Posted in 03 Texture, COURSEWORK, Drawing 1, Part 1 - Form and Gesture, Research & Reflection

Texture – Part 2


My sketchpad paper is too thick for frottage being 160gsm and so I decided to get some 80gsm cartridge paper and use that.  I started with a 4b pencil and some charcoal and started to experiment, varying between light and heavy pressures to see what difference this would make.  I could tell very quickly that charcoal was not good for frottage, it smudges blurring the texture beneath.  This may work slightly better using a paper with more tooth but it would need to also be quite lightweight.  The pencil however worked very well and I kept an eye out for different, quite heavily patterned textures, rubbing as I went along.


As I was experimenting with this technique, I was wondering how this would be used in practice and so started off by looking for well known frottage artists.  The name Max Ernst kept cropping up along with a number of pieces, the most popular seeming to be L’évadé (The Fugitive) from Histoire Naturelle (Natural History).  Without wanting to do a large amount of research on this point, I thought I would study what appears to be his most well known frottage piece (if it is not, it is certainly amongst them).  I have done no research into the artist’s life or looked at any critiques of the piece at this point, all thoughts below are from my own mind and comments are of my own opinion.

Fig 1.

At first glance this image to me looks very strange, almost comical.  It has a very soft, graphic effect. It has little dramatic effect but yet I feel drawn to it for its strangeness.  Looking a bit more closely however I begin to appreciate the complexity and planning that I would suggest is needed to create such an effect.  The eye is made up by either finding identical tools or perhaps branches of some sort and arranging them in a perfect circle before rubbing over them or perhaps using one item and using it repeatedly.  It looks as though tone may have been laid down before hand to create a roundness to the eye.  The scales are what drew my attention the most.  It looks as though a type of netting has been used and manipulated in certain ways as to almost create contours along the body giving a sort of bumpy fish like look.  It also looks that unlike the eye where tone was laid out first, here different pressures have been used in appropriate places to indicate form and weight.  I also notice the fins which seems to have been done extremely delicately and without close inspection, you probably wouldn’t even realise there  being texture, you would just get a feel for it.  Finally after what first appeared to be the ground, I notice a small chimney of some sort, smoke billowing from out of a rectangular shape and I now think of it as a roof, and I get the feeling of a predator looking over rooftops as we go about our lives.


Used Images

Fig 1.  – Max Ernst – L’évadé (The Fugitive) from Histoire Naturelle (Natural History)

1926 (Reproduced frottages executed c. 1925)




Posted in 03 Texture, COURSEWORK, Drawing 1, Part 1 - Form and Gesture

Texture Part 1

Before I started drawing I thought about textures for a day or so, looking around at my environment and after giving it a little thought decided to group textures into 4 categories; Rough and Soft, Hard and Smooth, Soft and Smooth and Rough and Hard.  I feel that most textures will fall into one of these categories even though there are infinite variations and possibilities.  I chose a scouring sponge for the rough/smooth, an apple  for the smooth/hard, cotton wool for soft/smooth and tree bark for hard/rough.

Next I had a look through my materials and decided on different mediums to try.  I started with graphite pencil.  I use pencil a lot and wanted to start with something I was familiar with.  I have done a lot of shopping the last couple of months and have a lot of new materials that I’ve barely used and so I chose the other 3 based on their qualities/properties.  I opted for nib pen as this was a very precise tool to work with, oil pastel being very different, needing a much more fluid and loose style of drawing and finally dip pen which I felt could probably be used in either style.

After deciding what I was to draw and with what, I set my four squares out on the page, began with the sponge and drew it four times in each medium and then went through the list. Below are the results alongside my reflection:



img_0570I started with the pencil using short erratic strokes to emulate the rough texture of the scourer part of the sponge, adding in a little tone here and there to create an uneven look.  Moving on to the bottom of the sponge, I created some tone to show the curves of the surface and then added in some small circular marks to show the texture.  Moving on to the nib pen, I started in a very similar way by using short erratic  “squiggly” strokes then moving down I mainly used a stippled effect to create the bottom layer.  With the oil pastel, for the top I layered a darker value on a lighter value of the same colour and then using a pin I scraped away a “pattern” in the pastel to create highlights.  I did the same with the bottom part of the sponge but changed the method slightly but layering light value on dark.  This was a little harder to control as the lighter colour doesn’t cover as nicely.  Finally I used the dip pen and ink.  I started of with quite tight strokes towards the left hand side of the scourer part of the sponge, as I got into the flow of drawing I loosened up quite a bit, feeling now rather than trying to hard to observe the subject to closely. The result was a better looking effect.



img_0571I worked on the pencil and nib pen in a very similar way using long smooth but quick strokes to try and show both a hardness and smoothness.  I also used curved lines along the contours/form of the apple to give shape, form and weight.  I think this was successful and whilst there are a few things wrong with them, for example, they look a little uniform and tight, I’m not worried about these too much as that was not the focus on this task.  Using the oil pastels  I layered colour on colour repetitively going over the same contours as with the previous 2, building up colour and giving a texture and pattern of an apple.  Again I liked the outcome.  Finally the dip pen and ink.  This was a lot of fun, I first outlined an apple in pencil and then using those marks as a guideline I “painted” the apple with water a bit at a time, leaving certain areas dry. Then I added ink using the dip pen and let the magic happen. I had a certain amount of control, leaving certain areas dry and others with more water than others, but in general this method is very unpredictable the ink goes in a lot of different directions leaving a marbling effect.  I then used the pen to add a little more here and there.  I did go through he paper a little and so whilst that’s ok in my sketchbook, I would need a thicker watercolour paper if I wanted to produce a finished piece using this medium.  I really like this drawing and it is probably my favourite from exercise 2.


Cotton Wool

img_0572Starting with pencil, I mapped in the main shapes and lines and decided that as I was drawing something white on a white support I would darken the corners for contrast.  Once done I started at the darkest part of the folds working towards the lightest areas.  The to give a softer feel, I smudged with my finger before finally accentuating the darkest areas.  Using the dip pen, I started in the same way by mapping out prominent shapes and lines then using a hatching technique, I started in the darkest areas and worked my way out.  In certain areas to show shape and give a fluffiness, I went across the contours.  Using the oil pastel I laid in a base tone using some light yellow and then a light and a medium grey.  I then went over the entire drawing with white using a circular motion to try and give a sort of cloud effect, finally scraping away some highlights with a palette knife.  This is reasonably successful as although the shape isn’t great, I think the feel and texture is good, which again, is the main thing in this task. I used the dip pen and ink differently this time, firstly using a smaller nib and then either using the pen dry and moving it around with a water brush or by wiping on just a light layer of water before applying with small amounts of ink and then moving around, wiping the ink off the brush regularly so not to go to dark.  This give a much more gradated effect which I think was suitable for the medium.  I was too tight to begin with again and for the third time now, the right hand side is looser and therefore more pleasing.


Bark (Tree)

img_0573Using the pencil I concentrated on the shapes and square-ness of the bark be careful to add shadow trying not to make it look as though it was overlapping.  I then concentrated on the patterning of the bark.  Using the nib pen I used a very laborious though – to me at least – very therapeutic. I lay in the main shapes and the largest masses of darkness or shadow, I then using lots of random squiggles used a feel to get the texture right.  I did refer to the subject occasionally more for inspiration though more than to achieve a perfect likeness.  I think has been very successful but would take a huge amount of time and planning on a large scale.  I knew it would be difficult to get any fine detail using the oil pastel without being a little inventive. I started by (in a  separate pad) trying to lay coloured (wax) pencil over the pastel.  His didn’t really work without laying a very thin layer of pastel first and it tended to scrape away rather than add.  I didn’t really want to using a scraping method again and so in the end I decided to do a closer drawing and let the idea of being refined go.  I started with rough outlines using a raw umber and then used various yellows, greys and browns add texture.    I worked loosely and quickly and the result is a little abstract.  I actually quite like the effect and I like the way it takes a little time before you know what your seeing.  For my final sketch in dip pen and ink I decided to experiment with another approach, I simplified my sketch, choosing which details to include and which to leave out or ignore. The result is quite graphical but I still think it’s recognisable as what it is meant to represent.



I think overall I have done well in this exercise, I have experimented with a range of media in a range of ways.  I have considered different types of texture and chosen a varied selection to study.  I have learnt a huge amount from this exercise, using media that I’ve either not used previously or used just for a little doodling when I picked them up.  I’ve been inventive in the way in which I’ve used the media and I think I will try to use many of these techniques going forward. I’ve learnt that oil pastel undiluted doesn’t really mix well with pencil and that if I were to use a dip pen for something “finished” I would need to use a heavy support such as watercolour paper.  I have also learnt that whilst using the oil pastel – and the dip pen to some extent – I can work quickly and loosely, where as using the pencil and nib pen, I need to allow more time fore a more precise medium.,

I still have many other mediums to try and experiment with and so whilst I will certainly come back to most if not all of these mediums in the future, I still need also to try and experiment with others before deciding on either a preferred list or indeed which medium to use in which circumstance.