1.2 Ex 3: Lines and Marks

Exercise 3: Creating shadow using lines and marks

As simple single objects to study shadow, I chose a small square cardboard box and a toilet roll, to look at both a square and a round surface.

For both drawings, I used 4 different media: pencil 6B, ink, fine liner pen and black crayon and draw the objects 4 times on the same page. The light is clearly from one side.


I focus on showing the 3 dimensionality of the object through the shadow using crisscrossing lines, and hatching in different lengths and density.

Here I add a tea light for a small composition with the same purpose:


Here I use only a fine liner pen and focus on showing the three dimensionality of the objects through the different marks.

Here another version with two glass jars, one rather square and one round in shape. I use a 3B pencil, then smudge parts and pick up the highlights with the rubber.


The shapes here are not ideal. I did not focus so much on the outlines as on the rendering of the shape through the shadow. I still need to practice the shapes though..






1.2 Ex 4 Shadows and reflected light

Exercise 4: Shadows and reflected light

I am having a hardtime finding attractive reflective objects.
Obviously I could go to glasses or glassbottles, but I fear the transparency will add a level of difficulty I am not ready to tackle yet. Also I know how tricky spoons can be… I am not even sure I would have more luck at home. I come to realize I am more the “ceramics” and “color” type than chrome.
Here at last I found a set of small polished metal chai cups- and a big mixing bowl with an attractive shape. I am afraid the bowl and the cups are too far from each other in size to work well in a composition, so I will start using only the cups.


A3 paper, a black Conte stick, a putty eraser and some tissue to smudge. I am having a hard time with the shapes, more than with the reflections , I think. And the composition is really boring. The objects should at least touch:


I think the tones and reflections work, but there is still an issue of composition- here two objects floating on the expanse of a white paper. I will crop the images- this is how close I should have drawn them at least:


And maybe even swopped them around so the darker corner is bottom right:


Here I am playing a little with a more complex composition, a stack of cups and two more on the side with different angles:


Here I captured some more depth with the last cup in the background. But the previous drawings showed the reflective surface better.

I decide to try to combine the cup with the bowl, although the differences in size and shape feel really too much:


It really works much better than I thought. The composition is immediately more dramatic , and the bowl just has more surface to show the reflection. Again I am unhappy with the large unused right side of the page. Here I try cropping the image and swopping sides too:


Well in any case it is getting more interesting. Now I try to place a cup inside of the bowl:


Here I changed for an A4 paper because it just has more tooth than the A3, but I feel the more glossy surface of the A3 actually shows the reflective surface better, it looks more “metallic”.

Another more daring composition, also on A4:


This is the first drawing that actually fills the whole page and has a working composition without cropping the page. I wish I had logged these drawings one by one instead of waiting til I had a high pile and done the same boring mistake with the composition day after day. There are some things I only notice now when logging them:)

Although the shapes are still far from perfect, I like the depth and also the surface of this last drawing. It shows well that the surface is reflective.


1.2 Basic shapes and fundamental form

Exercise 1: Groups of objects

This exercise of basic shapes and fundamental form requires a still life of at least 6 objects of different sizes and shapes made of forms like cylinders and rectangles. The paper format is A2 or A1.

I imagine the coursework is really built up logically, but I am skipping forward a little and draw this before I experiment more with texture, as I will be on the road for a month soon and will be challenged to draw that big. I can go back and work more on the texture on A4 during traveling.

I arrange a group of objects with geometrical shapes from the kitchen. They don’t have any particular profound meaning to me, but allow me to look at different basic shapes in them.

I have to confess I am really intimidated by the huge white paper and having to draw the objects bigger than life. So I decide to go for an A3 sketch first of the same composition.

A3- black charcoalstick:


It is a little crooked here and there and definitely work to be done on shapes, but for a first attempt I am happy how the objects are easily identifiable and how the page is fully used. The picture is not cropped. I drew rather quickly with the charcoalstick , then smudged with a soft tissue and erased for highlights.

A1- red charcoal stick:


Here I had to draw larger than 1:1 to use the full page and everything got a little too small in relation.There is too much space left on the right hand side although I cheated and drew the transparent plastic box longer than it was. I would crop the image like this:


It is definitely interesting to manage a larger sheet of paper. During my trip I will work on A3 and exercise shapes and textures, then come back to the larger format when I return.

I like the softer warmer look of a red charcoal stick, and it is less smudged and messy than with the black stick.

A1, brown charcoal:

Here I tried another composition , again choosing objects that have clear basic geometrical shapes to work on.This time I went straight for the A1 version.



Again I am leaving too much space around the composition, especially right hand side. Of the 2 or 2,5 hours that it took me to make this drawing I spent at least 1 hour on the lying glassjar in the front. It was driving me nuts how hard to get the right shape. You can easily recognize the objects, so it is not hopeless, but definitely some work to do on basic shapes.

This brown charcoal pen is much much drier than the red one I used for the previous drawing, so the feeling is very different when touching the paper. The red on is almost like a crayon, and this brown one is scraping and resistant, smudging is not so easy either. I am not yet sure how you can recognize this quality of the charcoals when buying them- is it just a brand difference?

This morning I woke up disoriented in a hotel room in Thailand . Glancing around the room  first thing I noticed was: there are a lot of cleanly geometrically shaped objects around that would be perfect for a still life! And only one hour left til i have to go! So after scrambling around like a maniac putting my things together, sending off a couple of rushed emails, I had exactly 25 minutes left for this drawing.



After i stopped beating myself up for sleeping so long I realized I learned 2 things:
1, there is a new criteria for choosing hotel rooms – the suitability for sketching:)  and I can actually book this same one on my way back in one weeks time and be ready with an A 3 sketching pad and better time management.
2, It is worth sketching Even if i only have 20 min. I would gladly have spent 2 hours here, sketching while listening to music, but even just having 20 min is worth starting. This opens up many new short sketching opportunities.

And i was surprised to discover that suddenly the A4 seemed so small! After just 2 big A 1 drawings I would have preferred at least A3- this surprised me. I thought I prefer small, slow, detailed.
I feel like i am loosening up to spontaneity and more flow.
Ok so the drawing is not really good, but it was still worth it:)

Another place, this room stripped bare of anything, so to create a still life I display all toiletries I carry with me. Perfect little pots and tubes , shampoo, toothpaste and brush, creams, candles,showergel, lipbalm..

There is not even a table here and the bed is too soft so I put the objects on the floor and sit in a chair a distance away, so my view is slightly from above.

I use a venetian red charcoal stick that is really dry and brittle, but to my surprise easy to erase. Even pushing hard and making repetitive marks , it doesnt get dark though. I still have to discover all these different charcoal possibilities there are, it seems like every stick I touch is very different, not only in colour but in texture and qualities.

A3, a nice size to handle on my lap. I draw, then smudge, then erase highlights and add white charcoal to some highlihts. Again I leave too much white around the composition, I have a hard time fitting it well on the paper.


The cropped version looks better:



Now I will backtrack a little and study how to draw textures and also work more closely on rendering shapes more precisely before going into groups of objects again.


Today was a wake up call. I decided to practice drawing a can and a bottle , and am quite appalled at how bad it is. I hope I am just having a bad day… I only draw the outlines, not shading it and realize to what extent the shapes are wrong and crooked. In a composition hidden under shading it is not as apparent. Ok, lots of more work to do with shapes.

Today I am trying with pencil 3 B- not much better- still a LOT to learn about shapes!

I am also really disappointed in my new sketchbook, it is A3 with nice hard cover that I though could serve as a drawing board while traveling, and the pages are thick …but WOBBLY! They all look as if they have been wet or humid and wobbled up. Of course for this type of exercise it doesn’t matter, but I am still a little bummed at carrying around this heavy A3 sketchbook that is not beautiful.


Back in the same hotel  with perfect still life stationary 🙂 regroup the objects and after a false start where I just don’t fit in on the page ….


… I draw the composition again with a red charcoal stick.

IMG_1841In a group of objects like this, I find it less disturbing that the shapes are wobbly , but they are…very much so… so I commit to learn how to draw the shapes correctly!

But first while I have these nice things, i try a version where I focus on the shades instead of the outlines of the objects.

I start by covering the whole page with charcoal, then erase the space for the objects, and then draw them in with another tone of charcoal , but focused on the tones of brown and not on the outlines.


It didn’t really work out so well, but I quite like the dreamy effect that I will continue experimenting on in another context. I also had an issue that I had to interrupt myself and when I came back the light was totally different, so that was obviously not so smart.

Time to learn some shapes. I start studying ellipses as I noticed drawing the can and bottle that that is more difficult than I thought.


This kind of thing really does not come naturally for me, I am superchallenged by even twisting my brain into thinking of these shapes. And after hours and hours of drawing this, when the next day my sweet partner asked me to show him what I have been up to,I realized that I still didn’t get it!! But if anything I am definitely stubborn, drawing ellipses will be my speciality.


So trying my luck with some objects again..

Far from perfect- but isn’t there a tiny bit of improvement? I’d like to think so..