Part Two: Project Four: Exercise Three: Material Differences

After the previous exercise and having found the composition, angle and viewpoint I wished to work with, I decided to use this exercise to look at the image carefully, analysing the different objects individually and choosing which media I thought served each best. I decided I would create a drawing for my final piece for this exercise, trying to replicate the textures as best I could with traditional mediums first and to use this as preparation and as a learning curve for my final piece in my assignment.

Chosen still life composition, viewpoint and angle

Sketchbook Experimentation

I decided to carry out some experimentation in my sketchbook of the different elements of my chosen composition to help prepare for my assignment. My findings are as follows:


For this object, I wanted to try and recreate the rubbery texture candles have. I experimented with PVA glue, a wax crayon, masking fluid, a glue stick and some actual candle wax. I found that the best results came from the PVA due to the capability to manipulate it’s direction and flow, as well as the fact it was the only media to allow for depth to itself, which would be good for creating the effect of melted wax down the side of the object and would help create a sense of depth and authenticity to the piece, as well as stimuli to the touch. The best by far would, of course, be the wax from a candle itself, however, I found this extremely uncooperative and decided it would not be the best choice for my piece. The glue stick provided nothing but a sheen, however, I do think this could serve a purpose for the shininess of the tealight holder, for example. Whilst the masking fluid was also good in some ways, its colouring was all wrong, as was the wax crayon, however, I believe I could use the wax crayon to add some shadow and tone to the candles in my piece.

Marble Surround

For this object, I wanted to try to create the marble effect without too much input into controlling the result of the effect. I really liked the acrylic pens and wash, however, I was instantly drawn to the ease and natural flow, not to mention the texture of the tracing paper and tea staining. I also really liked the coffee staining for this, however, I thought the result too dark and distracting to the viewer for a part of the piece which is meant to be rather subtle in appearance.


I was rather disappointed by the acrylic and watercolour pen and brush dabbing for this as the only bit of texture appears at the outline. I was instantly drawn to the darkness and texture of the oil pastel on the kitchen roll. I think, however, I will have to see how the rest of the piece is panning out before I can decide properly on whether to use the softer charcoal on kitchen roll or the oil pastel on kitchen roll as I would like to try and keep the blacks within the piece all within a similar tonal range so as not to appear as many separate pictures pulled into one, but more continuous in their flow. However, I still want to maintain some form of differentiation between the different shades of black to help distinguish one object from another.


With regard to the charcoal, whilst I quickly tried many mediums, it was somewhat instantly apparent which would be the most fitting; the charcoal itself! The felt tip pens were a failure due to the need for mass application and struggle to keep up, as well as the juvenile marks created. The oil pastels were good also with allowing for both darker and lighter sections, but their waxy texture just does not seem to fit well for the object in question.

Tealight Holder

This item is rather glossy, so I will need to add in some white highlights in areas, but I was rather torn between the oil pastels and the acrylic pens as to which was most suitable to represent this object. I finally decided on the acrylic pen and my earlier discovery with the glue stick’s sheen which I will add in certain places to help reflect the light and create depth and realism in the object.

Wooden Flooring

Again, I was rather torn with some of the results from this experiment, which surprised me! I found the pencil crayons required too much labour and did not offer the right result anyway. Whilst I did not think the soft pastels represented the colouring of the wooden flooring well, I really liked the different layers created and the smoothness too. I thought the ink and wash was rather exciting, but decided my favourite was the acrylic pens and wash due to the washed out colours in the background, but also the ability to be expressive with my mark-making, yet still achieving a smooth finish.

Final Piece

I decided to create a drawing using charcoal to achieve a somewhat similar final sketch to the van Gogh piece shown in our course manual, but focussing purely on the darkest tonal values to the composition to assist me as a reference point for my assignment piece. I decided that the more expressive mixed media exploration of each object individually would also be used as a reference point for my final assignment piece, hence I wanted to pull out the darkest tonal areas seen ready to incorporate them into my assignment piece.

Final piece


I am really happy with the experimentation I have carried out for this exercise and taking the time to inspect every object independently. I tried to recall my tutor’s comments about my three vases from the first Part of this course and also the exercise focusing on blocks of tone when creating this piece and keep it raw and expressive without focusing too much on what it should look like, but including what I can see. Whilst I created an outline in pencil first of the basic shapes in the composition to map them out on my page correctly, I tried to focus purely on the darkest tonal areas and forgetting about any finer details within the composition. I completely blocked in the black areas, such as the cupboard and the fireplace, did something similar with the rug and the charcoal, however, tried to add some expressive marks to this part to show the different textures of the objects. I then finished by picking out the smaller darkest tones in the shadows between the candles, behind the candles / marble surround etc and then lifted parts out with a putty rubber to show the white of the page for the lightest tonal areas.

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