two drawings of fruit in a bowl

Part 2: exercises

Exercise 1.

Still Life. This is all about experimentation so I experimented with standing in front of my notice board which is very still indeed in that there’s stuff there that hasn’t moved in years. Not so my clutch of pencils which I dropped a different one of into the bin underneath every few minutes. There’s obviously a knack to this. First sketch, unembellished. Faber watercolour pencils with splashes of water via a Derwent waterbrush. I’m going to leave this now and give it a bit more looking at tomorrow.

watercolour pencil drawing of a filled notice board


29th November.  Decided to be a little more conventional and tackle the fruit bowl. The fineliner attempt is, I think, a tad more successful than the oil crayons which may be due to my greater familiarity with the former, and the sense that the latter need a bigger stage in that they’re quite blunt instruments.

two drawings of fruit in a bowl

In the first, I’d made a conscious effort to give the white space priority and to aim for a level of precision that fineliner merits. The banana was quite fat, but probably less like a cob of sweetcorn than I seem to have produced! I quite liked drawing in that way; restrained and adhering to a simplistic representation of the elements. I’ve done this in the past but I’m not sure it’s my favoured way of marking paper, to whit – see the oil crayon sketch. This brought out the child in me – raw and uncontained with scribbles and scratches to form the basis of the bowl and its contents. It’s actually looking rather better on screen, to my eye, than it does in reality. I should try doing the same sketch with the same medium on a larger scale.

Unfortunately I forgot about my still life and ate the banana. There will be others but in the meantime, I had a go at a more subliminal approach with a glass of water. The first is subtractive: a layer of smoothed (with a stump) grey charcoal, erased to pull out the glass. The second, more or less the opposite with black conte lines to suggest the glass and its contents. The drag of black conte down the left gave me the idea for the next experiments – wax to form a layer of resistance to the medium.

two sketches of a glass of water

charcoal drawing of a glass

In this sketch, I’d tried to ‘draw’ the glass with the invisible wax so that the charcoal wouldn’t hold on particular points. It wasn’t successful but I did like what happened at the base where I’d scrubbed the wax horizontally. This gave rise to the second image.

image of glass in charcoal

This is a long way from representative drawing or realism because I think you’d need contextual clues to make a guess as to its derivation, but I like how it turned out. This time I’d more or less blocked in the shape of the glass with wax then pulled the stick of charcoal side-on down the page to pick up the peaks and valleys and absences of surface. It’s a technique I’ll probably use again, not least because it stops me fiddling with lines and makes quite liminal shapes instead of cartoons.

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