2.1 Detailed observation

Detailed observation of natural objects

Exercise 1: Detail and tone

Here I start approaching colors by using soft colored pencils on an A3 page for a range of tones in a simple still-life. I place a few rare vibrantly pink-red raspberries on a purple ceramic plate (I have made myself) because the color combination looks fantastic, and light it strongly from one side. I start by making some very rough thumbnails for the composition.


The suggestion to do this from the course book seems obvious once you do it, but it was the first time I actually tried, and it really helped in seeing the whole and choosing a viewpoint.

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On the one hand I am quite happy with this drawing, because the composition, although simple , is already more dynamic and complete than some of my trials for the previous chapter. It fills the whole A3 page and the viewpoint and cropping invites the viewer to grab a berry.  Also the drawing is light in tone as a whole, but still shows a whole range of tones from dark shadow to highest highlights. The direction of the strokes show the surface of the berries and plate well.

On the other hand the subject is not well chosen for the exercise. First of all , I oversaw that the exercise requires a single object. But more than that, the raspberries have such small areas, that crosshatching is not really the method I used. I could have used it for the plate, but then the ceramic surface of the plate would have been less obvious. Also the subject is so much more vibrant in color than I was able to draw with the colored pencils, even using layer upon layer. I also spent far too much time on this drawing, it was extremely time consuming.

These pencils are possible to use as watercolor as well, which I have never tried, so I will try that here.

Raspberries watercolor

Here I went over every surface with a brush with a little water. The colors became more vibrant and blended more together. I like this effect and think it works well with the motive. The page became quite wobbly though- if I use water color I need to start on a special paper.


I have just taken a look and written about Georgia O Keeffe‘s work. Her compositions are the opposite of what I was drawing-  very bold cropping and the non existance of detail. Here I sketched  some flowers with colored pencils, inspired by Georgia O’Keeffe to overcome my fear of cropping and of leaving out detail and learn to focus on the colour and feeling of the subject without getting lost in outline and detail:

My own comments: get closer still, less line, less detail, capture the essence of the flower only through form and colour.

I feel that watercolor will bring me closer than colored pencils, that allow too much detail- so here I try to convey the feeling of the flowers more than the actual shapes drawing with watercolor:

This is definitely much closer to Georgia O Keefe’s style and closer to what I was aiming at, although I find they lack in depth.

If you want to find a sexual connotation in Georgia O Keeffe’s work it is feminine, so it’s interesting that coincidentally the flowers that came my way today all had a more “male” shape, especially the red ones.


Here i explore Cubism by drawing the same  red flower as above with every detail seen from various angles in a cubist fashion. I decided to draw only one object once for a start, instead of a whole composition, and the object as whole is only seen once. It is really meditative and very slow to draw in this fashion. I used soft colored pencils and chose a pale blue background just to put off the flower more clearly:


Cross- hatching: Still-life with ochra

Now I have studied cross- hatching a little closer by looking at works, especially prints,  by Rembrandt, Albrecht Durer and Gustave Dore in the Research section.

For this still- life on A3 with colored pencils, I was looking for a natural object with an interesting shape and decided to draw this very big  ochra. I really like the star shape and the variety of green tones. I sliced through one vegetable to create a flat surface too, placed another one behind it , all on a cutting board with the knife still there- lit it strongly from one side. The focus here was on cross- hatching of various shape and size and exploring the various tones of the object.

Versions for composition:


The contrast here is really strong, and I think the tones from very light to dark are clear. I used various forms of cross-hatching, sometimes following the shape of the objects and sometimes not. I am not very pleased with the drawing as a whole, it looks a little stiff and unreal, but it feels like I learned some things about both tone and cross- hatching.