For this exercise you’ll work towards creating an image in a single colour – combining natural and man-made objects and contrasting materials. Select a medium that suits your subject. Are you aiming for detailed complexity of line or an expressive looseness of mark, for example? Ensure you’re able to create a range of tones for your chosen colour by practising in your sketchbook first.

I was really struggling to think of a subject for this. Inspiration struck whilst I was having breakfast and I looked down and saw a bowl full of different reds.

I wanted to try an ink wash because I had seen a couple of fellow students use this successfully, and it seemed a good way to cover negative space whilst sticking to the monochromatic palette. So I was already thinking that the piece might be slightly abstract. I tried the ink wash to portray the bowl, thinking it would be analogous to the small splashes of strawberry juice, but it doesn’t work. I’m very interested in completely empty negative space, so I decided to use the wash for the background and leave the white bowl as completely blank paper, and take a viewpoint from above the bowl to make it a natural frame.

I looked at using coloured pencils and watercolour pencils, but found that I got a richer colour from oil pastels that is much better suited to the succulent fruit. The drawing is on A3 cartridge paper.

Progress Shots: just one very late one. Here I was struggling to get highlights using any pale pastel, even white. I don’t know whether the hot weather played a part in this. I found that the pastel just picked up red from the page instead of overlaying it. I waited until the next morning when it was cooler and used a white watercolour pencil with just enough water to slightly soften it and pushed the pigment onto the red, to quite pleasing effect. I also used my trusty whittled bamboo skewer to remove red from the cut surfaces of the fruit to reveal a paler colour for the internal structures.

Final piece:

On reflection, I wish I had masked the white bowl! I spilled ink on it (I could say it was intentional and meant to be strawberry juice but that would be a fib…), and I am not yet practiced enough to keep my fingers off the page so there are some faint red fingerprints on it too.

The spoon handle looks odd. There was a dark line of reflection all around the whole edge, but it does not translate well into a realistic drawing. Perhaps adding an artificial light source would have solved this.

My favourite thing about the piece is the seeds, some are almost in silhouette on the ‘shadowed’ surfaces as a small amount of light passes through the fruit, some are pale colours as the light hits them directly, and the highlights around them accentuate the slight indents in which they lie.

One thought on “PART 2. Project 2, Exercise 4 Monochrome

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