Practice building up dark, medium and light tones, principally using pencils and hatching and cross-hatching techniques.

For this section I collected natural objects; pebbles and shells from Southsea beach and seedpods and flowers from my parents’ garden and from my own. I did various studies of the shapes and forms I found most interesting, and chose the pebbles and shells as the subject of this first exercise:

I spent time trying to figure out how best to portray the ‘mother of pearl’ effect of some of the shells. I tried using charcoals on black paper (awful), and bought a burnishing pencil, which was not particularly effective, but which does offer some resistant qualities that may be useful in future. In the end, I think just careful observation of colour was fairly successful.



Trying different media on my chosen paper:


Thoughts on composition. I’ve moved slightly away from my ‘comfort zone’ of a central grouping.

Final decision on the composition:

Progress shots:

Final piece, with some close-ups. Using only pencils, I found that I couldn’t get good enough highlights and pale tones just with the white pencil and by lifting with various rubbers, so I supplemented these with ‘flesh tone’ and white oil pastels. I also forgot about my intention to have the pebbles reach out of the field of view to imply a continuity of the ‘tide-line’. I could cheat and crop it, but I like the shapes of the end pebbles so I’m not going to do that.

I like the variation of tone achieved, especially in the areas where the pebbles cast shadows on each other. I’m particularly pleased with the tiny orangey-coloured one in the middle of the right hand group. I was slightly disappointed that given the scale of the drawing, the shells I had spent so much time on in the studies are too small to really reflect the detail I had achieved previously.

I hadn’t ever considered coloured pencils to be a ‘serious’ art medium, more just something that children use. I bought some Faber-Castell Polychromos pencils, which are quite soft and give a really rich colour. It felt like discovering a new medium and I enjoyed this exercise immensely.


2 thoughts on “PART 2. Project 1, Exercise 1 Detail and Tone

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