Project 2: Exercise 3: Creating Shadow using Line and Marks

Basic Shapes and Forms

Before starting this exercise, I wanted to experiment using lines and marks to create shading on the basic shapes (circle, square, rectangle, ellipse and triangle) and forms (sphere, cube, cylinder and cone), as shown below.

I rather enjoyed doing this activity, but found it rather hard to keep some of the shapes looking flat (such as the circle / stippling) and to create enough depth in some of the forms (such as the sphere / stippling).  I tried to imagine the light’s direction coming from the right, casting shade to the left.  One thing I noticed here is my reluctance to let go of an outline in my work – for example, the circle / line and cube / line combinations did not feel obvious enough without the outline to the right-hand side.  Thinking back, I think I should have perhaps just added a little bit of delicate shadow from the right-hand side of the shape / form heading inwards to show the outline, or created a bit of delicate shade to the right of the outline, heading outwards.  The latter of the two would be the most realistic in real life I believe, as it would be shown in the detail of the background.  I really like how the cylinder / line and cylinder / cross-hatch combinations work – the end of the shape does look very flat and blunt, which I think is quite a success.  I was not too keen on the stippling as this took quite a toll on my hand, but I was able to let my tremor help quite a bit with creating the dots, which I found rather humorous!  I came to decide to only use stippling in small areas in future to avoid over-straining myself.

Single Object

I decided to work quickly for both parts of this exercise; not focussing on the finished piece fully resembling the real object or even realistic in appearance at all.  For the first part of the exercise, I chose a frosted glass vase and to work in pencil, willow charcoal, drawing pens and oil pastel.  I divided a page in my sketchbook into four and chose to draw the vase purely based on tone, using lines (both straight and curved), cross-hatching and stippling. 

I then went on to do a similar activity with three different mini plant pots.  I chose a different media (drawing ink, soft pastel and ball-point pen) for each plant to help me choose which media I preferred for the second part of my exercise.  I was quite frustrated with this part of the exercise.  My skill with the ink and pastel are somewhat limited and I found it hard to manipulate them well enough.  I was pleased with the outcome of the ink in the end as I think I managed to salvage the piece – I love the contrast between the darkest tone of the side of the pot and the lightness of the front of the pot and how it has come together to look like the actual shape of the pot instead of just flat on the page.  This is something I would like to work on and improve on.  I think I need to try a few more experiments with ink and pastels in the future to improve this skill.

With regard to the soft pastel, I was rather disappointed with this.  Again, my skill in this media is somewhat limited and requires practice.  Regardless, I allowed myself to use line freely and the end result does resemble the actual object somewhat. Again, I will work to improve my skill in this media.

The ball-point pen, however, I really enjoyed and allowed myself to get lost in.  I fully allowed my eye and my hand to go wild here.  I used line to show the wall reaching upwards in the background (perhaps I should have been lighter to avoid drawing the eye from the main focus of the plant).  I used cross-hatching on the vase to create a smooth appearance, but also to add depth and tone, whilst using a mixture of stippling and free movement of line to create the plant and shadow.  I think I should have done stippling for the shadow on the ground as there appears to be too much outline around the shadow which I believe makes it slightly unbelievable.  I decided to attempt that for my final piece for this exercise.

Group of Objects

I decided to create the final part of this exercise in drawing pen as this was a mix of ink and pen, together with a slight wash to help practice my ink skills some more.  I chose to work in expressive marks for the flowers and did not focus on the actual shapes in the flowers, but allowed my hand to just flow as it felt necessary.  I tried to recreate the cross-hatching for the vases and uses stippling for the shadow on the middle vase and a mix of stippling and expressive line for the soil in the first vase.  I thought the water would mix quite well with the ink, but was disappointed to find that it only lifted the ink very slightly.  Again, I put this down to a learning curve!  I was also rather disappointed with the mild shadow coming from the plants / vases and up the wall.  I think I had, again, included too much outline instead of blending them better.  I drew the objects first for this piece as they were my main focus, however, I think I should have mapped out on my page what should go where first as when I included the lines for the joining of the ledge to the wall behind it, I noticed it did not tally up with the real objects in some places.  I think by doing this I will also increase my skill of scaling and placement. 

This exercise strengthened my belief that my skills with charcoal and ink are still at a very novice stage and require more practice, which I will carry forward with me, whereas my strength in drawing pen and ballpoint pen is rather more advanced.  I don’t believe I have fully mastered the concept of light and reflected light, but have just been recording what I have seen.  My least favourite part of the exercise was definitely the stippling due to its demands on my arm and hand, so I do not think I will use this often in my work going forward, however, I do find it much easier with looser and broader media, so perhaps if I were to do more work in charcoal or ink (with a brush), it would be less demanding.  I have also learned that I need to stop drawing what I think should be in the piece (shadow’s outlines) and simply draw what is actually in front of me.

Finished group of plant pots

Project 2: Exercise 1: Groups of Objects

Group of Objects

For this piece, I thought I would gather a few different objects from around the local art class I attend and sketch them whilst there.  I arranged some objects and, thinking the glass milk bottle would be the hardest piece to replicate due to its symmetry and difference in shade, tone and reflection, I made a sketch of it in my sketchbook to familiarise myself with the shape before continuing to the main piece.  I decided that, due to working on such a large scale, I would forgo the pencil and attempt the piece in willow charcoal instead.  I thought this would have a much bolder result on such a large-scale piece of paper than a pencil would and, since I was only concentrating on the outline, the pencil would be very fine and almost invisible if viewed from any amount of distance.  I was rather disappointed with the end result as I thought it had an almost cartoon-like appearance.  I was also disappointed that I had not managed to scale the objects properly in the beginning due to not measuring the objects out on the sheet first, but I thought it was quite good considering it was only a quick attempt and did not have much effort put into it really.

I then thought I would try a different group of objects due to the first not including anything loose and also wanting to try and draw the objects inside, as requested, which I had only then realised I had not done in the first piece.  I settled on my daughter’s bath toys and net bag.  I was rather dubious about the bag as I thought it much too delicate and intricate for my liking – I am not a fan of creating very fine, detailed work personally (and more so with my tremor sometimes deciding on the line’s direction and structure for me!) – and so expected to become frustrated by its delicateness.  I thought the pink jug would by far be the easiest object to recreate.  I began the piece by drawing two sketches in my sketchbook of the net bag and its enclosures to familiarise myself with the bag and the weight of the items inside it before continuing onto a larger scale. 

I created my larger piece in black biro on a sheet of A3 sketchpad paper.  I was actually pleasantly surprised by the end result of this piece; I had somehow managed to integrate delicate lines for such things as the net bag and the outline of the objects which could not be seen by the naked eye, but also deep, dramatic lines for the shaded areas.  I did not want to concentrate too heavily on the shaded areas due to the piece being mostly focussed on just an outline, but couldn’t help myself in adding just a little (and rather loosely) in certain parts of the picture to help clarify the depth and weight of the objects and their locations within the piece.

Final sketch of second group of objects

Reflection

I really enjoyed this exercise and have learned a lot from it.  Mostly I have learned that just because something looks as though it will be difficult to replicate, it is worth giving it a go as there may be different ways to recreate it without going very deeply into fine detail and precision. I think it is also important to try to visualise the items which are inside other items and understand their composure to appreciate how and why the final resting place comes to be. I think this will come in useful when drawing the figure; trying to imagine the placement of muscles and other tissue underneath the skin, why they are there, what purpose they serve and what impact they have on the image you see before you and also in architecture when considering the framework and foundation, and also who might inhabit each building, considering their individual stories. Finally, I think the structure of the objects and the spacing between items in the final piece is quite good compared to my earlier pieces. Perhaps this is because I am now beginning to see the importance of ‘reading between the lines’ so to speak. I will definitely be referring back to this piece in the future.