Drawing practice

While I was waiting for my course materials to arrive, I completed the assignments for Peter Stanyer’s Taster Drawing course.  I had signed up for it prior to enrolling on the OCA course when I was looking at different options.  It was a good way to get eased into drawing again after a lapse of many years.  It also meant I had to sort out all my dusty art materials and shop for some missing items.  Luckily my 15 year-old is studying for Art GCSE and I was able to ‘borrow’ some of her paints etc.

Here are my efforts and the notes I made.

Exercise 1

 The first exercises were in mark-making – a good precursor to the first exercises in Textiles: A Creative Approach.

Dry materials

I experimented with the following dry materials:

4B/6B pencils

Charcoal pencil

Conte pastel

Oil pastel

Coloured pencil

Watercolour pencil

Felt tip pen

I tried a range of marks, shading and some patterns using each of the materials. I found the conte pastel, charcoal pencil and the felt tip pen the most satisfying and between them was able to produce the most interesting marks.  Although I like the blending properties of pastels, I found them bulky and difficult to use to produce defined lines.  For small detailed drawings I think the pencils would be most suitable and the pastels and charcoal pencils where stronger, bolder lines are required.  I found the felt pen more inspiring to use as I could produce strong, defined marks as whether as lighter, more feathery lines.

Wet materials

I experimented with the following materials (numbers refer to each sample):

black calligraphy ink on brown paper with brush (1,2,3)

black calligraphy ink over wax candle on brown paper with brush(4)

black calligraphy ink over brown paper with credit card (5,6)

black calligraphy ink and acrylic gouache splattered with brush on damp calligraphy paper (7,8,9)

black calligraphy ink with brush and credit card on cartridge paper (10)

black calligraphy ink on cartridge paper with bubble wrap (11)

black calligraphy ink on cartridge paper with foam packing material (12)

black calligraphy ink on cartridge paper with cork (13)

black calligraphy ink on cartridge paper with blunt hole-making tool (14)

black calligraphy ink on cartridge paper with packing material (15)

black calligraphy ink on cartridge paper with calligraphy brush (16)

black calligraphy ink on cartridge paper with cocktail stick (17,18)

acrylic gouache on cartridge paper with flat brush (19,20)

acrylic gouache on brown paper with flat brush (21)

acrylic gouache on cartridge paper with flat brush (22,23)

acrylic gouache on cartridge paper with packing material (24)

acrylic gouache on cartridge paper with shredded paper (25)

acrylic gouache on cartridge paper with brush and cocktail stick (26,27)

I enjoyed experimenting with wet materials and could think of many more materials and marks I could have tried but time was the limiting factor!  I particularly like using black calligraphy ink.  I have only used it before with a calligraphy brush so it was interesting to apply it in different ways.  I like it because it goes on smoothly and boldly but dries very quickly.  I felt it worked well applied on wet paper, giving a marbled effect.   I would like to experiment more with resist techniques with ink and candle wax.

The credit card was useful and I found a number of techniques could be achieved.  The tool I found most surprising was the simple cocktail stick.  It produced a variety of marks, which would be great in adding detail to drawings.  The flat brush also produced a variety of marks and an almost 3D effect could be achieved (sample 19).

Overall, the mark making exercises were fun to do and great for discovering new ways of creating textural effects.

I looked at some of Jackson Pollock’s work and particularly liked his black and white work.  I would like to experiment further with different types of paints in a variety of colours, perhaps using straws to achieve firework-like effects

Exercise 2  

Natural drawing

I chose charcoal pencil for these drawings.  Initially I concentrated too much on small areas of detail and tried to blend everything in and then having looked at Leonardo Da Vinci’s drawings decided to simplify and concentrate on the outline shapes and a hint of the texture.  I tried hard to show the softness and fluffiness of the first dried flower, the spikiness of the second and the waxy surface of the third, using a number of marks I had experimented with in the earlier exercise.  I enjoyed the exercise and was tempted to do more finished drawings.

Exercise 3

Drawing of Manufactured/Man-made object

For this exercise, I chose a wooden statuette of a Thai dancer.  I attempted to show the scratchy surface of the gold-painted wood and the carved surfaces.  I spent about one hour on the drawing but could have spent a lot longer as I particularly enjoyed drawing this figure.  The charcoal pencil worked well for this task, although I would have preferred to have been able to blend a little more.

Texture Drawing of a landscape

For this exercise I chose to use a photograph I had taken a week previously.  I soon realised I had set myself a task in perspective drawing more than anything.  It frustrated me that the perspective was not quire right but I wanted to concentrate more on trying to show the reflections in the water and a hint of the buildings.  All in all I would like to do this exercise again, choosing a different landscape and concentrating more eon the textural qualities.

I enjoyed the drawing of the dancer much more and found it more satisfying.  I think I would have enjoyed the landscape drawing more if I hadn’t chosen a difficult perspective.  I could see the benefits in applying a range of mark-making techniques in both exercises.  I would like to have tackled both exercises with wet mediums as I found these very interesting to work with – particularly black ink!

I found this taster assignment enjoyable and a good way for me to get back into drawing after several decades with very little drawing practice.  My drawings look the same to me as the ones I did at school and I have lost the skills I developed when studying for A level Art in the early 80’s.  I am spurred on into action and feel inspired to get drawing again, though a little perturbed that my 15 year old’s drawings look a lot more sophisticated than mine!

I look forward to practising many more mark-making exercises and filing the pages of my sketchbooks as I work the way through my course!  It was interesting that in his feedback, Mr Stanyer said: I loved the way you enjoyed experimenting with the mediums, materials, and different applications. It rather reminded me of how a textile designer would work to develop their designs.  I recommend his course for a refresher in Drawing (and it can be competed in a day!)

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