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.

Part 5 option 2, observation in nature – Draw and select, different angles

Leonardo da Vinci had an uncanny ability to observe nature and record it. His precise illustration of the subject with small explanatory notes was remarkable. Another artist whose illustrations of nature that I admire is Albrecht Durer.

Star of Bethlehem in red chalk, pen and ink by Leonardo.

Turf in watercolour by Albrecht Durer.

Finding a subject.
It’s difficult to decide. My favourite drawing in option two was of the tomatoes in ink. I need to work on something which will be a bit more challenging and I can experiment with different mediums. I forgot to put in the variety of subjects I have been working on, so they are at the bottom. Please scroll down.

I have been drawing tulips. Whilst they are beautiful it’s tricky to use them as a subject to use for observation. The flowers keep changing every minute. The petals open with the movement of the sun and they all off too quickly. The sunflower keeps changing too. Seed heads not only remain as they are for very long, I can see myself working on them and experimenting in mixed media, so I will work on them.
Some poppy and honesty seed heads

A close up of honesty seed heads in the sun and it’s plant further down.



Different angles in Different media.
At the moment the seeds are either on a white napkin on the table or supported by a jar. I am not drawing the jar or the napkin. I thought about putting them in an organic support such as wrapping the stalks in brown paper to make them look like a bouquet arrangement, but did not like the look of it. these are in HB pencils :






The one above one is with red chalk and Derwent sketching pencil.


This one is a view with a longer stem. I have used Derwent graphite block in Prussian blue. I have tried to depict the seeds at different angles. The drawing below is on an a3 cartridge paper with water colours.

This one is on an A4 300gsm watercolour paper with watercolours.

A sketch with the branch at a diagonal in Quink drawn with a bamboo pen.


The poppy seed heads viewed from above. This is in charcoal. The heads were lifted out with putty eraser.


Draw and select.
I forgot to put in my drawings of various subjects, and when I try to insert photos in the middle, it doesn’t seem to work. I promised myself not to spend more than two hours on each. I once spent a record two weeks on a pencil drawing of lilies in a vase, working everyday till midnight! My sketchbook I started for this assignment is an A4 and the paper is not strong enough to hold various medium so I have done these studies on separate sheets of paper.
A bowl of fruit on A2 cartridge paper in oil pastels.

Different fruit, again in oils pastels
This is on an A3 medium grain paper

The fruit goes off very quickly and you just have to eat it or bin it! much as I love tulips, they are tricky to work with. Here is an abandoned water colour. The petals kept opening and the flower changed every few minutes. This tulip is yellow with red edges and middle.

A plate of pears, forelle and packhams, on A2 in charcoal.

Pointed sweet peppers on a bamboo board in pencil colours, A3 cartridge paper. I left most of the background unfinished – my two hours were up.

While still thinking about subjects, my eyes fell on a potted sunflower on the window sill. Lots of images and potential came to mind. This is with ink pen and Inktense pencils and a blue wash, on A3 300gsm water colour paper. I ran out of time and did not complete the leaves, they are looking pale and patchy.


Studies in charcoal

I looked at charcoal drawings by Van Gogh, Odilon Redon and Seurat. It’s now my aim to get the widest range of tone , especially darkest dark in my drawings. This are all done in willow stick charcoal.

A sketch of a tulip in sunlight against a dark background in the front garden. I tried to follow the petal forms and shadows. I used a paint brush to get the soft edges and delicate lines in the petals. The tips of the petals looked so bright, they were white. The tulip petals are actually yellow with crimson red edges and centre markings.


This is a pine cone. I did this by first putting a layer of charcoal, then drawing by lifting out the light areas. I then added the dark areas .

It’s not an accurate drawing, but at least I managed to add the darkest tones and did not get any outlines. Not happy with result and looking again at Redon’s drawings I was determined to improve on this. I wanted more contrast, light and dark and get subtle changes in tones. I added white chalk on the lighter areas and reinforced the dark areas, I tried to blend the tones in between with a paper stub, fingers and a brush. I had a real go with the charcoal, stabbing, making dashes with lots of energy. I feel a bit a bit better about this one. At least it looks slightly like a cone and the directional light is more evident. Now to clear all the dust!


A plate of pears, packham and a forelle.


Re working on portrait from memory. I refreshed my memory on the important features. The left eye does not have a glint, as my mum has lost sight .


More collage and watercolour sketches

Still trying to decide on what to work on for assignment 5, I carried on with more collage. My tutor, Angela, recommended I should do some. I have never done them before and felt excited like a child let loose with crayons and a blank wall. Inspired by tulips in the garden, I did some quick water colour sketches first.



The collage has a layer of newspaper, cut outs from yellow felt, magazine and newspaper photos. I left it to dry in the sun and the magazine photos started to fade. To make them stand out, I added some white acrylic paint around the leaves. I then added some gesso.


Here is one of a dried poppy seed head. This one has newspaper and white tissue paper for texture. I painted the corners dark to make it stand out.


Here is a watercolour sketch of a seed head on an A4 300gsm paper.


A play of teasels with water colour and wax


I have a big collection of dried honesty and poppy seed heads which I am considering for the last assignment.


A quick sketch of honesty seeds. This is on A2 cartridge paper.


The honesty plant is bright green leaves with pink flowers. This colouring can be seen on the seeds heads. The actual seeds have black threads connecting them to the rim of the seed head. Held against sunlight , the heads are almost transparent. I find them beautiful.


Here is an attempt of a collage of a few seed heads. This is on A3 paper. I used different shades of green and purple tissue paper, black ink, silver card, bubble wrap, knitting wool, acrylic paint and a polythene sheet. I was trying to achieve the transparency and brightness of the seed head. Not sure if it looks anything like it, but I enjoyed working on it.


I liked the effect and textures resulting from layers of tissue paper and acrylic paint.
Here is a close up.


Here is an honesty plant with young green seeds and flowers.


I thoroughly enjoyed working on the collage work. It’s been therapeutic, fun, yet it’s made me aware of the importance of colours, shapes and relationships of objects in a composition. Trying to get the texture , form and essence of the object correctly with paper is very difficult. It’s also made me think more about the range of tone and cast shadows. Picking out what’s important and leaving out the rest for the mind’s eye to complete.

This has given me ideas for the torn paper collage in the next assignment.

Experimenting with different media – Pears!

Cezanne’s painting of pears inspired me!

I also find Euan Uglow’s paintings of pears very exciting. The pears seem to be alive and vibrating!
While contemplating on a subject for the next and final part I am just going to experiment on pears.

My plate of pears: packhams and a forelle, they both have different colouring and shapes.


This is a quick study in Prussian blue watercolour on 300gsm A4 paper. I started off by blocking in the dark areas, leaving the bright areas untouched. I enjoyed this.


Next is a collage. I have never done one before and was excited to experiment with some materials I collected. This is on an A3 paper. I started of with layers of news papers and green tissue paper. The plate is cut out from a bubble wrap envelope. I cut out pear shapes from magazine photographs. It was very difficult to cut the shapes. I did not draw the shapes or use a stencil, just straight with the scissors – like Matisse would have done. I can now understand how difficult it must have been to cut out the figures and appreciate his work even more. It was very tricky glueing the shapes and making sure they are in the right place. I even put glue on the wrong side of the red pear and nearly lost it. The pears seemed to be swimming in green, so I put a purple base. I used a yellow net bag for the cast shadow. I was missing a dark shadow under the plate so I used some acrylic paint. I decided to apply some gesso for more texture and to glue everything in place. This experience has helped me understand the importance of shapes and colours.

A quick study in charcoal while the glue in the collage was drying

This one is in water colour. I tried to put the dark likes like Cezanne, but didn’t manage to get them anything like it..

My tutor recommended me to do a charcoal studies so here goes…
I started off by rubbing a layer of charcoal dust I made from willow stick on an A2 cartridge paper

Here is the kitchen towel I used to rub in the



I wasn’t sure whether to remove charcoal and start with light areas or with the dark. I decided to start with the dark. Indicated where the darkest areas are. Worked on from there.

The proportions of the pears weren’t right, they were too small for the A2 paper, I wiped them out, rubbed in more charcoal and started again. That was the fun part, as you can just wipe and re start. I made the pears bigger. It still didn’t look right, the pear at the back seemed too tall. I corrected the size. The biggest problem was that I corrected a tone, something else would get messed up. I could not get a very dark tone. My quick study has some very dark tones. After a lot of time messing around in dust, I am not happy as I could not get a very dark tone. Even if I pressed the charcoal hard, the dust just seems to fall off. Don’t know where I am going wrong. At least I have done a drawing with NO outlines in it.

I spayed some fixative and tried to emphasise the darkest areas with a fresh piece of willow charcoal. I just put dabs so the charcoal would stick. I managed to get the darkest tone I was trying to achieve so I will leave it at this.