Posted in 04 A Group of Objects, COURSEWORK, Drawing 1, Part 1 - Form and Gesture

A Group of Objects

I wanted to begin by experimenting with yet more media whilst at the same time practice drawing my chosen items.  I browsed over my increasing collection of mediums and chose a few being; charcoal, which I have used a number of times in the past alongside conte crayon, graphite stick and Pro Markers all of which I hadn’t really used before.

Without thinking much about which media to use for any particular object I was to draw, I picked up my conte crayon and started with a tea canister and a couple of tea bags.  I found the conte quite tough to use, it is harder and “scratchier” than similar mediums i.e. charcoal, chalk pastel etc. and is also difficult to erase/remove the pigment once it has been laid down, however it has an expressive feel to it and because of the difficulty in erasing, you need to loosen up and not worry too much about so called errors or mistakes and I enjoyed using this looseness, using broad strokes to create form.

The picture itself I’m reasonably happy with; the proportions are pretty good and the perspective is roughly correct.  I have also managed to portray textures, the canister being  smooth and solid and the tea bags being much more fluid in form and slightly transparent.  I learnt a very valuable and often cited phrase in art which is to draw what you see and not what you think you see. Initially, I started by drawing the lid of the canister in a much more square shape, as of course it is in reality, however when I truly looked at the object in front of me, I noticed that in fact from the position I sat in, the lid appeared more triangular and so I had to go back, trying to amend it.

I used a 6B graphite stick to draw a bag of sugar and a teaspoon.  Graphite stick had a very soft, smooth feel to it, I was able to lay down tone very quickly and it was reasonably easy to control. It was difficult to get any fine detail using the graphite stick as the edges wore quite quickly but this would be easily remedied by using pencil.

I struggled a little to differentiate between the label and the main body of the bag though I think I managed to show it in the end.  I also had difficulty in making the text on the packet to move along the contours of the folds.  On the positive side the folds look realistic, I used a putty eraser to create highlights at the peak of the fold and darker tones in the crevices. The sugar bag has weight and you can see where the sugar lays at he bottom of the bag. I have shown where the sugar inside the bag  finishes by using a crease directly above it.  The spoon, although the shape is slightly off at the rounded end I feel has been rendered quite well, it clearly has a metallic look – which I attribute too the smooth highly contrasted shading –  and you can feel the depth at the concave end and the thinness in the handle.

I used charcoal to draw the cup.  I really like charcoal as a medium, I find it extremely versatile; either laying it down to use broad strokes of tone or on its edge for line work.  It also comes in a variety of forms; willow, compressed, pencil, tinted etc. It is also inexpensive and widely available.

I’m happy with the drawing of the cup.  I started by sketching a rough outline, then I laid tone the main tone – mid tones first and then adding shadows and highlights – before finally using some hatching marks, following contours to create shape and form.  I feel this drawing is in proportion and the perspective is good it has a nice sketchiness to it.

I used the Pro Makers to draw the tea pot and milk jug.   I found the markers a fun medium to use though you need to work quickly and must plan ahead a little as mistakes are not easily rectified.  I started with creating an outline in pencil to make sure proportions were correct.  Once satisfied I laid down a mid tone and then working quickly, before the ink dried, I added layers to create darker areas and a blender to lighten others, I went over the darkest areas with another marker, darker in tone, before going back over the whole area with the lighter marker to blend the 2 colours together where necessary.  I found that the more irregular shapes i.e. the handle, lid and spout more successful.  I think this is because the irregularity creates a higher contrast between darks and lights to which this graphic style of medium lends itself quite well.  I did have a problem with bleeding.. My sketchbook of course is not designed for markers and so whilst it’s ok for a little bleed whilst in the planning stages, a bleed proof paper would need to be used for any finished pieces.

A Group of objects – Composition ideas

I wanted to experiment  with different compositions.  I knew I was going to use the  kitchen worktop to place my items on.  The worktop is shiny and reflective and the kitchen tiles are rough, a contrast in textures which I thought would work well together.  I started by putting all the items on the worktop, sat on the floor looking up and used my viewfinder to determine the outer boundaries before drawing a very quick sketch in my sketchbook.  I liked the sense of grandeur created from this viewpoint, the subject towering over you, I felt this quite appropriate for the status with which the cup of tea has in Britain.  In my second composition, I thought more carefully about the placement of the items and arranged them in such a way to lead the eye into the middle of the drawing, using the spoon on the left and the teabags on the right, I have also used the spouts of both the teapot and milk jug on the diagonals to the top right and top left of the drawing respectively.  I have placed the cup, being the receptacle for all the other items, in the centre of the drawing, making it the main focus, which I feel to be appropriate.  I like this composition, you can see it has been carefully thought out, it does however show more background which could not be cropped further without losing some of the items.  For the third idea, I used a portrait format in an attempt to experiment with a slightly more “unnatural” composition.  I placed the objects from tallest to shortest and sketched using my viewfinder again.  I find the result is a little more chaotic, which in certain situations might work a little better.  I do like the effect of the viewpoint (from above), it leaves little background which again may sometimes work well but in this instance I wanted to show the background as it lends well to the subject and as mentioned before, has contrasting textures, appropriate for this exercise.  After some thought, I decided to use the second composition which was the best thought out but to try and add some interest I would draw from a slightly lower viewpoint to give some grandiose to the drawing which I felt was a strength of the first composition.

I was tempted to use charcoal for this exercise but I only had white paper (in A2) available and so in order to make the drawing a little more interested I decided to take a bit more of a risk and use conte crayon as it comes in different colours.  I picked a colour that looked like raw umber and started roughly drawing the boundary lines.  After I had a reasonably good framework to work with I started moving from left to right taking one object at a time.  I lay down the mid tones to begin with before establishing lights and darks building up tone in layers and blending in certain areas before adding detail.  I tried to stay loose and move quickly, I think for the most part I think I was successful though there were a few places where I may have got caught up a little and ended up overworking it, for example, the handle on the cup and the lid on the tea canister. Once I had finished drawing the objects, I drew the background, starting with the tiles – again working from left to right – and finally the worktop.

I am really happy with the way this drawing turned out, it is the first drawing on this scale that I have done for a long while.  I would tend to use A3 to draw on and so was a little apprehensive to begin with when instructed to use a larger size however I think it would have actually been more difficult with a smaller support, fitting it all on the page would be fiddly.  As previously mentioned I feel that I have overworked a couple of areas (being the cup handle and lid of the tea canister) and this was because I struggled with the perspective on these areas and found it extremely difficult to leave it when it didn’t look right to me.  I feel I have captured the textures well, you can clearly see the differences in form i.e. which are more solid and which are more fluid in shape.  You can tell if an object is hard, smooth, rough shiny etc. And also which materials the objects are made from i.e. metal, wood, tile etc. I think I have also captured the light successfully which is extremely important, it gives form to, not only each object separately, but to the drawing as a whole, the shadow cast and the light reflected from one object to another brings the items together, giving them their place in space and giving the drawing depth.  There are a  couple of places where there wasn’t enough tonal difference between the object and the background and this is most noticeable on the lid of the tea pot and also the shadow of the spout of the tea pot on the milk jug.  In both instances they are a little similar in tone to that of the tile behind.  I particularly like the way I have composed this drawing. I like the viewpoint, slightly below, giving that sense of importance to the subject and also the way the eye is continually led back to the centre to the cup the receiver of all the other items.   I decided that rather than including the whole background, filling up the paper, I would leave some of the paper showing at the top and bottom.  I think this works well, it once again draws the eye back in to the middle but also stops the background from becoming overwhelming and detracting from the main focus.