I began this assignment by looking for objects that mean something to me or that trigger some sort of response for me. I found a small group of objects around my house and then saw which combination of objects made sense to me when I placed them together. I decided on:
- one of the first sketchbooks that I fully completed, very special to me as it holds a lot of of my experiences in art school
- my favorite tea/coffee mug
- my favorite type of plant, a succulent, representing also my general love of plants
- a tiny piano toy given to me by my grandma a long time ago, representing also my love of playing the piano
- a stuffed toy filled with chamomile flowers given to me by my mom to help me sleep (I later had to “operate” him after the flowers dried up and filled him with cotton instead)
After choosing, it took me a couple of days of finding the right composition; one that made sense to me when it came to the significance of the objects but that also looked interesting as a composition. I started sketching different options to make it easier to choose. From these first 8 sketches, I decided on the best ones and continued to improve them.
My favourite compositions were the 2nd, 3rd and 8th, so I combined different aspects of each into new sketches. I tried simplifying the sketches so that I could focus solely on the placement and relationship of the objects.
The composition then seemed too horizontal for my liking and so I tried creating more diagonal and vertical lines. These are the last two sketches, in which I started to come to a decision about the direction of the light. I decided to use a lamp rather than natural light so that I could work without worrying about the light changing as the sun moved throughout the day and also be able to draw at night.
As I drew, I frequently took photos with my phone to be able to better see the whole picture. This helps me spot errors that are easy to miss when I spend most of the time very close to the drawing. Circumstantially, I was left with a chronology of photos showing my process and I really liked seeing how the drawing progressed. Below is a GIF I made with these images.
The final drawing is made on a A2 Fabriano paper. I first toned the paper with charcoal powder until it obtained an even, medium gray tone; this makes it easier to add shadow and light and also saves some time later in the process. I drew the basic shapes of the objects first, taking careful notice of their relationship (distance from each other, negative space between) and the angles they created. Midway through the drawing I noticed that the composition looked a bit cramped inside the space of the paper, so I moved the elements a bit until the composition looked more interesting.
Before starting, I was sure that the stuffed toy would be the hardest object to draw because of its texture but I was proved wrong. The book and the mug, apparently the easiest and simplest objects, proved to be the trickiest. The perspective of the sketchbook was very challenging for me, particularly because of its diagonal placement (remembering the percolator from past exercise). I’m still not happy with how the mug looks like, as I can easily see that it’s asymmetrical, especially in the oval form of the rim. I could not for the life of me figure out a way to make this look right and in the end I kind of gave up. I googled and saw that there are some tricks for getting this right but I really wanted to be able to get this through observation; I wonder if this is impossible and indeed need the “tricks” or if I just need a lot more practice, careful observation and measuring. The tiny piano was also a bit challenging because of its irregular forms, but I managed to understand it a bit better by drawing it inside a box and finding some parallel lines. I really enjoyed drawing the plant and its pot, especially when it came to depicting the different shadows that reflected on the pot’s surface.
Taking in mind the previous exercises in experimental mark making, I had some fun playing with textures and crosshatching to create light and shadow; I feel like this gives some sort of living energy or movement to the drawing and I prefer this over neat and polished drawings. My range of drawing tools included charcoal (powder and willow), graphite (4B and 7B), eraser, a black fountain pen, and white chalk and eraser bits for details of light.