Thursday, 20 June 2013

Exercise: Still Life Group in Tone

I completed this exercise on 1/3/13

I started by making some compositional sketches in my sketch book. The first attempt didn't go too well because I'd placed my group of objects in front of a brightly illuminated window and I found it very difficult to accurately see the objects and to look into the bright light. I therefore repositioned the objects relative to the light so that they were side-lit.

I used a pumpkin (the last of last year's crop) with a garlic bulb which I felt reflected the shape of the pumpkin with the segmented bulb structure. Plus some onions which had similarities to the garlic. (These also happened to be the ingredients for a pumpkin soup). With the objects I was using I found that a square format worked better than the normal rectangular paper.

The instructions were to build up areas of tone and to work quite fast to try to keep spontaneity and energy. Bearing that in mind I thought that if I was working quickly it would be fine to work with the objects illuminated by light from the window. I started by using coloured pencil on textured paper and filling in the darkest areas of tone with a violet tone. I then chose an orangey shade for the mid tones. I tried to just block in areas of tone to start with and I started with the deepest shadows around the centre of the pumpkin without putting in any initial outline drawing. The drawback of this approach was that the composition ended up not quite as I had planned: the garlic in the foreground ended up spilling off the edge of the paper at the bottom.
The other problem was that I was interrupted by unexpected visitors and by the time I got back to my work the light had changed completely and I was left with guesswork as to how it had been previously.

I decided to have another attempt at this and to use soft pastels which I could build up more quickly using broad strokes. I used a tan coloured sand-paper as I had never used sand paper with pastel before and I wanted to try it. This turned out to be a good decision as the sandpaper texture did not really allow a lot of smudging and blending which meant I had to be bold. I used three pastels, a deep wine colour for the dark tones, an orange for the mid tones plus white for the lightest areas (and the buff colour of the paper).

I'm generally much happier with the second version and it took less time than the first. The composition has been kept within the page as intended, but the main reason I prefer it is because it is more visually exciting and has more energy and tonal contrast than my first attempt.

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