exercise one: still life using line
I came into this exercise with not much of an idea but it quickly took some shape. I had an urge to sketch shoes – they have so many lovely lines and curves pushed into shape by feet while the laces are always breaking free. I sketched the shoes just where they were, on an ancient terracotta floor.
What intrigued me most was how the lines of the shoe could slip in and out of the honeycomb pattern of the floor. This tiled floor holds the ghosts of so many footprints and when we move on, when my boys grow out of their shoes, something of their footprint will be left. Day after day their feet tapping, slipping, pushing into these tiles. The way ancient stone steps dip in the middle has always delighted me and though this floor doesn’t dip and sag (though some tiles are cracked and chipped) it has held the weight of many.
I’ve tried a few different options in pencil and ink and as I do so I realise that it will take some planning to integrate the lines of shoes and floor. Ideally I want to work straight in ink rather than pencil first. I notice a real difference in line if I go direct into ink rather than tracing over a pencil line.
My delighted youngest made these prints – standing in charcoal and then on the page. I sketched the shoes on top – looking for a feeling of the footprint escaping the shoe.
I’m so happy with how the detail of the footprint has come out and the echo of lines I have made on the shoe.
Messing around with more textures, using diluted ink and dabbing charcoal over the top.
Today I popped in to our local gallery which holds the collection of Jean Plaque, himself an artist. This tiny watercolour came to mind later on when I was thinking about my terracotta floor, and inspired me to add colour.
I think this will be my final version for this exercise. I’m not absolutely sure. I’m still interested in the idea of ghostly footprints across the tiles.
Things I think have worked:
- I’ve met most of the requirements of the exercise: thinking about how the objects relate to the background, concentrating on pattern, shape, line. I haven’t captured texture though, except perhaps the slipperiness of the smooth floor and the rubber of the soles. And if I’ve understood correctly what it is to tackle an exercise conceptually as well as practically, I think I’ve also done that.
- I wanted a ghostly quality to the shoe, the feeling that they were being incorporated into the tile – yet another footprint passing through – and I think I’m almost there.
- the dissolving of line – tile and shoe – the interchange.
- the wateriness of the tile that adds to the feeling of the two elements merging.
Things I don’t think have worked so well:
- I find the colours a bit garish and unfortunately I think it looks a little like blood stain. I should maybe be bolder with the terracotta colour, to make it clear that this is the colour of the entire floor.
- the composition. I tried various combinations of shoes. All the way along this line of four, pulled in opposite directions by the straying laces, seemed best. But in this final version it feels a bit unsettled. I may try cropping in closer.
- as mentioned already, I haven’t got across texture though there wasn’t a great deal of texture – things I have missed are the canvas of the shoes and areas where they were fraying.
- the drawings feel a bit cartoon like.
The project asks specifically:
‘did you manage to get a sense of depth in your drawings?’ Well no, I didn’t really. I was purposefully playing with perspective to meet my ideas of the floor and shoes blending together. Despite that I do think the shoes standing upright have still managed to retain some depth.
‘what difficulties were created by being restricted to line or tone?’ It did take some discipline to resist from shading too much. I did throw an earlier version out because I felt that line was being lost in the hodgepodge of cross-hatching. My doubts about keeping to line only are that as I mentioned above, it does have a cartoon type quality – I think this is also because I’ve used my line quite sparingly, without adding marks for texture or expression.