Assignment 1: The First Six Drawings

#1 Blind Contour Drawing, Single Line with Black Fine Rollerball Pen

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I picked this drawing to do first as a fairly fast, loosening-up exercise. I can just about make out the individual objects. I seem to have made the twig very over-sized and stylised-looking. I like the effect of the pen with its ‘clean’, hard appearance. I found the exercise useful, in getting me to really start observing the outlines and textures of the objects. I tried to make it a continuous line, but did lift the pen once or twice. Might be a useful technique for a free embroidery, machine sewn piece.

#2 Mixed Media ‘Realistic’ Drawing: Pencil, Charcoal, White Pencil, Eraser, Rubbing

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I used a cardboard frame to get into my mind the aspects of the composition I would focus on, and found it helpful. This drawing started out as a pencil sketch, but I wanted more contrast, so I added some charcoal and white pencil highlights. I also used an eraser to remove some over-darkened areas, or to provide highlights on the melon, for example. I tried to use different marks to represent the textures of each object: harsh, jagged lines for the broken bottle; softer, fine, directional marks to indicate the faux fur threads of the scarf.

I decided to fill in the negative space around the twig and give it a fine, swirling pattern to represent the lichen and gnarled nature of the wood.

I was quite pleased with some of the textures I managed to indicate, but found the flat, gleam on the black feathers hard to show, and wasn’t quite sure how to show the soft, juicy flesh of the melon. Although the bottle neck is not correct (amongst other things!) I did use a tip from Olivia Irvine that she shared with me about finding angles (comparing the angle of a line you want to draw, to the horizontal or vertical by holding a pencil up) at the recent study visit in Edinburgh. That came in very useful.

#3 White Acrylic Ink Drawn With The Dropper on Black Paper

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I had hoped to do a dripped painting, but my dropper was bunged up so I ended up using the dropper like a dip pen. I liked the white for showing the bright highlights on the bottle’s jagged edges, and for the fur effect with little scratches in the ink and dried brush-like strokes giving a soft look to that area. I felt that the least successful area was the beads/buttons ‘splatter’. I think that might have worked better by spraying the ink off a brush. The ink dried into cracks and crazing like dried mud or ceramic glaze, which I thought was an interesting effect, and an added texture.

#4 Thread Sampler Drawing

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I marked out the main elements of the composition using a photograph as a guide and poking a pin through the photo into a sheet of watercolour paper, to show corners, and outlines of the objects. (Inspired by Debbie Smyth’s “Drawing With Thread” exhibition, which I had read about in my research for this assignment).

I used a rough, polyester thread and needle to sew through the holes. I tried to suggest the textures of the objects with the stitches/marks made. For the scarf, I tried loops cut or uncut, flat stitches overlapping or distinct and finally some scraps of thread couched freehand to the paper. I liked the uncut loop threads for the interesting texture produced and the flat stitches gave some direction to the texture they were evoking. The cut threads reminded me of hairy legs and the couched threads were interesting, but didn’t look much like the scarf’s texture.

For the twig, I used only french knots, some tight, some loose, with loose threads in places, in several sizes, some densely packed and some more widely spaced. Although it didn’t look much like the original, I felt that it had captured something of the texture of the lichen and bark. I liked the effect and may use it again.

For the knife and broken bottle, I used a simple outline stitch, with large, straight stitches, which I thought described the shapes and textures quite well. (I should have stitched the knife first, though, so that it appeared behind the glass).

For the melon, I used a running stitch, that I felt was the least successful experiment. I wanted it to appear ‘softer’ than the knife and glass, but it just looks flat and cartoon-like. I did like the improvised ‘seeds’ though.

From a practical point of view, the techniques took a long time to complete and the looping stitches in particular were hard to produce: I kept pulling them flat by mistake, or catching threads on the reverse. They might work better on fabric and I will certainly try some of these again.

#5 Collage

This is a large piece (almost A1 size), made from paper, fabrics and plastic from a bottle attached to part of a corrugated cardboard box.

The background is scrunched and folded tissue paper; the ‘scarf’ is taken from a wool, machine knitted jumper (cut and stretched to encourage fraying); the melon is a shiny synthetic fabric (coat lining); the knife blade is a stretchy fabric with reflective embellishments; the handle is a dull, un-reflective cotton; the glass is made from a crushed and cut plastic bottle; the feathers are three different fabrics (shower curtain fabric; light cotton; and the reverse of some antique velvet ribbon); the twig is represented by corduroy.

I freehand cut the shapes with large fabric scissors and arranged the pieces before trying to attach them to the background with spray glue. This made a horrible sticky mess of the two pieces I tried it on (the melon and knife blade). I will not be using that glue for this purpose again! I used multi-purpose white glue for the other pieces, but afterwards thought that ‘sticky fixers’ might have been better for the plastic element.

Well, this was an interesting exercise in trying to represent the textures of the objects. I enjoyed it the least of the attempts I have made so far because of the mess and finished result, but it did get me thinking about how to represent certain textures in fabric and other materials. I felt that the paper background was the most successful part of the collage, along with the reverse of the velvet ribbon for the feather, which gave it a nice gleam, and also worked finely cut and fluffed up to represent the tufty area near the quill end. The least successful part was the bead spatter which I didn’t attempt – I could only think of adding beads and buttons, which was a bit too literal. Although maybe using a splatter patterned fabric or paint splatter might have worked, too.

#6 ArtRage App Digital Drawing – Imagined

ArtRage Sketch

Having seen David Hockney and Katie Sollohub use digital art techniques, I thought I would give it a try. This is a speedily done first attempt, imagining the objects I have been drawing recently. This particular version of the app only has one brush head, but the size and resulting texture can be varied, as can the colour. I will certainly try to use this again in the future. May be useful for sketching ‘on the go’.

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