Project Two – Exercise 4: Shadows and reflected light

In this exercise I will look deeper into the interplay of light and shadow on two objects with reflective surfaces. Looking around in my home for adequate objects I selected first my new stainless steel tea pot and after further looking I selected a glass jar with nice pattern on the surface, quite right for christmas season. As I wasn’t sure about the right composition and how the surfaces will reflect the other object, I did some quick thumbnails studies in my sketchbook. First I tried the primary light source from front left and the mouth of the tea pot to the left. But I found this to ambiguous. Therefore I changed the direction of the primary light to back left and the mouth of the tea pot to the right, what gave a more open composition where the eye can follow the light direction from top left to bottom right. In this composition I could also see the reflections nicely and with some interesting pattern in the shadow areas.

Stefan513593 - Project 2 - Exercise 4 - Sketchbook studies

Stefan513593 – Project 2 – Exercise 4 – Sketchbook studies

Inspired by the ‘Noir’ drawings of Odilon Redon, I chose a golden-yellow colored pastel paper, to get a stronger perception of the glow of the light. Also I hoped for a more intriguing appeal in the final picture. The golden surface would be the lightest value in my drawing.

Stefan513593 - Project 2 - Exercise 4 - Shadows and reflected light

Stefan513593 – Project 2 – Exercise 4 – Shadows and reflected light

Challenges I experienced during the drawing process.

  • Complexity of tonal values in mid-tone and shadow areas:
    => I found that very careful observation and focusing on overall shape patterns helped. However, one question that came up to me was whether the lightest values in shadow areas are always darker than darkest values in mid-tone/light areas? I think this is something more to study and to research on.
  • Dots on glass jar:
    => Changing values of the dots in mid-tone and shadow area. After I figured this out it became easier.
  • Highlights:
    => The usage of rubby putter helped quite well to modify after initial blocking of value areas. I didn’t use that so much in the past as I tried to be right in the first place. For me a change in perspective.
  • Metal surface appeal:
    => I wasn’t sure how the different surfaces (glass, metal) would get across in the final picture. I observed that on metal surface there are quite distinct black areas/lines with sharp edges.

Note: The attached photograph is not showing the image as observed with my naked eye. Photography has very limitations in tonal value scale (flattened light and shadow areas). I find that the final drawing is showing much better the observed setting.


After doing quite helpful initial sketchbook studies for compositional purposes. I found this exercise quite intense on my observation skills. So many variations in tonal values! Focusing on overall shape patterns helped me not to get lost in too much details. It was astonishing to observe reflections I didn’t notice in the first place as well.

Overall I am satisfied with the final result and the appeal of the golden-yellow paper surface. I can feel the light glowing out of the paper plane. For further studies I would like to look deeper into the tonal values in shadow areas compared to those in mid-tone areas (see above note under ‘Challenges’). Comparing with the previous exercises I notice that I didn’t use hatching technique more shading. I think charcoal is better for that compared to pencil or pen/ink as better tools for hatching.

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