Your composition should occupy most of the paper’s surface. How much negative space do you have left?
For the first two exercises of this section, both of my drawings had too much negative space. For the exercise using hatching to create tone I filled the paper length ways but ended up with a lot of negative space top and bottom. I tried to improve on this with the exercise using markers or dip pens but would have ended up with quite a large area of negative space at the bottom of the drawing, as the design wasn’t designed for a full length piece of A4 paper, if I hadn’t trimmed this part off. For the exercise drawing using oil pastels I feel that I have filled the paper better, although there is still quite a large area of negative space on the bottom left hand side. I am finding the subject of negative space quite difficult at the moment. This may be made worse by my lack of experience in working on large sizes of paper and the fact that I find composition very difficult. To fill the paper I have felt that there either has to be a lot of items in the drawing, or they have to be drawn large, and/or cropped into (something I find very difficult). I think that one aspect that I am forgetting at the moment is the background. I find it a real challenge to try and arrange the objects in an interesting composition and am tending to have very plain areas around them. I need to look into how I can make the areas surrounding the objects more interesting and incorporate these into the design as this would also help to fill the picture plane and give more potential for interesting negative shapes. Up until now I haven’t really progressed beyond showing plain wall and table in my drawings and will need to try and address this. The trouble is I find it so difficult to compose the objects that trying to throw even more things into the mix is a bit mind blowing at the moment, but it is time to try and tackle it.
What have you learnt from drawing the details of fruit and vegetables?
I have learnt that it is amazing how little of an object I actually see until I try to draw it. It is only as I have really looked at them that I see the amazing range of colour and tone, texture and shape, planes and angles, warmth and coolness of colour, that occur in them. I think I know what an apple looks like until I really look at one and see how much the shape varies between brands, the irregularities that occur, the stunning range of colours, shades and tones, the angle different apples sit at, the difference in firmness, form etc between a fresh apple and an older one, how it changes in shape and texture as it ages. And all these things apply to all of the fruit and vegetables. This also makes it quite difficult if you draw as slowly as I do as I found it amazing how much the fruit and vegetables changed and how quickly. Soft fruit appeared to go off very quickly while harder skinned fruit and vegetables lasted longer. I was amazed how much bananas move, the curve appears to change even within a day.
I also learnt that it was easy to fall into the trap of drawing what I thought was there and not observing carefully enough. With the oil pastel drawing I failed miserably to show the planes and character of the pomegranate and it ended up looking more like an artificial christmas bauble decoration. I didn’t manage to capture any sense of its essence or aliveness of the pomegranate. It shows how important really observing is, rather than just looking.
What did you find most challenging about this part of the course?
I found the composition side of things the most challenging and confidence wise this became a huge stumbling block, particularly for the first exercise, which became a real make or break part of the course. Though my compositional skills still need a huge amount of work I am pleased that I have made steady progress with each exercise in just knuckling down and trying out ideas with increasingly less procrastination and that I have increasingly tackled my lack of confidence with action and doing rather than feeling overwhelmed and not knowing where to start.
I have also found it difficult that this part of the course has taken me so long, with the result that I am well behind with my timetable. In some ways though it has been time well spent. I had begun to get a real block every time I read the words “filling as much of the picture plane as possible” and felt a right numbskull with my inability to do that. However doing these exercises has enabled me to learn how to use thumbnails more effectively, I have found a system that means that my thumbnails are in the same proportions to the paper which makes transferring them much less of a hit and miss thing. It has taken a long time (I can be really dense sometimes) but I have finally realised that planning the background is equally important, not just the shapes of the negative space i.e. wall and table for example, but how I utilise the space and what I put into it.
Trying the different media for the exercises was a challenge, particularly as I appear to be very slow with each new one that I try but if I look between the beginning of the course and now I don’t think that I could have produced the drawings that I have for this section back then. And that is not to say that the drawings in this section are good because I know they are not, but I am learning to use new skills and learning to recognise the skills I am lacking and then try to address that, and all of that can only be a good thing. And at least I know that if the course requires me to draw a Christmas bauble decoration at any point I’ve already got a head start and only need to look at my pomegranate drawing for a refresher course on drawing one!