Category Archives: form and gesture

project 2: basic shapes and fundamental form

exercise 4: shadows and reflected light


Things I’m happy with:

  • capturing the dimmer metal on the inside of the jug
  • the way the reflections on the cups and jug merge – in reality it was extremely hard to see what was cup and what was reflection (on the lower cup)
  • the contrast of the dense plastic black handles and the metal

Things I’m not happy with:

  • the lower left of the jug. i’v only noticed it’s baba-papa-ness now i see it on the screen in front of me
  • the handle on the upper cup hasn’t quite worked
  • the charcoal has ‘stuck’ in places. This happen on the last project too. I’m not sure if there is something on the paper – grease maybe.



part one: form and gesture

project one: feeling and expression

exercise one: experimenting with expressive lines and marks

It’s hard to draw on these feelings when time is limited and I’m really aware of the clock ticking: dog, work, kids….all those thoughts crowding in. Panic, hopelessness, exhaustion and caffeine high may been been easier to convey.

The exercise asks us to jot down a free flow of thoughts and words similar to the ‘way you engaged in a free flow of marks and lines’. I find this really difficult. I felt the aim of the exercise was to translate the word in to our feeling and that feeling in to marks on the page. To then force a translation back in to words feels like interrupting that flow in order to pedal backwards.

So I don’t exactly have a free flow of words, but these are the thoughts I had as I was doing the exercise and immediately after:


Joy – these days i get less of the crazy up all night kind of joy from 20 years ago – on a daily basis it’s closer to contentment. That spontaneous joy still comes though – often through music, and three of these panels turned out musical – a rhythm a note, a dance.

The fourth with ink on wet paper captures the spontaneous side of joy – the ‘letting go’ that joy feeds on.


I’m laughing so much at how easy it was for me to access anger compared to joy that I really should have done anger first – it may have helped me find the joy.

Unsurprisingly this was all about pushing hard in to the paper. On the last one I didn’t look at what I was doing – I wanted to do it blind, not to be hampered by what the marks looked like. It seems best not to look if you’re just trying to capture pure emotion.

I’m interested that ‘anger’ is all central on the sheet. I haven’t gone crazy and spread out – but I think this is possibly how my anger felt – mad and tight but with its limits. I get angry but it doesn’t overwhelm me. I can turn away from it. Possibly not healthy…



I was aiming for a general melancholy, what I got was sadness. Reticent about drawing on this emotion – opening that door unnecessarily. I’m interested that the results are all linear, they could be taken for calm. The third box was to be charcoal on wet – it seemed like a good idea – it didn’t really work , the paper came away so I rubbed it off. What was left was something barely there which I left as it was – it seemed to well convey the utter hopelessness of sadness – those brave attempts to come to terms with sadness that never stick.


part one: form and gesture

project one: feeling and expression

exercise two: experimenting with texture

lemon peel



Spent quite sometime trying to capture lemon peel with an HB pencil – nwith no success – though it did help me getting my ‘control’ side out of the way, helping me loosen up to experiment with other techniques. Best results seem to be charcoal and a sponge dipped into paint.

scouring pad (steel wool)


This was maddening – such fascinating texture – it’s all about the angular shine. My best effort involved a whole process of ’embossing’ the paper with the head of a nail, rubbing charcoal in lightly, going over with charcoal pencil, and finishing with a fine ink pen.

basket weave


As with the lemon peel, I felt I wanted to ‘conquer’ the basket weave with my trusty HB pencil before experimenting. Trying to capture the pattern was maddening – it felt a bit rubrics cube – by the time I’d gone from looking to the paper, I’d forgotten once again the pattern. The key to the texture is the slight fold in the material itself and the dark shadows where it dips under itself.

I think the frottage and the frottage mix worked ok, and I can imagine blending in the frottage as part of a sketch. In the fourth I had the idea to pull back from the detail, to get an overall idea of basket weave texture – I don’t know why I found this so difficult. The light was dim and flat so there wasn’t a great deal of texture but even so, I’m really disappointed with the result.

The final experiment I’m happy with – weirdly a rubber cuticle stick dipped in crumbled brown pastel and pushed into the paper. It seems that using materials that take away some control give more expression – I suppose this is obvious – just that it’s taken a while for me to discover this.



Wood was the most maddening of the textures I chose – perhaps because it’s the one I thought would be the most straight forward. I’ve added a photo here to remind me of what I was looking at. Frontage didn’t work. I also tried rubbing charcoal and pastel into the wood itself and then rolling that across the paper – no go. The charcoal probably works best for a sense of that crumbly texture. The paint was the most frustrating – I’m a total beginner in paint and trying to work it here just made me mad.


part one: form and gesture

project two: basic shapes and fundamental form

exercise one: groups of objects

To be frank I really wasn’t clear what this exercise expected of me – I even consulted the course support team It seemed to be asking a lot of different things and then the accompanying illustration seemed to suggest something altogether different.

“…loosly describe …don’t forget weight, transparency shine….spaces, writing on labels…imagine you can see through the forms to the spaces inside…evoke expression in the remarks you make and in the relationships you create inside and around the edges of the forms and the picture plane…”

This was too much for me to think about at one time so I forgot about weight, transparency, shine and labels and focused on the rest. I’m hoping that as I go through this course knowing how to get them all across in one drawing will become second nature.


I had used ink and a chopstick for the first time in the previous exercise, and so enjoyed it that I started out with it here – then eager to get across the boldness of the forms I blocked them in with charcoal. I tried to add more line after with the chopstick but it just scraped away the charcoal. Ditto with a pen, so I went with a brush. I didn’t purposefully crop the picture like this – I just didn’t measure it out well – though I like to think jug with its head disappearing into the clouds adds a little intrigue.


Finished, I felt that even with my simpler focus I had swayed from the exercise. So the second drawing is more about line and shape, adding in the less regular forms of cloth bag and lemons. I couldn’t help but add the very deepest shadows – to render the bag understandable.


Project two: basic shapes and fundamental form

exercise 3: creating shadow using lines and marks



Things I’m happy with:

  • the liveliness of the marks, though my preparatory sketches were more energetic
  • the cast shadow of the bowl
  • the drama of the pestle
  • the highlight around the cup’s handle

Things I’m not happy with:

  • the whole has become quite ‘smudgy’ – I would rather the marks were cleaner, clearer, that there was more light in between the marks, more space
  • the lip of the mortar (but I tell myself that wasn’t the point of the exercise)
  • the clumsiness of the shadow inside the bowl



These three practice sketches seem to have worked better – more energetic, a greater feeling of light and shadow. I was working in a different light which may have been a reason, but I suspect it’s more likely to be my default of tightening up when I want to do a more complete drawing. The way forward may be to try and kid myself everything is a practice run.

Boxes: first round of shadows using different lines and marks. I seemed to be falling into a trap of the same types of marks as I started this exercise and consequently got quite disheartened. Each time I started out with different lines but ended up with something not far off the previous. Even though the ink pen was erratic, or maybe because the ink pen was erratic, it’s the most interesting. That and the very small one that I did quickly to fill the space.



project two: basic shapes and fundamental form

exercise two: observing shadow using blocks of tone


This was set up outside facing north in the morning, the sun was edging around the side and I felt the pressure to capture the light before everything changed.

Stuff I’m happy with:

  • the contrast of light on the left of the jug against the cup
  • the light shining out from behind the right of the vase
  • the general shadows at the back



Stuff I’m not so happy about:

  • these items don’t look white
  • the objects are darker and more dramatic than I had wanted, I haven’t captured one of the feel of white against white




I wanted to have a second go, to try and capture something of the whiteness and brightness, to create something more delicate:

IMG_1221This was also set up in the morning, but on a white shelf against a white wall with the natural light pretty much behind me.

There is plenty I’m not happy with, and finally I prefer the first attempt.

  • the whole is messy and hard to understand what’s happening in terms of light and shadow – now I look at the photograph on the screen it’s easy to see that it’s all gone a bit wrong in terms of overall light and dark. The cup needs to be brighter, for one.IMG_1216
  • the shadow behind the vase is very confusing – I think I may go back and see if I can soften it, though I’ve already used fixative
  • the highlights on the handle are too extreme – this whole area was more in shadow
  • the intense shadow of the cup on the vase looks too extreme
  • the reflection of the vase back in the cup isn’t clear enough
  • I used paper that had creases in it. I should have tried to iron them out first – the charcoal has sat in them.

I’m trying to find something that I’m happy with but I’m struggling. The whole is quite lively, maybe?