Still life using line
I started this exercise by thinking up ideas of still compositions with elements that either connected or contrasted with each other. My first idea was to draw a still life in which all the objects rhymed with each other (e.g. rock, chalk, clock, block or boat, tote, oat, coat) but I wanted a composition that was also visually connected. My second idea was to find objects that rhymed with a color (e.g. red, bread, bed, thread) so that I could visually unite the drawing with that color. Then I became excited about doing something with color and thought about some options; all the objects the same color, playing with complementary colors, a primary color palette, RGB. I choose the latter. I went around my house collecting red, blue and green items and built my composition, based on the idea I had in mind, a few loose sketches, and the references I had researched.
I added my main references to my sketchbook so that I could keep them close. I had to decide the value of my lines (Matisse’s loose lines really stood out to me), my viewpoint, the tone and material of my colors, the format of the drawing, the type of paper, etc. Finally, I decided on ink and acrylic after experimenting with these a bit and then practiced drawing the composition from life.
Below is my first attempt at tackling the drawing. I made a loose sketch with pencil, traced the lines with a home-made bamboo stick dipped in ink, and then painted the blue block of color. But I was very disappointed with the lines I had made and decided not to continue with it, using it as scrap paper for my next drawings. I paid more attention to my last sketch, which brought out interesting shapes formed by the negative space between objects.
My second attempt went much better but I was so tired by this point that I began making a lot of mistakes. I kept covering all these mistakes with white patches of paper and while this created an interesting effect, they were just too many. I also realized at this point that I wasn’t completely happy with the tone of the colors. I felt tempted to simply settle with this drawing and make the best of it, but when I saw it come morning, I decided to start over once again.
For the final drawing, I again started with some loose lines in pencil. This time, instead of a bamboo stick, I used a fine brush so that I could control my lines a bit better. I covered some mistakes with white paper and redrew some of the lines, but this time with a bit more intention of this as part of the process (rather than just trying to hide my mistakes). Finally, I mixed each color with black ink so that they would lose some vibrancy.
Even though it was a bumpy process, it was also fun to do and I am mostly pleased with the result. Another productive accident was discovering the layered texture that watered-down acrylic makes when brushed into paper (I’m absolutely in love with it). There are some structural details that I’m not happy with and I only noticed them after looking at the images I took (I need to pay more attention to this aspect while I’m working). On a positive note, I feel like my drawing has captured most of the essence of my sketches, which is always something hard to achieve.
In conclusion, I’m taking away some important things from this exercise; I let myself go a bit and let the materials take control (per my tutor’s feedback); I experimented and did something out of my comfort zone; I let myself make mistakes and learned to work around them; and I realized that I have to sometimes accept when a drawing is not working, learn from it, and start again.