Project Four – Exercise 3: Experiment with mixed media

With this exercise I will experiment with perhaps ‘uncommon’ media and combinations. I will think about my learnings so far and how to combine them in a new still life approach. Knowing that different media require different drawing techniques. Some are working better close to the paper, some better for free expressive strokes. Key topic would be for me to be selective on using line and color. Visual effects and possible concepts may change as well as my drawing style.

From the previous exercises and learnings I wanted to get loose with free expression: larger format (A1) and standing with drawing up at a wall. I understand now better how my physical stand point influences my mark making. Another point I want to improve is avoiding overworking with color, sometimes less marks are more. I am excited to experiment now with pastels, inks, pens, and brushes as well as a with transfer paper for collage.

1) Study no 1:

Stefan513593 - project 4 - exercise 3 - study#1

Stefan513593 – project 4 – exercise 3 – study#1

Large scale, A1 cartridge paper, standing position, drawing up. I wanted to make loose marks with oil pastels as I felt a bit restricted during previous exercise with this material on A3. The composition consists of natural, more or less aged materials and my indian ink bottle, representing my drawing skills.

Sketching in the main shapes with ink and bamboo pen. I find drawing with bamboo pen and ink very helpful to get loose, especially when I draw in vertical position. It also has a very nice touch on the paper surface, quite different to a metal nib. Blocking in colors with oil pastel helps me to get free strokes running. With ink washes in black and blue I created atmosphere and a believable environment. I continued with pastel strokes for expression and shape enhancing articulation. Layering oil pastel on ink washes work very well. With selective application of color for the objects and the background I can modulate the environment, the atmosphere and the focus on the objects.

Stefan513593 - project 4 - exercise 3 - study #1 - work in progress

Stefan513593 – project 4 – exercise 3 – study #1 – progress

2) Study no 2:

Stefan513593 - project 4 - exercise 3 - study#2

Stefan513593 – project 4 – exercise 3 – study#2

Form the previous study I found the composition not intimate enough. Therefore I zoomed in with some cut offs at the paper edges of some objects (dry orange slice and old banana peel). For this study I wanted to experiment further with color washes. I changed the oil pastels for water soluble wax pastels (for background and cast shadow toning). For the objects I used marker pens instead of oil pastels. As I wanted to work with washes I applied first some frisket for the highlights. Keeping the same paper format and drawing position I did some quick shape sketching, blocking in the cast shadows, and colouring the objects. For the background I did some bolder strokes and washes with wax pastels.

Comparing with study #1, the washes with pastels are denser and more intense in color than with ink. I like the way to use frisket and washes for highlights (works also with marker pens). In the final picture the eye focus moved away from the centered bottled towards the lower left edge. I feel that the white blue cast shadows give an eerie impression, perhaps also expressionistic. I find marker pens good for coloring, but not so good for form perception. Through this in combination with the pastel washes the picture tends more towards a pop-art appeal.

Stefan513593 - project 4 - exercise 3 - study#2 - progress

Stefan513593 – project 4 – exercise 3 – study#2 – progress

3) Study no 3:

Stefan513593 - project 4 - exercise 3 - study#3

Stefan513593 – project 4 – exercise 3 – study#3

During the previous two studies I started with the objects and moving later towards the background. I wanted to experiment in a different direction and starting with the background first. I selected a different surface, a Kraft paper with on one side a rougher surface structure (A2). Cutting out the shape of the bottle form transfer paper, I glued this on a half way pre marked paper. For the preparation I applied bold strokes with brush and black and blue ink, diagonal and vertical.

I adjusted the composition, zoomed out, and putting the objects in half circle around the bottle (left the ‘driest’ and right the ‘freshest’ object) I continued with coloring the object with was pastels. The bottle is drawn with ink, highlights later with white pastel. For the foreground I applied free ink strokes with pen, and a few pastel marks with light washes. I was careful to keep the surface structure from the paper visible.

The bottle pops out of the composition as I intended. The bolder colors of the banana and orange slide are coming out quite well on the brown paper surface and keep the attention. As final touch I applied free strokes with pastel to make the overall composition more interesting and the negative space more believable. However, I do not like the weird curve of the boarded between table and background. I just did not think enough about the boarder.

As in study #1 I feel that pastel strokes on ink washes/marks work very well and even can create some depth besides giving texture and interesting patterns. Using shaped transfer paper as collage can give a certain pop out effect for the objects. I enjoyed the usage of pastels on the brown surface as it provides a dramatic and bold color contrast (compared to white paper as in study #1 and #2).

Stefan513593 - project 4 - exercise 3 - study#3 - progress

Stefan513593 – project 4 – exercise 3 – study#3 – progress

 3) Further sketchbook studies:

After the previous studies I felt ready for some further experiments the next morning. Here I did some smaller format studies in my A4 sketchbook.

a) Experimenting with background marks, washes, and shaped transfer paper:
I made some color sweeps with wax pastels on one page, splitting the paper in four coloured segments, and applying light washes for mixing effect. Changing the composition to three objects, and one of the a small found stone, I cut out the shapes from transfer paper for collage. The line drawing was done with black conté chalk on wet surface, as this gives a very dense mark. Working with wax pastels on transfer paper did not give the intended color, just too weak. In the final picture the objects also do not pop out as in study #3. So I was quite disappointed aferwards. However, I like the way to prepare a paper surface with pastel strokes and light washes, as I can modulate upfront a certain atmosphere.

b) Experimenting with a reduced color range, line drawing, and more space:
Somehow after those color intense studies I felt to do another study with more focused color and in a bit more detailed line drawing. I used a black fineliner pen to draw the bottle and the stone. Some marks more as a continuos line and more scribbled to find the forms. Adding some marks for the environment helped to put the objects into context. Only for the banana I used bold colors in wax pastel to make it standing out. A few ink brush marks helped to make the composition more interesting. Final ink spots are giving interesting variety (this I learned from my research on Robbie Bushe). I had to move into the right page of my sketchbook as I felt that there should be more space around the objects for a more appealing composition. A modified viewpoint (slightly upwards) put further more focus on the objects (more iconic).

At the end I am quite satisfied with the last study. It gives focused color, believable form perception, and space around for further imagination.

Stefan513593 - project 4 - exercise 3 -  sketchbook studies

Stefan513593 – project 4 – exercise 3 – sketchbook studies


  • Drawing style:
    – Standing and drawing up on larger format makes my strokes loose, expressive, less accurate
    – Opposite with horizontal drawing and sitting makes more accurate line drawings
    – Using brushes with ink gives freer strokes for atmosphere and patterns
    – Using pastels are an intimate experience when putting force on the color to merge with the surface
    – Using a bamboo pen with ink makes a line drawing more expressive
  • Visual effects created:
    – Collage with transfer paper can focus on objects through pop out effect
    – Pastel strokes on ink marks/washes can give more interesting texture and patterns and can give more atmospheric depth
    – Keeping asymmetric negative space make composition more interesting and triggers imagination more
    – Applying color sweeps in the background or applying less realistic colors can either make the picture more expressionistic or in case of bolder colors tending towards pop art.
    – Combination of line drawing and color sweeps can be more powerful in its visual color effect
    – Using coloured and structured paper surface can provide a stronger color contrast when using pastels
  • Conceptual options:
    – A reduced color range in combination with line drawing can give a more powerful narrative
    – Collage with transfer paper (or perhaps other supports) can help for a narrative as well as to differentiate better between background and objects
    – Cutting off some objects at the edge of the picture surface keeps the viewer more involved in the set up


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