Project Two – Exercise 1: Group of objects

Here I will go deeper into how to recognize basic shapes and fundamental forms. Shapes are not forms, but why the difference? Shapes are flat and lines, mostly outlines are marking boundaries in space. The drawing is typically done on a flat surface, the picture-plane. Through structuring of shapes the perception of forms as three-dimensional can be achieved. Here the shapes will getting curved and distorted by the imagination of space. Interestingly that most objects do consist out of fundamental forms.

Shapes = Circle, Square, Ellipse, Triangle [flat – two dimensional]
Forms = Sphere, Cube, Cylinder, Cone [structured – three dimensional]

I was looking through my books and found two examples that can explain the concept of shape and form in simple terms (images in: Kovats, T. (2005)
Keir Smith (1994-1995) ‘The Virgin’s House’ watercolour on paper, 56 x 76 cm, and
Paul Noble (2000) ‘O‘, pencil on 5 tracing paper, 21 x 15 cm each
(images not in my blog due to copyright reasons)
=> Building structures from simple shapes and develop more complex forms. Although the drawings are a bit statical and not so expressive for my taste.

The concept of flatness reminds me also what I learned during my initial research trail on children drawings and growth (Arnheim, R. (1974). ‘Flatness is an undifferentiated state and not yet specified’. For me this means that shapes become forms through artistic conception in the drawing.


In several runs I will try to draw a most natural composition from simple objects (made from rectangles and cylinders) and a few more complex structured objects, with consideration of weight, transparency, shine etc of the objects. I need to think about the space between, curving of texts around, half hidden objects, resting item etc. From my previous learnings I also want to include some expressive marks.

  1. For the first run, I chose A2 paper (natural white) and I selected a few objects that I randomly found in my studio (a glass jar, a vernis metal spray bottle, a clamp, a paper film case, an empty toilette paper roll, a massage roll, an empty reel, a plastic spray bottle, a plastic cup (see photographs). I put all these items into a plastic bag and emptied them onto a wooden board, trying to leave the objects halfway as they were falling out.
    I drew with charcoal, trying to outline the imaginative transparent objects (whereas the glass jar was indeed transparent). Also I drew with a few marks the table and the chair behind. For the bottom of the metal spray bottle, I tried to indicate some shine.
    Overall, I think it went well, although I found charcoal a bit too rough for this study, although I liked the ability to express with dark and bold marks depth and weight. And I liked the composition.

    Stefan513593 - Project two - Exercise 1 - Group of objects - run 1

    Stefan513593 – Project two – Exercise 1 – Group of objects – run 1

  2. For the second run I used same kind of paper, but changed charcoal for carbon pencil. I put all items back into the bag and slipped them out in another way. The less rough pencil helped me to be a bit more accurate on the forms.
    Overall, I found the composition not quite balanced: the plastic bag to high up, left side too empty, right side to much weight. Here I than was missing the ability to express easily with the pencil weight and depth, marks were quite light. Therefore I had to make more toning of areas to express the same perception.

    Stefan513593 - Project two - Exercise 1 - Group of objects - run 2

    Stefan513593 – Project two – Exercise 1 – Group of objects – run 2

  3. For the third run, I adjusted a bit more: I chose brown Kraft paper, I combined carbon pencil and charcoal, and I exchanged the plastic spray bottle with a charcoal box (to bring in an additional rectangular shape based form). I started with the carbon pencil and used the charcoal for the more expressive marks towards the end. Here I also more emphasis on text and visual patterns on the surface of objects in space, as well as on the space absorbed by the half way hidden glass jar in the plastic bag. I liked the appeal in the final image. The composition is more balanced left-right / bottom-top. Also I added more oblige forms to make the overall composition more interesting. Further, I added a few marks for the wooden board underneath. I was able now to express weight with charcoal and to highlight visual depth through drawing distorted objects, patterns.
    Stefan513593 - Project two - Exercise 1 - Group of objects - run 3

    Stefan513593 – Project two – Exercise 1 – Group of objects – run 3


    Before I started I didn’t know what and how to capture the topic of the exercise. It really helped me to play with the found objects from my studio in a plastic bag. Quite quickly I decided on paper and drawing materials. This decision was based on my previous learnings. At the beginning it was a bit rough and hard for me to capture composition, outlines, transparency, weight, expression altogether. Perhaps the first run was too much focused on expression.
    Also I understood how much tones I should add or avoid compared to usage of lines only. Eventually, I chose the way forward through the runs two and three. I liked especially the brown tone of the paper surface in run three that provided not only color and roughness but also a different perception in the overall composition.
    Next time, I would like to extend my search with different, even rougher surfaces and larger scale for more free flowing movement. I liked the combination of two media (charcoal and carbon pencil), so I think I will continue with that approach. Observation without preconceived idea is key. To find the right expression in my marks with the right media is still something I want to work on more.



    • Kovats, T. (2005) ‘The Drawing Book’, London: Black Dog Publishing Ltd., p. 164-165 (Noble, Paul – 2000) and p.294 (Smith, Keir – 1994-95)
    • Arnheim, R. (1974) ‘Art and visual perception: A psychology of the creative eye’. 6th ed. Berkeley and Los Angeles: Univ. of California Pr,, p-162-217



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