2.2 Ex 4: Monochrome

2.2 Still Life, Exercise 4: Monochrome

I published the start of this exercise really long ago, because at the time I thought the composition so fitting for the Monochrome. Now just a few weeks but many drawings later I would like to change everything 🙂 But I will leave the entry as is and go on posting under.

Cinnamon roll:

Cinnamon roll

For this drawing the brown cinnamon roll, with a bite missing, is placed on the edge of the table, so that I have a sharp contrast with the bright table top catching the light and the dark edge in the shade. Behind the roll is a  paper tissue in similar color. I liked the contrast between the swinging round shapes of the cinnamon roll and the edgdy more sharp graphical shape of the crumpled brown tissue. I decide to use soft colored pencils for this drawing because both surfaces are matte and the pencils show that well. I was using various marks, mainly cross hatching and tried working very fast. I got a wide range of tones from light to dark, so I think that went well. Also the image has quite some depth.

But then at the last minute, I was tempted to draw the outlines of the cinnamon roll again with a dark brown pencil, somewhat spoiling the softer effect of contrasting tone by bringing in too much line again.

Also I drew several thumbnails and chose this composition, but in hindsight I would definitely crop the image more:

Cinnamon rollcrop 2

Purple cabbage

For this still life , I found some incredible veggies in the Biological market- going for everything with interesting shapes that I haven’t seen or eaten before. The cabbage is purple!  and looks like it has snowed on it. The radishes are purple too, as is the small artichoke.  While folding the laundry, I realized that when I hold up a purple sarong to the window, the whole back wall becomes pinkish purple and the dark grey marble bench looks a dark shining purple as well.


At first I have a quite full composition on a towel, but decide to simplify.


I want to really focus on the marvelous purple cabbage, and simplify. I tend to have a boring centered composition, so this time I will play on perspective and place the cabbage really close and the rest of the veggies really far instead. Something like this:




I decide to draw the veggies in Caran d’Ache supra soft pencils, and Derwent Inktense. I like to keep it matte and soft colours. But for the marble table top- what media do I use for intense and shiny?


Testing all kinds of ink. I though the bronze iredescent ink could give a shine to other colours if mixed, but the tone gets too brownish dirty. Liquitex purple thickly applied with a brush could work.


Oil pastels- they look creamy and glossy and it is easy too blend all different shades of purple. I smudge them with a piece of tissue. This could work.


Coloured pencils- here the control over the colour is perfect. If I add white on top it gives the most “shine”, almost like a varnish. In the bottom half of the samples I passed a wet paintbrush over, so the colours blend. This too could work for a glossy surface.


Dry pastels, uniball pens- no, not for this subject.

I choose the oil pastels as I want to create more contrast between the matte surface and light tones of the veggies and the dark of the tabletop surface.


I like the incredible difference in size between the vegetables. But otherwise it all got too stiff and cramped and funeral. I thought I had loosened up with the mixed media exercise, but here I obviously lost the spontaneity again.

I will try to draw quicker and more freely on a different support- a newspaper, just to loosen up.



Here I first drew roughly the vegetables in very diluted white acrylic, then continued with the Suprasoft coloured pencils. I obviously invested much less time here, and much prefer this free and quick feel of the drawing. I don’t think it answers to the exercise very well, as it is not really obvious that it is monochrome, but it was a good lesson for me to compare the stiff and the more free version.

Inspired by my visit to the Paula Rego museum yesterday, I decided to just add a cockroach to this drawing:


and then to spice up the background by changing the light pink background to a wallpaper with small purple flowers instead:


I think both new versions are definitely more interesting than the boring very cold composition I did first. I am not sure I can just add fantasy elements to the drawings of the assignments, but in this case it felt very right 🙂









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