Still life. Exercise 3. Experiment with mixed media 

I used an old canvas as a base for this picture.  It was a photo canvas with a picture of a rose which I bought in a charity shop as part of a series of works over-painting photo canvases. I had previously painted the whole canvas with a thin translucent wash of white acrylic, then divided it into a grid and started painting the grid in colours related to the original picture. I had given up on the canvas as I felt it wasn’t working. For this exercise I took the canvas and drew straight onto it using Sharpie pens. I found a silver Sharpie was the only thing which blocked out some of the darker underpinning which lent an interesting shimmer to the image.

I like the odd background tones and the grid. The picture is very experimental and the tile, pot and plant aren’t anchored in any space which is a weakness. However, as an exploration of mark-making using sharpie pens on a worked on canvas, I think it is interesting.

I like the monochrome pot and the colourful plant. I will explore more monochrome work with some colour. This has already appealed to me in other artists’ work such as Morandi and Willem Claesz Heda.


Still life. Exercise 2. Still Life in tone using colour.

This exercise looked at representing different tones using completely different colours.  I found it difficult and feel my drawings lack confidence. I chose to use oil pastel which I didn’t really enjoy.  I find the lack of fluidity frustrating.

After completing these pieces I put together a much simpler still life which helped with identifying different tones. I also used pastel chalks which I found easier to handle than oil pastels


The exercise helped me look for similar tonal values across the whole picture.

Still life. Exercise 4. Monochrome 

For this piece I used pastel on black paper. I wanted to look at the structures of the plants which I find fascinating. I love the fleshiness of succulents and the orchid’s odd roots. I wanted to create a relationship between the two plants so looked at composition in my sketchbook. I also explored the use of shades of green in my sketchbook.


I put the plants on a bread bin to create a plinth.

I found it a challenge to reflect changes of tone using different coloured pastels but I am pleased with the result.  I like the space between the plants which I think creates a relationship between them. The slightly ghostly pastels create an otherworldly, odd look to the plants which reflects how odd and mysterious I find them. There was a real temptation to use pink on the orchid’s inner sepals which are really pink. I decided to stick with the monochrome but will explore this in another drawing.

The drawing is a bit rough. While the sketchiness gives it an energy, it looks a bit unfinished. I didn’t want to keep working on it in case I overworked it but this may also be something to look at in a future drawing.

The background already had a bit of red pastel on it which had rubbed off from another drawing. I left it and added some crumbling of white and green pastel. While leaving the red on the background in place might be “cheating” in a monochrome it gives an interesting compliment to the green and livens up the background too.

Part 2. Project 2. Exercise 1. Still life using line.


For this piece I tried to draw using no tone at all, just surface texture and shape. I also tried not to outline the object but to express its shape using the pattern of its surface. It was quite good fun as an exercise but I’m not sure if there is any advantage to drawing in this way. It was too frustrating not being able to use tone.

I also changed the angle from the last few drawings – looking down on the arrangement gave more of a view of the grain of the wooden objects.  I changed the view of the arrangement to the side of the tray which I think makes it more dynamic than the front. I also used a dip pen and ink rather than a drawing pen which gives the drawing a rougher finish. Using a dip pen is closer to painting than using a pen.


Project 2. Still Life. Exercise 1. Still life using line

I wanted to spend time looking at composition as it’s an area where I don’t feel very confident.

I started with a group of logs and played around with the composition.

I discovered that the compositions viewed from low down seemed more intimate than those viewed from higher up.

I wasn’t happy with any of the compositions and decided that as the logs were very similar there wasn’t much variation in the image.

Next I set up a composition with a log, a turned wood bowl and a wooden tray.

I liked the contrast between the textures and shapes of the objects .

No 2. The simplified line reflects the lack of texture on the bowl and tray. The perspective went wrong on the left hand side of the tray.
No. 3. Hmph.

I was finding the composition very difficult to depict in line. Especially the bowl.

I came to the conclusion that I had made a mistake by lighting the composition from behind with bright daylight. This meant the front of the bowl was in shade and the top of the tray shone obscuring the grain. I also struggled with the perspective on the tray.

In conclusion , I found this a frustrating exercise although I have learned something about composition and lighting.

To do: Redo the drawing with lighting which shows the grain of the tray and bowl. Pay attention to the perspective of the tray. Put in some indication of the surface and background around the composition.