Part II : Project Still Life : Line and tone

Exercise:  Still life group using line OCA p 57

I looked for an easier subject than the cacti but I kept coming back to them as a great way

Fig 1. Line drawing

Fig 1. Line drawing / sketch #60

of showing some line drawing skills.  I was extremely nervous of the amount of work I would have to put in; the shapes and character of the different plants and also I didn’t feel at all skilled to draw the basket.  But here it is in Fig 1 and I am pleased with my effort simply because I took time over it and achieved what seemed unachievable.

The cacti were put together in a basket to give them coherence – maybe they will now stay that way in my home as they look good together.  The baize cloth was wrapped around them to wrap them up as if they were being presented to someone as a gift.  I wanted to bring them forward against their background rather than detract from them with something too busy.  I’m quite pleased with the composition.

Fig 2. Line drawing now coloured. Sketch #

Fig 2. Line drawing now coloured. Sketch # 61

I used A3 paper and a fine drawing pen for the background and a 5B pencil for the folds of cloth.

Having photographed the line drawing, I decided to colour it in with chalk pastels.  (fig 2) Very messy.

I preferred the line drawing but this module is about colour so I gave my cacti a red background to contrast with the greens.

Exercise : Still life Group in Tone : OCA p 58

Fig 3.  Still life in tone

Fig 3. Still life in tone / sketch #62

In Fig 3 you can see my drawing of fruit on a tea-cloth. This was drawn with water-colour pencil and the fruits were washed over with a brush and then more pencil was added to give more depth.  I’m not used to this medium and was not thrilled with my efforts at using it.  I hope the final picture is adequate for my novice status and I know I’ll improve with practice.

The composition is flowing from left to right and down to the right hand corner with the heaviest object up in the left top quarter to stabilise it.  The stripes on the cloth help the flow enormously.

The lemon looks as if it has rolled away from its mates, giving movement around the page.  The folds of cloth were a real challenge but the stripes helped my efforts to show the folds rather than hindered them.

The dark tones of the shadows have been created in purple and taupe.

Check and Log

  • The aspects of my line drawing (fig 1) that were most successful were the delicate and complex drawing itself and the contrasting shapes.  In the tonal study (fig 3), I liked the flow of the striped cloth that gave direction to the piece.
  • The problems I faced were largely to do with using coloured media I’m not used to.  I struggled with wetting the watercolour pencil in a suitable fashion and I don’t think I have made the most of the pastels as I’ve smudged most of the work.
  • I feel I have some depth in the drawings.  Fig 2 shows some depth by wrapping the cacti arrangement in a red cloth that throws the green forward.  Also the little baby cacti bring the lower part of the picture forward.  In Fig 3 depth is created by the horizontal wiggly lines of the cloth, the large melon at the back and small lemon in the front.
  • The restrictions of using only line is that it is harder to create depth as there is less shadow or shading though this can be added in at the colouring stage.  The restrictions of using tone to build up the picture is probably that it’s easy to make an error of judgement in the placement of objects.


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