Assignment 5 – Reflections.

It’s been a struggle trying to get an ideal composition and render the image I have in my mind’s eye, the way I see the seed heads in nature and to incorporate their unique characteristics. It wasn’t intentional but I have ended up having the honesty on the bottom left and the poppies on the top right. The stem of the honesty cutting at a diagonal, seems to divide the study in two. This became evident after putting in colour. It does not feel balanced.

I used a water based medium to get fluid blending and back runs of colours and tone. This can’t be achieved by dry media. The inks are vibrant, just like the colours of the honesty flowers. Unfortunately different colours have different density and some colours do not run. The result has been patchy. The trials in small a sketch book version seemed different. I haven’t put any outlines on the poppy seed heads. The honesty have a dark wire like frame holding them on to the stem. I have tried not to make these appear as hard outlines in all of them. Their colour depends on the light falling on them.

I want to depict convincing papery thin cases of the honesty seeds, which are a contrast to the spherical poppy seed heads. The honesty cases are not transparent, but seem to light up if they are caught in sunlight. I have lost some of the sharp edges of the “crown” on the poppy seed head during the application of ink. The gesso on the stem of the honesty did not come out as I had expected. It has spread unevenly and not given the sharp line I need for the stem.

The vibrant magenta and green in the negative space was meant to give an impression of a plants in the backdrop and a contrast to the colours of the seed heads. Also some honesty seed cases have patches of fading magenta on them.


Assignment five option 2

Reflect on what you have learnt throughout working this project.
Review all drawings and evaluate them in terms of technical skill, truthful observation and interpretation.

To help me decide on a composition, I looked at my line drawing which I liked. The way the honesty and poppy seeds mixed together.


In the tonal drawing, I seem to loose the focus of what I want to convey as it looks too busy.


Focus of my drawing : I want to convey how I see the seed heads in a border in the garden -bright glowing delicate, honesty seed heads and beautiful spherical structure of the poppy seed heads
Format would have to be portrait to get height.

A few more sketches to work out how best to show the seed heads.





I prefer the final sketch for my composition. The honesty seed head is not directly next to the poppy. I want show just a few honesty and poppy seeds heads so I can put in enough detail which attracts me to them.
Materials and techniques: wax resist or gesso with ink wash or watercolour. The gesso is better for a sharper result for the thin stems.


The colours.
I wanted to include a magenta and green in the study. These are the colours of the honesty flowers , plant and the seeds when they are fresh. I got this idea at a visit in Giverny, where Monet’s garden lots of honesty plants.


When the seeds dry, they turn an ochre colour which light up with sunlight. The poppy seeds appear to have a powdery layer of light blue. The fresh seed heads are a light teal blue. As a contrast to the honesty, I decided to depict the poppy in teal.


These are Diamene inks.
My first attempt did not work out. I had intended to use gesso on the stems and honesty. The seeds in the honesty were too dark and yellow was too strong.


This is the final study. It’s on 300gsm A3 paper. The mood or feeling I would like to convey : tail end of summer, looking forward to spring and start of the cycle new plants, seeds… .

Following my tutor’s comments, i tried a different composition based on my line drawing. This one is in watercolours. I want to leave the drawing fresh and light.


Torn paper collage

Remit: take composition into further abstraction by developing the looking closer study through collage.

This is on an A2 cartridge paper. I have used yellow and light blue tissue paper, news papers, acrylic painted cartridge paper and oil pastel. While placing the newspaper, some words jumped out at me so I left a couple in style of Tom Phillips.
The ‘rim’ at the bottom is yellow tissue on blue, and it’s giving a greenish tint.
I kept to the same composition as the study for looking closer. I made the bright coloured strips much smaller so there is just a hint. I did this as I wanted the arches lot more simple and the depth to show.
As I had done a few collages before starting on this assignment, it helped me prepare for this one in terms of materials. it took me a while to work out which colours to use. The advantage is tearing different paper and placing them around working out colour combinations and composition. To change something you can easily place a layer of different paper. The difficulty is cutting the paper to the exact shape required and glueing it in the correct place. Once you have the paper cut you can build up the collage very quickly. Using different texture of paper and mixed media, you can achieve a variety of textures, depth, tonal values and shapes. It’s not easy to get as much detail as a drawing or painting. Collage work helps me appreciate the importance of shapes and colours.

Looking closer

Remit : large sheet of paper, locate an area from tonal drawing that has interesting detail and tonal contrast.
Magnify everything. Analyse colour and tonal variation. Use colour more expressively and intuitively, exaggerate. Move towards abstraction. Juxtaposition of certain colours to produce tonal values.
The little ‘windows’ on the poppy seed head fascinate me as they look like vaulted ceilings. I have decided to include part of that with an actual honesty seed.
Here is a close up, near enough as it gets out of focus if I get any closer

A few sketches to work out composition and colour.




I was inspired by this painting by Sir Terry Frost and wanted to include bright strips of colour.


Sketches with colour. I decided to use soft pastels with some wax resist for texture. I like the combination of orange and blue. I want to use other colours to give an impression of reflections from stained glass.



The blue on orange gives a better tonal contrast. I do not like the use of black.
I started off with the middle area and got stuck on which colours to use for the “crown” of the poppy seed head. The use of pink/green seem to make it too busy.


I decided to keep to the same orange and blue. The top area, where the dark honesty seed is supposed to be, I carried on with the similar value as the darkest area in the poppy seed head.
This is on an A2 size medium grain paper.


Introducing colour

This is a study in pure colour. I started off with a few shapes and then worked my way round. It’s on a A3 medium grain paper in oil pastels.



I enjoyed doing this and looking at the result. I haven’t put in any tonal values or negative shapes. Just the poppy and honesty seed heads. It looks bright, contrary to the actual colours. I picked pink and blue as I see these colours on the poppy seed head. The honesty has many different colourings, predominantly pale ochre with violet markings and a very dark violet rim. This drawing reminds me of the prints of Dutch wax fabric.
LookIng at the sketches so far, the circles and patterns remind me of Wassily Kandinsky’s ‘Concentric circles’ and intersecting lines. I also looked at Sir Terry Frost’s various paintings for inspiration for colour combinations.

Some studies in my sketchbook.
Art bars: these worked well


Inktense pencils. Able to get sharp lines, details. Difficult to work on large areas.


Soft pastels
I liked the texture I was able to get for the poppy seed head.


I tried out a study with graphite, art bars and soft pastels. It did not work out as I had in my minds eye. The honesty seed heads look too yellow. The green negative shapes do not work. I like the texture I got for the poppy seed heads, especially the small one of the left. This is on an A3 cartridge paper.

I looked at it and tried to see what changes I could make tp improve it. I decided to make the honesty seeds lighter, some of them removed. I coloured over the green areas and re-defined some parts. It’s a bit better, but still need to improve on the colour scheme and composition.


Tonal study

How do I convey delicate wafer thin flat honesty seed heads next to spherical poppy heads. The honesty is delicate,but not transparent, with a strong dark rim holding it up. The poppy head has a powdery texture and a furry stalk. Below drawings are all on my A4 sketch book.
A quick sketch with a graphite block on wet paper. I was going to lift out stalks and possible honesty seeds with a cotton bud, but it did not work. Either it wasn’t the right paper or the graphite can’t be lifted out. I wanted to use the graphite it can achieve a very wide range of tones on wet paper.


This is with willow stick charcoal. I used a putty rubber to remove charcoal to draw one of the honesty seed heads. It’s easy to control this medium and you can get a wide range of tones. I got the thin stalks and rims with a very thin edge of the willow.


Ink, nib pen and brush. This hasn’t worked out at I had imagined. The ink was uncontrollable and I couldn’t soften some of the lines. However it was very exciting to do and I got lovely shades and blending of ink on paper including a lovely furry edge.



Charcoal pencils. I did not like them at all. The charcoal is very hard and marks did not blend easily so I did not carry on. I would leave them for outlining detailed charcoal drawings.


Graphite pencils. I started of with soft lines with 2B, then worked up getting in darker tones to up to 8B. There is no tone as such on the honesty seed head. There are some markings, lines and colouring, but no depth. The only way to bring them out is with a very dark negative space. In the first drawing the space near the left honesty is not so dark. I added more tone so it’s dark in the second picture. The graphite is easy to control and good for details. However it is very time consuming. This drawing took me nearly two hours.



A very quick sketch with Derwent sketching wash pencils and a one inch flat brush. This study took me less than 10 minutes. It’s not accurate, but I just wanted to try out the wide range of tone achievable with these pencils and a wash.


This is a tonal drawing in Quink on a A3 medium grain paper. I used some wax to block off white areas. I really like some of the textures created by the ink on the stems of the poppy seed heads. I wasn’t able to put the wax more precisely and I couldn’t scrape it to make changes. This drawing is not accurate, but it’s lively. Unfortunately you can’t see the texture in the photograph. I also like the composition and the range of tone.


I wanted to do a final drawing with more accuracy. The seed heads were proving to be a challenge. You can place fruit or vegetables on a table, get cast shadows, render various forms and it’s easy to show directional light. It was very difficult to figure out a composition, include a vessel that would hold the seed heads and include cast shadows. Eventually I decided to do a study using Derwent sketch pencils and wash on A2 cartridge paper. I included part of the vase, but left the surrounding area loose. The vase is on a table with sunlight from the right. The stem of the honesty with smaller stalks branching out is intertwined with the poppy seed heads. Hopefully the different angles of the honesty will suggest to the viewer it’s flat form. It’s impossible to show any directional light on them. The poppy seed heads are small and in a large drawing they seem to be lost in the honesty. This was a very time consuming drawing and I am disappointed with the result.


Line drawing.

as this is the final assignment, I have decided to choose observation in nature, something i am passionate about and can spend a long time on it. I am always looking at nature, whether while walking on the South Downs or while gardening, and I have a lot of materials available. The two different items I have been drawing at different angles interest me for various reasons. I love poppies and their seed heads leave a beautiful structure in the garden. The honesty plant, though considered a weed, leave beautiful glistening seed heads over winter which seem to light up like a lantern when the sun light fall on them. I can’t decide between the two so I will work on sketches for the line drawing on both of them together.

The first two sketches have fewer seed heads.



I added more and tried to arrange them so I get interesting lines and negative shapes.


It looks too busy so I reduced them again. It’s extremely difficult to work with dried stalks. The height of the honesty seeds was shorter than the poppy. If I cut the poppy stalks, they would loose their lovely curvy lines.

This one doesn’t work at all. The honesty looks like a bunch of grapes or balloons next to the taller poppy. I tried to draw just the honesty. I tried to put the stalk at an angle so the seeds would have some negative space and a variety of angles. This is even worse.


Research point
Look at Charles Renee Mackintosh and David Hockney

Charles Renee Mackintosh – his stylised rose is so simple yet instantly recognisable. His botanical prints are beautiful. My favourite is this drawing, it has the stalks that relate to the seed heads

I have a book on David Hockney drawings and his line drawings have been very helpful for the previous assignment. His economy of line and ability to convey a three dimensional image is very impressive.

Drawing is meditation on paper, a quote I read somewhere. I have been meditating on the seed heads trying to figure out how to get my line drawing and suggest volume and texture. The arrangement was in a powder blue vase on the floor and whilst walking past them, I happened to be looking at them at a 45 degrees angle, at a height a few couple of feet away. A poppy seed head caught my eye, just in front of the honesty. I liked the shapes made by the honesty and the negative shapes. So I sat about doing a quick sketch. It looks better that looking at the arrangement at a horizontal level.

I then set it up so I can look at it at a diagonal, placed some books on the floor to give it some height to get the ideal view. I hope the honesty seed heads shown at different angles will give it depth.


I tried another one in ink, just trying to pick out the seed heads that stood out and cutting out a maze of stalks. The honesty seeds at different angles. I like some parts of it. I tried not to lift the pen and some areas drew back to carry on with the drawing. I did not get the shapes of the honesty seeds right as it was difficult to come back to complete the shape. The shapes can be a long very thin oval to a big wide squarish oval.


The line drawing and looking at negative space has helped me work out the best view for the seed heads. In a way that’s the angle you would normally look at the seeds when they are out in the garden.