My involvement in Sturt Summer School last week provided me with the time and focus to try a variety of drawing media and learn some new techniques to apply ideas to paper.
Drawing negative space.
I marked the outer sections and blocked them in. Once complete, a flat outline of the chair shape appeared. As soon as the blocks were extended to reach below what had now become the white negative space the whole emerged. I had drawn ‘chairness’ – an idea of the chair but not the chair itself.
Pulling an image from the background.
Here I applied charcoal to the entire sheet of paper and then proceeded, with a kneadable eraser, to rub back the still life composition.
This is an interesting exercise as the front, mid and back images should have tonal difference so the depth can be appreciated. Shading also helps with this, adding the shadows each vessel projects on the item behind.
I finally grounded the composition by adding more charcoal along the base of each item indicating the surface they are standing on.
Loosening up the arm.
Stick and ink:
I had a practice run at this on a small scale first to see how the stick holds the ink. Then working fairly large, and using a narrow twig, I drew a floral still life using Indian ink. My first attempt didn’t deposit much ink on the surface and became quite frustrating as a stick really doesn’t give a lot of control over the accuracy of the strokes. That was the point I guess, but scratchy barely existent marks doesn’t do it for me. I abandoned it.
The following day I decided just to scoop up what ink I could on the stick and the results would be whatever they were. Drips and runs appeared and actually seemed to enliven the piece. An improvement.
I added watercolour to selected areas. The aim was to enhance the drawing not turn it into a painting.
The detail in the centre of each flower along with the spikes on the thistles and loose leaf outlines on the artichoke have given the piece some dimension avoiding a flat outcome. Dark areas were filled between plants/foliage to help this further.
Note: If you try this exercise it’s worth soaking your twig/stick in water for a while beforehand as this helps the uptake of ink.
Colour in reverse.
There are many things wrong with this piece:
- the basket angle is off-kilter, but I don’t mind. I like the strange positioning.
- the glasses are too solid, especially the front one.
- the right hand plate and knife seem very stylised and, again, the angle seems odd. however this placement is exactly as it was situated.
- left-hand bottle is way too short. It should have been positioned higher to get the length so the base could finish as it does, behind the glass.
- the shading on both bottles is directionally incorrect and has resulted in them appearing solid rather than glass. The shading should have been vertical not horizontal.
OK, so what worked?
- the texture, pattern/tonal variation and shaping of the cloth is effective.
- the variation in tone in the basket, the basket cloth and the contents is clear.
- the bread board, knives on board and partial tea loaf is clearly defined and at a good angle.
I was unhappy with the glasses and bottles I had portrayed so I tried this again.
I concentrated just on the glass effect and overlapping of items themselves. There is a slight tonal difference and shaping in the bottle where it sits behind the glass as the light is refracted. I’m pretty happy with the outcome.
I was also appreciative of my encouraging audience: