Project One – Exercise 1: Compositional sketches of man made objects

For this exercise I was looking in the evening for some meaningful objects in our home that might turn into an expressive composition. I looked in the kitchen in our sink with the loneliness of the dishes yet to cleaned. Four objects in a deep black sink – a cooking pan, a cup, a small glass, a cloth.

For the rough thumbnails studies,  I chose a black oil based chalk pencil, good for dark blacks and for hatching as well.

1.) My perspective was a kind of bird view. I applied hatching for the dark areas and shadows, and left the untouched paper white for the highlights. The first composition was not balanced enough, my eye can not find a rest, handle of the pan going out the picture, the same for the cloth. Too much ambiguity.

2.) I moved the objects around to find another composition and perspective. Here the cloth was on top of the other objects. Looking at the result, it seems as if it was hiding the other items. Not convincing enough for me. Also the glass was far too low and overall too messy.

Stefan513593 - project1 - exercise1

Stefan513593 – project1 – exercise1

3.) I was looking now for a more convincing perspective and grouping of the objects. I moved them around, and chose now a direct view from the top, as the first two compositions were done with an oblique view. The objects are more grouped together and the view is engaging the viewer more, as if the viewer is now taken a direct active role in the play, like a command to act, to clean up. There is space around the objects, it does not disturb me. It rather supports the emptiness of the empty dishes and the command to the viewer. This one I would go for a larger scale, a non-typical view for a still life, but from my previous research on still life’s I understood that surprizing perspectives could engage the viewer more.

Close-up look of the third and prefered composition:

Stefan513593 - project1 - exercise1 - closeup

Stefan513593 – project1 – exercise1 – closeup

Learnings & Reflection:

As learned from previous exercises, I know that the individual items need a certain drawing technique due to their different compositions and surfaces. This would be important for a larger scale drawing:

  • Pan with metal rim = sharp outlines and open light edges
  • Cloth = fabric with softer edges, need perhaps a refinement, but important not to make it too black. I want to keep it light.
  • Ceramic cup = angles and reflections with hatching is fine. In reality that was the only colored object (green)  in the setting, the rest was black
  • Glass = many reflections with a full range of tonal values and some hard edges. I would like to keep it as volatile and brittle as possible. Also the perspective is challenging with its foresighting
  • Ceramic sink = dark blacks with soft reflections. I need to consider the impact and reflection of the watery surface at the bottom of the sink

I did some additional sketches on the glass with emphasis the fore sighting perspective and the lightness versus dark background. I applied parallel lines that give a less disturbing appeal. Also I wanted to understand better negative space in the composition. From that point I can see that my eye rests in the center and than moving around to check the individual objects.

Stefan513593 - project1 - exercise1 - foresighting and negative space

Stefan513593 – project1 – exercise1 – foresighting and negative space

I asked myself with what kind of drawing technique I could group the objects together for an overall expression without eliminating the individual characteristics of the items. The sink itself helps to frame the objects. And I see that the repetition of black and light patterns gives an expressive appeal.

I wanted to elaborate the idea from Patrick Caulfield ‘Reserved table, 2000′. A birdview perspective that makes objects flatter the further away the viewer is, and to combine it with closer view on one object (cloth) with finer rendering. And perhaps to combine B&W with color.

Stefan513593 - project1 - exercise1 - idea

Stefan513593 – project1 – exercise1 – idea

In the idea sketch, I marked the cloth in color and with shadow areas. The cloth seems to pop out of the picture plane, what I intended. For the cooking pan I left it white as a kind of transition between the black spaces and the cloth. At the end, I marked the inside of the cup black, as an additional focus point for the eye to rest on in the overall composition.

There might be other perspectives and viewpoints, objects not in the sink, on the kitchen table top at eye level etc. This would have given a different meaning, as I would have had to eliminate the sink, which I found an interesting framing element in the composition. This may be something – also considering the feedback from my tutor – more for me to explore. Also for a larger scale I would investigate more into ‘negative’ drawing techniques with an eraser.

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