Review the previous two exercises

  • What aspects of each drawing were successful, and what did you have problems with?
  1. For my exercise on still life in tones using colour I practiced the glass’s texture and I used watercolours and fine lines, pen etc. Mixed media for my exercise of still life using line. They are my first two attempts for special texture drawing I am happy with the outcome.
  2. The bottles didn’t get the right pattern before I gave the colour in the tones. So this point is one I am going to think about going forward.
  • Did you manage to get a sense of depth in your drawing? What elements of the drawings and still life groupings helped to create that sense?
  1. I was a feeling that it was a little bit wrong before I tint the colours of the bottles and glasses, but the briefing is for tone in colours. I asked myself about tones of colour, is it a drawing way or a painting way? What is the difference between drawing and painting? For the line drawing, did I depict correct lines and did I actual get any benefit from it? For a sense of depth, are these still life convey their correct shapes? I am trying the best ways for what I think to go forward.
  2. The elements have combined with transparent natural textures and special shapes etc. Also the way they are put together look pleasant to me so it makes me want to draw them.
  • What difficulties were created by being restricted to line or tone?
  1. I think that for a basic drawing it is the main thing for skeleton/instruction of the objects.
  2. Being able to correctly recognize light direction and shadow area are important. Then being able to identify their chiaroscuro is important to the outcome but sometime it is a bit difficult.
  • How did using colour affect your working method?
  1. Monochrome I think I only need to control its light and dark shades to fill/chiaroscuro on the objects then to build up into three dimensions.
  2. Tone using colours which is much more complex. For me I like to use/mix light colour in the lighter half-tone and cold colour in the darker half-tone area. For each specific picture it needs to be looked at differently.

Still life in tone using colour(Exercise)

Set up another still life group which is different from the last one.


Before I start I try to build up the skeleton drawing of the objects but I realized that the angle of the Daniel’s is not right and I need to turn it around a bit. So it took me time to correct the basic line drawing.


I need to identify the darkest area but I start from the teminator by colourful pencils then go to the darker half-tone. I used the inherent colours of the objects. Then I use blue for the shadows.


Now I am going to draw the lighter half-tones and meanwhile I need to darken the darker half-tone as well. The rough drawing outcome as below.


Some questions came out:

  1. Before I give the light and shade, I took out all the coloured pencils and put them in order from light to dark. I am arranging  their colours to fill out the grade. The warm colours are going to the lighter half-tone. The cold colours are going to the darker half-tone.

img_5556                       2. I array and tint these colours in the section/blocks of the shade but try not to                               blend them but I have drawn some bits are really mixed together.

3. In fact, the easiest way for realistic drawing is accurate structures for the                                        objects so you can just copy the highlights, light and dark tones and shadows                               from real objects.

For drawing glasses I am not confident of its texture. So before I am moving on the next step I am going to practice monochrome drawing by watercolour for a glass.


The wine in the glass on the left side I shouldn’t treat same colour as the right side(gradual change). Another main problem the wine doesn’t feel transparent and liquid. I just need more practice to improve my drawing skills.

I am going to do another attempt now. I am going to use conte sticks on A3 170gsm white paper.


As the glass is the centre of this still picture.

  1. This is a rough drawing and I didn’t use much time for the details.
  2. Compare the A4 and A3 two drawing I have improved the structure of the objects and shadows.
  3. I have improved the texture of the glass from when I drew the A3.
  4. As the black bottle and daniel’s are glass as well I ignore their texture because this exercise is experimenting the tone using colour.
  5. I really need to give some more details for the first small glass.
  6. The left bottle should be black but they way I have drawn it shows it to be a little green as well. Also its neck is not right gesture.

I am going to correct a little bit on the final drawing.





Still life using line(Exercise)

In this exercise I have been asked to set up a still life group:

  1. Select the objects that are connected naturally
  2. They are the same in one way or another- shape, height, pattern, texture, function or story etc.
  3. Or they are deliberately contrasting or clashing.
  4. A medium suitable for drawing line.

The last exercise reminded me of the shells, as I think their texture is best way to practice with sharp line drawing. So I have taken some photos of shells.

img_5491 img_5494 img_5496 img_5499

First attempt: I have drawn this picture by a black fine line pen in my sketchbook.


After this attempt I am not confidence with the way/objects/medium I have chosen but still have a strong feeling that shells are the best objects for me to practice. Then I got some problems:

  1. I am supposed to draw a regular pattern. (I have done quickly scribbles for the pattern but they look disorderly and irregular.)
  2. They are neat and clear. (I have to draw quickly so their texture look strong and flowing. If I draw slowly they may come out curved.)
  3. Their texture are uneven but regular.

So at the moment I need to think more before my next attempt. One of the way I am going to research and take a look of other coursemates’ work.

Second attempt: I have found out a pen which I bought about my 20’s and it is a calligraphy pen. Then I used it to do the second attempt in my sketchbook. In this sketch, I need to find out the lines’ direction and effects.


As shells are very hard shapes,  I decided not to use any brush for lines in this exercise.

Third attempt: I still use this calligraphy. I control my wrist and let the lines flow and fly. At the moment, I am thinking about the shadows, I am going to use lines or tones?


At last I am moving on to a A3 170gms white paper. I have used the calligraphy on the right shell ( but when I stopped using it for the night I couldn’t get the pen working well). The fine line 0.5 for the middle shell. Then the fibre-tip 1.0 for the left. Before I scribble the lines on the paper I used a little bit of black watercolour wash as the shell’s base. Also I used circles for shadows. This is the half way work.


The final picture. I have used the fineline 0.5 pen scribble the shells’ texture. Also use the lines’ light and dark, thick and slippy to show the light direction.



This exercise is principally to practice the lines. I am happy with the third attempt as there was not any presure (exercise/sketch) when I was scribbling it. I am also happy with the final picture even there are some lines are not neat and accurate when I was worried and feeling under pressure(final one). Then I got so much from that. Finally I like the flying, scribble or flowing lines.

Detail and tone(Exercise)

This exercise’s target:

1. Build up dark, medium and light tones.

2. Use pencils with hatching and cross-hatching techniques.

3. Select a single object: a shell or a piece of driftwood.

4. Combine soft and medium grade pencils and alter the direction the strokes.

5. Use smooth A3 paper and a putty rubber.

I have attempted a shell in an exercise for experimenting with texture in assignment 1. As my tutor suggestions “going over pass exercise” in my feedback for assignment 1.

This is a very rough drawing. There are no clearly defined dark, medium and light tones. For the shell, on the right hand top side I need to add some more pattern as it is a fanshaped object.


I live in Sheffield which is in the middle of country and I don’t have any chances to go to the seaside at the moment.  I don’t want to skip past  this  exercise because the exercises are step by step to improve the drawing skills. So I have been to a park that is near me. There I have picked up some woods from the forest.

img_5505 img_5506 img_5507 img_5508

If I practice the surface I would like to choose the third one but for this exercise I want to attempt the last one which is a challenge for the three dimensions and its gesture.

First step, I practice this piece of wood in my sketchbook. Find out the areas for dark, medium and light tones.


This photo had been taken on a cloudy day, but later the sun came out. So I decide to take some more different photo angles. Now I can see the shadows are very clearly.

img_5512 img_5514 img_5515 img_5516

Then I am moving on the A3 170gsm paper.

I started from teminato by 4B pencil then darker halftone to shadow(6B), then the light halftone(2B-HB) and highlight(2H) to edge.

This is half way to finishing the final picture.


I stepped back from it. I need to refine the detail of the area where with the barks on it. I also need to shade the shadows’s area.


I am happy with the final outcome but I think I have to leave the negative space where I didn’t give any tone to the left top corner. This is because as the light comes from this way and the light from here is going down the right hand corner where it is darker.

I think I have give sufficient contrasts to all the areas to let them stand out in the three dimensional space. I think that the branch at the top that comes out at an angle is not correct with the original picture. But I will leave it and remind myself to observe in further drawing.


Research point-Positive and negative spaces

Positive and negative spaces are an important role in determining  the overall composition of an art work.

Through this research point, I am trying to find out some useful ideas to improve my objects’ rationale composition.

First I am going to look at a range of artist working today and see how they incorporate positive and negative spaces in their work.

Gary Hume

Hume is a painter, printmaker and draughtsman and his earlier work the most well know are his doors. He depicts everyday subjects using high-gloss industrial paints. Later Hume abandoned doors and turned to paintings in household gloss paint on aluminium panels. Then in  2005 Hume revisited his door pictures, this time anthropomorphising the doors with lovers’ titles.


I liked this one. There are only three dramatically simplified plate colours. The man is seen with a pose which has the black hands putting the palms together/ zen gesture and Hume drew a bright blue silhouette then a green background.




Noma Bar

Bar is an Israeli illustrator and he used very clever ways with negative spaces to create thought provoking illustrations.




At last I have looked the artist Patrick Caulfield‘s work.

Caulfield used sharp edges as the table’s shape and the legs of table and colourful blocks as the abundant  flowers.


This bunch of black and white flowers are strongly showing the direction of the light.


The objects in this still life are colourful blocks and they are positive. The blue background is the negative space. There is a gap between these two types of objects and  it looks like the numbers are split  2:3. However the left side(2 objects) has a big red vase so the actual size of the objects looks balanced  and they look to have equal weigh, this is very interesting.




Research point-The still life genre and artists

Sixteenth-Seventeenth century Dutch painters and paintings.

First I have found a list of Dutch painters of the 16th century on Wikipedia:

Pieter Aertsen

This painting on first sight it seems to be at an ordinary still life concentrating on foodstuffs, there are a lots of objects and a scene with a biblical theme in the background. This painting hides a symbolic religious meaning, embodies and visual metaphor encouraging spiritual life.


Another two paintings of Pieter Aertsen. He uses a realistic and  naturalistic manner. His paintings are with a strong direct light coming from the top left to bottom right.


Then I am looking at the list of Dutch painters on 17th century.

The Dutch love to paint still life especially love to paint flowers. It  was an age where paintings were not solely the possession of the wealthy. Many different types were created.

Bartholomeus Assteyn was a productive artist and created noteworthy still lifes. I liked his painting technique for his treatment of the shadows and the parts in the shadow.


Johannes van der Beeck. This is a very carefully constucted picture. It seems there are diamond and triangular shapes, vertical curves and parallel lines. The shapes are the same sizes in opposite sides of the picture but have different colours. It also have rich reflection and surface elements. It is a steady and smooth still life.


Pieter Claesz. He used the subtle light and texture, generally chosing objects painted with monochromatic compositions.


There is a subtle light infusing the glass ball obviously coming from the top left of the picture. I hope to learn to be able to draw these subtle patterns of light.


His later works became more colourful and decorative.


The Dutch painters of this era built their pictures up in set stages, this was sometime due to the use of a smaller pallet and limits in pigments. In later era of painting the picture would be painted as a whole.

18th to 20th Century Painting

Paul Cezanne

Later painters such as Paul Cezanne produces their still lifes with more compression of forms and a dynamic tension between geometric forms.


Cezanne changed the way way that colours were depicted in still life. Instead of imitating an object by lines a colours Cezanne was said to give a plastic and solid form to our nature.

These words are really illustrating my point  now because I was told by my teacher when I was 19 that a line is not just independent but needs to cooperate to form the greater whole of the picture.

Cezanne and the way he simplified geometric relationships and optical phenomena influenced may other artist at the beginning of the 20th Century. Among these were Picasso and Braque.

Paul Gauguin

His paintings were affected by his travels during his life. He moved around to may countries starting with Peru as a child when his father was forced to leave France. His styles and interpretations were influenced by his travels and his own observations.


Pablo Picasso

Picasso used colour as an expressive element but relied on drawing rather that the subtleties of colour to create form and space. He would add sand to his paint and often painted with common house paint. He also used artificial light or painted at night instead of using natural light.

These two paintings are from his crystal period.


Georges Braque

Braque started off as a painter of landscapes but changed to still life because he found it a more tactile experience. He felt he could reach out and touch the manual space and manipulate the objects far more than you can with a landscape.  A still life was also more accessible, in relation to perspective than landscape, and permitted the artist to see the multiple perspectives of the object.


Contemporary artists

Samuel Bak

Bak is a surrealistic artist. He employs allegory, metaphor and certain artistic devices such as substitution: toys instead of the murdered children who played with them, books, instead of the people who read them. Samuel Bak’s paintings cause discomfort, they are a warning against complacency, a bulwark against collective amnesia with reference to all acts of barbarism, worldwide and throughout the ages, through his personal experience of genocide.

While Bak’s work is complex and difficult to charactarise here are some examples

samuel-bak samuel-bak-2

Paul John Wonner

Wonner is best known for his still life paintings done in an abstract expressionist style.

Whether using single or an abundance of objects in his still life he controlled them all in  high-resolution and he used a specialized type of still life, showing inanimate and relatively flat objects that look vivid.

paul-wonner-1 paul-wonner-2


Artwork by genre: still life



Assignment one


Before I am going to do this assignment, I am going to research some still life and mark making procedures.

First I have been watching the link that some students sent about the BBC4 documentary on still life painting

I especially liked these two. It seems that they were easy to produce but still are very vivid images.

researchch-1 researchch-2

Also I found a article which is Making a mark/What is a still life? It gave me lots of ideas that I could try.



For this assignment, I have been asked to find a few objects to form a still life.

  1. They can be natural objects, made objects, big or small.
  2. They can be ordinary, funny, practical or a mixture of all these.
  3. They trigger a response for you.

So I took my camera then shot some photos with these objects which I have gathered.

img_5412 img_5420

img_5419 img_5438

First picture is ordinary still life. The second is very interesting one but I can’t say which object or point is the main element. The fourth one is a funny one but scary to my husband because this bear’s nose got broken when we used to wash her in the washing machine (So we only wash her by hand now). The third is an enlargement of the objects in the second image,  I am going to use this one for my this assignment.

Attempt 1 (A4 sketchbook). Experiment mark making of the objects.


After took these photos I saw some cabbages’s that had shapes and textures that are really beautiful when we were shopping in Morrisons. I have bought one just for swapping the object with the lettuce in this assignment. I can’t take the whole picture again because the pomelo’s skin is not fresh any more.

Attempt 2.  (A2 170gsm paper). I have used the coloured conte sticks to practice this sketch


Some problems I found:

  1. I need to change from landscape to vertical.
  2. The highlight on the pumpkin is not right direction.
  3. Which object is the main/central element?

Then before the last final piece, I have done a thumbnail sketch.


I put a thumbnail and two experimental exploring texture sketches from last exercise next to the final piece.


At last I got to practice my final image on A2 220 gsm cartridge paper. I used charcoal and putty erase.


And the detail pictures

img_5460 img_5461 img_5462


  1. Composition of the picture, I could move the objects at bottom so there is more room to move the cabbage down so they are closer together.
  2. I was concentrating on the texture of the cabbage but the leaves’ curve didn’t work out as I had hoped
  3. The cross section of the pepper, its position is not ideal.  It is not the centre of the picture but it still need be in the right place
  4.  The bottom of the pomelo, It wasn’t correct position compared to the photo. I tried to draw the peel falling away from the fruit but I couldn’t get it as I would have liked.
  5. I was not sure how to draw the texture of the pomelo skin. I used dotting marks to try to show it but I think there can be a better way.


I have looked at the work of the artist Vincent Van Gogh who is famous on mark making work. I really like the way he depicted the sky. I will try to learn from this to help me with my future work.

reference-1 reference-2 reference-3 reference-4

I have a question which is about light direction. When I was watching the Documentary on still life, when the host showed all the art works the light is falling from left to right. My picture is the same way because of the position of the window I used. What difference would it have made if the light is coming from the opposite direction.