Part 3: Project 3: Exercise 2: Still Life in Tone Using Colour

To begin this exercise, I decided to have a play in my sketchbook with two different objects (one natural and one man-made) using several different media before deciding on the ones I would use for my final piece for the exercise.

I settled on a picture of an apple and a pear together and also a sunken, ruined car which is in the bottom of our fish tank.  I chose these three objects because the colours were very bold and contrasting, but also allowed for a lot of mixing with my colours.  The colours in the fruit are both very natural (green, yellow, red, pink and a touch of white), whereas the colours to the car are completely different (blue, pink and purple).

Firstly, I quickly drew the pear and apple using watercolour markers and then used a wash of water over the top of them.  I actually really liked the outcome of this and the background created by the bleeding colours.

After this, I used pencil crayons to recreate the pear.  Whilst I liked the colours, I was able to create with this medium, I was a bit disappointed with how round it actually made it, instead of creating the natural misshapen bumps to the object. 

I then used soft pastels to create the pear and apple.  I loved the boldness of the colours in this and the ability to blend them but still retain the smooth but rough-looking texture to the objects.  I ran a little water over the shadow on the table and really liked the effect.

After working in several ways with the apple and pear, I moved on to the sunken car and recreated it quickly using pencil crayons, ink and oil pastels.  The pencils just did not pull through the vibrancy of this object, just as I had found when I used them in my preliminary work for this section.  The ink was fantastic in bringing through the colours, but the oil pastel was, once again, by far my favourite medium to use due to its ability for blending, messiness and vibrancy of colours.

I then carried out one final experiment in my sketchbook, using a statue of a robin on a log, the same object I used as my final piece for Part 2: Project 2: Exercise 1: Still Life using Line.  I used marker, soft pastels and oil pastels.  The markers were great for their intense colours and the detail of the bird’s feathers.  The soft pastels were by far the easiest to blend, but the oil pastels did blend and did still show through some of the markings of the bird’s feathers. 

Final Piece

For my final piece I decided to recreate the apple and pear again, but using pencil crayons.  I chose this medium because I liked how they had worked in my preliminary work and, whilst the pear and apple are vibrant in their colours, I think they are also very natural objects, so my work should reflect the naturalness instead of using artificial intense colours. 

Final Piece – Pear and Apple

Taking note of my tutor’s feedback on my scaling issues, I decided to try using a grid to help me measure the items out better. I found this unbelievably helpful and feel the likeness and scale are really good compared to my earlier works. However, I made a rookie error and did not remember to rub out the grid before I began colouring! I tried to remove the grid afterwards and then recolour the patches. I decided not to colour the full background of the table the fruit was resting on which, again, is something new for me as I am trying not to create ‘pretty pictures’ so to speak.

Reflection

Whilst I really do like the end result and see it as somewhat of an achievement for myself as it is nowhere as bold as my usual pieces, I think I still managed to overwork the medium because there are sections of the page where I have pressed too hard trying to urge the boldness of the shadows through (where the apple and pear meet).  Also, I am somewhat disappointed in myself for not noticing something so simple as the grid still being in place before colouring.  I will put this down to trial and error and will try to learn from it going forward!  I also really like the shadow on the table because I put the black down first and then went over it with brown and a very dark red which gives the shadow depth and warmth and adds weight to the objects.  I was also rather surprised by the fact that yellows and blues on the green for the pear really worked, as did yellow, orange, pink and purple for the red of the apple.

Questions

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 mixture of colours to create a solid three dimensional finished object. The problems I encountered in this piece was definitely my error in not removing the grid prior to colouring in the piece. This is something I will have to consider going forward – perhaps I can use water-soluble colours to draw the grid to make it easier to cover over and reduce the need to erase the lines.

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?

The depth in this piece was achieved by the mixing of the colours. I was able to include shadow in the correct places and use the contrast between the lighter and darker colours to show the natural ‘line’ found in real life as opposed to the cartoon-like outline of my previous piece. The movement of the colouring and the placement of the shadows helps to shape the objects into understandable information for the viewer to process.

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

On reflection, I think I have not stuck to using block tone and have, again, focussed on it looking like a picture. I think if the image was purely blocks of different tone, there would be no real depth, direction of the object’s movement or clarity as to the object’s identity to be found in the piece due to the lack of line. I think I have inadvertently realised that the two generally must go hand in hand!

How did using colour affect your working method?

Using colour in this piece as opposed to just line, I found I was a lot freer with my movements and had the ability to lift or darken the colours in the piece to suit, assisting to create the sense of depth and direction of the shape’s movements to suit my will. I found it much easier to portray shadows with colour than with just line, however, I think I could use cross-hatched lines or – if considering the methods used on a map or in an illusion for instance – distance between the lines to assist in shadow and depth formation, for example I could put the lines closer together, they would appear darker than those which were spaced further apart, thus tricking the viewer’s mind into seeing something I wish them to see.

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