Whilst undertaking my research into the still-life genre I came across this image by Juan Sanchez Cotan. What intrigued me about this image was the unusual composition with the items tiered into an almost hierarchy. It did not depict wealth or status like many of the Dutch still life of the similar period, but rather, just a tiered arrangement of items which work both as individual items and as a group. Cotan made a series of similar images of objects in boxes with some suspended.
I decided to recreate this image using my found beach items. The first decision was to select the items to display. I wanted a mixture of organic and non-organic items and eventually choose a partial crab shell, a large bi-valve shell, a crushed beer can, a crushed top of a sports water bottle and a spiral piece of piping. I made a display box out of black foam board and started to play with the arrangement of the items. After some time I made a decision to have the organic items hanging from the thread (to symbolise that life in the sea is hanging on by a thread with climate change, sea pollution, over-fishing, etc.) and the non-organic firmly placed on the shelf, representing that these things come from the land (terra firma). After hanging the items I found that the crab shell was not big enough or the right shape so I substituted a different shell.
I wanted to use predominately line for this drawing and decided to create the background first. Initially I was going to create the whole image using a free hand hatching technique, however, due to the size of the drawing and the large amount of dark background needed, I decided to use a ruler for the lines of the background, box and shadows, varying the number of cross-hatch lines to create the areas of different tones (whilst the floor of the box is lighter in my image than in reality I made this choice to make a clear distinction between the various areas of the image). This left the space for the actual items, in an almost reversal of the positive and negative shapes. I liked these clear white areas and whilst originally I was going to draw the items in a gestural manner in ink, to contrast with the ruled background, I decided instead to just draw them with a light pencil lines to suggest their main internal structure.
Whilst this was just an extension of the exercise I liked the result, especially the background and the shadows. The almost reversal of the positive and negative spaces make the drawing different and interesting. The items themselves have no external drawn outline as the shapes are created by the ruled lines of the background.