Exercise Using markers or dip pens

Aim of the exercise: To work out at least three alternative compositions with pieces of fruit and combination of colours in my sketch book. Use various ink and marker media. On one composition use a paper with a rough surface such as watercolour paper. Select the composition that I feel works best and draw it on an A4 sheet of cartridge paper.

What I experienced and what I learnt from that:

Completed 11/09/12. I enjoyed this exercise and it was interesting experimenting with the different media.

I was determined not to get so worried about my ability to do the composition side of things for this exercise, and to help me with this I decided to work with just a few items and to concentrate on one particular aspect of composition – aiming for variety and interest in the negative shapes. I found that this enabled me to relax a bit and just give the compositions a go and use them as learning experiences.

Figure 1
1st composition. Dual tip Promarkers

For my first composition I used dual tip Promarkers, A4 sketch book p.84 (please see figure 1). They gave good strong, permanent colours, and being transparent layered well, although this also meant that when I chose a bad colour combination, such as putting a violet shadow colour over the yellow of the banana’s – which promptly gave me a dirty brown colour, it was irreversible and certainly didn’t improve the drawing. I found when colouring the pomegranate that some colours such as pinks, reds and violets did not necessarily layer cleanly and I could end up with a brown or grey tinge where I had not intended one. I also found it very easy to get carried away with adding colour and lose the white of the paper which tended to then make the drawing much duller. The broad tip covered well but unless I was careful with the angle of the tip I could catch a part I hadn’t intended, I went over the edge of one of the banana’s while working on the background. I felt that the composition did not work very well, the top negative spaces were too similar and the pomegranate was almost in the middle, while the bottom banana pointed directly out of the frame.

Figure 2
2nd composition. Dip pen and Winsor and Newton drawing inks

For my next composition I changed the position of the items and cropped in closer with a viewfinder, A4 sketch book p.84 (please see figure 2). I used a dip pen and two different nib sizes and Winsor and Newton drawing inks. I enjoyed using the inks and tried to be quite free with them, using more scribbly and livelier hatching than I have tried in the past. Again, where the inks are transparent I will need to be careful of my colour combinations to ensure that I get clean colours. I wasn’t sure how to approach the background and decided to use scribble marks for that as well which I quite liked, although it might make the drawing too busy. I liked this composition, with the closeness of the crop and all the negative spaces are different.

Figure 3
3rd composition. Dip pen and Winsor and Newton inks, Stabilo point 68 fibre tip pens

For the next composition I tried moving the setup and also moved further out with the viewfinder. I used watercolour paper and then used a combination of media, using Winsor and Newton drawing inks, Stabilo point 68 fibre tipped pens, A4 sketch book p.85 (please see figure 3). I enjoyed experimenting with this drawing. I struggled to find a good shadow colour for the banana’s and ended up with quite a dirty brown resulting from the mix of the purple that I tried and the yellow. I thought that the purple might work better than the violet I had tried previously and it was only afterward that I felt a right twit when realised I had just made the same mistake twice as they are both shades of purple. Talk about miss the obvious sometimes. I tried a scribble background again and then tried spraying various parts of the drawing with a small mister bottle filled with water and mopping with a tissue. This gave quite an interesting effect, disolving the water soluble Stabilo inks and mostly leaving the Winsor and Newton inks essentially undisturbed. I liked where I got unexpected mixes as some colous bled into others. The way I had treated the shadows using scribbled ink marks did not really work as the Winsor and Newton ink did not disolve and the shadows appeared very harsh.

When it came to choosing a composition to proceed with I was unsure which of two to go with. I liked the closely cropped composition but felt that the third composition was another possibility. A friend had a look at what I was doing and it was interesting to get another perspective on it. She liked the third composition and was not so keen on the first two. In the end I went with the third composition as I felt this would give me more room for experimenting with.

Figure 4
Chosen composition. Dip pen and WInsor and Newton drawing inks, Stabilo point 68 fibre tipped pens

We were to use A4 cartridge paper for the final drawing and I used a combination again of Winsor and Newton inks and the Stabilo point 68 pens, this time using the Stabilo pens more, A4 sketch book p. 86 (please see figure 4). I enjoyed building the image up. I tried to make some adjustments using what I had learnt from the previous drawing. I tried not to be so heavy handed with my shading on the banana’s, having been too heavy handed with the browns in the previous drawing and then I tried using a blue shade for the cast shadows rather than the purple of the previous drawing. I will need to look into how best to choose the colour for cast shadows as the blue did not really work very well either. Even though I had used cartridge paper I thought that I would try using a water mister again. The results were rather more extreme this time, with more colour disolving, partly I think because I had used more of the water soluble Stabilo pens. I liked the effect of the softer shadows but the downside of these was that it reduced the sense of contrast and light and this then appeared less than in the previous drawing. I added some colour back in where I felt it was needed and then decided I had done enough damage and left the drawing alone.


I am not sure that I could say the final drawing has been a success, as there is too much negative space and not enough interest in the shapes but I am pleased that I approached composition in a more positive manner for this exercise and came up with three different approaches. I am also pleased that the drawing is more lively than my normal way of drawing, clumsy admittedly, but I think that it has more life and interest than the drawing I did for the previous exercise. I think that I have managed more of an interpretation than a literal representation, I just need to get a lot better at doing that. The inks gave nice strong colours and adding water gave an unpredictable and interesting result, but did mean that it was very easy to lose any white highlights that had been reserved and colours could meld to make a uniform colour.

I now need to continue to work on developing compositional skills and I am also going to need to look into colour and gain a better understanding of how to represent shadows in colour and gain a better understanding of colour mixes. I will also need to try and increase the amount that I experiment and hopefully each time I do an exercise like this I am making progress at trying approaches that are completely outside of my comfort zone. I need to continue to concentrate on developing technical skills while also trying to develop my representational skills. Overall I am pleased to have been a little more daring (well for me) for this exercise and hopefully I can go on and build on what I have learnt while completing it.

My drawing did end up shorter than A4 and I will work on improving my ability to size up from a thumbnail so that it and the final drawing are in the same proportions.

This entry was posted in Part 2 Observation in nature, Project 4 Drawing fruit and vegetables in colour. Bookmark the permalink.

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