Assignment 2


I originally had 2 different ideas for this assignment.

1. A portrait formed by butterflies

2. A nautical theme

I cant remember how I came accross reading about the real man of legend behind the movie Dracula and concept of vampires. I have always loved Dracula stories and movies since I was a toddler, but now I got impressed by the real authentic “son of dracul” that was more savage than any movie I have ever seen produced. The legend of living dead came about from beleif that he was immortal because he drank his enemies blood.

I thought of how I could incorporate observations in nature and the legend of this impressive historical figure to give him some tribute. I envisioned how his spirit still would live in all organism and the strength of his gathering spirit will call on the form of butterflies to make his portrait on air his castle showing in the background.

I spent quite a long time searching for suitable butterflies and even insects to form his facial features and also costume and hat. I also looked into etymology behind each butterfly, in fact it opened up to me first time realise there is whole lot of symbolism attached to insects and butterflies, beliefs and folkstories, a vast source of inspiration for stories and illustrations if one was sort of them.

I also thought of how I wanted to convey him as a person, I imagined a face that is haunting on the brink of lunacy. The lunacy that was stamped on his personality in his childhood as ransom captivity in his enemy camp, that he had now sworn to destroy by any means !

The second idea for the assignment I had was a nautical theme, a really nostalgic theme evocing all senses of smell and atmosphere and even sounds of waves and seabirds. I got this idea long ago and has been gathering items since, old fashioned glass floaters, fishnet, sea shells and stars and urchins, etc also man made objects, I also started freeze drying different fishes I have about 5 of them in the frigde two have finished drying enough to store in room, it still smells, smells like the sea shells but no more fishy. I didnt have possibility to do this right now I look forward to doing it later, perhaps in assignment 5 and also defenately painting, in any case I could make a series of drawings nautical theme since I like it so much, for sale etc…

I decided to make conventional flower arrangement with fruits and vegetables. I bought a bouget of flowers and went to look for some branches to accompany it, I placed them on a posyvase that I adore and cant get enough of, love the dark rich colour and the shape. I spent quite a long time arranging the still life, I was looking at many different aspects. I had previously made tonals studies of two paintings that I really liked.


Valentin Serov’s painting: Girl with peaches


Peter Paul Rubens’ Samson and Delilah



I also thought of the hypothesis presented to me from Patrick Caulfield paintings of bringing the foreground and background to the same plane. What really interested me in the Samson and Delilah painting was how half of their bodies are blended into the background in chiaroscuro through same tonal value, in fact almost entire painting is of the same darker tone only the skintones are the brightest value making them the focal point.

In the painting Girl with the peaches I was pleased with the overall effect and really wanted to analise why it was so pleasing to me. There is strong contrasts of blacks and whites but what brings the image together in unity is the repetitive forms. The girls hair is black, so is the bow and the chairs, they are making the continuation of the main subject to the background. There is also another visual trick, if you look at the bow shape, its actually the shape of the window in negative, this makes the connection from black to bright.


This is my final composition for still life



In my composition, the geometrical shapes of coffin and copper fire cover, together with softer rounder shapes of the vase makes a transition from manmade objects to randomity of natural objects. The fishnet and sea urchins further breaches the gap between arbitrary inconsistencies of natural elements and solid bound forms made by man. The bow tie effect repeated in negative in the window in Valentin Serov’s painting is lended here or seen in the sea urchins that are negative to the center of the flowers (the flowers have vilted here badly may not be so visible but you can see it in the drawing) There is the typical suggested triangle in the composition. Fruits are positions on the left side to break away from symmetria and add some interest through imbalance.

Darkest areas. in fact pure blacks, make a snake like travelling starting from the chinese coffin to eggplant continuing from the dark shadows under courgette back to coffin again and there to darks of the vase.

Most of the important work was done during the planning stage, the desired effects had been employed already I merely had to draw this as it was with few effects. I remembered Patrick Caulfields theory and I allowed the background to travel to the foreground by means of fading away at the edges.


Self assessment:


Demonstration of Technical and Visual Skills

I have used inktense pencils with coloured pencils markers felt tips and inks in conjunction. Due to using water with brush most of the marks have disappeared, I aimed however not to be too pretty and left some roughness an evidence of handwork. The fascinating thing about Inktense pencils is that you draw with them like coloured pencils, once you apply water with brush they act like watercolour pencils and once dry they are permanent ink !!! 

I made use of this by leaving some of the drawing lines as is. I also discovered that I could still further alter the Inktense permanent inkmarks with markers that are alcohol based too. I used markers to spread and soften the leaves to more smoother consistency. Same was with the liquid inks, since they were alcohol based they also reactivated the permanent inks and blended again, this helped me to create very flat appearance on the large leafs behind flowers.

I personally think drawing looks more appealing when it shows visible handmarks, however it requires skill to do, it should not leave the drawing look unfinished. Im not 100 percent sure it looks finished, if I looked at this later I may be decide to retouch it. My eyes have become weary of this image right now to see it clearly.  I think I have observed the composition very well Im very pleased with it, its conventional, some may think boring, but I like it, its visually pleasing and balanced still life composition.

Quality of Outcome

I have taken into consideration the relationship of colours already at stage when setting up the still life, there are no harassing colour conflicts, red is a strong colour in itself and quite bold decision to use bright red flowers but I really wanted them to shine here and placing them against green colour what helped it, I also used a lot of colours to make them as tense as possible with no paper showing through. I didnt use harsh blacks in order to soften the image, neither did I want anything to compete with the red colours tonally or othervice. The chiaroscuro is still achieved by darker tone, it appears succesful to me.

One thing  I was asking myself, this is observation in nature, have I used too much man made objects ? However I felt like it was necessary to add enough geometric clean cut shapes to balance out the rough random shapes and even further enhance the shapes of the flowers as if to compliment them. If I had too many natural objects they would have compete with the flowers, of course one could have zoomed in very close, that could have solved that problem but then I would have not had all the celebratory items included that I really liked.

The Patrick Caulfield theory has been taken into use, there is nice transition from the bright curtain through the fishnet travelling to the front and again out of the round table. This could have not been possible without the fishnet, it would have looked awkward without it, in fact the fishnet was very helpful here, I have fallen in love with the fishnet !

The leaf patterns are also nicely repeated in the curtains, I think the curtain maybe looks a bit awkward in this drawing but it doesnt in the picture, why ? Must be because I left it so white, should have tried to add something still, white is not good, nothing is ever white much in real life. Overall I cant seen any other problem here than that the white area may make it look at bit unfinished and that some may think this drawing a bit boring or conventional.

Demonstration of Creativity

How much have I used imagination here ? Do I have anything unique here ? I find this somehow difficult to judge, if I understand well it seems I was a bit boring because I merely made a simple still life that is so conventional, I even excecuted it very conventionally nothing out of extraordinary here. Did I invent anything here, not so much, rather I studied old master paintings compositions and tried to learn from them, not quite sure how succesful I was, obviously its not as good as the previous paintings, is it because Im lacking personal voice for looking into the past masters ? Am I lacking voice or is this my voice, admiring them and trying to learn from them ? Do I ponder too much ? I think I clearly did experimentation as everything Im doing in this course is new to me so this still life also was an experimentation.

Context reflection, research, critical thinking

I have done quite a lot of this, I spent a lot of time in prepairing for this assignment, more in the first two ones that I was contemplating on, I had different approaches in those two previous ideas, in the portrait a spiritualism and expressing or making connection between person and nature and also the concept of death and host of other thoughts too, it would have been a thought provocing and inventive way of doing this assignment, not something one would expect. Also in the nautical theme I have really spent a lot of time as Im sort of money I need to scout out for bargains and rummage second hand shops to look for suitable material. Forexample the expensive looking embossed copper fire cover was found only £5 from second hand shop. What also really took me loads of time was the fact that nautical things are strange to me, I dont know what all things are involved, what I mean by this is that I was thinking of all the interesting vintage man made objects I wanted to use for backgdrop. I also wanted to (and still want to) acquire dried sea creatures so I have scope for different still life set ups, I have forexample spent hours on ends on ebay looking to order some exotic crab species from all the way Philippines. All these things take time to acquire but Im getting some picture of the things I want to actually paint. Since Im handicapped by my ill health, its beginning to look like I will be doing still lifes mostly, acquiring the material for it makes sense and is ongoing. Im not complaining I feel like IM always on treasure hunting and now suddenly I have a proper reason for carrying all the fancy interesting completely USELESS items home.

Another field of interest that has always been there is dry flower arrangements. Well not just dry flowers interest me I love fresh flowers as well, but I have always loved the muted colours of dried flowers. Since realising during this course that most of the time and effort goes into setting up the thing that you are drawing accessing the items looking for the location etc I have started thinking about drawing different ways. Everything that I have in the house is what I can use to draw, everything now has a different meaning and can be converted into valuable artpiece. It makes even more sense now that I should forinstance plant as many flowers as possible in my tiny backyard, and when its autumn time I will get access to cut flowers that I can arrange into awesome dryflower arrangements that I can now use in my still lifes !!!!!! I have tried the other courses as well that are yet to come, drawing outside, drawing human beings and by far I can say that my ultimate favourite is the course IM doing right now, of  observation in nature, it is quite a vast subject as well and the fun part is in having a evergrowing collection of interesting vintage man made objects to use to accompany the natural objects.

I have fascination with some things, like copper and antique patina items, dark oak colours, aqua to dark green hand blown glass items or transparent handblown glass items that seem to vibrate and shimmer like water, they seem to give me some kind of inner piece and satisfaction of soul. I also like metalustre items, love how the colours are in the shells, in generally I like muted colours or broken earthy colours but in right composition or context anything can look good. This is another field that interests me, how some colours when presented together looks absolutely delicious, this will be like try and error mixing colours anyhow and by accident discover something interesting, also I have looked some home designing magasines that often presents a colour theme those are good colour resources as well. I also love all certain retro designs but IM very picky with them, there is also lot of rubbish, I have even purcahsed few dishes just based on the beautiful colour combinations and designs. 

Human form is interesting to me too but unfortunately I have no access to a model that could pose for me as I would want, Im going to have to use myself mostly on the human shape courses, though I have gone to nude lessons and drew from there  I felt it was extremely boring, IM thinking about the energetic lively people of Peter Paul Rubens and if I wanted such I would probably just use some youtube videos to search for interesting poses and facial gestures, and whats wrong with that anyways ????????????????????

If I look back at my first flower drawing, I can see that I have evolved a lot, my best discovery so far has been coloured pencils, I erraneously used to think they are cheap tool for children to use but actually they are brilliant on the go accurate and dont mess, completely care free ! The main thing for me that has helped me the most in my drawings has been the discovery of negative space, it also restored my faith in the fact that drawing really is something that you can learn,  at the end of my course two Im left with very positive feeling that the masteryof painting  really truly is within my reach through learning.


Observation in Nature: Compilation of random stuff throughout course



I purchased inktense pencils, you use them like coloured pencils but once on paper you brush them with water they turn into immensely deep or bright coloured permanent ink, emasing stuff. Here a picture of them lovingly organised into 5 different tonal groups, I even taped a sample colour when wet on each pen and the respective tonal range number so when IM working I can just spread the pencils Im using on a table carelessly.  I sampled my coloured pencils as well, Im feeling contented about this arrangement. Behind the pencils, you can see a picture of my adult high school (A-levels) teachers I graduated from 1999.



The tonal ranges on a paper brushed with water.


A still life with Japanese umbrella fruits and vase of Daffodils done with coloured pencils


Dead bird with charcoal on old memorybook



Using complimentary colours behind fruits to stand them out, done with coloured pencils



Mugshot of a dragonfly (close encounters hehe) done with coloured pencils and 20 X enlarging goggles as visual aid, you can see the crack on the left side eye ball caused by my kitty cat



Drawing one of my cats as she is chillaxing on the transparent roof of my art cabin



I was closely observing a spider in a jar feeding it with insects, in this still image it is wrapping on of its meals, when I drew it alone as that it looked really boring so I started playing with idea of filling the space with abstract forms and ended up with these studies



Sketch done at the mill, I was drawing the river scene when the swan and ducks took over, as always…



Fruit studies done with oil pastels on smooth paper



Experimenting with texture, abstract fruits



Little Wood Mouse done with Inktense pencils


Drawing with other coloured media



Use various different media and reflect the way how task changes with the different media.


Here I used markers, charcoal, pencils and felt tips.  The marker captured well the solid iron chicken basket and I think works well with the coloured pencils that are more subtle to give some more structure in the image. Charcoal added interest with different type of grainy texture in the shades. When using markers I was working at slow pace carefully, when I used coloured pencils I used it side ways in painterly way much more loosely and carelessly.


Excercise Negative space in a plant


Use a large potted plant for this excercise. Set your plant in front of you, preferably with a plain background. You can use any media you prefer. Now fork out all the spaces in between the plant, within and around it= the negative space. Cover this area with your chosen media.


Excercise Drawing Using Oil Pastel



Set up a colourful group of fruit or vegetable or combination of both concentrating on creating a group of contrasting colour, shape and texture.

Use oil pastels to render them on textured coloured paper A3 size.

I didnt have coloured textured paper so I used rough Bockinford watercolour instead and layed the base colours with complimentary colours


And with oilpastels on top. This was done relatively fast then I was struck with stomach buck and have been lying in bed ever since, until now feeling a bit better and its 2 am.



These are other oilpastel studies I have done earlier, the paper was smooth and no underlying colour just pure white. Im instantly noticing one thing here that is missing is the white gaps between objects, they are not overly bad but would have probably be better if I eased on the edges letting the white show through. I did these excercises mainly to understand how the oilpastel behaves and trying to learn what is the best way to use them. I like the way the pears look like, it was easier to draw because of the interesting varying planes that the shape offered, I did struggle a lot with the tomatoes though, also I feel like the piece of wood could have been so much more but didnt have the skills enough to push it there.


Excercise Using Markers or Dip Pens

Explore the strong and unalterable media of inks that requires bold approach in combination with marker pens.

I bought packet of 6 inks by Winsor and Newton, I already had tankmaster nib pen I had previously ordered from Japan I also wanted to try my own made reed pens. Unfortunately the inks were not suitable with neither of them with nib pen the colour simply didnt come out at all and with reed pen I think the ink was too light and watery to adhere so the only way to use it remaining for me was brush.

In both first and last ink drawings I used fine felt tip pens quite loose each fruit in its respective colour then with ink sometimes diluted with water I spontaneously went through the fruits, I left the felt tip marks visible in places and it nicely merged into graduated colour blotches.

When I did the second drawing I first drew the composition then layed a grid on top of it and used frame corners to see how I could crop it I then redrew it on another paper with the help of grid .

What are my thoughts on using inks and markers ? I liked the fact that I was forced to abandon myself to certain spontainity, if one was to use it regularly one would need more practice to learn how the  inks react on paper. The first spontaneous felt tip illustration seems to work more well than the second, its defenately because more white is showing, the second image lack impact in areas where its completely covered with ink, this realisation again that the image becomes bland when the white is not showing through in places.



Project Drawing Fruit and Vegetable in Colour: Excercise Using Hatching to Create Tone



Make a still life composition of fruits and vegetables and draw them using  coloured pencils, markers, inks or pastels. Describe the unique surface and secondary planes by crosshatching.

I decided to use coloured pencils as they are more accurate and I have more control over them and easier to use. I started by doing very loosed Patrick Caulfield type of line drawing shown on the right up corner just to get familiar with the contours and the composition outlines I then did the second image noting the negative space shown on the down right corner, I then made a line drawing in a manner that we did in page 57 only referring to colours and patterns that is shown down left corner. Then I filled the entire page with enlarged pear on the left up corner. I then moved on to do very contemporary image in the middle up row after this I wanted to try faded contours of the shapes of fruits below it, its not so clear and not sure if its very succefull image I do however like the conventional means rendered image on the up middle, the negative space in the basket behind fruits pushes the fruits forward making them look more appealing and dimentional. I think I have used managed to fill the picture plane efficiently and I also like the way the basket fades into background.



I made another composition with less fruits and drew it with  bright inks and inktense colours in all of these images I started with forking out negative space, I used it as a scaling and measurement device and it also helped me to see how the group appeared inside it as a whole. On the seventh image on the left down corner I tried again the Delaxroix method of fading away the contours into halftone, I was not able to figure out how to do it nicely and that image really stands out very dull and unimpressive next to other 6 where colours are kept quite isolated and pure. The purer the colours are the more effect the image has, my favourite is the upper left corner done with inks.



In this following image below, I wanted to try  the faded contours again and more colour in the center of the object where it is nearest to us. When I scanned this image in Photoshop I realised that when I scale it very small the image begins to have impact which suggest this might work but have to continue to pile up on the colour.



This second image I wanted to use only 3 colours, this image might as well fit into the Still Life Group In Tone –blog post as its principally a tonal study. I achieved the darkest tone by mixing red and green, I used red and green in turns where the tone was the same, to depect shapes.




In this third crosshatching experience I first grounded the paper with silverpoint grounding medium mixed with some pigments, the grainy surface  created a tooth that picked the colour more intensely however because of the pigment I used along with the silverpoint medium it cancels the effect, lesson learnt, dont use coloured pigment at least so strong.



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