Part Two: Project Three: Exercise One: Still Life Using Line

For this part of the course, I decided to begin by looking, at my tutor’s recommendation, at Henry Moore’s sketches of sheep and trying to recreate them in my sketchbook.

Sketchbook Experimentation

As soon as I saw these sketches, I was mesmerised.  I absolutely love Moore’s use of line in such an expressive, loose and uncontrolled manner.  Up close, the lines appear to have no control or order, yet at a distance, they appear to merge together to form an image of the sheep in question.

I decided to try recreating a few of the pieces in several mediums; pencil, biro, oil pastel and ink and Chinese brush pen.

I found the oil pastel the least controllable, yet was rather pleased with the biro and pencil, both of which appeared to show the lines with a better clarity, however, my favourite had to be the ink and Chinese brush pen as this was by far the most expressive.

Final Piece

For my final part of this exercise, I decided to work with Chinese brush pens in the form of a pen as opposed to the paint brush type.  Whilst I am aware I should have focussed on a natural object, I was fascinated with a carving of a robin in my mother and father-in-law’s home and the surrounding surface.  I tried to stay true to the use of just line and think I have recreated this well.  I think my scaling and perspective are much better now as I used a grid to help me plot the basic image before carrying out the main bulk of the work. 

Line drawing of a robin and surrounding surfaces


I really enjoyed the experiments with Henry Moore’s sheep and will try and remember the difference in intensity to represent the different parts of the pieces. 

Whilst I know my tutor told me to try to avoid making everything look like a picture, I have tried to allow this side of myself in my sketchbook for this part of the course and allow a ‘picture’ to form in my final pieces.  Whilst I think I have been rather successful with showing the depth and tone of the piece purely with line, whether close together or spaced apart, I think I may have messed up slightly by trying to represent shadow somewhat by using a thicker line for the outline of that area, such as the underneath of the robin’s breast and the right-hand side of the rugby ball.


Below are the questions in my course textbook, which I have decided to answer at the bottom of both exercises, as opposed to both together:

What aspects of each drawing were successful, and what did you have problems with?
The parts of this exercise I thought successful were the line-markings and the ability to distinguish between the different sections (e.g. the edge where the bird finishes and the table surface meet), as well as the change in their direction and thus the sense of depth within the piece. The problems I found in creating this piece is the inability to prevent the image from becoming too cartoon-like – perhaps this was due to the media used? Perhaps if I had used pencil the effect would have taken on completely different qualities? Perhaps the line created with the media used mirrors the outline of cartoons too closely?

Did you manage to get a sense of depth in your drawings?
What elements of the drawings and still life groupings helped to create that sense?

As above, the depth within this piece seems to come through at points where the lines change directions due to the change in shapes and forms in the piece, so I do think line is a good way of showing this. I also think that the accurate scaling of this piece has really helped with the dept formation.

What difficulties were created by being restricted to line or tone?

Whilst I feel I was able to include some sense of it, I think there is only so much depth you can include in a piece without the addition of colour to assist, which also rings true for shadow and texture. Certain parts of the piece seemed to have no texture visible by line, however, a slight hint of colour would have helped improve them, such as the wall and ball as these are left as blank, negative space, leaving the mind to have to fill the details in for itself.

How did using colour affect your working method?

No colour was used in this piece, so it was all purely down to the sheer contrast between the black and the white, the positive and the negative space. Due to this, other options had to be considered, such as the grain in the wood, direction of line and also the thickness and strength of the lines to portray different messages.

NB: All citation for images in my sketchbook can be found at the back of my sketchbook or by clicking here.

4 thoughts on “Part Two: Project Three: Exercise One: Still Life Using Line

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