Assignment 4 – Tone and Form

Tone and Form - Finished Piece Soft Pastel, Green Ingres
Tone and Form - Finished Piece Soft Pastel, Green Ingres
Final Drawing

For this part of the assignment I had to pose my model in a reclining position, such as lying back in an arm chair or with feet up extended on the sofa. That’s about all you can do really living in a one bedroom condominium with not much furniture you can lay down on, the choice was either bed, lay-z-boy or sofa, I went for the recliner.

We were instructed to dress the model in contrasting clothes,light top, dark pants etc. she wore the same white top as in the first part of this assignment but this time put on a pair of dark blue stretched pants.

Tone and Form - 1st Drawing a study in Marker Pens
Tone and Form – 1st Drawing a study in Marker Pens

My first quick sketch was in marker pens, using the same Chisel tipped marker pens that I used for both the using Markers and Dip Pens exercise and the Patrick Caulfield Research point. Even though they are nice and vibrant I decided against using them for this part of the assignment after just a quick study of her face and upper body.

Tone and Form - 2nd Drawing Conte Pencils on Ingres Paper
Tone and Form – 2nd Drawing Conte Pencils on Ingres Paper

I liked my self portrait in Conte Pencils on blue ingres paper so much  that I thought it would be a great medium to have a go with for this part of the assignment. But after a small 30 minute sketch with these on a A4 size sheet of the same blue ingres I decided they weren’t blending well enough for my liking. Also the pose that I chose for the drawing which was looking at her from the front and just slightly to the side didn’t show her form off as much as I should be doing in this part of the assignment.

Tone and Form - 3rd Drawing Compressed Charcoal A3
Tone and Form – 3rd Drawing Compressed Charcoal A3

The next drawing was in compressed charcoal on A3 paper this time I sat on a chair almost to the side of her with my light source (my bendy lamp) placed on the floor and facing her from an angle slightly to her left.

Although I was happier with both the medium and the angle, I wasn’t happy with not being able to hatch over small areas with a clumsy medium, she needed to be bigger or at a more ‘full on’ angle so I could see more of her.

Tone and Form - 4th Drawing Fine Marker Pens
Tone and Form – 4th Drawing Fine Marker Pens

The next study was in my A4 sketchbook with fine nib marker pens, although her face turned into some kind of cat woman the four colours that I chose worked well together although I did mess up on the arm of the chair but this was about describing tone and form and I still wasn’t satisfied that reclining poses in this chair was were allowing me to do that.

I gave up on it for a couple of days so I could think things through, my bed was against a plain white wall so I didn’t think the background would be interesting enough in there so I thought it might be worth drawing some poses on the sofa, However I had already used the sofa twice already in the three drawings exercise and essential elements  and I needed a pose that would fill more of the paper.

Two days later I was washing the covers of the sofa when my girlfriend came to visit again. As the sofa covers were in the wash I had a yellow quilt over the white cushion, my girlfriend was wearing a blue striped shirt with white collars and pink trousers and the three colours looked great together.

I placed the light sauce on the glass table in front of the sofa so I could create some nice shadows behind her and did a quick 20+ minute drawing in ballpoint pen. After a bit of tampering with Tipex I was satisfied that this was the perfect pose for this assignment.

Tone and Form - 5th Ball Point Pen
Tone and Form – 5th Ball Point PenT one and Form – 5th Ball Point Pen

For this drawing I wanted to use a medium that I had only experimented with before, soft pastel. I chose a dark green ingres paper but I didn’t think it would make a difference to how the picture looked as I thought I would be covering every bit of the paper with pastel, this changed as I started hatching realizing that the green of the paper still showed through the pastel strokes which changed the mood of the drawing to how actually imagined it.

Tone and Form Final Drawing Before Fixatives
Tone and Form Final Drawing Before Fixatives

I completed the whole drawing using hatching and soft pastel except for on the hands and face which I left to last and completed the details in pastel paper.

Tone and Form - Finished Piece Soft Pastel, Green Ingres
Tone and Form – Finished Piece Soft Pastel, Green Ingres

Things I am not happy with…

Well I completed this drawing at the end of the month and with hardly any money left I chose to use hair spray as my fixative. I would rather have just framed it behind glass as I thought it was very vibrant before I started spraying away. Nonetheless, it had to be fixed as I presume they have to be sent to England for formal assessment. For now it looks good, the hairspray has aged the  drawing and added some character but can it be preserved like it is.


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.

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.)

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.