This exercise asked for drawings from real life, putting together skills already learned – finding something visually interesting, having a point of view or attitude, quick preliminary sketches separating shapes, colours and textures…
I started with a group of shells placed on a dark turquoise piece of card. I’ve been working repeatedly with one of the shells in particular in sketchbook work, with the idea that getting familiar with one thing and working in a kind of series could be interesting. I tried to arrange the shells to create an interesting space and shadows between them. I actually spent a lot of time on this, trying out different colours of background, different placement of lights to make shadows, moving the shells around, picking different shells…
Finally I decided it was good enough, if not exactly exciting, and I started with charcoal, separating out lines and shapes. Throughout this exercise I found it difficult to draw just the area that interested me, and overall this is really bland. If I screen out the rest and just look at the the central spaces between the shells I find it much more successful.
Next I moved onto A5 watercolour paper, using inktense pencils. Once again I lost focus, both in terms of the area I was drawing and the particular element of colour. Looking at it now there is a lot of line and shape information. However if I can get past the clumsiness of the middle shell, which is dreadfully wrong, I can say that the colours, while not objectively accurate, are satisfying to me. I don’t actually find the “real” shell colours very interesting.
Next up was in theory texture. Off track again, I was thinking a lot about the positive and negative space in the centre, and spending a lot of time playing with shading to indicate form. Again, trying to look at it charitably, I can say the relative roughness of the lefthand shell and smoothness of the righthand one are apparent.
The final drawing. I used ink with pen and brush. Once again I need to frame out a part of the drawing to get to what really interested me – the central space with the different shapes of shells and shadows, the contrast between the surfaces of the different shells. I like the effect of the flat background colour contrasting to the grey-tone and line volume of the shells (apart from that dratted middle shell!).
In terms of creating a satisfactory finished drawing this exercise is a failure – but I don’t think that’s the point, given this isn’t a drawing course. In terms of using a good method and process, part of developing design ideas, I’d rate it a bare pass. I wasn’t able to stick with my focus and point of view, I can’t neatly line up each preliminary sketch with what it was meant to be investigating… but in the process I did learn and see more about my subject, there are parts in all of them, particularly the final, that I find intriguing and I think could go further. Nothing as it stands could be directly translated into textiles, but I think parts will be seen again as I go through the course. Plus I’m now quite happy about drawing real objects – I can approach it with some confidence that I will get what I need – raw material for design development work and new visual knowledge of the world around me.