Exercise 2, Still life in tone using colour

I’ve gone back to just still life for the sake of practising techniques, as I didn’t feel that my ‘interpretation’ of a subject matter for the last exercise worked terribly well. This time I chose my husbands collection of empty gin bottles. He rather likes his gin and with the new micro distilleries popping up all over the country, there are an assortment of lovely bottles around which he has started to collect .

My first attempt was a very scruffy loose drawing with several colour graphite sticks. It was very messy and not particularly following the brief although I did mark out the dark bits first but I didn’t stick to one colour for each of the tones.


Again I tried something new and drew a different bottle with tones but all in different colours. This looked a bit confused too and the right hand bottle is awful – little tone on it and a very poor shape. I was pleased with the left hand foreground bottle though and liked the lines on this one.


Next I picked three defined colours and switched to pastel, again drawing in the dark areas, using a different colour for the midtowns and again for the highlights. However this has ended up a monochrome study, which was not intentional.



Next, I had a go at another drawing, this time blocking in the shapes/tones initially with watercolour.


I then blocked in with pastel the dark shadows/tones. 7

Next I used a blue/green to mark in the midtones, and then a lighter pastel to put in highlights.


Lastly, I tidied up the picture and made sure my lines/shapes were accurate, and put a few more highlights in as well.


As I didn’t stretch the paper beforehand, even though I used heavyweight paper it has curled inwards around the edges and on the corners, which makes taking a photo quite hard as it ends up distorting the shapes. Hence my finger tips showing on the bottom edge and a plate edge showing in the bottom right hand corner.

I’m relatively pleased with this picture. My colours are, true to style, fairly low key which I prefer. It is quite a dark drawing again, but I think that is what I like and how I work. A disadvantage here was that I didn’t set up an individual light source, and so my dark tones were not so clear. I will be having another go at this drawing this evening in the kitchen where I have a much clearer light/dark. I’m hoping to also do much bigger sweeping blocks of light and dark, almost with less detail in the actual drawing. I’d like to get the idea that the objects are disappearing into the darkness, and wonder whether I can achieve this.

After the evening in question….

I decided to go a bit mad with the next one and do some really strong colours which is very unlike me, but I worked very fast with this, much more to the brief. I literally blocked out areas of tone with a particular colour. As a result, the resulting image is actually quite strong and looks really good, although I’m unlikely to duplicate these colours in the future. But the result was pleasing.


This was another little scribble on the back of a packet – again safe colours but using colour to block out tones.


Lastly I did the same sort of drawing as the colourful one, but this time with more muted colours. I don’t believe it is as successful as the colourful one, but is okay. Its just a bit lifeless to be honest. This exercise has shown me that perhaps my favoured muted tones don’t always work the best for everything.


Looking back through this section, after spraying each of the drawings ready to be packed away, I realise that nearly all of my bottles have errors in terms of form, and this is something I need to watch out for in the future. I obviously got so involved in the expression and feeling of the piece that I missed looking at it in an analytical way – ultimately the drawing should be ‘correct’ even if it is expressive.

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