Sunday, 27 January 2013

Still life sketches: Made Forms

Pages 42-46: Sketchbook 1

Exercise: Still Life Sketches of Made objects

I completed this on 12th December 2012

The instructions for this exercise were to make a small themed collection of objects and to draw a  few thumbnail sketches from different viewpoints and of different arrangements. 

I chose the option of using objects which describe someone I love. Namely my son Luca.He is going through an awkward transition between childhood and adolescence at 12 years old. He was bullied at school last year so to toughen himself up he took up Judo and Rugby. I included rugby boots, a rugby ball and a Judo Kimono in the arrangement. He, in common with most boys his age is obsessed with computer games hence the inclusion of the PlayStation. I also included a tube of spot cream! Despite all the outward signs of growing up he still sometimes sleeps with the teddies he's had since birth- hanging on to his childhood for a little while longer.

The first arrangement was of objects strewn about as this is how I usually find his things, generally on the floor of his bedroom. There is too much clutter in the first set-up and the boots tend to lead the eye out of the picture. The smaller square which I have picked out seems to work better.

Underneath the first arrangement I tried to remedy the eye being encouraged to leave the picture by making a circular arrangement. The scene feels like the objects are toppling over. It's like they are in a vortex. This might be entirely appropriate for the nauseatingly unpleasant experience of being an adolescent but it isn't aesthetically pleasing.
I wanted the Teds to be the focal point of the composition- they draw the eye naturally much like a human figure. I therefore tried a vertical arrangement with other objects pointing towards the Teds perched on a platform. It doesn't work because the Teds become too small and the composition is dominated by the rugby boots. The boot with the studs facing towards us slants in such a way as to form a barrier in front of the Teds and leads the eye out of the picture to the right.
I decided I needed to simplify things radically so I just included the PlayStation controller and the Teds. This was better but there seemed to be no logical reason why these objects should link together.

I finally settled on including the whole PlayStation with the Teds perched on top of it and the Judo Kimono as base and background. I thought there would be a good contrast of colour and texture between the fabric of the Kimono, the plastic of the PlayStation and the plush of the Teddies. 

I still found it difficult to decide where to place the composition on the page. I read some articles on composition on the Internet and in the book 'Drawing for Dummies'. I also looked at 'Experimental Drawing' by Robert Kaupelis which confused me even further. 

I tried the 'rule of thirds' -placing the Teds' eyes in the upper third of the paper so they wouldn't be too central.  I also found a technique which involved drawing triangles and diamonds on the page and placing objects at the intersections of lines. I must have misunderstood this technique because when I applied it the composition was even worse with a big gap down the left hand side of the page. From this I have learnt that trying to follow academic 'rules' will not necessarily result in a better composition. Better to relax and draw lots of thumbnail sketches bearing the known 'rules' in mind but not employing them slavishly.

I decided to do a final sketch in colour.
What went well:
I like the colours and the contrast in texture of the Teds and the shiny plastic PlayStation controller.
I think the placement of the objects is not too bad and I have tried to lead the eye from the lower left corner towards my intended focus using the lapels of the Kimono.
I think that I have captured the reputed personalities of these two Teds quite well. Roger the Reindeer is known to be an irascible and rather bossy toy. He is dominating Yellow Ted by being slightly forward in the frame and placing his arm over Yellow Ted's leg. Yellow Ted, despite being bigger is rather timid and retiring. He looks suitably nervous whereas Roger looks suitably miserable.

What needs work:
The most problematic area is the PlayStation box itself. Not only does it not appear to be truly rectangular but it also is not well bedded down on the kimono. The  box appears like a flying carpet on which the Teds are flying over a mountainous terrain! More work on form and relationships between objects is needed.
I also wanted to capture the waffle texture of the Kimono and I don't feel I successfully achieved this.

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