Part Two: Project Three: Exercise Four: Monochrome

I began this exercise by carrying out some quick experiments in my sketchbook.  I settled on a picture of a red cabbage and some sweet potatoes I had found on the internet as I had struggled to find anything natural in my home which wasn’t alive – it just so happened that at the time I came to do this part of the course, and to prevent me from running out of time, the only option I had was to find an image online to work from. 

Red Cabbage Experiment

I really liked the red cabbage due to the positive and negative space it seemed to include in the veins of purples and whites, so I decided to experiment with the masking fluid again, using some wax crayons, a blue highlighter, black soft pastel and a blue soft pastel. Whilst the vegetable is actually purple in colour, I settled on blue due to the blue shade of the masking fluid. I then removed the masking fluid from several areas of the piece, but decided to leave a part of it without any additional colours, as this in itself represented the purple of the layers of cabbage. I actually really liked the wax crayons as the fluid was easier to remove with this media applied than with most others, however, the colours did blend somewhat, meaning the white was not as contrasting. I also really like the contrast between the highlighter and the white space created by the removal of the masking fluid. This, together with the ‘inverted’ masking fluid, are definitely the best results. I also really like the texture created by the masking fluid and soft pastel. This is definitely something I will consider using going forward.

Sweet Potatoes Experiment

I gave the page a bit of a wash with a skin-coloured ink, which I thought would fall into the ‘brown’ tonal range somewhat and carried out a brief experiment in oil pastels due to their boldness, texture yet ability for smoothness when blended, and also a bit of a collage in the style of the work of an artist I came across whilst carrying out some brief research on this topic (the details for whom can be found at the back of my sketchbook or by clicking here), showing the difference in tones of brown just in the different types of packaging around me. I added some soft pastels in a light yellow, a mustard colour and also in orange to the page to see if this worked at all. I was rather pleased to see it did, however, I do not think this page really meets the brief of ‘monochrome’ due to the variety of colours used.

Final Piece

For my final piece, I settled on an image of some potatoes in a bowl.  I chose this image as I really liked the contrast in the textures of the objects, yet how they naturally seemed to link as you would generally eat food from a bowl.  I decided once again to use a grid to assist me with the scaling of the image.  I know this is a little on the ‘cheating’ side, but I have found it much easier to scale my images when working from an image as opposed to a real-life object.  I would have much preferred to work from real-life objects, however, I have just not had the chance to do so for this part.

Fig. 1. Vassilly, P
Raw Potato on the Plate (unknown)

I decided to create this piece in a brown colour, trying to show the difference between the tone and textures using different dilutions of the media chosen, which I finally decided to do my initial base layers in ink and to adapt my method to suit each layer and each object accordingly. 

First couple of layers of ink for the potatoes, bowl and background

Firstly, I carried out an ink wash with only the lightest of ink added to the water.  Once this had dried, I then reduced the amount of water and added more ink to it, which I then applied to the darker areas of the piece to begin building up the layers, trying to leave the lightest parts with just a simple wash of colour.

Next, I reduced the amount of water some more and then added more ink to the mix to deepen the colour. I focussed this layer on the darker areas of the composition and tried to add some of the potatoes’ texture by using a dabbing technique. I also tried to add the smoothness of the bowl’s rim by using one fluid movement with the ink

Finally, I used undiluted ink and dabbed that in places to add the deepest of the darkest areas as well as to create the specs of earth and dirt found on potatoes. Whilst there is no background on the actual photograph of the potatoes, I decided to add one of a wooden surface as I thought the browns would work best with this surface. I looked at my wooden flooring for inspiration and used expressive mark-making to create the grain in the wood. I tried to add in a little shadow where I thought it would naturally fall and think I managed to pull this off successfully.

Final piece: Potatoes in a bowl


Overall, I was rather overwhelmed by this exercise and spent a long time – maybe too long – trying to find subject matter I felt suited the brief best. I eventually came across the photograph of the potatoes from the internet and, whilst I would have preferred not to be working from photographs, I thought it was the best I could do in the limited time I had.

I was rather frustrated with myself during this section of the course and became somewhat subdued and disinterested. Once I had actually completed this part of the course, however, I was rather pleased with the result. I believed monochrome to be rather interesting beforehand, but when actually faced with it, found it rather challenging and overwhelming.

I think I have learned that I have to just work on these exercises quickly and without too much worry as to the end result, allowing the end result to form as I move through it.

Whilst my final piece does not 100% replicate the image used, I asked several family members if they could tell what it was meant to be and they all said potatoes in a bowl – even my three year old! Haha! So I thought this rather reassuring. I wasn’t so much bothered about the overall appearance as opposed to the application of the ink to get across the different textures and surface qualities of the piece which I think I managed rather well.

NB: Citation for images used in my sketchbook can be found by clicking here.

List of Illustrations

Fig. 1. Vassilly, P (unknown) Raw Potato on the Plate At: (Accessed on 2 May 2019)

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