Proj 1, Ex. 3: Study of Several Trees

Whilst I was sitting in the woodland two things struck me – one was the range of greens in layers from the tree canopy down to the undergrowth and the second was the way the light was dappled.  I therefore decided to capture this in oil pastels on a textured paper.  I kept to a very loose style only picking out a couple of the tree trunks, avoiding adding any real detail of the individual plants and trees to order to concentrate on the effect of the light and colours.


I am quite satisfied with the result and think I have captured what I set out to achieve.  It is a long way removed from my normal style of precise and detailed drawings but I am trying to try different methods and styles in order to explore my creativity more.

Following my last assignment my tutor suggested I try to use charcoal more and also to rub back with an eraser to create highlights.  I found this small patch of woodland where the tree trunks did not have any noticeable bark, were a silver-grey in colour, overall were quite bare (not the norm for this time of year) and quite strange shapes.  I used charcoal for this drawing, using the grain of the textured paper to create the ground and background foliage.  I rubbed in the charcoal for the tree trunks to create that smoother surface and then adding back in small patches of texture.  I used the point, edge and sides of the charcoal to create different marks.    I finally added the highlights to the sides of the trunks using a pencil eraser.


I am happy with the resultant picture as I think it captures the overall feeling I had of this patch of woodland and I fairly successfully used a medium I would hesitate to use before undertaking this drawing.

Proj 1, Ex.2: An Individual Tree

At this time of year it was surprising difficult to select an individual tree, without the clutter of surrounding woodland or other features.  My first tree is in pencil, with charcoal pencil to add the darker elements.  I tried to capture the overall shape of the tree concentrating on the shape of the branches, rather than drawing the individual leaves.  I was aware of my tutor comments from my last assignment submission which indicated I needed to bring out the shape of the object more and have a greater variety in my shading to achieve this.


Although the drawing does achieve this to a degree, I still feel it is slightly flat.

For my next drawing I looked back at my drawings from Unit 2 and felt that my more successful drawings had been when I was using pen and ink.  Whilst I used to think that using pen and ink would make me hesitant in my mark marking, afraid of making mistakes, the reverse is true.  I tend to just go for it, incorporating and using any mistakes in my mark making into the overall drawing.  I used a Rotring drawing pen for this drawing – a happy accident occurred whilst undertaking this drawing in that I changed the cartridge beofre going out and instead of a black cartridge I inserted a blue cartridge so as I drew,  the colour slowing began to change creating the various shades, giving form and a sense of depth to the tree.  I also added a wash to parts of the tree to blur the shape, adding further depth.


This i a better image than the first drawing, however, I still need to work on my shading to give form and add a greater range of tones.

Proj 1, Ex. 1: Sketching Individual Trees

In preparing for this exercise I decided to go out and do some sketches of trees in order to get into the mode of drawing trees.  My first sketch is of a small tree near to my home in pen and ink.  I then did a study of the leaves from this tree using the three watercolour pencils I had with me at the time.  Both are A3.

I then went further afield and found a couple of other trees to sketch.  The first is in pen and ink, the second uses Sepia and Brown pencil.  Both A3.

I now felt ready to tackle the exercise.  I knew of a church nearby that had a variety of trees in the graveyard and thought this would be a good place to sit quietly and sketch.  I did the pencil sketch of the main outline first, followed by a pen and ink (line/ink wash) drawing to show the main shapes of the foliage.  Both A3.

The shading on the pen and ink drawing did not turn out quite as I expected as the ink changed from black to blue part way through the drawing as I had changed the cartridge in my Art Pen just before coming out and had inserted a blue cartridge rather than black.  However, I quite like to more subtle blue colour.

The tree I had picked for the first two drawings was not suitable for the next part of the exercise as very little truck or branches could be seen.  I therefore drew a different tree using pen and pencil.  I drew the main truck and branches I could see in pen and indicated the shape of the foliage in pencil.  In the corner I added the detail for the foliage.  Again A3.


This tree was at the edge of the graveyard and was leaning towards an open field and I think I have captured this in the shading for the foliage.

I enjoyed this exercise and it has boosted my confidence to sketch outdoors.  Whilst I have not captured a fully realist drawing of the trees, I think the drawings do convey the overall shape of the trees and their different densities.

Proj 3, Ex. 2&3: Composition – An Interior and Material Differences

I looked at my quick sketches around the home and found no ideas emerging which inspired me to create a drawing.  I have found my best time for thinking about art is either when I am in bed or in the bath.  As I laid in the bath thinking about what to do for this exercise I caught a glimpse of myself in the stainless steel knob which raises and lowers the plug.  I then looked at the reflections in the tap and realised that this could be my drawing.

The next time I was in the bath I made a couple of quick sketches of the viewpoint and a couple of days later some more drawing without any water in the bath.  These drawing were on A5 paper as there is listed space when laying down in the bath.

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I liked the image so decide to use this as the basis for my drawing.  I decided to use ink for my drawing and to heighten the colours I could see to add that warmth to the drawing, echoing that warm and relaxing feel you get when taking a bath.  I also darkened the white bath to add a contrast against the warm colours of the feet, bubble bath and sponge.  I chose a letter box format as when I thought about laying in the bath I realised I was often looking at this fairly narrow view.

Once the base colours had been added with brush and ink, I wanted to bring out the detail using fine-liner coloured pens.

Overall I am happy with the drawing, especially as I do not normally work in colour.  I worry that it is becoming a bit ‘painting-like’ but the line for the detail and media I think keeps it firmly within the context of drawing.

The one major thing which did not turn out right was the blue flannel.  I over-darkened the fold lines and I think it is too strong for the image, drawing eye to the left side of the image.

Proj 3, Ex. 1: Sketches Around the Home

I used A3 paper for these sketches and often ended up only doing one sketch per page.  Since starting the course I have tended to want to sketch on bigger paper than before even when outside; a result of generally being encourage to work bigger so as to free up my rather tight style.


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Cupboard under the Stairs

I found that as I was doing these sketches the more elements and therefore more seemingly ‘complicated’ the view, the easier and more interesting I found undertaking the drawings.  I also realised how little colour there is in my interior in the background structures, such as walls and doors; I therefore exaggerated some of the colour found.

I need to work on my perspective in many of the drawings and continue to ensure I look harder and longer at objects and the relationships between objects (angles, negative space, etc).

Proj 2, Ex. 3: Mixed Media

For this exercise I decided to go all out and try a Rauschenberg inspired collage.  I sat looking at my found items on the beach and it came to me that rather than depicting the appearance of the items as a still-life, my drawing should reflect how I feel about a current environmental issue.  Nature, wildlife and the environment have always been important to me and the current views in America on climate change I find quite frustrating when the scientific evidence points quite convincingly to a trend of warming temperatures.  I wanted to reflect this in my mixed media drawing.  I first produced a background in watercolours using a roller and blown bubble colour.  The blown bubble colour did not quite work as I anticipated so I adapted the technique as I went along.

I then searched for images of coastal nature reserves and areas of outstanding natural beauty; typed words associated with global warming and rising sea-levels; found varies small maps of coastal nature reserves and wildlife-watching sites; a couple of famous denial quotes on global warming from Donald Trump’s Twitter account; and, a number of newspaper articles on global warming.  I pasted these onto my background, joining the bits of map together to form an imaginary coastline and this created my underlying collage.  I then used the dried seaweed I had collected from the beach to stamp out frond-like images in a lighter colour on the beach area and used the discarded rope from the beach, dipped in watercolour, to draw wave-like structures over the sea area of the picture.  This partially obscured the collage images and text.

Over the stamped land area I roughly drew the seaweed shapes using a bamboo dip pen and then over the whole picture added wave-like lines and text associated with the zones of the beach (littoral zone, foreshore, etc).  I finally added information about global warming from the official NASA site (Arctic ice down 13.3% per decade,Global temperature up 1.7 degrees F since 1880, etc).

Is the image successful?  I am not sure as it is way out of my normal comfort zone.  As a viewer you do have to look at the image quite hard to piece together all the various bits of information in order to ascertain it is both a comment on climate change and the current political climate in America.  I quite like this and I like some bits of the picture where the layering has produced an interesting effect.  It is one of those drawings which over time I think I will come to like more.

I should of course have taken pictures of my process along the way but got absorbed in making the image and forgot.  A learning point for the future!

Proj.2, Ex. 4: Monochrome

As I sat looking through my beach finds for subject matter for this exercise I began to think about how some of the items had been discarded at sea and washed up on shore, maybe many hundred of miles away.   The impact of an action in one place can have far-reaching consequences for another place – it was like a ripple effect.  This sparked an idea that perhaps my drawing could be of this ripple effect so I began thinking how I would depict this.  I eventually thought of my boot causing ripples in a rock pool at the shore (man’s impact on the environment) but of course I did not want to cause any damage to a natural environment.  At the coast near Ramsgate is the remains of a Hoverport where most of the infrastructure has been removed and nature is slowly reclaiming the environment.  The concrete surface remains and is covered in many puddles so I decided these could be ideal for my drawing.

I decided to capture my shoe going through the water on video and then draw my image from this video.

I drew the image using drawing ink so stretched some A3 watercolour paper onto a board.  I masked off the area of my leg and foot using masking fluid, used a sponge to create a light background wash and then a brush with diluted ink to create some of the lighter areas of colour.  I created the ripple marks using a broad nib dip pen and ink, diluted with gradually less water, before making the final marks with undiluted ink.

At first, I decided to leave the leg and foot area completely blank to make the viewer look harder at the picture and question what they were looking at – if I drew in the leg and foot I thought it would make it too obvious on the intent of the picture and move it out of the still life genre; however, without it the lines look a bit like valleys and hills.  I do think the blank area creates ambiguity and for me symbolises that our impact will one day disappear as we are but here for a moment on geological timescales.  However, overall I think the blank area on the right just makes the image unbalanced.  I therefore decided to draw in the leg and shoe.

Overall,  I am fairly happy with the output from this exercise – the various tones of the monochrome provides the structure of the ripple forms and once you realise what you are looking at you can see the radiating lines of the ripples.  Is it a still life as I have included my foot? – well, a shoe is inanimate and so are jeans so I guess it can fit into the genre.