Daily drawing: study of peaches

Early stages. I set out the principle features in pencil before layering oil pastel from light to dark.
Final study. Oil pastel and 8B pencil on paper

It was not intentionally that the edges of the pastel are so rough…but I kind of like the look. This paper has a very rough tooth (watercolour paper I think – the watercolouring itself is having some teething problems, so I like to retreat to the comfort of media that only move around when I tell them to), and it suits it a little.

I made up for the rough edges a little by sharpening certain features with a toothpick. This allowed me to expose the lighter layers underneath.

I did find it quite difficult rendering the furry edges of the peach, as well as highlighting in general the lighter areas.

I also made a rather gross-looking yellow mess on the page with the side of my hand. I should probably take those simple steps to avoiding that (not sure why I don’t, it’s quite undisciplined).


Daily drawings: Tissue box

This is pen and ink on lined paper. I made a few attempts at the tissue until this one. I was trying to figure out the best way to use hatching strokes to depict the wavy surface. My hatching needs a lot of practice, but at least some of the folds have depth.

I began with the wavy line of the tissue (below) because I figured this is an important foundation when I thought about the randomness of the folds.

Daily drawing: Abstract after Julie Mehretu

This was done with fibretip pen, watercolour wash, and charcoal on A4 paper. I had a totally random (well, not *totally*!) play with movement in mind, trying to incorporate some of these elements of visual language.

Inspiration: Julie Mehretu

I really enjoyed Julie Mehretu’s layering of differently textured strokes full of so much energy. I also liked the paring down from ambient washes, to coloured shapes, to lines, all the way to detailed scrawling that resembles some kind of text. All of these elements seem to fade forward and backward as you observe them. There is no obvious foreground or background, each layer has its meaning and prominence should you focus on it.

This is her piece, Stadia I (ink and acrylic on canvas):

Julie Mehretu, Stadia I (2004). Retrieved from https://www.sfmoma.org/artwork/2006.7

I also think it’s neat that she has used, in some of her work, a layer of acrylic resin over the surface of the finished work in order to eliminate surface texture.

Daily drawing: avocado plant, pen and watercolour

Avocado plant (permanent ink and watercolour)

I have got a lot of confidence from reading about artists and their methods and attitudes to drawing. It allowed me to permit myself to slow down, to spend more time looking before committing to paper.

On the other side of this coin is my wish to use more of my arm (rather than just my hand) and to employ the fluidity that comes with this and faster motions effectively. I would also like to be able to sketch quickly without becoming preoccupied with details.

I started out with permanent ink quill in this drawing – I did not sketch out with pencil first because leaves are quite permissive in that way… if you miss off a little something nobody is going to know. Having said that, I wanted to capture the rippling surface of the avocado leaves, so I went over the permanent ink with watercolour.

It is nice to finally be setting out into representing real objects with watercolour – having never really used this medium I have spent a few days over the past fortnight trying to understand and control it… I now completely understand what they mean when they say it seems to have a life of it’s own.

Nevertheless, these basic skills stood me in good stead as I layered from light washes to dark, not always waiting between layers in order to blend, or patiently letting a layer dry in order to capture the stark tonal contrasts that demonstrate the very pronounced undulations on the leaves’ surfaces… this was effective to a certain degree, although I could have been more careful (I was trying to work quickly).

I was much less careful with the brown area, and this was done after the graded wash in ochre at the top.

Daily drawing: view the from sofa

Charcoal pencil on paper

Studies like this I find very useful in terms of measuring lengths and angles by pencil/eye, measuring tone, and perspective. I can see a few things are a bit off here, such as the direction of the foreground floor, and the size of the feet (should be bigger!).

While I was drawing loosely – it’s expressive and very rewarding to look at – I did not intend to draw incorrectly with respect to perspective. I was drawing quickly so perhaps I need to work on, maybe, timed drawings to push my eyeballing skills.

One thing that I was unsure about while doing this was whether or not to darken the background, e.g. the tiles as they go under the worktop. Although that would be true to life, I didn’t want to draw attention away from the armchair as the focal point of the picture.

I have mentioned uncertainty either regarding focal points and what to do with negative space, or the arrangement of tones to accentuate the depth of space. I think this is something I need to play around with – while in my reading I see how tonal range can be used effectively in, say, traditional landscape portrayal, I would like to understand first hand what this means in the more abstract sense in terms of how the eye is drawn to areas of contrast…

Daily drawing – Corner of room

img_0932-e1523953527591.jpgCorner of room. Fine liner on A5 paper.

In an attempt to apply some of the concepts of tonal representation explored so far in this section, I quickly sketched the corner of my room, cunningly avoiding my bedclothes by cropping the frame around the more solid objects in the room 🙂

Having said that I would like to return to soft objects like pillows, because I found this so challenging at the beginning of the course.

I picked out the red and blue pen to bring out the objects from the wall behind them. The pens were running out of ink so it looks more like biro than felt pen.

It was interesting studying carefully the pine bed frame, the plug and socket, and the lamp, to try to tease out tonal variation while minimising the representation of colour, focusing instead on the nature of the materials and surfaces and the way they responded to light.

On that topic,  I was confused by the definition given in the course notes: “Tone describes the way light falls onto an object and the areas that lie in shadow…”. It was helpful for me to think about tone in the physical sense, because it seemed to me that excluding colour is incorrect when thinking about tone, because it all boils down to optics: tonal variation is a function of the way that light interacts with the object, thus it can be used to depict form on a two dimensional plane (the page) when the light source is directional. It conveys information about the material, its surface smoothness, and its light absorptive-ness… in this sense, my saying that tone is irrespective of colour is rather incomplete. So while colour per se says nothing about the form of an object, it is intrinsically an aspect of tone.



Daily drawing: cups

Cups. Easier than faces.

Felt tip on paper. I started with the wine glass – wasn’t really looking properly and by the time I had blocked bits in it was too late… I am pleased with the tumbler though. Although everything on the page seems to be leaning to the right (right-handed drawing?).

Daily drawing update

I had a tiny break but back now. I wanted to upload a selection of daily drawings, and a smattering of photo inspo, which I found I have either drawn or shot on my phone camera from this interim period. I actually drew a lot on my phone too – which is dangerous as I tend to delete them. I aim to stop doing that, because they are often quite colourful even if a little unstudied and affected by whatever public transport vibrations are affecting my hand…

Here are a selection.

A velvet-shaded lamp:


Girl reading:



Glass of water, detail:                                            Phone doodle:



More phone doodles:


A jumper on a chair in oil pastel and biro:



Daily drawings: cherry without stem

cherry 20170608
Cherry. Charcoal and black Conte stick on A5 paper.

This was deceptively difficult because of the scale (meaning I couldn’t just fudge the highlights!), but I chose the object and the scale because I wanted to look in detail at the surface reflections to apply as much as possible of what I have learned so far about the use of light and dark, as well as just wanting to draw a gigantic cherry, obviously. I regret now not taking intermediate pictures, at each point I felt it was ‘done’ before changing my mind and continuing…

[A note on light: I had originally planned the space for two cherries. There was light streaming in the window as I drew the first cherry, but the light had totally gone by the time I turned to cherry number 2 so I abandoned it due to the importance of consistent reflections. Despite this in the end with the right-side shadow the composition is quite interesting, if a little desolate. What this tells me is that I should have tackled both at once – for the sake of consistency and efficiency if nothing else.]

The first drawing stage was very light, with only charcoal used and quite velvety-looking due to the texture on the surface of the page.

I went in again, darkening everything except the very striking highlights on the shiny surface of the fruit. I reason that the cherry itself is a dark colour, and therefore I am not just representing light and shadow.

After drawing in the double-shadow, I darkened up the dark areas of the fruit with black Conté. The texture still wasn’t right, so I used a pointed blending stump to really get the colour into the grain of the paper, and to push charcoal around to make sure all edges were sharp and gradients smooth. Worked beautifully, although I thing I have too much Conté coverage on the right side of the cherry – the gradient has gone, and I’ve worked the paper too much to lift any off.

Returning to composition:

It was interesting the composition that emerged from my mistake of not drawing two cherries from the outset. I then played around with cropping the image tighter on the left side. It was satisfying having the main three tones (black cherry, grey shadow, white paper) into roughly thirds, and it also gets rid of some of the negative space introducing more of a question mark regarding the empty third on the right side of the image. I originally discovered this on Whatsapp (playing around with my profile image – it was a slow evening!), and this actually worked better in terms of symmetry in a circular frame: