Tone and Form – Check and Log

How difficult was it to distinguish light from the primary light source and secondary reflected light?

I was very aware of where the light was coming from on the first two drawings of the Johnsons baby Powder Bottle and Mug in the first exercise, and even clearer while working on the second sketch. There were other light sources in the room as I worked on them in the evening but still it was quite easy to tell, I think using the ceramic mug helped.

In the second exercise it was not so easy to tell but I did know what to look for so it helped; the easiest reflections to make out was the light reflecting from the ping  pong  ball on to the apple. But even though I knew  which light came from the primary source I wasn’t quite sure where certain reflections of light on the mug were coming from. I could only guess.

How as awareness of light and shade affected your depiction of tone and form?

I could have gone my whole life missing certain reflections and shadows out, saying to myself ‘Yeah, that’ll do’, trying to copy as precisely as possible, thinking that’s enough. However, these two exercises have made me more aware of reflected light and I’m starting to piece together where the light in certain places is coming from, this has helped to make these drawings more realistic than anything I’ve done before so it’s something I will continue to observe.

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Research Point – Odilon Redon

Odilon Redon (April 20, 1840 – July 6, 1916), started drawing as a young boy, and was awarded a prize for drawing at school at the age of 10. At 15 years of age, at his father’s insistence, he took up formal architectural studies, but failed to pass his entrance exams at Paris ‘Ecole des Beaux-Arts (School of Fine Arts). On return to Bordeaux he took up sculpture, and also etching and lithography under the instruction of Rodolphe Bresdin.

Threw his early career he continued to work almost exclusively in black and white, in lithographs and charcoal drawings right into his 50s. These drawings became known as his Blacks ‘Les Noirs’. He developed an extremely unique repertoire of weird subjects such as strange creatures, insects and plants with human heads on; these subjects were often influenced by the writings of Edgar Allen Poe.

In 1975 he studied trees and the Underwood at Barbizon in North-Central France, the same year saw his Blacks reached the ‘Most distressed period’ with him often depicting the topic of prisoners in his works, appearing behind the bars of windows or isolated in a nightmare or hallucination. Has he said about his Noirs “They were executed in hours of sadness and pain”.

From the 1890s due to illness and a religious crisis which transformed into a happier person he began to use  pastels and oils, expressing himself with use of vibrant colour, creating works that depicted mythical scenes and flower paintings. Odilon abandoned his Noirs completely after 1900.

He always remained a fairly private person but the end of his life he became a rather distinguished figure with various awards and recognitions and was also regarded by the surrealists to be one of the forefathers of the surrealist movement (I was almost certain that it was going to say this in at least one of the online biographies as I began to look at his works.)

http://www.odilonredon.net/biography.html

http://www.odilon-redon.org/biography.html

http://www.ibiblio.org/wm/paint/auth/redon/

http://www.escapeintolife.com/essays/odilon-redon-prince-of-dreams/

http://www.moma.org/collection/artist.php?artist_id=4840

I had never heard of this artist until I was asked to research him but I’m glad I got the chance to do so. It was good to get a chance to see all his paintings side by side and to see how his works changed over the years, rollercoastering in and out of an often dominating dark mood until his change in mediums in the 1890s. I found a lot of his images disturbing and quite a lot of the hybrid characters made me feel uncomfortable like ‘The Egg’. However I was inspired by some of his darker works like ‘The Convict’; since my childhood I have often tried to put something similar down on paper but never got around to it.

The Egg, Odilon Redon 1885
The Egg, Odilon Redon 1885

I find a lot of his works interesting and could probably gain inspiration and ideas from them. Although I would find it hard to bare my emotions like he did, for all to see I quite often like to depict some of my innermost feelings and beliefs into my work and will continue to do so.

The Convict, Odilon Redon 1881
The Convict, Odilon Redon 1881

Tone and Form – Tonal Studies

The brief of the first part of this exercise was to draw four 5 cm squares in my sketchbook using 4 different drawing tools such as a pencil, drawing pen, nib pen and black ink and a ballpoint pen. Try to make 4 distinctive grades of hatching with each square without paying too much attention to detail, suggesting that we have close our eyes as this will help eliminate most of the detail.

I totally read this wrong, drawing the squares in pencil and then hatching within the square using the 4 drawing tools that it gave as examples as above. I tried different types of hatching to do this including, cross hatching at an angle as well as using horizontal and vertical lines to give a much denser tone. The nip pen was probably the most difficult for me and couldn’t quite graduate the tones.

Tone Using Hatching
Tone Using Hatching

The second part of the exercise was to arrange 4 objects such as an apple, orange, ball, cup or other kitchen utensils, draw the objects then use a hatching technique to technique to add tonal shadow patterns to these objects. The 4 objects I initially chose were a mug, a small bowl an apple and a pong pong ball and chose to have a go at cross hatching with a Faber Castelle Ballpoint pen.

1st Drawing Using Ballpoint
1st Drawing Using Ballpoint

I failed miserably in my first attempt, I even forgot I was hatching with a pen at one stage and went to smooth the pen and smudged the ink across the paper having to fill in the background to cover it up. However it did give me some well needed practise.and confidence towards the end to have another go with the ballpoint pen.

2nd Choice of Objects
2nd Choice of Objects
2nd Drawing Using Ballpoint
2nd Drawing Using Ballpoint

My second attempt was much better, this time I swapped the bowl for a tupperware container turned on its side and I could clearly make out what each of the objects were in my finished drawing, well…apart from the ping pong ball that is.

3rd Drawing Using 2B Pencil
3rd Drawing Using 2B Pencil

For my third attempt I went back to a 2B graphite pencil, the tool I feel most comfortable with and successfully cross hatched the whole drawing without smoothing any lines with my finger and this time even the ping pong ball was clear enough to make out in my finished drawing,. I think deciding to start off the exercise with a ballpoint pen was a very wise idea and may have even helped to improve my cross hatching technique.

Observing Light and Shadow Formations on a Surface

The brief for this exercise was to place two objects together and position a lamp so they are lit from one side, or natural light if its a bright day. Originally I wanted to get out on the balcony during the daytime but housework took me right through to early evening, so I settled for a bendy lamp in the living room and I’m glad I did because it threw more definite light on the objects that I chose, which were a Johnson’s Baby Powder bottle and a ceramic cup.

2 Drawings Light from Alternative Sides
2 Drawings Light from Alternative Sides

I started with a simple sketch that I knew I could alter as I shaded back through the drawing. I begun with the mid tones but was very tempted to start on the darker tones first. The objects were placed on a glass table, however I put some paper down on the table top to cut down on where the reflected light was came from.

Light from Left Hand Side
Light from Left Hand Side

I was very happy with the first drawing, the sketch itself took me about 10-15 minutes and the areas of dark and light were very clear so I didn’t think it would take me long to complete the shading, which in the end took me well over an hour. To complete the drawing off I shaded in the background as the edges on both of the objects were quite light and I wouldn’t have been able to show that on a lighter background.

Light from Right Hand Side
Light from Right Hand Side

For the second drawing I pointed the lamp on the opposite side, which gave me different shadows and light and dark tones in different areas so between the two drawings I think I managed to get quite a lot of practise.

I really enjoyed this exercise but would have probably preferred to do it in colour as the cup looks more chrome than ceramic done in pencil.