Category Archives: Part 1

Pt 1, Ex 4 Shadows and reflected light. (this one is out of synch having been forgotten about as a draft)

I feel like I’ve cheated a bit with this one, I’ve already dealt with a few reflective objects over the past couple of exercises and this week, I’ve managed another inadvertant self porttrait. the first of the a1 sketches is a much more detailed study of all the reflections, the second, I have simplified it and blocked the tones much more, resulting in less detail, both sketches were done in the same room however the second sketch does not show this, as a result it seems more incomplete than the first, but if I had worked into it more, the basic blocks would have been invisible due to the overworking with a charcoal pencil.

I’ve tried to avoid rubbing the charcoal to blend it, the unrubbed marks seem more honest.

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I chose a1 because its easier for me to get the level of detail at that size with the side of a charcoal stick, I can do delicate small studies, but charcoal is a touchy substance and for me, larger is more forgiving.

I am happier with the chrome teapot, because it has more detail. I also like the reflections beneath, which where absent in the second picture as I placed a sheet of paper between the objects and the glass cake stand (on top of stacked books) I had them balanced on to get them at the right height next to my easel (still life can be a precarious thing) as a result as much as I was judicious with the reflections and the fact the stand is see though, it has more impact as another surface and helps lead the eye into the pot.

Pt2 Ex3 Creating shadows using lines and marks

Choose a simple single object to start with. Work in your sketchbook using four drawing tools such as pencil, ballpoint pen, dip pen and black ink and drawing pen. Divide a page into four and try to make four distinct grades of tone using criss- crossing lines – hatching – and spots. Try marks close together or further apart, short and long lines, curved and straight, large and small spots and stipples, etc. Don’t worry about neatness or accuracy.

reading the pictures as left to right the mediums run as follows.

2b, red biro, pink gel pen, dipping pen.

Black fine liner, black biro, 4b, dipping pen.

Fine liner, fine liner again, blue gel pen, 4b.


I feel these sketches are reasonably successful, I like the effect of dots to make up shade, I just don’t have the patience to use that as my only shading technique in a larger image. The images also all work better because there is an outer edge, its basic, barely there, but it helps contain everything. I also like the effect of the repeats next to each other in a different medium.

They show varied levels of speed in creating the marks, I know from using a cross hatch technique in the last couple of weeks (I wanted to see if I could draw a horse. I used white gel pen and black liner on a brown pastel sheet of a3ish sized paper. I can’t do anything other than show a photo as I have given the original to the 9 year old who’s pony it is)


The a3 images I have done alongside this exercise have used the quick approach called for. I used biro, fine liner and dipping pen. The biro is the toughest to read as an image and I am the least satisfied with it. No edges on a complex shape  and a speedy technique, are not successful for me. The black fine liner whilst also representing scrappy work to me actually has the recognisable shape of the objects I am trying to portray. However the dipping pen is the better piece. Speeding up means less information put down on paper, the lines start taking on the job of shaping the object while creating the shading, crossing the marks by 90˚ giving yet more information on the shape.


I haven’t really enjoyed the larger pictures in this exercise, I prefer to create a slightly more thought out line having made sure I am happy I have the shape I am working towards. Its a technique I use when I am short of time in the handbag book, and it has its place in pictures alongside other techniques, like the pony above, or the cyclamen with mixed media I created last month. But on its on I find it unsatisfying. I also get a sense that if I worked into it in the way I did with the pony, I would be taking away from the point of hasty mark making. and it would look like I had done an outline. Maybe it works better with pastels?

I’ve since done in white gel pen


Its depicting 3 glass objects, so can only indicate the light, direct as a strong hard light and reflected as less, there, more vague.

as a piece it works, mostly. But I would be happier with it if it portrayed the darks as well as the lights. I think working on the blue is successful and would have allowed for shadows.

I am least happy with these sketches and as a result, they have been folded and hidden at the back of my sketchbook for this assignment…

On to the research piece.

Part 2 Exercise 2 Basic shapes and fundamental form preliminary sketch work.

Observing shadow using blocks of tone

Sketchbook work has been more about refining which mediums I wish to do this in at a larger size. I like the effect of working on the cardboard, it has enough tooth for the medium, I’m just not convinced starting with a background tonally in the mid-range is helpful. I would like to point out here, the box my A1 paper arrived in has been sliced into a nice big sheet and I’ve gesso’d it for a future exercise, again the gesso has a good tooth, took 3 coats to get it to a reasonable coating though.


these represent cheap charcoal and chalk, straight charcoal, graphite sticks and pencil. The bowl and the jug didn’t move on the table throughout this week, the difference in shadows represents the sun moving across the back of our house and the 2 windows at right angles affecting the relationships between the bowl and jug. The green splodge in the bowls is due to the poster paint on the opposing page mis-behaving while I set it up for a future sketchbook thing (it will get crosshatched next week, I have to plan this stuff in advance though, it has to dry).

Of the sketchbook work, I like the bowls best, the reflection on the inside of the bowls from the opposite side is sublime, they were lit partially from a skylight in the staffroom so none of the tones were particulalry deep, but as white bowls, I don’t think they needed it. However, I realise the tonal work is probably too gradiated to be classified as a block.

The two a1 sketches also involve white crockery, placed on white paper and light from the right above, this was so I could work at my easel.


The cups done with charcoal and the creamer and salt pig in graphite stick and penciled with a 6b. Both had elements rubbed away, putty rubber on charcoal and a standard rubber on the graphite.

The lighting cast from a spotlight is harsh, leading to strong shadows. Each object has its own relationships informed by the inside and outside of the object, the curvature on the items helps define the fall of the shadows and the highlights bounce back from both the paper beneath as well as the other object. I am pleased with these sketches. I don’t think they are 100% accurate, but I’m happy the mistakes in the line add to the roughness of using the mediums on their side in a slightly less controllable manner.

Part 2 Exercise 1 Basic shapes and fundamental form preliminary sketch work. Pt 2


Preliminary shape work for


A3 dip pen and ink composition I think the pewter pot in the foreground needs a bit more working in to give it the same weight as the round pot on the books. Perspective seems to be correct and while there is no reference to a background, I think the height on the candle draws your eye down through the negative space to the objects below.IMG_6388

I enjoy playing with the background to images at the moment, they really can add to the depth and feel of a piece. so the above Conte on old print works for me because of the added gravitas on the aged pages. I haven’t yet worked out how to get that crisp line I like and can get with Derwent pastel pencils, (or can rub along with unisons) with Contes, so I’m not totally happy with the slightly un-crisp glassware on the right. However, the composition works. The elements are recognisably 3 dimensional and the shadows created as the light bounces around one item hidden from another, feel believable. I can see the weight of the jug adding to the bowl and sitting on the 2 books below. I admit I don’t really think about light as I’m creating, it really is a process of intense focus, then sitting back slightly surprised at how well its worked out. So I’m really happy with the way curve on the wooden bowl has come out.

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Sketchbook work, gel pen on tissue, I really like the first of the two sketches, the tight composion leads in an s shape to the fallen bottle at the front. It could have done with being larger, but the shadows under ground it and the pink isn’t an unappealing negative space. The green didn’t work, the gunmetal metallic grey pen I started with ran out of ink part way through so I moved on to a silver that acted as a highlight. But only when you move the picture into a certain direction.

This set up was the remains of dinner, so is the most honest still life so far…

Then we have this dip pen and ink A3 number, which I can’t say I’m too keen on. the cat turned up and sat right behind it buggering up the light and shadows, She didn’t settle in one position for a while, so I couldn’t really add her in to the picture.


Its not worked in enough with the shadows, the relationships between the objects suffer as a result. As accurate as it is, its a fail for me.

Exercise 1 finishes with an A2 in 2B

Megan Cheetham

4 individual perfume bottles resting on a scarf that is half chiffon and half braided lace in a pale colour. I am happy with the layout, perspective, light and shine to objects, I have included the contents and the shadows both through the bottles and beneath them, to reveal the liquid contents, while anchoring them to the scarf. They fill the paper well and the added scarf helps to link them to each other as do the reflections of the bottles and the shadows of them.

I believe I have exhibited a confidence in the medium and my ability to manipulate it, helping me to make calm sensitive expressive marks. I am happy with this picture.

handbag book this week

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Part 2 Exercise 1 Basic shapes and fundamental form preliminary sketch work. Pt 1

I’m not sure how I’ve managed to fit in 3 sketches around work and this evenings taxi run to cubs, today.

Lets discuss the results.

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First was fine liner pen on a4 over software manual (due to be pulped, guilt free surface creation) the effect is good, the perspective is squewed. I can do better than this, as displayed in image 2, the individual perspectives of each shape worked, as did the relationships and the medium. I also like the way it fills the space.

The dip pen on A3 is a successful picture. The composition gathered at the bottom of the paper, draws the eye up by the candle and pulls the eye to the vase on the books, I didn’t intentionally darken this part, and I could do with revisiting and darkening the pewter pot in the foreground, however, I realise the way I have worked into this image is more appropriate to exercise 2, which is a shame. I’ve left out the window ledge this collection is set up on, which would partially explain the amount of light behind.

I’m waiting for Conte crayons in the post, and I want to try compositional work in charcoals. I also want to set up some A2 sheets with print over-lays to work over, I really like the effect, I have to work harder to make my input the most visible while still creating something that doesn’t fight.

Part 1 exercise 1. Calm and Joy Mark making

It has taken a couple of days to get these two complete, the house is in a state of DIY uproar and three years of art has now been crammed into our bedroom and I am tripping over it and dust is everywhere. So finding moments of Joy have been a bit of a struggle…

It is however an explosive state and that has come out in the pictures. I am happiest with the blue pencil crayon, this was done with Derwent inktense pencil which when wetted, become jewel like in colour, I like the feel of the splat of brighter colour in the middle. I also like the charcoal on orange, no rubbing in, a simple single line that seems quite light to me.

Pen on paper worked well, and the graphite stick turned into a flower. Sorry about that, I know that the brief was no recognisable images.

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Calm also had me a bit perplexed, its difficult to mark make and just that, no pictures or recognisable images. But its also difficult to pretend that calm as my standard default drawing state is anything other than calculated, planned and controlled. I think this ends up being reflected in the work. either that or it looks like my idea of calm is anything but. I am least happy with the scratch through acrylic

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What have I learnt? Emotions are not like busses. so you can’t really plan a body of work around a specific feeling and sit and wait for it to come along. I also think the work lacks the punch a planned well thought through piece needs and personally it reiterated my view that emotions change to fast to sustain for anything but the quickest of sketches.

Emotive mark making for exercise 1 complete

Part 1. Exercise 1. Emotive marks: Anger

Creating art and making it obviously emotional is tough, I don’t paint and draw angry, I go for a drive. Go for a run, find somewhere to be away from that which helped create the anger and calm down. I tend to have anger as a real loud burst rather than the seething long-winded kind. I’ll admit I’m a cow and verbally nasty when I’m that pissed off, and to be honest, you are probably going to lose the argument. So making marks whilst trying to contain that kind of emotion is difficult.

Also, the fact that art is to me a calming action doesn’t really help…

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Anger as a mark is swift strong and destructive. it leaves an indelible mark you can’t miss and is almost structural in what it leaves behind.

Piece 1, liner and pigment pens on white paper. I ended up using 3 or 4 different pens for this, the speed I was dragging the pens across the paper was too fast for the ink to make it down to the end of the pen, so I kept having to rest them. I was also concerned I’d break them, they aren’t as cheap as own brand ketchup, especially the permanent ones. The way the ink distributed itself at each end of the line was completely unintended, but its created a ball in the centre of the paper that is almost three dimensional as the physical shape of anger. I quite like that as an idea. On paper, I can contain my anger, even if externally and verbally I can’t.

Piece 2 was a thin layer of acrylic with a squidge of black poster paint in it (I’m not too sure why) this was spread over the paper with one of my favourite tools, the amazon gift card, the scratch lines where created with an embossing tool and a pallet knife. I was pissed off, I nearly went through the paper.The initial spreading moved the matt poster paint over and into the glossy acrylic, this was then moved further with the drawing tools.

Piece 3 wasn’t created the same day as 2, but the idea of going through the paper stuck with me as an idea, so as the box (the really thick book ) Vitamin D arrived in was un branded, having cut it up into usable surfaces, this seemed the ideal opportunity to take the mark making further. I used a small screwdriver and scratched through , remaking some marks and chewing up the surface. This piece would have more impact if I’d painted the top a nice contrasting colour to cardboard brown. the rips would really show through, however I think this would take it from plain anger to violent and I didn’t go through the bottom of the board.

Piece 4 is Derwent charcoal pencil followed by willow charcoal sticks on orange pastel paper.

the initial cross hatches where smudged over creating a background for the second layer of marks. I think this is effective.

All of these pieces use straight lines and no curves. they are not soft and delicate. Even though they are all different mediums on different surfaces, they are essentially the same mark.