OCA Drawing 1 – Project 2, ‘Still Life’, Exercises 1 and 2

The first exercise focusses on investigating the use of line in a still life painting. Thinking about how you’ll show the connections and differences between the objects and where you’ll position yourself in relation to your chosen composition.

I wasn’t sure to begin with how exactly to tackle this exercise; whether I should continue to develop my cross-hatching skills or employ other ways to create tone with various lines.


Above, I started to arrange groups of stones and quickly sketched a few different compositions. When I stepped back and thought more about it I decided another element was needed to give some contrast, so I added a small pine cone.


I made outlines of the objects in the composition to start with then used cross hatching to depict the shadows. I left the drawing for a few days because I wasn’t happy with the idea of continuing to use cross hatching throughout the drawing and wanted to spend some time on the next exercise before returning to it with fresh ideas.


Over the weekend I had my first telephone tutorial with my course tutor, and after speaking with him about being less concerned about following the words of the exercise to the letter, I returned to this exercise feeling less constrained and freer to use looser methods of creating a picture with line. I did another quick sketch, above, using very quick and flowing lines to capture the feeling of the stones, and for me this allowed me to but more joy and feeling the drawing, really depicting what I enjoy about the shapes and textures of these objects.


I returned to my final composition much more engaged and finished it with warmth and enjoyment. I think the contrasts in the background need reworking to even it up a bit but on the whole I think the composition feels ‘finished’ and balanced with a sense of depth.


I was also a little unsure about how to approach the second exercise. The brief was to use a coloured medium to capture the different tones in the composition. I used a different venue, a friend’s pottery studio, to freshen up my outlook. From the objects I found around the studio, I created a still life composition with varied objects of different heights, sizes and finishes.


I wasn’t entirely sure whether to use the same colour for similar tones throughout the drawing, or to use one colour for dark tones, then another for medium and so on on one of the objects then do the same for the others. So I tried out various approaches.

Firstly, I tried to pick out the darker tones overall and depict them in a green shade on the arranged objects and a pink shade on the surfaces around them, then building up different tones throughout with different colours. I wasn’t pleased with the look of this drawing so I tried a different approach next, finding the different tones in one object at a time, below.


This composition feels better as the different objects are clearer to see and it’s less ‘messy’ than the first attempt.


I still wasn’t completely happy I had fulfilled the brief, so I tried something completely different again. Above, I didn’t outline the objects at all this time and began by very quickly finding all the darkest tones and sketching them with dark green. It meant the page was first of all covered in disjointed but to my surprise accurately located areas of one tone. I then quickly moved on to find all the mid-tones in orange, which straight away started to give shape to the objects. I then repeated switching between the two a couple of times and then found the lightest shades in cream. I completed the drawing very quickly, but in a way it’s the composition I’m happiest with because I approached it in a way I’ve never tried before, finding the tones first rather than the outlines of the objects. I felt less constrained and more expressive when working on this drawing. I’ve left the background blank thinking of the negative space I worked on in the first section of the course.



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