Exercise Stipples and dots

Aim of exercise: On A4 cartridge paper with a ballpoint or drawing pen use stipples, dots and whatever marks can think of to get depth and interest into the drawing. Really look at pattern, line, shape, shadows and tones.

What I experienced and what I learnt from that:

Completed on 21/08/12. I saw a nettle when I was out and thought that it might make an interesting subject for this drawing. In retrospect it wasn’t a good choice as it has ended up a bit small to fit it on the A4 paper but it was interesting to try.

I angled the nettle prior to drawing it as it appeared to be a less static composition than upright, which was how it was growing. I tried to ensure that the negative spaces either side of the nettle were different sizes. At present I am not sure how I could improve the composition as I am aware that it is clumsy but as mentioned in the previous exercise  I am hoping that reading The Simple Secret to Better Painting by Greg Albert will enable me to understand better how to improve this aspect.

I enjoyed using the biro and it was capable of very light to very dark marks depending on the amount of pressure I used and the angle I held it. I enjoyed dotting and stippling the flowers and and I think that they have worked quite well. I was unsure how to treat the leaves and used a mixture of dots, stipples and dashes for these. I feel that these have been less successful. I was aiming for lively marks to try and capture the impression of movement in the leaves (so that the nettle did not appear too static and reflected its life outside, as well as giving interest to the drawing) but, particularly for the dash marks, I have not put enough tonal variation in them and would need to be careful of this when using this technique again. I do however think that the dash marks do prevent the leaves looking too static and give them interest.

Figure 1
Nettle, Exercise Stipples and dots

Overall I feel that the drawing is reasonably accurate but is lacking in any real focus. A4 sketch book p.69 (please see figure 1). I did not draw any shadow shapes behind the nettle as there were not any when I drew it, it would perhaps have increased interest if I had positioned the nettle near a wall for a shadow shape. I included any cast shadows but mostly these were very small. I tried to get depth in the drawing by varying tones and intensity of marks and though it is reasonably 3D in appearance, a greater range of tones would have improved this aspect.


I am pleased that I attempted this, I think that it gives a reasonable impression of the plant but I think that some of my mark making and my composition is clumsy and not very effective. It will be interesting to try this technique on other subjects and see what improvements I can make to my technique. I will need to remember for future exercises that I need to ensure a variation in tone when using a permanent media, as once the marks are down, if I have gone in too heavily, I can’t get the lighter areas back. I found myself procrastinating again before starting this drawing because of lack of confidence in how to approach it but I was pleased that I managed to get on top of it sooner today (although it did still take a while) and enjoyed just giving the drawing a try to see what I could achieve and discover. I feel this in itself is a step forward. I enjoyed the drawing and have achieved one that utilises a variety of marks that I hadn’t used prior to starting the course.

Figure 2
Starfish, stabilo point 68 and point 88 fibre-tipped pens. Attempt at stipples and dots in colour

22/08/12 After writing this post I thought that I would give an attempt at a drawing using stipples and dots in colour. So yesterday I drew a starfish using Stabilo point 68 and point 88 fibre-tips. A5 sketch book p. 62 (please see figure 2). I found it difficult to try and translate the tones into colours but really enjoyed giving this a go. I got a little carried away with the dots and feel that I should have reserved more white paper for highlights. I’ve marked on the sketch the shadow area that ended up becoming a little unclear between two areas and I would need to watch that another time. I tried to use complementary colours for the shadows. It is certainly more colourful than I would normally do and has given an interesting effect.

Figure 3
Second attempt at stipples and dots in colour. Scallop shell, stabilo point 68 and point 88 fibre-tipped pens.

I decided to try another one and this time drew a scallop shell, again using stabilo point 68 and point 88 fibre-tips. Small square sketch book p. 37 (please see figure 3). On both drawings I did rough in the basic shape with pencil first. Again, I found it harder to use dots and stipples in colour than I had found in monochrome. The shell was actually curved more than I have managed to show. It was fun to do this drawing. It is certainly not a fast way to draw, this took me some time even though it is only a small drawing. I found, though, that doing the dots and stipples was strangely relaxing. I will need to practise more with this technique and am also going to need a lot of work at learning how to translate colours into tones.

Figure 4
Thistle. Another attempt at dots and stipples. Biro

Today I saw a thistle so tried another biro drawing, this time at A3 size, A3 sketch book p.28 (please see figure 4) using stipples, dots and other marks. I got a little lost with the twists in some of the leaves and even though I have used a larger sheet of paper, the individual elements of the drawing are quite small. It was fun to do and I tried not to fuss with it and draw quite quickly. Overall I am quite pleased with it. I think that it would benefit from a better range of tones and I certainly could have done the leaves better. I quite like how the thistle heads have gone and I think that the marks work well for them.

This entry was posted in Part 2 Observation in nature, Project 2 Detailed observation. Bookmark the permalink.

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