Project 4 Exercise 4 Monochrome

The Aim

Create an image in a single-colour combining natural and man-made objects and contrasting  materials. Ensure you are able to create a range of tones for your chosen colour. Work on approximately A3 size

The process

I make no apologies for another vase of flowers drawing so soon, as I am drawn to the softness of flower petals and the fact when my favourite little vase is placed on my slate grey table, I get wonderful reflections. I also am very interested in capturing the process of decay of natural objects and whilst I didn’t want to go too far down this line of enquiry for this particular exercise I really like the droopiness that cut flowers get as they start to wither and drop their petals. I chose a rose that was just starting to drop its petals, but still had enough body in its flower head to be recognisable as a flower! Tulips would have been my flower of choice for this had they been in season because they manage to wilt in such a dramatic fashion.

I chose to draw in oil pastel as rather conveniently I had just acquired a set of grey-tones by Sennelier. These oil pastels are far more superior than anything I have used previously, being very soft and creamy and not at all waxy.

Tonal range on different paper
Tonal range on different paper


I produced  swatches of tonal ranges on both white paper and black, observing how the colours appeared cooler on the darker background. I tried blending the colours using low-ordour solvent and a brush. For my drawing I decided to use a piece of drawing card in an intermediate colour of a mid grey.

Tonal range on grey
Tonal range on grey
Monochrome rose in oil pastel
Monochrome rose in oil pastel


Hmm very mixed feelings about this one! The oil pastels were a dream to apply, they were so creamy that it was a bit like applying paint directly onto the card. They were however quite cumbersome to use with any accuracy. I wasn’t aiming for a detailed drawing, rather a loose drawing of tones and expressive marks, however, the light patterns on the petals were quite small and at this scale, it was hard to control application of the very soft pastel in tiny areas, for instance the fallen petals. The result was that the oil ended up becoming quite textured and thick in places.. That said, I think I have managed to convey a sense of the petals in the light and I think there is a sense of softness about them, but not quite in the way I was intending. The leaves were very shiny and ‘harder’ in contrast to the petals. I tried to use directional marks to show the veins rather than draw them in great detail. I think that this drawing shows a difference in texture between the leaves and the petals. I don’t’ think however that the hard, smooth porcelain of the vase comes across as well. The pastel was applied too thick for this. In addition my marks are not describing its form so effectively. The hardest part of the drawing was balancing the tones in the white flower head as none of them were very dark! This created a compositional problem that I haven’t really resolved. The darkest tones were the area under the table and the shadows on the table There isn’t any really dark tones in the top half of the drawing to balance these out. In addition to this, there was a lot of reflective light on the table top which has quite a shiny surface, so although it is quite dark in colour, its tone was quite light. This left me with a series of horizontal stripes that again isn’t really balance anywhere else. Had I used different materials I would have ended up with a very different drawing.

What I have learnt

  • Monochrome of a coloured image was hard to represent
  • Oil pastel was hard to control and may work better in a mixed media context rather than purely on its own.
  • Balance of tones is very important in a composition
Project 4 Exercise 4 Monochrome

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