Aim of Exercise
1. Practice using cross-hatching and stippling to create tonal sketches of a simple object in four different drawing media 2. Complete a quick, loose line drawing of a group of objects using cross-hatching of stippling to create tonal shadows
For the first part of this exercise I chose to draw in a B pencil (top left), a blue felt-tipped pen (top right), a ball point pen (bottom left) and a medium-tone charcoal pencil (bottom right). My simple object was an apple and from my experiences of working in natural light for the last exercise I tried to set up a direct light source this time. However I managed to break the lamp in the process of setting it up so had to resort to natural light from a window after all!
It wasn’t long into this exercise that I realised that an apple is not that simple when it comes to tonal values! Again the natural light made the mid-values quite difficult to see. The different drawing implements made a big difference to the outcome. I found the felt-tipped pen a bit cumbersome and unforgiving for this task. I had to produce different spaced lines as varying pressure made no difference to the tone of the marks. The other three implements allowed a varying degree of pressure changes to manipulate tone.
As I was doing this exercise I remembered that I had once been told that a plain white box was a good way of working on tonal values, so I repeated the exercise using just that.
This time I tried to incorporate some of the tone of the background as well, rather unsuccessfully I fear.
For my third exercise I chose a different object, this time a plain bar of soap. I also changed the position of the soap so that 2 of the three visible surfaces appeared in deeper shadow.
My tonal marks here were made with spot type marks. I started using a small stipple type action, a process I found tedious and boring! In building up the darker tones of the pencil image I became more impatient and found my marks deviating away from stippling and becoming quick squiggles and swirls. The felt-tip was the most successful in using plain dots. The charcoal pencil allowed bigger circular marks. For the ball point pen, again I resorted to squiggle marks to build up the tone. In all cases however I lost the sense of a mid-dark on the left-hand side of the box.
I chose as my group of objects some more fruit to join my lone apple from the first part of this exercise. As the brief suggests a loose, quick drawing that was not bogged down in detail and accuracy I chose to draw in ball point pen. It is unforgiving: once a line is down that is it, but I do know that I would be tempted to reach for a rubber if I worked in pencil or charcoal.
I quickly established some important outlines and then started blocking in the shadows without outlines. I am quite pleased with the result despite the pineapple being hopelessly inaccurate. My mistakes are rather glaring: the main body of the pineapple is not the right shape for instance. You can see how I had to change it on the far left as the marks just above the apple should not be there (in the lightest area!).
I have rarely drawn in anything other than pastel and charcoal and have, out of habit, really only used smudging and different pressure marks to create tonal values. This exercise therefore took me right out of my comfort zone. I have often looked at other people’s use of cross-hatching and thought how effective it was. However when I have tried it on the odd occasion in the past I have always been rather disappointed and thought my attempts not very successful! This was reinforced rather by my initial attempts at cross-hatching and stippling on simple objects at the start of this exercise. I was thus quite surprised and very pleased that my final fruit arrangement actually turned out ok. The cross-hatching worked and gave the shapes form.
I was surprised at how different the different drawing items would feel during this process. in particular I quite liked cross-hatching with the ball-point pen. It was quite a fine pen and flowed over the page smoothly allowing quick movements. The other mediums I found to be rather clumsy (even the pencil for some reason).
Stippling I decided is probably something that I would not choose to do. I found the process very tedious and had to really force myself to carry on with the task and the results were far from satisfactory! I think the quicker process of cross-hatching suits my disposition better!
Pen, whether it is felt-tipped or ball-point is unforgiving to draw in. Once a line is made you can not alter it. It was for this reason that I chose to do my composition sketch in ball-point pen. It did prevent me worrying about accuracy and detail. I also wanted to capture some of the success that I felt working with the pen in the initial exercises. This was a quick sketch taking no more that approximately 5 minutes. I found the mid tones the most difficult in all the exercises, not helped by the fact that I had to use natural light for this task and that was variable depending on cloud cover. I think that I do struggle to distinguish between primary light courses and reflective light when working in medium other than charcoal. With charcoal I have the habit of leaving white paper blank for primary light and lifting off charcoal with a putty eraser for reflected light. This gives the reflected light a softer, more diffuse quality. I haven’t been able to do this in this exercise and my fruit picture doesn’t really distinguish between the two. I think my depiction of form in the last 2 exercises has not been too bad, in particular with my mushroom drawing. However from doing this tonal exercise, I have started to look more closely at gradations of the mid tones. I am appreciating that it is the subtle gradations of these mid-tones that add real substance to form. I have also become a little more confident in blocking in without outlines.
What I learnt
1. Cross-hatching can work although practice is needed using different materials to make it work 2. Stippling is not for me (but I get the context!) 3. Mid-tones are the hardest values to depict but very important when it comes to describing the three-dimensionality of an object, especially if that object is curved.