Project 4 Exercise 3 Experiment with mixed media

the Aim

Experiment with traditional art tools and ‘non-art’ tools to create a still life.

The process

As this was an experiment i laid out on a table as many different drawing tools as I could think of. I went into this with no preconceived ideas of what I was going to do, and did no preliminary sketches. The idea for me at least was to see where this mixed media project took me. I chose a found surface to draw on, a large (A3+) piece of brown packing paper. It was quite crumpled in places. My still life was a bottle of wine, a wine glass with wine in it and the screw-cap from the bottle. I set this up in the kitchen against the tiles and lit it from the above left. I then looked at what was in front of me for quite a long time (i will admit to having a glass of the wine in my hand at this point too). I loved the dark velvety-ness of the wine in the green bottle. It reminded me of ink, so I decided that that would be in my drawing repertoire. The kitchen tiles in the background formed an important part of the still life, providing a back drop of horizontal and vertical lines. I didn’t want these lines to be too prominent. The tiles themselves had a speckled look. I decided to use wax-crayons to draw these. My children had some particularly cheap and nasty ones that so far no one has been able to draw with, so I decided to use them on their side to colour in the kitchen tiles. I hoped that they would provide a textured pattern that would resemble the tiles, but not be so strong in colour as to jump out at you.

I drew a rough outline of the still life in pencil first, I wasn’t brave enough to jump straight in with ink. Once the shapes were placed, I worked the background in first. I also used the wax crayons to add some green tones and some of the highlight details to the bottle. The idea that was that the ink wouldn’t rest on the waxy surface in these places. I used a glittery gold gel-pen to colour in the metal collar on the bottle and put in the main body of colour for the screw-cap. I then took the plunge, opened a bottle of black quink ink and used a home-made feather quill to draw in the significant lines of the bottle and the glass. I tried not to make it so that the ink became an outline, rather looked for contrasting edges. I blocked the body of the bottle in with broad stokes of the quill full of ink. Where it ran, I let it (the paper was quite absorbent, there would be no rescuing splodges). I added the shadows in, trying not to over-darken them. I used a pastel on ons side to depict the wooden worktop. Unfortunately I did end up smudging this a little but I tried not to fiddle and just work with the marks as they occurred. I used oil pastel to add colour to the wine, permanent marker (grey) to add detail to the wine bottle label, white chalk pastel for the wine label, with white oil pastel to finally add the brightest highlights at the end. The paper had a bit of a sheen to it which made photography very difficult however this is the final result of my experimental mixed media drawing that evolved in its concept as I progressed! I should say there was less wine in the bottle by the end!

Late at night
Late at night


I really, really enjoyed this and am pleased with the result. I love the found surface, it adds texture and life to the drawing without me having to do anything. The drips and spills of ink also add to its dynamism. The one area I am not happy with is the base of the glass and the rather lovely circular shadow of shade and reflected light next to it. I worked very hard to get the proportions of the base right and but I didn’t really add the lines of ink in quite the right places. I have tried to add highlights where appropriate over the top, but the effect is not so pleasing. The shadow is also too dark. I started to try to rectify by adding highlights to the dark areas to grey then a little, however this disrupted the lovely circular patterns of reflected light so I left the dark tones alone. I am learning not to fiddle!! this was never going to be a drawing that could be re-worked easily (too many permanent lines) so best not to try.

Experimenting was great fun and I had a huge sense of freedom with this exercise. I do think that this can be controlled a little and allow more planning in the initial stages. I deliberately didn’t do thumbnails for this as I wanted to see where it lead me.

What I have learnt

  • Experimenting is fun
  • Not to fiddle with my mark making so much, go with the flow
  • To move away from being so controlled in my drawing
  • You can draw with just about anything
Project 4 Exercise 3 Experiment with mixed media

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