Project 6 Exercise 3 Tonal Study

The Aim

Chose your view-point based on the previous exercise. Work on a large-scale (A1/A2) using a soft medium like charcoal, soft pencil, conte or pastel to produce a tonal study.

The process

Reviewing the last exercise I decided that I wanted to have a fairly low view-point for my study but not as far down as seated on the floor. I also decided to follow a portrait format to allow the height and the drama of the stair head to come across. However to get this view without the sideboard completely dominating the scene I had to position myself on a low stool right up against the kitchen door frame. My view ahead was clear, but there was no room to put my drawing board (let alone an easel) as the there is another wall directly to the left of all my pictures with all the coats and shoes stacked against it. My only option for the view that I wanted was to take a photograph of the scene and work from that. This had the added advantage of capturing the light at a moment that I wanted: steaming in from the front door and window. In addition it meant I could tuck myself away in a corner in the evening to work on the study. I am fast discovering that trying to draw in the school holidays when I have no space to call a ‘studio’ is nigh impossible. As I am so far behind with this part of the course I felt all these reasons justified my use of photographs. Not sure how that will be received, but I have seen blog posts by other students that have used photographs so hopefully all is well.

I worked on A2 drawing paper with willow charcoal and a putty eraser.

The result

Buddha in hallway final
‘Buddha in Hall’ in charcoal


I am quite pleased with the result. I wish I could have done it on A1 size paper (didn’t have any) as it was difficult to deal with the tones on the wooden statue when small (and I don’t think that it necessarily looks like wood). It certainly is shiny which comes across. I particularly like the play of the light on the banisters and the wall of the stair case. The light on the sideboard was complicated by additional light coming in the hall from the kitchen behind me. In retrospect it may have been better to have darkened the tones on the nearest end of the sideboard as if it wasn’t in some light. Some tonal gradations haven’t quite worked, the junction between the right hand cupboard and draw is too dark. Also on the back wall, there is a point where a wall shadow ends too abruptly (behind a bannister rail). In reality there was a more gradual transition. The recesses on the sideboard are another area that could be improved. I actually had a lovely tonal gradation at one point that just wasn’t quite dark enough. In trying to rectify this I made a mess and  now it just looks scratchy. This was a difficult study to do, lots of small vertical lines alternating dark and light! Again a larger study would have made this easier. I did discover that it was very hard to draw long straight lines! I have a tendency to draw to the right as can be seen with some of my bannister rails!! The back edge of the sideboard is also not quite right and appear a bit disjointed. This in part is due to there being a radiator behind the nearest end which I elected to leave out. However I negated to compensate for this at the other end – a good learning point!

The best thing I like about the study is the fact that it makes my house look clean and uncluttered and has a rather false sense of openness to it. If I could ascribe any emotion to this view apart from my fondness for the statue of Buddha, it would be wistfulness! I would love to live here!

Project 6 Exercise 3 Tonal Study

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