For this exercise I choose a stainless steel expresso coffee pot and a ceramic expresso coffee cup and saucer. I used compressed charcoal as the medium which I must admit is not my preferred choice as I find it messy and somewhat difficult to use but I thought I would give it a go.
As well as the cup and saucer casting reflected images and shadows on the pot, the surrounding room and myself were reflected onto the stainless steel surface creating some interesting patterns.
Looking at the image the shape of the coffee pot is not quite right, particularly the domed top, the sprout and the sides. I also found it difficult to get back to the white paper using a putty rubber so tried a white pencil to create some of the highlights but this gave a different texture to the surface which is quite noticeable in the actual drawing.
I choose a simple cylinder shape for my initial practice sketches using (clockwise from top left) drawing pen, ball point pen, pen and ink and pencil.
I set-up a small still-life group and using a drawing pen made a fairly quick drawing making my marks quite free and gestural without going into too much detail. I tried to ensure the hatching and marks brought out the 3D nature of the objects.
My first set-up for this drawing consisted of a glass shaving jar and ceramic liquid soap dispenser. After completing a couple of initial sketches in Conte and pencil, I realised this still-life was not working for me. The glass jar was not giving a sufficient range of tones and the whole thing was just not inspiring so I decided to abandon this drawing and think about other objects to draw.
I thought of using a vase and lidded decorative pot but again did not feel this reflected me. I was then watching a BBC programme called Artists in their Own Words and noticed a painting of some everyday kitchen items including the edge of a microwave oven. This got me thinking of drawing a still-life of things which reflect my contemporary lifestyle. Music has always been another passion of mine so I decided to draw items connected with this interest. I choose my iPod dock and Sonos speaker as I liked the fact that the drawing as well as giving me a range of tones necessary for this exercise also, shown together, indicate how quickly technology is moving. Only a few years ago my iPod was the latest thing, now music streaming via wireless speakers have taken over.
I initially made a line drawing in light pencil to get the perspective and proportions correct.
I then decided on the medium to use to indicate the tones. Whilst the exercise indicated the use of Conte crayon for the drawing I did not feel this was the right medium for these objects. I therefore choose to use a range of soft pencils from 2B to 6B. This gave me the required finish and a cleaner finish. The light source was from the right hand side (I choose this side to give a different feel and break from the convention of a left-hand light source seen in many still life pictures). I first blocked in the darkest tones and noted the areas of lightest tones. I then filled in the mid-tones and looked at the shadows – whole, interlocking and reflected).
The drawing is quite successful and I especially like the reflection the iPod makes on the Sonos speaker. The shapes work well together although they are a bit too much in the centre of the page and I will need to think more about composition in later drawings. I also need to think more about the background in drawings as I have left this plain in this drawing.
In light of reading about Max Ernst and his use of collage, I decided to have a go at using this technique in an extension of this exercise. I returned to my food cupboards and thought about how collage could be used to depict the objects; I settled on using some of the actual packaging of the food items within the image.
I first made a line drawing of the objects and then used these outlines to define the shapes of the pieces of collage. For the shape of the Kilner jar I used the packaging from the bag of flour which was used to fill the jar. Once the pieces of collage were stuck down I re-drew the outlines of the images. On looking at the image I wanted to change the white background to provide a darker contrast to the initial drawing. I first tried an ink wash but this did not work as it did not provide the clean background and looked rough against the clean lines of the collage pieces. I finally decided to insert a piece of black paper as the background to rescue the drawing, cutting around the shapes and glueing it in place; this was much more difficult than anticipated and in places I had to use a felt tired pen to fill in the gaps. The black background gave a much better effect and provide high contrast which I liked. I drew the outlines of the other objects and filled in some detail including using black and white ink pens and made a collage 3/4 frame representing the cupboard edges using white corrugated paper.
Overall I am fairly pleased with the outcome of this experiment, I think the colour of the collage packaging works, the black and white ink is quite interesting and the high contrast works quite well. This exercise has certainly highlighted for me the difficulties in using collage and the need to plan right from the beginning what the final outcome you are hoping to achieve as once the collage pieces have been applied changing anything is really difficult.
I will try using collage again in a future drawing, perhaps in a freer, looser manner.
I have never really felt inspired by the still life genre, although I am looking forward to having this view changed when I do the research point in Unit 2. There is something about selecting a group of objects and setting them up as a composition which does not appeal to me. Perhaps it is all those pitctures of fruit and dead animals that have coloured my view of still life.
For this exercise I decided to draw groups of objects just as I found them. Nothing was moved or changed in creating the drawings. What I did have control over was the angle at which I viewed the group. The first two drawings are of items in my kitchen food cupboards and the third drawing is of kitchen waste waiting to go out into the recycling bins.
This drawing is on brown craft paper in ink. Drawing on anything other than white paper is a new departure for me and I quite enjoyed the experience .I wanted to show the contents of the jars, tins and packets as well as the containers. I like the ends of the sardines showing in the tins, the nuts in the bags and the sagging of the pasta bag. However, I think this is probably my least successful drawing in this exercise. You get no real feel for the textures of the container or contents; it may be the medium was the wrong choice for this exercise.
This next drawing is on heavyweight smooth drawing paper using an H2 pencil; this is a more successful drawing. Whilst the contents are harder to see (most were liquids apart from the peppercorns) I think the drawing better conveys the texture of the containers – the stainless steel pepper and salt mills; the glass of the vinegar bottle, the OXO tin, etc,. The different types of lids are also better represented and the jumble of different containers stacked within the cupboard is a better composition. I especially like the different text fonts on the labels. I strayed into shading on some of the containers to separate them from each other and give an indication of form and texture.
The final drawing of recycling waiting to go out to the bins is on a brown fast food carrier bag using Conte crayon. I would never have considered using this as a support before beginning the course but I really like the result. It seems quite appropriate to use a bag from the recycling for an image of recycling. Whilst some of the perspective angles are not correct I like the way the face of the ‘Colonel’ comes through the image and this is mirrored by the drawn faces of the cows on the milk cartons. I also think the bits of text on the bag add to the overall result as does the folds of the bag. .
This exercise has certainly opened up the possibilities of using different supports for my drawings and the unexpected effect this can have on the final image. It has also shown me that still-life groups can be found anywhere and do not have to be arranged.
This week in my sketchbook I drew an image of toothbrushes in a holder. Once I have finished the drawing I began to think about the image of the toothbrush. Did it tell the story of what the toothbrush did or how it was used? I therefore began to think about how I could express this in a drawing. The next morning I was brushing my teeth and looked up into the mirror and noticed the movements I was making with the brush. I thought about how I could replicate this in a drawing. I decided to use an old toothbrush and make the same marks on the paper as if I was brushing my teeth. I starting to think about the medium to use. Ink was my first thought but it would not give the texture I wanted in the drawing. I thought that crushed charcoal would be more useful but was worried that it would just rub into the grain of the paper and not leave the right marks. I ended up using crushed charcoal mixed with slightly diluted PVA glue; this gave me the effect I was looking for in the drawing.
You can see the various movements made with the brush – circular, side to side, up & down, etc., and at the edge of the middle section is an accumulation of the charcoal dust, giving texture to the drawing.
The next day I realised I have been influenced by Julie Brixey-Williams’ drawings in Drawing Now: Between the Lines of Contemporary Art, which I had glanced through a couple of days earlier. Locationotation is a series of pirouette drawings performed simultaneously by 52 dancers. They are made using graphite powder on watercolour paper. Artist’s website here.
I decided to continue to look at frottage as part of the texture exercise. In my frottage image in the previous post I had particularly liked the effect the Nikon lens cap gave as a rubbing. I decided to try to combine this with a line drawing of the camera and then add the frottage.
- This the pen line drawing of the camera with spaces for where I intended to use the frottage. I first drew the camera outline in pencil and then went over the lines in pen.
- I added the frottage of the lens cap and the textured grip of the zoom ring. In my head this had looked better than in the final image; I don’t think the texture used in this way is very successful as it contrasts too much with the line drawing. It looks disconnected.
- I then remade the image this time adding shading to the ink drawing as well as the frottage. Again, I don’t think frottage worked very well with the more realist, traditional style of drawing.
- I then tried a more abstract drawing. I used frottage of various parts of the camera to create a background texture and then drew in pen various parts of the camera in a disjointed manner. Overall I feel this is the more successful image as the frottage gives the clue to the image and then the eye moves around the drawing trying to reconstruct the camera. However, I do feel the final drawing is a bit too busy.
I then tried another image, this time using frottage of bamboo leaves as the background texture and a pen drawing over the top.
I quite like the effect of the larger frottage leaves behind the pen drawing of the smaller leaves, although overall I think frottage probably works better in more abstract drawings.
I enjoyed investigating using frottage in drawings as I had never considered this technique prior to the exercise. It is something I would like to revisit in later drawings.