Drawing 1, Part 4: Exercise 5

Drawing Fabric Using Line and Tone

There were two parts to this exercise.

For the first part, we were asked to drape a piece of fabric over a chair and make two drawings, one in line and the other in tone.

I draped a plain, soft, woolly jumper over the back of a chair and table.

For the first drawing, I used line, and a 6B pencil and blue crayon. I added a few areas of shading with the pencil.

line drawing of the folds of a jumper

I think this is an accurate line depiction of the fabric, although the lines could have been softer. The turquoise lines accentuate the form, and match the colour of the jumper.

For the drawing depicting tone, I used coloured pencils. Although we were asked to spend about 15 minutes on the drawing, I actually spent longer, as wanted to put some effort into depicting the tones as accurately as I could. I used three colours….a shade of blue, teal and black. I worked from dark to light with this image, although usually I would work the other way round, in coloured pencil. But I wanted to lay down the areas of shading first.

tone drawing of fabric

I think this was a successful rendering of the fabric. The folds are evident, and the areas of shade and highlight are well differentiated. The form looks three dimensional. I think the minimal use of only three colours works quite well, and affords the image a sense of simplicity.

The style of the drawing reminds me a lot of the way in which Tamara De Lempicka depicts fabrics in her paintings. Very smooth and graduated.

5 minute sketches

The next part of the exercise was to divide a large piece of paper into 8 or 12cm squares and make a series of 5 minute sketches of different areas of the fabric in a variety of media.

For this task I used a beautiful, pale turquoise/teal scarf. I think it is silk, or a similar blend. I draped it on the table, in different positions.

I divided a page in my A2 sketchbook into 12, 12cm squares. I made three drawings in each medium/combination, which culminated in a series of 12 drawings.

close ups of the fabric in a variety of media

From left to right, I used the following media:

8B pencil; charcoal & charcoal pencil; soft pastel & charcoal pencil; 8B pencil & watercolour

These were supposed to be 5 minute sketches, although the time they took varied from sketch to sketch.

I find that the pencil sketches look the least interesting, looking drab and undefined in comparison with the other mediums.

The charcoal and charcoal pencil sketches have good contrast and both line and tone are well defined and depicted. They look more dynamic than the pencil sketches, and I tried to keep the lines ‘alive’ and energetic whilst drawing them.

The charcoal and pastel sketches are colourful and quite interesting, but seem a little more abstract, maybe expressionist, than the others. Again, I kept the tones and lines loose and alive, and paid more attention to the energy with which I worked, than the accuracy. But this was intentional.

The final 3 sketches, in watercolour and pencil, look more decorative than accurate. I tried to depict the folds of the fabric, but was working very loosely, as we were asked to spend only 5 minutes on each sketch. I think they are attractive and vibrant, and have a sense of the nature of the fabric.

This was a very interesting exercise in observation. I enjoyed exploring different media to depict the folds and turns of the fabric. I think the least favourite sketches, for me, are the pencil ones. The others all look more vibrant and have better contrast. I feel that the pieces all have an energy about them, and that is what I have tried to convey in my work today.


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