I completed this exercise today (12/06/12) but it has taken me a couple of days to get to this point. It has been an interesting but quite difficult journey and at times I really doubted my ability to complete this drawing.
It really was a case of, at times, just plugging away and going on the fact if I kept at it I would get there in the end.
I set up the two objects with reflective surfaces as instructed for the exercise (please see figure 1, the blue shape in the right hand side of the photograph is the lamp to light it). The first problem I then encountered was the size of the paper we were required to use. We had to choose either A1 or A2 and I went for A2 but even with the smaller of the two sizes I found it very difficult to support the drawing board and draw, and the paper seemed enormous. I put a chair in front of me so that I could lean the drawing board on that but I still found it very awkward. The next problem was how I was going to draw the objects large enough as we were required to try and leave very little background space and at this point that piece of paper seemed really huge. In the end I decided to try holding a clear ruler at arms length and measuring off on that so that I could see the relative sizes of the objects to each other and how I might fit those onto the paper. In this instance I found using a ruler more helpful than a pencil as I could then multiply up the measurements and this gave me a clearer idea on how to proceed. I decided to use the paper in portrait mode which actually then made using the drawing board even more awkward but as I had one quite tall object it was going to enable me to fill the paper more than if I used it in landscape mode. I was now relatively happy that I knew whereabouts I wanted to position the objects on the paper. I next spent some time looking as closely as I could to get a really good idea of their relationship to each other and to understand (as the instruction suggested) the shapes,shadows and light so that this would help me to draw them.
I must admit that I was very hesitant at first when it came to drawing the objects onto the paper. I marked out the rough position of the top and side positions of the objects, sat and looked some more and then took a really deep breath and went for it. This stage took quite a while and initially I made the cylinder too wide and teapot too short but gradually I got them so that they appeared to relate to each other reasonably okay. At this point I felt pretty chuffed that I had actually managed to draw them as large as I had. The charcoal, that we were required to use for this exercise, I found quite hard to use with the paper on the drawing board. I had the wobbliest straight lines possible when I attempted to draw the sides of the cylinder and even when I turned the board to horizontal to see if that helped to draw them straighter I struggled. I then remembered that when I had done the exercise using charcoal I had found that if I put the charcoal flat to the paper (piece of charcoal vertical position) and drew it straight down I had been able to draw very straight lines so I tried that and found it worked quite well, so that was a help.
As I had found in the previous project that when I started on the right side of the paper I kept smudging work already done as I worked across, this time I started with the cylinder first and worked down and across from left to the right. I put in the middle tones, as the exercise suggested, and then built the image up from there. I found that the putty rubber was good for removing charcoal that had been put down but that I couldn’t necessarily lift all of the charcoal and where, for instance, I needed to correct an ellipse, I would be left with a shadow of the mark of the previous line. I found that the reflections took me a very long time to put down and for a while I felt quite lost with them but gradually worked out what I was seeing and how I was going to record it. This stage really did take quite a while and it became clear that I wasn’t going to be able to complete the drawing the first evening and reluctantly I decided to start afresh with it the next day, by this point having got most of the reflections into the cylinder and about quarter of the teapot done, but once again I was hitting the early hours of the morning and felt it was time to stop. At this stage things were not looking too encouraging as everything appeared to be looking a bit of a mess but I hoped that a fresh eye the next day might help to work out what direction to take with it.
The next day it still looked a bit of a mess but I could see more where I wanted to take it and continued to complete the teapot. Once this was done I reassessed the whole drawing and strengthened or knocked back some of the reflections as needed, and reestablished any light areas that I had lost and then again assessed progress. I felt that some of the darkest tones still needed to be darker and darkened them. I had found that when I put in the table and shadow area the charcoal had given quite a patchy effect even with smoothing over with my fingers. I tried smoothing them out with a putty rubber and this worked well and gave quite a pleasing effect. I lifted the reflected light areas in the shadow areas and on the table and then took a break and came back for a final assessment of progress.
At this stage I made some minor adjustments to tone in places and then felt I was becoming in danger of fiddling rather than constructive altering and so decided I would leave the drawing as it was (please see figure 2).
Overall I am quite pleased with the drawing. I think that the objects do look reflective and rounded. I think that I haven’t got the spout of the teapot quite right and also my depiction of the curve from the lid of the teapot to the wall of the teapot is clumsy and doesn’t look quite right. I still have a fair amount of negative space (and I am sure more than I should have) but the shadows on the wall and table seemed to be important to include as the exercise was on shadows and reflected light and shade. It I had chosen two objects that were closer in height it may have helped to reduce the negative space. But I am also quite pleased that I have managed to draw them as big as I have. I continued to struggle throughout the drawing with the size of the paper and the drawing board. It wasn’t tremendously stable against the chair and I found that I repeatedly turned the board to help me to get a line in a particular place as it could be a bit hit and miss in portrait mode. I will need to find a better way of supporting the board for future sessions. I also found that if I had the board upright in portrait mode then I couldn’t see a thing over it and would need to look at ways to solve this. I haven’t got the steadiest of hands and also found it difficult if I was trying to add a line in on an area that already had charcoal on as I needed to hold my hand right off the paper so that I didn’t smudge what was already down but that made it harder to control the charcoal stick. I tried to vary my lines and marks I made but I am not sure that I have enough, I think that I could have done more of that. But I’m pleased that I completed it.