This exercise is about line rather than tone. I decided to continue with my theme on nature and the impact of man on the environment. Whilst visiting Deal beach I had collected a range of inorganic (crushed beer can, boat rope, container top) and organic detritus (two types of seaweed, part of a crab shell, shell) so I thought I will set these up as a still life to show how litter gradually becomes part of the natural environment and as we become more used to it being there, people gradually stop seeing it; within the drawing I wanted people to look and question for some items – is that seaweed or plastic?. Deal beach attracts a lot of litter from the sea due to its position on the coast (close to Dover and the main ferry routes and channel shipping lanes) and the tidal currents.
I first drew some small sketches to try out the composition.
I liked the composition of the top left sketch as it mixed up the inorganic and organic matter and from the drawing it becomes hard to differentiate between some of the items. In the bottom left sketch I divided the group into two and put them on the edge of the table (as in Caravaggio’s Basket of Fruit – see post below). I like the arrangement of the crab shell more in this drawing but not the divided group. In the final sketch I placed the items on the floor and sketched them as if you were seeing them as you walked along the beach but this arrangement did not work for me. I therefore decided to combine the composition of the first two sketches for my final composition.
As I prepared to draw my final image I keep thinking about the table top arrangement of the objects and how this was not suitable for this type of subject matter. I wanted to produce a background that reflected the natural environment without going overboard in producing a landscape rather than a still-life.
I therefore decided to make a background using a more chance effect, influenced by the ebb and flow of the sea. I therefore produced a background using watercolour paints, flowing freely over stretched paper.
Once I had the background I decided to start the line drawing. At first I was using pencil but this was not dark enough against the background, particularly as the drawing was not about tone, just line. So I then tried a grey pen but had the same problem. So finally I used a black ink pen to draw the image.
I added a representation of the pebbles on the beach using a yellow ochre pen. Overall, I like this drawing especially the chance nature of the coloured background and the white patches that remain on the paper. It does give an idea of the things that are found on the beach and how rubbish is mixed with the natural detritus of the environment. There are a couple of things wrong in the drawing including the container top on the left which is not drawn correctly and the shell on the right is not quite grounded enough on the rope. The drawing could have been darker to reflect the dire consequences if we continue to pollute our environment but this is difficult to achieve with a line drawing with no tones. I could have of course made the background much darker but will keep that in mind for future drawings.