Drawing 1: Assignment 2

For assignment 2, I chose to focus on things that are important to my son since he was born, and also the idea that we are still a family, even though his father died 10 years ago, when my son was 3.

I chose the following objects:

his favourite teddy, the special boots he used to wear when he couldn’t walk (he learnt to walk when he was 4), his baby shoes, his ear defenders as he is sensitive to noise, and his playstation contoller.

I did some preliminary sketches of the individual items, plus this rough outline:

Items for use in the still life for assignment 2

I chose the following media:

Teddy – pen and watercolour, as the material is soft and yielding, like watercolours.

Shoes, boots and Playstation controller – oil pastel, as they are very matte looking objects, just like finish from an oil pastel drawing.

Ear defenders – coloured pencil, as there was a lot of variation in tone and pencil was a good way of achieving this.

Hands – pen on glissine paper. I had been experimenting with glissine paper in my sketchbook, and wanted to incorporate it in this piece. I was inspired by the work of Eric Fischl, where he used oil paint and glissine paper to build up narratives.

I worked on an A1 piece of cartridge paper, and arranged the items on a desk. However, I found myself treating each object as an individual entity, part of a larger story, but with its own smaller story to tell.

The boot represents Milo having overcome his physical disabilities and having learnt to walk and run, and be physically able. He represented his school in cross country tournaments before COVID-19.

Milo’s orthopedic boot

I used oil pastels and solvent. I laid the shadow areas down with the darkest blue I had, then added the midtones and the worked in paler blue and white for the highlights. I worked black around the peripheries, and to emphasise the shadow areas. I added shades of beige and brown for the lines in the soles, and the inner area of the boot.

The teddy, actually a purple rabbit, is Milo’s transitional object. He is very bonded with this toy, and the toy has a life of its own.

Milo’s teddy

I drew the rabbit in pen, in a loose style, trying to maintain a continual line. I added a loose watercolour wash effect for the fur, nose, ears and eyes.

The ear defenders help Milo to deal with noise, as he has sensory processing disorder, and his ears are highly sensitive.

Milo’s ear defenders

I used CAran Dache Luminance coloured pencils for the ear defenders. I started with the palest colours, then gradually added darker and darker tones, building up the layers. I used a black and a grey for the darker areas, and just varied the pressure of the pencil for the density of tone.

The playstation controller represents Milo’s release. He enjoys technology and gets immersed in the world of role play and adventure.

Milo’s PlayStation controller

The controller is partially concealed by the glassine paper hands. The hands are Milo’s. I will explain later on. I used oil pastels for the controller, but there weren’t many highlights to reproduce, it was mainly dull, flat and black.

The baby shoes were the first shoes that Milo ever wore. They are made of very soft leather and designed to protect growing feet. They have great sentimental value for me.

Milo’s first shoes

I used oil pastels to draw the shoes, mainly in several shades or blue and red, with white and grey for the sails, and black to emphasise the shadow areas. I laid down the shadows first, then built up to the highlights. I then cut them out, and glued them on top of the glassine paper hands.

This was the final composition:

Once Upon a Family

The whole piece represents that even though Milo’s father died, and physically we aren’t a family, spiritually and emotionally we still are. There are three pairs of glassine hands in the image. Milo’s on the controller, mine holding the baby shoes, and his father’s touching the ear defenders. This also represents that even though Milo cannot hear his father any longer, he can still hear his memory.

This image didn’t evolve into the still life composition I had intended it to be. It took on a life of its own! Each item had special significance, and had its own story to tell. I had intended to use a range of media, which I did. The glassine paper was interesting, as it looks so insubstantial compared to the density and richness of the oil pastel drawings. But it is effective in its story telling. Of the ghost hands of the ghost family. I think it worked well in that respect.

I feel I could have utilised the space more efficiently. There seems to be a lot of negative space, which makes the items feel a bit disconnected from one another. The shadows are inconsistent. The use of a different medium for each item looks a little strange too, a little incoherent, but from the point of view that each has its own story to tell, that maybe isn’t a negative thing.

I think I focused more on the concept than the technicality. I hadn’t intended on creating a photorealistic, perfect drawing, but wanted to tell a compelling story. The story of my son. The story of my family.


      • I understand what you mean, and I think that would be natural given that you had a specific plan for this picture with its many elements and techniques. It reads to me as ordered and as a collection rather than a scene, but it seems to me that is what you wanting to do with this piece, and it works in conveying your ideas, I think. (I hope this makes sense).

        Liked by 1 person

  1. Even befire I read your comment, I saw spirituality in your composition. The use of glassine was very effective . Your different painting techniques, reflecting materials and object forms and strength was really approoriate.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you. The glassine is interesting, isn’t it. I’m surprised it has not been explored more frequently by other artists. Will try oil paints on it sometime. You made me think about materials and their correlation to subject matter. I suppose every choice should be a considered and informed decision.


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