Part One – Assignment 1 – A personal still life

With this my first assignment I will demonstrate what I’ve learned and how I can apply my skills in drawing a still life with objects that have some meaning to me. It was requested to set up objects with interesting shapes and angles and to consider the negative space. Application of light and dark, various tones will allow the creation of believable shapes. With specific marks and lines expression and emotion can be articulated. As a learning from previous exercises I should keep in mind my skills on hatching, ink & pen drawing, and usage of a putty rubber.

Stefan513593 - Part 1 - Assignment 1

Stefan513593 – Part 1 – Assignment 1

I was already looking for some objects. Important for me was to include items from our garden (I love seeing nature growing with such a variety) and my painting passion. With some experimenting around I chose: hand shovel and gloves, a tree root that I started to carve around a bit (there are so magical shapes on it), paint cups and my painting tools (brushes and paint roller that I find a very expressive and experimental painting tool). These items either have a certain expression already (e.g tree root) or I use them to express myself (e.g. gloves, brushes). With this assignment I would love to get such expressions across.

I started with the still life setup for shapes and angles creation. I found a vertical format better than a horizontal (what I always used in previous exercises – funny that I now think about it). Vertical gives a sensation of uplifting – a feeling that I experienced the last weeks while going through this drawing course.  Eventually I found a nice setup with angles and nice sight lines that besides for overall balance supports the perceived expression of the objects. With some quick sketches on A3 paper I blocked out the shadow shapes to see final appeal and tried various materials.

I wanted to find right materials for the expression and emotions of the objects, trying out several drawing media and combinations.
Learnings and conclusions:

  • Ink and pen is good for man-made objects especially metal as it give clear lines of shadow (distinct to metal)
  • Charcoal especially willow, as it gives nice natural textures with deep black and nice lines for the tree root. Alone not so good for metal shovel, makes it too earthy and solid
  • Litho chalk (I love the flowing expression of this media) for the gloves (no reflective surface), my hand protection for garden work
  • Putty rubber: ok for willow charcoal but doesn’t work for compressed charcoal
  • Charcoal can be applied over ink, not over pencil
  • Litho chalk is oily and doesn’t get along with charcoal in layers
  • Pencil: Doesn’t go well with the other media together. I rejected it therefore.

What I will use:
Tree roots: will charcoal; Paint roller and paint cup: ing&pen; Shovel: combines ink&pen and charcoal; gloves: litho chalk; Background: charcoal (black and brown); shadows: either ink hatching or charcoal: Highlights on tree roots: putty rubber
Paper surface: max. allowed A2, natural white color with tooth. I decided to use a bit of colour for final shading of background only.

Stefan513593 - Part 1 - Assignment 1 - studies

Stefan513593 – Part 1 – Assignment 1 – studies

Reflection

What went well

  • Working with the set up to find final composition. That also got me closer to the objects for better emotional touch.
  • Pre studies to block out shadows shapes: That gave me a better understanding of the appeal of the final picture
  • Combining materials: I wasn’t sure about this at the beginning. However, after several trials and finding working combinations, I found my media and tools.
  • Putty rubber: After exercise 4 I eventually enjoyed using it on the tree root for shaping and highlights.
  • Colored background: I think that gives the final drawing an appeal of closer to nature and warmth.
  • Cast shadows: Nice shapes drawn on the tree root (from glove) and on the background (from root and glove)

What did not go so well

  • Focusing on the overall shape of the complex tree root. This was always a kind of fight to find the right balance between distinct shapes, shadows, and lightness. I worked quite some time on the middle-top of the tree root till I decided to block out the dark shadow and increasing the contrast with some distinct highlights.
  • Modulating the shovel with ink and charcoal. This was quite challenging and final result is still a bit too solid/thick for me.
  • Background value: Finding the right tonal value for right visual appeal. I wanted the background not to be too pronounced and to support the gestures of the objects. But I also wanted the lid of the paint cups the lightest value in the picture. This was somehow not achieved. However, I am pleased with the final result. I checked and compared the B&W converted photograph with the drawing – both did show similar values of background and cup lids.

 

Self evaluation (assessment criteria)

How did I do against the assessment criteria?

  • Demonstration of technical and visual skills:
    I applied various materials, checked them out before to see possible combinations and drawbacks. For the overall composition I worked with different arrangements till I found a balanced but also expressive set up with nice sight lines and angles. I was aware of the different surfaces properties of the objects and translated those with adequate materials into an appealing visual form. With different techniques (hatching, shading, spotting, ‘negative drawing’ with putty rubber) I could further underline the visual qualities of the chosen objects. Together with a a slightly colored background I was able to draw a contrasting image with dark shadows and  very light highlights.
  • Quality of outcome:
    The chosen objects have a certain meaning and emotional touch to me. By selecting of adequate materials and various drawing techniques I translated intrinsic properties of the objects alongside my own emotions to this into a pictorial form. Through this the objects have a standalone visual perception as well as together a comprehensive and combined visual appeal. My initial thoughts became stronger with pre-studies (blocking shadow shapes, more detailed material studies, composition check) and they went through to the final image.
  • Demonstration of creativity:
    With quite different and at the first glance not-fitting together objects, I experimented with a range of drawing media, combinations, and expressive set-up of the objects in the still life to give dead objects a kind of life and expression. I found alongside a background pattern and combined drawing materials a specific voice for expression.
  • Context reflection:
    I reflected on my initial thoughts through studies in my sketchbook and on loose paper. With the learnings from previous exercises I was able to improve and adapt my skills to an adequate level in order to use materials and techniques to suit my thoughts. My learning log was actually a good help and reference, not only to myself and my own work but also to researches on art practitioners that I conducted. However, my critical thinking and reflection is a process and still in development.

 

 

 

  2 comments for “Part One – Assignment 1 – A personal still life

  1. K
    December 31, 2014 at 9:32 pm

    I really like this one, it’s a very challenging still life especially the root vs background.Great work. I read you’re a bit disappointed about the lids not being the lightest part of the drawing etc. If you look at the photo or its b&w version you can see this can be easily corrected by making the background darker (willow charcoal would do) and the shovel as well (to be completely accurate) What really helps in defining tones is half closing your eyes while looking at your still life then you can really see the darkest/lightest parts.

  2. Stefan
    January 1, 2015 at 4:16 pm

    Klaudia, thanks for your comment. I did do as you mention during the process. As I wrote I did not want the background to be pronounced. I guess I took therefore the artistic freedom to keep the background a bit lighter in value in order to keep the viewer’s focus on the objects expression. Concerning the shovel you are right. Making it darker I thought it could make an visual interruption in the grouping of the objects: bottom-lighter / middle=dark / top = light. So a middle darker area could have been too disruptive.

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