, the last drawing of the hallway and stairs

Photo 10-04-2017, 15 00 17

hallway and stairs

This is probably my favourite, again it was more interesting to draw, perhaps the combination of the horizontal lines of the stairs juxtaposed to the messy shoe shelves, and bisected by the banister post.

It did dawn on me that I most enjoyed drawing the spaces where people had been, this meant something to me, seeing their possessions left abandoned for later use, made a connection. It made me think of the space that we occupy, the sense of us in a place; even when there is nobody there, there is still a lingering presence, which I liked the idea of. I think this is definitely a theme to develop some more.

The strongest drawings are the charcoal ones of my son’s bedroom and the hallway. I think the subject matter had more varying elements so that gave interest and I think the charcoal worked well when sketching something quickly. I also enjoyed drawing the fabric of the sofa, the bed, the dressing gowns wrapped around each other on the back of the bedroom door.

Going forward, a room to study more would need to have a good combination of different objects and lines, perhaps the bedrooms.


By the time I got to this point, I was racking my brain for new ideas of what to draw. I find myself scrutinising fruit and vegetables at the supermarket, and randomly buying stuff! As kiwis were on offer, I tried them with last week’s coconut, arranging them in a two-tone wooden bowl but there wasn’t enough contrast in the colour and the texture. The tones were too similar and a bit blah. Finally I plumped for aubergines as I liked the deep colour and shininess of the skin. I then spent some time searching the house and rummaging through cupboards looking for an interesting dish, turns out my crockery is disappointingly dull! Eventually I discovered a  Moorish dish from Spain that was blue but I thought the tones might work well with the purpley-blue fruit.

Dutifully I sketched it, even though I have realised most of my preparation, and thus decision process, is done in my head! I always read the exercise the night before and spend a lot of time thinking. I know I am supposed to be drawing all options down in my sketchbooks but I think my brain works differently, I am trying though!


aubergines sketch

I wanted an interesting composition so I moved the dish around and decided to place it on a square background as I could see the geometric shapes and liked the combination of triangles and rectangles.

Although I have been trying to use different materials, I do enjoy working with charcoal so tried out a compressed charcoal set of grays that I like. If it didn’t work my back-up plan was going to be coloured or watercolour pencils.

I wanted to draw this from above which meant finding a lower surface level, in thie case a chair. Usually everything goes on the table, but this a different perspective, looking down onto the dish, and it meant I could move the chair closer to the window so the light was stronger. The whole chair was too big to get in, and the chair wasn’t particularly exciting, only in the way the forms cut across the viewer’s perspective, and the lines create different angles which was much more interesting. The perspective would be challenging but I didn’t worry too much, as I didn’t  think being super precise was that important.

The light was lovely on the aubergines, even though they are starting to shrivel a little, they were very reflective and mirrored some of the pattern from the plate. I found drawing the actual plate difficult, perhaps because the pattern was distracting, and I had to remember to add tone to give it solidity.

As I uploaded this onto the computer, I realised it didn’t look finished so I reworked into it.

Photo 04-04-2017, 11 30 05

aubergines on a patterned plate in compressed charcoal

The most successful part of this is the aubergines, they look shiny and smooth against the patterned dish. Clearly the perspective is a little off so I need to work on that (I think this coming up in a later chapter so won’t worry too much about that now.) I like the different directions of the marks, in contrast with others. The chair and dish don’t work so well but they do work as a contrast to the aubergines and the dish, the aubergines are clearly the main attraction here.

Experiment with Mixed Media

I was looking forward to this exercise as it was so different from the previous ones, and I had no real expectations. I think also I was feeling challenged and a little frustrated with the previous two colour exercises.

I prepared a couple of sheets using a mixture of acrylic paints; green, white and bronze. I really just brushed them on, spraying a little water onto the mixture. It came out a bit dark so perhaps it would have been better to do more of a lighter wash because I really had to work in a lot of colour to make any visible marks.

My approach for this exercise was that, not knowing much about mixed media, not to think too much beforehand and just go with whatever happened. As I watched my paper curling rapidly I realised my first mistake, I should have used a heavier weight paper.

Being conscious of not getting enough depth into previous works, I spent longer getting the composition right, using more objects and moved them around a lot. I’m kind of impatient but was able to quickly find a composition that I liked.

Photo 03-04-2017, 09 40 13

quick pencil sketch

I sketched onto the paint using soft graphite sticks then decided to use some decoupage paper for a collage effect, to represent two of the bottles; this paper is really light and easy to tear and also easy to draw over. Next I used wax crayons but they didn’t really show up well so I used some marker pens instead, these were strong enough to show through and I had to be quite definite and bold in my marks, primarily to show up against the dark paint. There was a real sense of layering with this picture, probably because I had to do it in stages for the paint and glue to dry and the marker pen seemed to fade so there was a lot of going over. I also used some metallic marker pens for highlights and some coloured compressed charcoal.

This was hugely enjoyable and I am very happy with the outcome, perhaps because I haven’t produced anything like this before. The drawing style was quite bold and definite for me, I had to be bolder and stronger in style so that it would show up. It feels more complete than some of my other work so maybe I am developing this sense of knowing when to keep working into the drawing more. I do hope so as I’ve struggled with knowing when to stop, when to go back and rework something.

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Mixed media

Seeing it on the computer screen, I am very happy with the palette, considering I had to work with what media worked over the dark paint, I think the limited palette works well. One of the difficulties was working over different papers and textures,  as some had different absorbency. I did consider cutting the decoupage paper from the coconut and pomegranate but decided it would look too clean, and I rather  like the overlap and the different textures. There was a lot of decisions to make, especially as it felt experimental in nature, I wasn’t sure what would work or not, but it was quite liberating having no rules to follow, other than my choice to keep everything water based as I thought that would be easiest for my first attempt. In conclusion, a very enjoyable exercise, which surprised me.

Still Life in Tone Using Colour

Of course I knew colour was coming soon and at first I was excited to play around with it but then I was apprehensive. Partly this is due to getting used to handling new media and not really having a clue but also, after a few sketches, I was generally unimpressed with my efforts. I’m not sure if there is a mental block that I need to overcome but this week has been a challenging one.

I decided to start with oil pastels as I could sweep them across the page in broad strokes of colour as directed. For a change, I elevated my still life arrangement and placed them on a box for a slightly different view. The oil pastels were not enjoyable to use, they felt hard and sticky, not smooth as I had imagined. I struggled with them for a while, then googled how to use them and tried using my fingers to move the pigment around a bit, which had a very limited success. Sadly, although I worked fast and spontaneous as instructed, I thought the end result was rather childlike.

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Oil pastels

Feeling a bit discontented, I reverted to compressed charcoals, and drew on black sugar paper as I felt I needed to locate myself again, trying to get shapes and tone correct.


compressed charcoal

Working fast and loosely, I think these shapes are more convincing and I’m happy that I made a range of different marks, this is something I need to expand on but it’s not coming naturally. The proportions are not quite right but I decided speed was more important. I changed the arrangement and made sure the tea spout was not getting lost in the carafe.

Next, I tried conté sticks, trying to keep it fast and free. After doing this one, I re-read the exercise and felt like I wasn’t really happy with the results. Felt a little frustrated but figured I just needed to keep trying.

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conte sticks

The next day I decided I would quickly rework the two drawings before I tried something else, making sure not to spend too much time on them.

This is the reworked oil pastel


reworked oil pastels

I don’t think I’m ever going to love this but am happier with the tea pot and the carafe. Now that I’ve photographed and uploaded this, I don’t think the jug works, but I think the shapes are more solid than before.

I definitely had problems with the restrictions of the media, I really wanted to get a brush and some turps and work into it, but then it would be a painting no? As I have a tendency to spend too long working detail into drawing and sketching, I was determined not to spend hours over it thus overworking it. I’ve only achieved a very limited amount of depth, purely by placing the carafe at the back.

Being restricted to line makes it seem quite stiff and artificial, obviously the colours contribute to that too but that seems to be the point of the exercise, it doesn’t say to represent the colours realistically. I found the example by Michael Coombes to be misleading, as it doesn’t seem messy and spontaneous to me and has clearly used many different colours.

The use of colour at first distracted me but I don’t think it adds anything to this drawing.

I also reworked the conté stick drawing

Photo 24-03-2017, 15 03 03

reworked conte sticks

Finally an improvement, this time I am happier with the jug and the carafe, they look more solidly in place and appear to exist as real objects, more so than the previous drawing. Once I added the edge of the table, and more contrast there seems to be a better sense of depth. Again, the proportions are slightly off but I was trying to be fast and not overdo it.  I think the line works better, the curved shapes in the carafe give it more definition and in the jug, the teapot seems to be standing upright so the effects have worked somewhat.

Having reviewed this again, I’m still not sure I have successfully completed this exercise, especially when viewing the example by Michael Coombs. It seems to me that his drawing is not a fast sketch but rather a detailed drawing that uses many different colours rather than the three we were asked to use. The example given is not messy and energetic but rather controlled and, I’m guessing probably took a long time to complete.

As I was feeling unsure about this exercise I did it again! This time with a lovely set of Unison soft pastels, they are thick and chunky and glide over the paper leaving a lot of colour behind.

Photo 24-03-2017, 14 28 15

soft pastels

It’s far from perfect but it is messy, and has sweeps of colour. I couldn’t really put any more pigment over it, it is so thick already but I changed the direction of my marks to add solidity and definition in the background. I can see I need to work on tone, but this was quite a restrictive exercise, only using 3 colours, but the colour does add something expressive. I feel like there is some emotion now, it’s a happy drawing of a sunny jug of flowers, it was sunny when I drew it. It was hard to add more depth, although I did try, the pastels are so chunky and it was hard to add a lot of contrast. I kept the composition very simple as I knew it would be very difficult to draw a lot of detail with the chunky pastels and I would argue that this adds to the jovial mood.

Using colour was most definitely challenging, at one point I wavered and reverted back to black and white as I felt a bit lost. I do find the black and white drawings useful to place everything on the page, and when deciding on the composition too. I wouldn’t say I was completely comfortable using colour yet, there is a long road ahead.

Still Life Using Line

I decided to start with a couple of quick sketches before committing to a final drawing and began with a pineapple, a coconut and a pear. I chose these for their different shapes and textures, plus they were still hanging around since the previous exercise.

Photo 16-03-2017, 11 31 18

quick pencil sketch

I used pencil and tried drawing almost continuously in a gestural style and I liked the end result, perhaps because it was quite different to my normal attempts. I think I managed to get the solidity of the three fruits but in a freer, looser style than normal which was fun although the pineapple isn’t completely convincing.

As I really enjoyed drawing the pears, I wondered what a few pears would look like as an arrangement and did a quick sketch of them using compressed charcoal. I wanted to try something different but it was quite difficult to get the pears to stand up. I got one to stand up by itself but the other two needed each other for support, that seemed the perfect composition.

Photo 16-03-2017, 11 31 07.jpg

quick compressed charcoal sketch

Perhaps because of their funny shapes, they were a pleasure to draw,  and I think I did  a capable job of capturing their form. I am beginning to realise that charcoal needs more room, I was using an A5 sketchbook, so I did a larger version on A3. I very much enjoyed drawing these, making a real effort to draw fast and loose and not in a constrained way. Perhaps I am beginning to understand the need for the right tools for the job, including paper size, and am starting to enjoy drawing bigger and bigger.

Here’s the larger version.

Photo 16-03-2017, 11 30 56

longer study, compressed charcoal

This time I used a bracelet effect to give the pears their rounded shape, again in compressed charcoal.

As I really want to experiment with the dipping pen and ink, I will do another version but I am happy that I have experimented with a different technique and am somewhat content with the result. Although now that I have uploaded the photo I’m not sure if the middle pear’s stalk is projecting forward as much as I would like! Obviously the drawing is not perfect, the shapes are a little off but I enjoyed getting to know the new materials.

Drawing with the dipping pen was very tricky, I’m not sure if I have some defunct nibs or it’s down to user error, but I had real problems even getting the nibs to work. I had soaked them in boiling water previously, in case they were covered in wax, but I’m clueless as to what is going wrong here. After a few attempts, I used a much broader nib, which seemed to work better and tried out a version of the pears.

Photo 17-03-2017, 10 30 54

ink version

It’s not perfect and, whilst I found it challenging, I am also quite happy that I persisted and am pleased with the end result. Clearly the technical aspect of the line is lacking, and I need some more practice but I am excited to try it again.

Reviewing this after exercise two, I thought the images were relatively successful, especially the pears, as I felt I took a risk with just using pears and having them fall onto each other as an arrangement. I think some of my compositions have been quite basic so I realise the need to be more adventurous going forward.

Some elements of depth came through, in the use of contrast and the way one pear falls on the other, and through use of tone.

Being restricted to tone was fine, it adds some personality to the drawing but the ink pen technique clearly needs practice.

Just using one colour worked well, although the brown ink was the only one I owned at the time, it seems appropriate for the pears, hinting at the seasonality of fruit, giving it an autumnal air. This course is pushing me to try new things but I’m never really sure if I am doing it right, even analysing your own work is difficult and trying to second guess your self. Hopefully this will become easier as I go on.

Detail and Tone

As this exercise was going to be more detailed than previous I wanted to draw something that had a mixture of textures so I decided to draw a pineapple. Whilst I was buying it, I spotted a coconut on sale so, on impulse I bought that too and did a quick sketch. Usually I choose items that I consider easier to draw but this one was going to be a challenge, I figure I have to learn how to draw everything so I went for something different. Normally I would shy away from anything that wasn’t the most basic of shapes but I felt somewhat confident in attempting these.

Photo 13-03-2017, 11 09 58

I wasn’t sure whether to cut the pineapple or not but, being practical and there being no going back once it’s cut, I left it whole and put it on its side for a different view. I used pencil because my default choice is charcoal and I didn’t think I could get the finer details and variations in tone I wanted to see. This is my first attempt really at focusing on detail and was fairly content with the form of the pineapple overall, the proportion seems accurate although I had a bit of trouble with the top right part of the base, at first it seemed too square so have attempted to correct that.

It wasn’t very sunny when I drew it so it was hard to see the difference in light, especially as the uneven texture of the fruit didn’t reflect it at all. I think I am starting to appreciate the need for different size strokes and lightness of touch is hard to sustain, at some point you want to go in and find the dark points, maybe a little heavy handed in parts but I was definitely conscious of trying not to overwork it.

I think I got some contrast in, it’s tricky  not to go overboard with this, is the balance right, I hope so. I chose different marks for the leafy bract, and for the fruit part and even some cross-hatching in the shadow. For me, there is a lot of varying marks but I need to work on this, I have researched it online and I think I am starting to understand the different effects available. I didn’t do a broken line anywhere really so will need to try in my next exercise. I’m realising there is a lot to learn and it takes time to process it and the need for practice, I think I am sketching more so that helps.