Below are pages from my sketchbook done while studying Understanding Art 1: Western Art with the Open College of the Arts.
This is not a practical course generally speaking and I’m a textiles student and very uncomfortable with painting and drawing. Excuses done. Half way through (18-Jan-2014) the course I’ve decided to get back into good sketchbook habits (after all, I’m not going to improve by avoiding it), and to keep myself honest maintain an e-version on the blog.

For earlier sketchbook work done during Textiles 1: A Creative Approach see

Last update 6-Mar-2014 Click to view

5 November 2013
Looking at Cabbage Plot (1889) by John Longstaff

6 November 2013
A motif from a ceramic seen on TV.

7 November 2013
Looking at the jacaranda in the back yard. I was trying to think about patterning, also it was meant to be experimenting with colour (not trying to reproduce what I saw but being a bit more free – I think I may have been reading about fauvists at the time) but that’s not so easy to do.

8 November 2013
I was struck by the colour combination of towel and robe.
The next is small (A5), trying to find an interesting simplification.

11 November 2013
The previous sketch was particularly scary around the nose, so I had another go in pencil on brown craft paper.

8 December 2013
As part of an exercise exploring fauvist art I made this stitched sketch based a 1904 painting by Henri Manguin, Before the window, rue Boursault. More information in my post 8-Dec-2013.

30 December 2013
Draped fabric. This relates to the workshop I did with Gria Shead (see 9-Sept-2012)

1 January 2014
Looking through the kitchen to the back window.

2 January 2014
Trying to figure out where the cupboards and sink went in the last sketch.

17 January 2014
Deciding on a still life composition.
This shows my attempt to get that triangle.

18 January 2014
First attempt with potatoes when bad quickly.
Version 2.

19 January 2014
I tried a simplified version, using charcoal and trying to stay loose. I think this shows some potential – a little more energy and some diagonals beginning to happen.

20 – 25 January 2014
This next attempt continued over a few days. First I tried to get a reasonably simple composition that I liked. I’ve been thinking about stripes recently and thought they could be used to give some structure. Trying to get an overall composition, I tested a few variations using the camera, and ended up with this.
This has got light moving from one direction, crossing the direction of the lower stripes. The shadows are interesting and contribute without super-complicating things. There’s almost a diamond shape formed by the central elements of bowl, bottle and shadow. The striped cloth gives a sense of place and depth.

I played around in gimp and this grey toned posterised version is my favourite. I like the textures and find a lot to look at in a simple picture.

Next I tried to draw it. I created an outline on the computer, printed it and traced it onto drawing paper (A3). I used watercolour pencils (some cheap student ones and Inktense). My inexperience with the media really shows. The background got too bright so I dabbed over acrylic paint in various depths of grey. I never achieved any richness or depth of colour. The shadow of the bowl is particularly nasty. I thought of adding some highlights and reflections using white (or only-just-grey) acrylic, but decided it couldn’t be saved. The result is dull, dull, dull.

6 February 2014
I was so tight and uncomfortable and overworked during the last sketch. I tried to loosen a bit with black conte crayon on A3 cartridge paper.
I didn’t like the first version at all, so I tried to put in more conviction.
Much better. I like the contained overall shape, based on but not reproducing the original object.

February 2014
The rest of February was focused on my Assignment copy of a work by Cézanne. See blog post 28-Feb-2014.

3 March 2014
Working on the Assignment above gave me a lot more experience with the conte crayons. Then writing my review of Part 3 of the course (2-Mar-2014) reminded me of the Fauvists and use of colour. I chose a reduced group of 8 – 10 crayons focusing on a range of values. The idea was to draw focused on values and let the colours work as they may. I considered the Cézanne image but it is way too complex, and ended with another go at my bowl and bottle still life, working from a desaturated photo on the computer screen.
I think this is the most successful version. There’s a lot more life and energy and spontaneity – rather surprising given I’ve worked so much with the source?? The texture of the fabric worked well and contrasts with the hard objects. The bright blue bothers me and the whole thing doesn’t quite jell. The shadow behind the bowl is clumsy. I found it difficult to manage with the reduced colour set but I think it mostly works. It was actually a bit annoying when colours started blending. There’s good movement of the fabric stripe through and down. I like most of the bottle and its shadow, but that blue isn’t right. The left and lower section of the bowl is nice – I can imagine taking some of that and using it.

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