Project 6 Exercise 5 Mixed Media

The Aim

Assemble a range of drawing media including coloured media. Glance through the studies you’ve made so far and notice which have been most successful in terms of pictorial effect. Work either from direct observation of your interior view or from one of your exercise studies. Try mixing media you are less familiar with and experiment with several studies of the subject, looking at it from  different viewpoints.

This exercise is more about experimentation than accuracy, so let elements of abstraction or distortion enter to help you to express your subject.

The process

Given the general drawing limitations I am experiencing through the school holidays i though I would try drawing from one of my previous studies. I chose a view of 2 sofas coming together simply because I had written underneath ‘I enjoyed this’. All my sketches are on A3 cartridge paper in a spiral bound sketchbook.

Living room 2
Living room 2

The drawing I think has some pictorial effect simply because of the loose nature of the lines of the textiles in the image. The charcoal is quite expressive and the softness of the sofas and cushions contrast with the harder lines of the table football and the wooden chest behind. I was interested to see if I could reproduce this in different media.

Using this sketch as a reference point, I tried drawing the sofas in pigment pen liners with the cushions in water-soluble wax crayons, neither material having had much use in my hands before (Cushions 1).

Cushions 1
Cushions 1

The trouble was that the original looseness of the textiles was lost. The negative spaces that defined the relationship between the cushions and the sofas was lost. The resulting drawing of the furniture was very flat. I tried to add the hard lines of the table football and chest behind. I think that I show than they are made of different materials, but I am afraid I had completely lost heart with this drawing by this point and the wooden structures ended up looking like they have been superimposed into the composition!  I added further colour to the cushions with water-soluble wax crayons dipped in water, really only to allow this to become a mixed media study. I then cut my losses and abandoned the idea of using a previous drawing as a reference point, reverting to drawing from the real view instead.

For my second attempt (Cushions 2) the table football was in use, so I added an Indian drum to the scene as a point of interest instead. I had quite enjoyed experimenting with an ink wash in the previous exercise so decided to give it another go here. I drew the scene in black fine drawing pen. I then added white oil pastel to areas of highlights on the curtains, and parts of the sofas and cushions. I then brushed over the sketch with an indigo ink wash using a large mop brush. I dropped further undiluted indigo ink into the shadows. I then added colour to the drum and cushions using water-soluble wax crayons. Finally I blended the colours using a brush and water.

Cushions 2
Cushions 2

The indigo ink is apparently the real, plant-based thing and was much paler than I expected. I do however like the effect of it over the oil pastel, especially on the left hand sofa cushion. It has added texture to the area suggestive of textile.

Cushions 2 detail
Cushions 2 detail

 The drum didn’t work, partly because I drew it wrong and was unable to correct it (and for some reason blocked the shadow space in with a line!!) I think it may have worked if it had been in muted tones like the rest of the room, leaving the colour accents of the cushions to stand out. As it is the colours are too busy and conflict with those of the cushions!

For my third attempt (Cushions 3) I drew a few guide-lines in with charcoal then flooded the page with water using a mop brush. I then blocked in areas of shadow using an Artbar (which appears to be very much like a water-soluble wax crayon but in a triangular shape (end on)).

Cushions 3
Cushions 3

The Artbar was quite good at drawing broad lines when using one edge and glided over wet paper. However it seemed to soak the water up so that very quickly I was dragging a dry Artbar across the page. In areas this created interesting differences in textures, but in other areas I had to re-wet the page to get the flow going again. Often drag lines were left which didn’t really do anything for this drawing. Once I had blocked in the main areas, I darkened the deep tones using the same technique before drawing over the whole lot with charcoal. This allowed me to find some edges along the sofa arms and the side of the drum. I simplified the colours of the drum so that they weren’t in conflict with the cushions. The result was certainly an experimental drawing!

For my final sketch (Cushions 4) aware that the brief suggests changing view-point, I moved myself around a little so that the drum was less central in the page. I kept myself at the same height (sitting on a coffee table) as going any higher resulted in a lot of empty wall space, and going lower caused the edges of the sofas to be quite large and dominating. In addition I decided to use a landscape format. The course notes suggest this promotes a more intimate feeling to a drawing which seemed applicable for sofas.

Cushions 4
Cushions 4

I drew reference lines with a fine black drawing pen, then used coloured pencils for the drum, to try to reduce the gaudiness seen in Cushions 2. I drew some grain type lines on the chest with white oil pastel, then coloured the cushions in with felt tipped pens. I then took a mop brush and wet parts of the sofa that were in shadow with water. I then sprinkled grated tinted graphite over these areas in the hope this would look like a textured material sofa. I used a brown wash to colour the chest, then dropped a mix of blue and brown ink into the deep shadow areas. This mixed with the graphite and water to produce a strong greeny colour that did go a bit messy in places. To compensate I darkened a few of the deep shadows with a black felt-tipped pen and the drawing pen but was very conscious of overworking it. The result was certainly an experimental mixed media sketch rather than anything overly accurate.

Reflections

I have really struggled with this project 6 on the whole so I am very pleased to have finally got to the end of it way, way over my suggested deadline (and still the assignment to go). It was good to experiment in this exercise. I particularly like the use of powdered (or grated in my case) graphite to produce texture. Controlling the tones with it will take some practice as adding more water causes the grains to dissolve into a paint and you lose the granulation effect. The composition was better with the drum not so prominent, although I am aware that non of these sketches depicted it very well. The landscape format was better too. Whilst these drawings aren’t particularly good, I did fulfil the brief of using combinations of materials that I would not have thought of, including using some new media. I definitely was experiment so am happy to have been able to move out of my comfort zone.

 

Project 6 Exercise 5 Mixed Media

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