Project 2. Exercise 4. Shadows and reflected light

I used A2 paper which is the largest drawing board I have. I tried to draw as large as I could – I’m getting up to about half the paper used!

In the first drawing (left) I had my usual battle with accuracy and charcoal. I tried not to draw a line, just to draw areas of tone. I thought the reflections on the coffee pot worked well. The depiction of the handle was difficult as there wasn’t much contrast in tone between parts of the handle and the body of the pot. I found it harder to depict the surface of the white china cup which was glossy but not as reflective as the coffee pot. In the second image (right) I tried to make the image cover more of the A2 paper. In doing this I lost the proportions of the cup and coffee pot. I also was getting tired and finding it hard to concentrate.

I liked the gap between the cup and the pot.

I didn’t really look at composition in this exercise. I could have made it visually more satisfying (because the tones would be less confusing) and also easier to draw if I’d set it up with greater contrast in some areas.


Review of work for exercises 2 & 3

Looking back at exercise 2, it looks very basic. I was finding charcoal difficult to work with. I have been trying hard to get away from drawing outlines of objects and instead focus on ways to depict objects using areas of tone. This has been very challenging. I felt exercise 3 gave me an opportunity to experiment with media and I thought my final drawing of the three objects was getting towards depicting tone rather than line.

I wanted to spend more time on each of these exercises but I also want to progress through the project.

To support my drawing practice I have also been working on a project to draw a table near our front door which accumulates objects through the day. Each morning I try to draw the table in about 15 minutes. There are usually a lot of objects but I try my best using different media. Then I clear the table ready for the next found still life. I think this will help my drawing skills and am trying not to feel too disheartened about how bad some of these sketches are!


Project 2. Exercise 3 Creating shadow using lines and marks

I enjoyed these exercises. I found again that repeated drawing lets you get to know a subject.

In the single object drawing, the vase was handmade and had a slightly bumpy surface and the glaze was also varied in tone so there was a lot to think about in the drawing.


1) The first picture in pencil doesn’t really get to grips with the depth of tone on the vase

2) The second one in ballpoint pen gives a better reflection of the range of tones. I liked using the dark cross hatching behind the vase to give shape to the vase.

3) I used a drawing pen and tried drawing in squiggles which made the vase look a bit hairy. I went over it with lines to give the vase more shape. I like the solidity this technique gives to the vase.

4) With the dip pen and ink, I used long loops to make the shape of the vase and a small amount of line for the shadow. I liked the way the two lines for the table top and the slight  shading on the vase’s shadow created a sense of space. It was quite cartoony.

In the second part of the exercise I grouped a cup, a lemon and a vase. I tried different compositions and photographed them but went back to my original composition. I debated whether  to include the light in the drawing but decided it didn’t work because it was too far away from the other objects.

I found this exercise incredibly difficult. I chose to make it hard for myself. All the objects are different colours and textures. I chose to use pen and ink because I wanted to try to be a bit freer with my drawing but I find using it a struggle. I drew the arrangement twice. I struggled especially with the mug which had no texture, only reflections and shading. I think my second attempt was better because it was much looser. I also like the second attempt at the vase better. The proportions are more accurate and again, the looser marks seem to reflect the glossy finish better. While I enjoyed doing the dark background in the first picture, I’m not sure it adds anything to the finished image. I tried very hard not to draw a line to define the shadows. I find I automatically draw a line to outline a change of tone so I am working hard to find other ways to do this.

Project 2. Exercise 2. Observing shadow using blocks of tone

I found this exercise quite frustrating because I wasn’t completely in control of the charcoal I used. Sometimes I tried to put down a light shadow and it came out darker than I wanted. I found it impossible to leave in highlights. I tried to lift it off with a brush but it didn’t go as white as I wanted. I also found it hard to accurately represent the shape of the objects. However, I enjoyed using the charcoal to lay down a dark background to the objects – drawing the negative space first.

I did 4 drawings. The first two were getting to grips with the arrangement and the charcoal. I changed the background from a pale tablecloth to a  piece of black card in the second image which helped me draw the negative space round the objects.

images 1 & 2. 

I like the third drawing which was slightly more abstract. The objects seem to have a relationship and I think it captures the fall of light and shade better.

image 3 is more abstract

I was working on A2 paper and as usual my images didn’t fill the page. In the last piece I tried to work on a larger scale. I found I was again frustrated with controlling the charcoal to make an accurate drawing. I think if I carried on drawing the same image at A2 scale I would get better at this.

image 4. drawing big needs more practice!



Project 2 Exercise 1 Groups of objects

I wanted to use this exercise to explore composition as well as forms and negative space as this is an area I struggle with. I took the time to draw thumbnail sketches and take photographs of compositions of objects.

thumbnail sketches to explore composition


after seeing this photo, I decided to turn the butter round so the wrapper led the eye back into the picture

I did think the final composition was unbalanced in colour but as I was drawing in one colour this was irrelevant. I wasn’t very sure how to indicate tone without going into Exercise 2 (Observing shadow using blocks of tone). I decided to outline each shadow and highlight in pencil.

I focused on  the shapes of the shadow, highlights, negative space as well as the shape of the object.


I drew the jam jar in more detail separately as the proportions were a bit off in this drawing.project-2-exercise-1-jam-jar

I enjoyed the exercise. Focusing on the shapes of the shadows and highlights as well as the negative space helped me really look at the objects and composition. I drew on an A2 sheet and my main drawing only took up about a quarter of the total space. I find it hard to draw big.