Project Four – Exercise 2: Still life in tone using colour

In this exercise I will learn a different way of approaching a still life: looking more in tone and color while creating a variety of patterns, effect, and sweeps of color. This exercise is supposed to be done in a fast, spontaneous, and energetic way. Using different colors for toning an image (dark, mid tone and light tones) and to create depth and perception of forms will be quite experimental for me.

While still travelling and staying in a hotel, I had to work on A3 paper (rough and smooth) and with oil pastels, pastel pencils, and coloured pencils with a limited range of colors.

I stayed with my bathroom concept, now changing the topic and choosing my toiletries (bath & body items on the sink). I worked without pre studies directly on the paper, standing in front of the sink, observing, holding my paper in one hand and drawing with the other one.

1) Study no 1:

Stefan513593 - project 4 - exercise 2 - study #1

Stefan513593 – project 4 – exercise 2 – study #1

My first run with oil pastels did get quite messy. I think I overworked it, was hard to get layer above layers with this medium. I worked on rough watercolor paper and it was challenging as well to get the color attached to it. Although I worked quite fast and I felt at ease with making broad strokes. At some point I felt that working with oil pastels would be more satisfying on a larger scale. I like the way objects are staggered in front of each other and with the reflection in the mirror. I wasn’t sure about how to work in a more interesting was with the colors

2) Study no 2:

Stefan513593 - project 4 - exercise 2 - composition studies

Stefan513593 – project 4 – exercise 2 – composition studies

The first run was done in a different hotel so that I had to adjust my still life set up to the new environment. I also took some reference photos just in case I would not finish and moving on again. Before continuing I did some thumbnails studies to find an interesting composition. I went for one with visible cast shadows and visible shape of the sink.

Stefan513593 - project 4 - exercise 2 - study #2

Stefan513593 – project 4 – exercise 2 – study #2

I went for a smoother surface and changed to pastel pencils. With them I could draw lines like a pencil and make broader strokes, toning areas with the side. The final drawing is pretty colorful. But I feel it is perhaps too artificial and too messy and colors not always in the right place. The background consists of wall tiles, which I tried to indicated slightly with broader strokes. As final touch similar from previous exercises I applied broader strokes on the objects. Although the used pastel pencils are supposed to be water soluble I refrained from making washes so that I could focus no strokes and layering of color only.

3) Study no 3:

Stefan513593 - project 4 - exercise 2 - study#3

Stefan513593 – project 4 – exercise 2 – study#3

For the following study I wanted to try again oil pastels but now on smooth Bristol paper. I did some color studies beforehand to ensure that I do not overwork again. From my previous study (#2) I was learned to be careful in putting colors side by side, keeping colors separate, and to differentiate with fine and broad strokes. This study is more homogenous in color and with more paper white showing through with a calmer impression. I felt happy afterwards, but still thinking about a larger format to be more appropriate. Especially standing and drawing up would be more energetic and expressive. I think I will do so for the next exercise and after being home again. However, I like to touch of vagueness and ‘non accuracy’ of some strokes I did.

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

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


4) Study no 4:

Stefan513593 - project 4 - exercise 2 - study#4

Stefan513593 – project 4 – exercise 2 – study#4

Considering my limitations with A3 format that led me towards a more horizontal ‘drawing mode’ (but standing) I decided to make a new study in colored pencil. Pencils typically work better for me when I am closer to the paper. I took the learnings from the previous studies and tried to incorporate them:
– subtle colors for the objects – calmness
– broader strokes for final touch and background – variety and expression
– some paper white showing through for highlights – contrast
– using color for differentiation (object and background)
I feel that the final drawing is a combination of expressiveness through fast drawing and subtlety.

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

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


I limited myself to line strokes only (broad and fine) and not applying washes as I did on previous exercises. I felt this fit better for a fast and spontaneous way of drawing. I discovered the differences with the used media: oil pastel are not good for layering too mutes the get sticky and messy easily. Pencils (either coloured pencils or pastel pencils) are easier to handle on smaller formats and with close proximity body-paper. Although broad strokes can be done with the side of the pencils.

Oil pastels are more ‘energetic’ for me, better on larger scale and standing in front of the paper perhaps. This media helps in not getting too accurate, as otherwise it turns out sticky and messy. Good for getting loose. I would like to experiment more with that after being back home.

Applying colors can be messy when overworked. Especially with a limited range of cooler and tonal values. I felt sometimes (study #2) that it can quickly move towards an artificial appeal. Therefore I need to be more careful to work on tone and color in parallel. Another option would be to work in sequence, like the grisaille technique from the old masters (first grey, monochrome underdrawing, than application of color). I can see that the way I draw with tone and color depends also on the concept and my thoughts related to the purpose of the picture. It really opens another dimension in drawing. So I need to be quite selective in choosing it right – more to learn.



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