I completed this exercise on 27/06/12. It took quite a lot longer than I planned as I found it difficult to settle on a still life that had a range of textures and ended up spending several days trying out various options. This is something I will need to try and curtail for future exercises as I made far too heavy weather of trying to choose what to draw, which then threw my timetable completely as I hadn’t allowed so long for this exercise.
On the 23rd I tried a couple of set-ups with soft toys, A4 sketch book pages 31 and 32 (please see figures 1 and 2)
but felt that there was not enough variety in the textures even though I quite liked the set-ups. They made me smile each time I looked at them. Sad, I know but there you go. I found it difficult to reduce the image enough and my thumbnails ended up taking up most of an A4 page, so couldn’t really be classed as thumbnails, which was something to work on with the next thumbnails. On the 24th I tried four set-ups with a variety of materials, A4 sketch book pages 33 and 34 (please see figures 3 and 4), but found that either the set-ups were too jumbled or else too disjointed, I was putting loads of things with textures together but they didn’t have any real connection to each other and just didn’t seem to work and therefore it was a case of back to the drawing board.
I had a bit of a rethink and on the 25th I tried out another idea. After a couple of versions with thumbnails, I was happy with the set-up, A4 sketch book page 35 (please see figure 5). It gave me a range of textures to play with and would be a challenge to do. I decided to use graphite pencils as it would give me a chance to try and improve my depiction of tone in this media, something I find difficult. I am not sure that it could be called an interesting composition but I did feel that there were interesting textures for me to play with.
I chose to draw on a heavy weight cartridge paper as at this stage I wasn’t sure whether or not I would add in some water soluble graphite or ink and washes into the mix. So finally on the 26th I was ready to start the drawing.
I sketched out the still life first and then worked to portray each of the various textures while trying to control tone, starting across the whole drawing with the mid tones and then working from there. I enjoyed doing this drawing, even though I ended up working on it over a couple of days as once again it took me longer to complete than I thought it would. I used an HB, 3B, 4B and 6B graphite pencils. I decided not to use either water soluble graphite or ink washes as I was happy with the textures that I was achieving with just the graphite. It was fun using the pencil at various angles, directional shading, smoothing with a finger, smoothing out with a rubber, varying between shading and sharper lines, directional strokes, twisting the pencil to give a variable line, using the grain of the paper for texture, stipples, squiggles, dashes and all kind of marks in between, anything I could think of that might give me the effect that I wanted. I found the wood grain took me quite a long time to get right as it had quite a variable, close grain and I seemed to have wobbly hand day and found it difficult to keep my lines separate. Adding the darker tones helped to start to bring the drawing to life. I am not sure whether I should have gone darker with the shadows but I did not want to over power the rest of the drawing.
I was pleased with the finished drawing, A3 sketch book page 22 (please see figure 6).
I think that it records the textures reasonably well and I feel that I have been able to control tone better in this drawing and really enjoyed utilising the pencil in as many ways as I could think of to show the various textures. I have always found graphite pencil quite difficult to use and feel that there are signs of improvement in this drawing and I feel a little more confident now in my ability to use graphite pencils to show tone, form and texture. It is a very literal representation and therefore I feel that I haven’t pushed the boundaries enough. But I do feel that at this stage I am concentrating on trying to learn how to use various media well to portray what I am seeing. I am hoping that as I improve at being able to use various media, and become more skilled at portraying tone, form and texture in various media, then I will be able to experiment more.