part two: project two: still life

exercise four: monochrome

I had a crisis of confidence over the previous exercise and it seems to be carrying on into this one. I feel like I am not really drawing, or learning how to draw. Instead I’m struggling with new media (coloured pencils, crayons, inks, paint) and as a distance learner it’s frustrating.

This exercise is all about colour and I’ve decided on pastels – at this stage all ways of applying colour are new to me – but as pastels feel like charcoal’s cousin, pastels is it.

The exercise also asking for: tone, texture, pattern, detail, contrast.

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img_1618My subject is a grenadine on a red metal chair.

I’ve been trying out the reds and not really enjoying the effect of the pastel. My objects are strong shapes and the pastels seem a bit fuzzy. I’m also struggling with the paper in my sketchbook – a second layer of pastel doesn’t stick, it just glides off the first layer and the pastel pencils make no impact at all.

In my box of pastels I did find a sample of  ‘la carte pastel’. I’ve never come across this before – it is as coarse as sandpaper – and the pastel works brilliantly on it. Unfortunately I can’t get hold of it locally so I’m sticking with plain old paper for now.

I chose grey paper for this. I don’t know why, it wasn’t really thought through, it hasn’t really contributed but hasn’t caused any problems either.

I’ve had big problems here with the pastels and pastel pencils themselves. Each pastel seems to behave differently. The brown is smooth and creamy, the purple is scratchy and seems to rub away whatever I’ve already laid down. The pastel pencils just scratch at the paper rather than lay any actual colour down. It’s been tricky!

I wonder if maybe pastels are simple not the right medium for this style of drawing. Maybe they would be better for something for expressive.

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Things I’m happy with:

  • the shine on the metal chair
  • the sense of light under the chair

Things I’m not happy with:

  • the  direction of the light is not clear – I actually had the light coming up from under the chair, through the holes.
  • the holes are all over the place! not even in shape or colour – this was one of my struggles with the chubby pastels. I went over and over them, in the end nothing stuck – pastel or pencil.
  • the colours – the red of the fruit and the chair were very very close. I think perhaps I should have created more of a difference between them. The shadow is quite violet – I’ve actually got the colour pretty accurate but it’s not really an appealing colour – perhaps I should’ve made it bluer? (I had propped a piece of white card behind the chair.

What I’ve learned from this exercise in particular:

  • I need to have a more precise plan before I start on the final piece – with this I hadn’t really worked out how to manage the holes in the chair. I also hadn’t decided what my crop would be – and was frequently adjusting it as I worked. And even though I had tried out the reds in pastels before hand, I didn’t use what I had discovered in the final – I just jumped in and didn’t refer back to my tests.
  • I probably need to be more careful with choice of paper – I’m not sure this was that good for pastels.

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