Texture can be difficult to demonstrate and I need to practice more and widen my attempts.
I have sketched some plants (seeds, thistles, burrs), some objects from the shore-line, and a dishcloth. I have used various grades of pencil, dip pens, charcoal, fibre tip pens and collage onto a sheet of coloured newspaper, with sand.
Because of the more unpredictable nature of charcoal I find it best when drawing on a larger scale and trying to capture wooly or rough surfaces.
Pencil is easier for tonal work than for hatching. I can’t stop myself from turning the pencil at an acute angle to the page, so end up shading even when I am trying to hatch. This problem is removed by using pen to demonstrate tone by hatching, and I had a go at this with the pen study of seaweed and shells on a dish-cloth.
I experimented with ink and a twig in my sketch book and with ink and water to create feathers. There is little control (for me) in using this technique, but the effects are very subtle and light.
I am sometimes confused, when observing objects closely, as to whether they have texture or form. For example, is the spikey, prickly feeling of a hairbrush because it is textured or because of it’s form? I a way I suppose this is not an important distinction, and on a micro level, everything has a form which imparts its texture.
This exercise was difficult for me. I was not sure about my choice of subject. In observing natural objects and sketching things such as burrs, seeds and leaves with texture, in my sketch book, I became stuck with the idea of trying to capture downy and prickly surfaces. I selected a large blown out artichoke head which I found last summer and had kept since.
I am not very pleased with the drawing, either from a compositional standpoint or as a tonal study. It was difficult to make marks which give a sense of the tactile nature of the plant. I introduced some other objects (against the brief) in an attempt to add some depth, but this was not successful. There is a tentative feel to the drawing which took me several hours.
I then attempted a simpler object, a shell, but again I am not happy. I was nervous about filling the whole of an A3 page, and my drawing is rather marooned in the space and lacks any character. I was not particularly fond of the subject and was feeling dejected following my previous effort and I think this lack of enthusiasm shows in the drawing.
I have seen a number of very detailed drawings which brilliantly demonstrate the use of pencil to produce tonal effects. Below are two very different examples.
I made a number of sketches of natural objects before decicing on my final exercise. Most of these objects have interesting textures and are an extension from the previous exercise on textures
I bought a turk’s head squash last autumn and kept it on a window sill. Very gradually it has changed shape and eventually developed some mould which has flattened its contours and wrinkled its skin. I chose this as my object to make a continuous line drawing and was pleased to find that it was not too difficult to keep my pen on the paper for significant parts of the drawing. I had been worried that to do so would make it very difficult for me to keep the proportions, but whilst these are not absolutely accurate I have still managed to capture the overall shape and characteristics of the decaying fruit.
From my work in a previous exercise using man-made objects I have learned that some variation in the heights of the objects gives more interest and this was born out by a friend’s remark, when he said he preferred the second sketch of the tomatoes, not only because of the plant for itself, but also because the plant drifts off the composition, and adds some height.
I was then thoughtful about the need for some more variety in form and so added the pepper for the final composition.
I decided to use fibre-tip pens to make the final drawing, even though I am not keen on the effect. I was restricted to pens of a narrow width, as I have not yet invested in wider ones, and am reluctant to do so when I do not like them.
The painting above was in the Summer Exhibition. I was struck by the similarity in subject with my drawing, but the composition is very different. The concentric circles on the blue plate which overspills the picture plane enclose the subject tightly. In my composition the “drift” of the plants out of the composition and the failure to enclose the work within a picture plane weakens the composition.