Project: Still life Excercise: Still life group in tone

Use colored pencils or pastels to make still life group only using 3 different tones.

I used very strong light to dark composition. I searched dark tones first then light. I used red for midtones and yellow for light, it seems that they are tonally too close to each other the difference is clear only because of the color. I did this excercise again with another composition, this time using coloured pencils.instead of using 3 tones I used 4 the colors I used were red blue and yellow, for the darkest tone I overlapped blue color with red. I liked this method as it increased my power over the colors.


Check and lock

What aspects of each drawing have been successful and what did you have problems with?

I don’t think I had any problems with the previous excercise, I was quite pleased of learning new way of approach for making a quick but descriptive preliminary sketch. I did have difficulties with tonal excercise, I could find the lightest and darkest tone but the middle tone was not as simple, there were variations and I could not help ignoring them. Maybe the point of this excercise was to ignore them then I have failed.

Did you manage to get a sense of depth in your drawings? What elements of the drawings and still life groupings helped to create that sense?

The sense of depth in the previous excercise Still Life Group Using Line came from dark tones suggested in the background and the shadows, also some of it came from the rough surfaces of the contours and as well from compositional overlapping of items. Noting the negative space behind and front of group instantly created 3 different planes. In the tonal study the shapes of objects were achieved by the directions of the strokes, this was the only means to give some sense of 3dimensionality as lines or other gimmicks were not allowed. It might have helped to also isolate the tones to cell type blots and simplify them towards geometric shapes, it would have made image appear a bit more neat and stylised.

What difficulties were created by being restricted to line or tone.

Tonal study has lack of details which is not entirely bad thing, the image looks dreamy and foggy. What could have been useful is to leave some white spaces between tones also limited to using only 3 different tones made it impossible to reveal the different planes.  I really liked the still life group in line excercise, it would serve well as quick compositional sketch with shorthand notes of all that you need to know so I didnt really find any difficulties in that excercise.


I tried this in Photoshop, converting a photo into tonal image. This was done by first converting the photograph into greyscale then into duotone and finally posterizing it. Before and after made from still of Picasso movie:




Behind schedule consairns


When I decided to go back to school, it was a big step for me for last time I have studied was in 1999 when I logged into Vaasa University for society science degree, it was difficult time in many ways and the stress took domination of all things and caused me to have a depression, numerous autoimmune sicknesses and finally a breakdown. It was so comprehensive that I lost track of everything and I have been on that lost state ever since. So to step back into world of school where goals are met in timeschedule was a bold decision however I felt now its the time.

Im very much behind my schedules so it was time for me to contact my tutor and contemplate the whole situation as regards to how IM coping. As this blog serves as record of study history I want to post this interraction here as well.


My letter to my tutor:


“Dear Madame
My last correspondence I asked for extension to my assignment. I want to discuss about my reading problem consairns.
It is my wish to acheive a Bachelors degree with my studies and last time I have been able to read study books was over
ten years ago, due to stress and anxiety problems and others I had to quit my studies, my depression partially rendered me
paralised unable to concentrate on almost anything. I still suffer from this experience, which is why I find only taking this slowly
in baby steps rather than not at all. It is said in the course work that I must be able present increasing knowledge in related
literature and be able to bind their work into my own. In addition to doing the course artwork and also encaging into literature
meaningful way is very slow for me due to previous health reasons, In addition to my previous mental breakdown and its echoes
in my daily life of today I also suspect I have some level of dyslexia.
I dont want this to hinder me from going forward. I did not know before I started these studies how I will be able to cope, which
is why I have not discussed about my problems before. Now upon embarking on them I can be better able to pinpoint how it
is going for me. It is more important for me to learn in a meaningful way than to just storm through the studies in order to gain
a degree, the degree is not the main priority but my learning curve. However it sets a standard and a sense of coherence that
I should indeed eventually gain the degree, it is a sign of measurement that Im coming out of my breakdown period mentally.
What I would like us to contemplate here now is how we can take this into consideration. My finances are for a period of 6 years..
However I find the most important part of my studies this beginning that will encourage me to come over my fears and previous
negative experience with studies due to the mental breakdown. In addition I suffer from sleep apnea which further slows down
my reading experience limiting it to about 15 minutes at the time or I start dozing off. I have worked hard to come around this but
it has certainly slowed things down enormously, Im sure I cant follow the pace that is designed for a healthy individual.
Please make sure to understand I really want to achieve the bachelors degree, do you have any suggestions to this ? IM already behind
now sending assignment 2 but hoping to be able to send it maybe in 2 weeks time. I do also not have any income depending on benefits and my
husbands income, so sometimes
that also slows me down as I need to wait to get more money to buy the materials that are required in the course work which are
quite a lot to be honest, but I have been able to manage them in a slow pace distributed in time, forexample I was only able buy the inks few weeks ago so I was not able
to proceed with that assignment until now.
If you have anything to say to this I would like to hear your opinion.”

Here is finally her reply:

“Hi Tiina,

apologies for the delay in replying to your message – my laptop blew up and I am only recently able to access my files.

I understand your problem and would like to offer advice as follows: In relation to the written part of the course, I am assuming that English is not your first language and if this is the case, you should not worry about the amount of reading or writing, especially at this early stage. For Drawing 1 you do not write an essay and when it comes to your learning log, you record your ideas visually with occasional notes – after all this is a visual arts course not a written English course. As artists we want to see your ‘voice’ and this might mean simply jotting down a few fast thoughts alongside little sketches. Later courses have more emphasis on written research but this increases very gradually and in time you will become used to it.

Some of the books on the reading list are ‘heavy’ in terms of academic language and we do not want students to read everything, simply to dip in and out where they find relevant parts. If you feel you may be dyslexic there may be someone at the OCA office who can help you. I will forward this email in confidence to a staff member for advice. As you are in receipt of student finance, you may also need to find out whether your particular problems may be taken into account in relation to the timescales.

Looking back at your file I can see that your first assignment was very good and I hope you will not give up on your aims because of worries about reading and writing – I’m sure we can help you with this.

I hope this helps you feel more optimistic.”


Lets contemplate this here right away. Im glad that the studies are flexible enough to see through fingers that english is not my first language. I do have to remind myself that this is not mainly about writing, however it does requare us to be able to understand modern world, where they come from and how they relate to my own work, now modern art has not been something easy for me to comprehend, I have had to approach it from different angles in order to get familiar with it. I have pushed my negative feelings aside thinking that its rubbish and really have tried to make the connections how we arrived from impressionistic movement to mere boxes or blots of colour etc.  Even though right now I feel like I could never get to like non representational modern art at least Im beginning to understand where its coming from and even little glimpses where it might help me in my artistic expression broadening the scopes.

Even that Im behind my studies I still feel like Im getting somewhere my only consairn is my slow pace, time management is not one of my best.

Another consairn which i have not mentioned here is that Im hardly ever happy with anything I did, I just dont like what I do because I cant see any changes or difference and that is why I started the course to begin with to learn to draw or paint differently which IM not seeing. I feel like IM below mediocre or even less so if I should send in the assignment now I dont know what the result is going to be.

Well that is all for now, like last time, I just have to ignore my discontent again and just post it as is even thou I dont feel like IM ready at all. Lets face it Im slow there is nothing I can do about it.


Project still life: Excercise: Still life group using line



This excercise seemed to have lot of importance and required one to think carefully about the approach. In order to fully understand the nature of this excercise I went through the questions one by one.

How will you treat the objects?

As the title suggests I shall treat them as one group.

How will their connections be clear?

Thinking inside out and remembering previous exercises, their connections will be clear by pronouncing the negative space behind the objects.

How will you capture the differences in the objects?

Using varied markmaking techniques.

How do the objects relate to the background?

Where appropriate, the background frames the objects from behind creating its contour, this outer line then travels from the fruit in to background. This is also true when the background is tonally as light as the object, you can then break the contour line and allow the background to bleed into foreground objects. This is quite important realisation as you can use this method to bring all the perspective planes harmoniously into the one picture plane that you are working on.

How will you reference the colour in the group in this drawing?

By giving light washes here and there, when I was doing this still life I had just purchased inktense pencils and had a variety of colours at my disposal, I made use of the opportunity and was able to ring exactly accurate colours that were in real life.

The time was mostly spent on thinking and planning, the actual drawing didn’t take much time once I had understood what I’m running after. I started this excercise by lightly forking out the negative space around the group, I then looked for strong tonal darkness in the background to frame the group further. I moved on to drawing outer contours of objects from the perspective of their texture, so the outerline at the same suggested the patterns and textures along with the contour. This helped me to also break the line and let the bleed in at places and also to lighten the pressure when drawing the contour lines within the group. I selected very beautiful colours in the objects of the group and wanted them to show so I went a bit further from merely referring to the colors.


Research point:Ben Nicholson



Find out about Ben Nicholson. Why does he simplify still life forms and negative space and superimpose them on a cornish landscape?

Ben Nicholson is said to have had a cubist instinct. So in order to understand him we should try to understand the ideology behind cubism.

Cubism has its germinations found in Cezanne of impressionistic era. He admired the visual language of Poussin,yet did not want to go back to conventional painting from impressionist movement but found mere specs of bright color insufficient for a lasting record.

Some of the things that cubist took further from him were that he simplified naturally occurring forms to their geometric essentials, cylinder, sphere and cone. This was not merely modern invention as Plato had stated absolute beauty to be found in mechanically means achieved geometric shapes leaving the legacy of worship to man made objects. Cezanne ignored traditional roles of perspective.

Cezanne did not do somnambulism with art, he was wide awake and analytical about the effect he wanted to achieve this goal orientation was coupled with roman Catholic respect for God,so creation that nature was. “When I judge art, I take my painting and put it next to a God-made object like a tree or flower, if it clashes it is not art. Cezanne agreed with the beauty of geometric shapes but only as transliteration of God’s creation. The painting Lake d’Annecy (1896)



In this painting Cezanne used modulation, this involved superimposed multiple strokes of color creating both a cumulative visual effects and a reverberation that resonated throughout the canvas. What stands out as cubistic in this painting is the reflection that appears solid even. Rather than deconstructing material as cubist would later do, he is handling planes and the way of thinking about the void as we see it or air that is in the distance between solid forms and objects. he is giving a solid format to optical impression. By doing this he has deprived from the reflection to create a sense of distance and the cubic reflection brings the background forward to the same plane with foreground objects making the image appear flat. This is what cubist would later emphasize the 2-dimensional surface of the picture plane. Some have toyed also with the idea that Cezanne knew Einstein who happened to live nearby him, maybe discussed his ideas about quantum theory that suggested that void is full of substance. I dare to suggest here that what Cezanne saw or wanted to see in a landscape was a living organism and each cell and part of it was in interaction with each other interdependently in the painting that created the harmony. The functioning organs he used as visual devices to achieve this were line, color and form.



Ben Nicholson achieves the same unified effect but by different means. Instead of treating a distance as vacuum with substance he ignores it completely.



Color is treated as separate entity as confined geometrical shapes. He has simplified the organic contours to more blend in with  the geometrical lines of the other planes I feel it’s in order not to crash with the flow of line however it’s also cubist language to simplify forms. The ideology of cubism is making not imitating. In painting Four Pears –above,  forms are merely outlined, no tones are even suggested neither highlights nor shadows. The objects has been given equal importance to the negative space  and by the way in which the line travels  in linear perspective -which now only relies on our pre contextual thinking- makes  the image appear  extremely flat. In cubism artist looks at the subject from different sides depicting fragments breaking rules of space and time. This might explain the superimposition of fruits, he placed them there in turns drawing them one after another.

On my opinion Ben Nicholson has left an underlined hypothesis of an existing picture making device (he hasn’t invented it, merely highlighting, simplifying and exploring the method to extreme to a mere hypothesis)  that harmony can be achieved in an image by breaking the isolation of objects by means of form line or color. It’s hypothesis because it can be applied to any genre of painting, like a general rule. By using this rule and perhaps seeing the entire platform of canvas as a living organism making it possible to collate components that would otherwise clash with each other, like a landscape and a still life on a windows sealing.