Drawing Skills Part II – Observations in nature / Exploring Coloured Media & Research

Exercise: OCA page 51 Exploring coloured media

We were asked to experiment with coloured media and produce a few examples of random lines.

Fig 1 : sketch #54

Fig 1 : sketch #54

It was interesting to play around although I felt as if I didn’t have many techniques up my sleeve but I did my best and my efforts are below:

I started my exploration with oil pastels (Fig 1).  I found them quite difficult to blend with my finger and with white spirit but easier with a paper towel.  I think the brand I own are perhaps a little hard (and also cheap).  They wouldn’t be so good for fine work but do take graffito well.

I then moved on to Neocolour II Water soluble wax pastels (Fig 1 bottom of page) which work better than the oil pastels and I will be glad to try them out some more in further exercises.

To the right in fig 2 we have water colour pencils at the top and I had a go at wet in wet,

Fig 2 : sketch #55

Fig 2 : sketch #55

colour blending and cross-hatch with wet pencil which I do like the effect of.

At the bottom of fig 2 are my efforts with wax crayons.  These are much to thick for fine work and I didn’t find they blended well with a finger or cloth but work well in layers as on the apple.





Fig 3 : sketch 56

Fig 3 : sketch 56

Fig 3: Gel sticks are practiced at the top; in the middle are chalk pastels and bottom is acrylic inks.

I’m excessively messy with pastels though I like their blending ability.  The inks were fun to use and I must get a lot more practice to be adept with these.  Of course, all these media would have looked different on a very toothed paper




Fig 4 : sketch #57

Fig 4 : At the top of the page I sketched a tree to practice various marks with coloured crayons, plus a small area of dotted hatching to fade in and out of colour and some hatching.

Underneath that I’ve used my felt tips which need replacement as some of them are getting a bit dry.  They are uite harsh but make some interesting hatched and graded marks.


Research : OCA p51

“Find out about two artists who exemplify mastery of detailed drawing and make notes about their work”

The first artist I have chosen is Jerome Witkin (b.1939) who was an American painter, known for his realism.

Fig 1 “Hands of Actors”

From his series “Hands as Actors”:  The pieces were drawn on frosted mylar with black pencils, crayons and sometimes solvent.  The washes are strengthened with copy machine toner to give darkness and half-tones.  When dry the drawing is shot (photographed) on a positive plate and gummed down for printing (information courtesy of Ocean Works Press).

I love the movement in these hands.  It’s odd to see three hands together and they seem to act like a piece of machinery, as if the artist has used each one to depict a separate part and yet they will all work together and move together when they leap off the page.  Maybe each hand is meant to be an actor playing his part in the piece.

The detail is remarkable and the shapes strange and twisted.  Great use of tone and contrast.  I do wonder why each hand has a tightly entwined thumb and first finger with the other three fingers free.

Fig 2 : Witkin : Vincent and Death

Jerome Witkin : Vincent and Death (1987) : Charcoal and mixed media drawing.  6′ high x 4′ wide

In an interview with John Seed of the Huffington Post in 2010, Witkin explained that he had a model sit for this artwork and that, “He (Vincent) is fighting his own sense of the weariness of life… questioning his purpose… always thinking about death.”

I think he has depicted this beautifully, tragically, eerily.  This picture has great presence.  The balance of Vincent’s head and his upright back show a stoicism and acceptance of the inevitability of his end.

The way Witkin has drawn the shadow on the wall brings a dark dimension to the piece and how strange it is that we can see both sides of the wall, knowing that Vincent cannot.  It creates a sense that we know something he doesn’t – very sinister.

The lighting is interesting because he has the black shadow on the wall and yet light is shining on his suit with the shadow of his head cast over his suit … or is it?  Is that another shadow created on his face too.  I find this a bit confusing.

Note the way his right hand is clenched and the gun on the floor – all very tense.  This image is extremely powerful and emotional and one I won’t forget in a hurry.
And now to move to an altogether gentler artist.  My second choice is Elizabeth Blackwell (1700 – 1759).  Blackwell was a wonderful and acclaimed botanical artist and it is said that she began drawing and selling her work initially only as a way to free her husband from the debtors’ prison!  (Art of the Print.com)
The work I have chosen is “Helleborus Major” (fig 3) which was published in the Nuremburg edition by Jacob Trew around 1775.

Apart from being a stunningly beautiful picture, I admire the composition; the way the mature leaf shape is placed in the background, giving texture, perspective, movement and dynamism.  More movement has been added to this piece with the root trailing along the bottom.  It’s unusual to find botanical drawing that an artist’s eye to create more than just an exact representation of the original.

The use of colour also balances the drawing, being opaque in the foreground and transparent in the background.  Firmer strokes are used for all the foreground work and light, ethereal strokes for the background.  The placement of the ‘floating’ flower, seeds, root and stems has been carefully thought out to balance the piece.

Lovely in every way.

Check and log

The media I found most expresive is coloured inks.  I love the fact that you can use any implement to apply them; you can use wet in wet, blend them, wet on dry.  You can make thin or thick lines, write with it and use the medium as paint.

*  The coloured media that lends itself to detailed work are coloured pencils and fine pens with coloured ink.


This entry was posted in My Progress. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *