Drawing 1, Part 2: Exercise 3

Still Life in Tone Using Colour

Still Life in Tone Using Colour

I had previously worked on another piece for this exercise (the toys), but decided I wanted to have another attempt using a different approach.

I was looking around the house for something interesting to draw, then saw the toothbrush holder in the bathroom. I immediately thought of a fairy toy i had bought, and the idea of the tooth fairy came to mind. I thought about healthy food, and fetched some bananas, plums and grapes from the fridge. I arranged them on the table and finished off the arrangement with an empty can of zero sugar Coke Zero. I sat the fairy beside.

For my preliminary sketch I used a waterproof fineliner drawing pen, and worked in line, mostly in continuous lines where possible. I find this method feels free and flowing, and gives the finished piece a sense of being alive.

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preliminary sketch

I then used shades of red, in oil pastels, to block in colour, starting with the darker shades, then moving to the midtones, then highlights. I then moved on to the toothbrush holder, then the fruit. I decided that I didn’t want the toy to be in my final composition, so I left it colourless.

I used a solvent to blend the colours, and drag the colours outside of the lines. I left areas blank, as I liked how it looked that way.


I worked on a piece of A2 paper, in much the same way as for the preliminary sketch. I drew the composition using a fineliner pen, added blocks of colour, blended with a solvent and brush and dragged colour outside of the lines. I left an area of the coke can blank intentionally, as I like the effect. I also wish I had areas of the fruit blank too, to balance out the overall look.

The process was a satisfying one. I love working with pen and line, and also with colour. Usually I work with pen and watercolour wash, but as this is a drawing module, I wanted to work with a more traditional drawing medium. The solvent and ability to blend was exciting, and gave me more scope and versatility with the pastels. I realised I did not need much solvent on the brush to blend the pastel, and learnt that I need to wipe the brush before blending new colours, or it pollutes the purity of the new colour.

I feel I was able to achieve the effect I intended, with the pastels, pen and blending. I was able to use blocks of colour, whilst experimenting a little with the media. The overall effect is quite expressionistic and contemporary. The still life subjects I chose were a mixture of traditional and quirky, with the toothbrush holder and the coke can contrasting with the fruit.

I feel I made the right decision by leaving out the toy, as it simplified the lines and made the composition less fussy.

If I were to repeat this exercise, I would try and obtain a better selection of pastel colours, and perhaps include a pear or an apple.

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