Project – Detailed Observation

Check and Log

1.  Which drawing media did you find most effective to use, for which effects?
Pencil for me was the most effective medium as it offers the most variety of tone and reliability of marks.

The ballpoint pen (a first drawing with such) is more subtle than I thought possible and it was possible to grade shading  though the size/intensity of dots was not easy to vary. However the dip pen was a bit on or off and the lack of gradation of tone has to be compensated by the variation in stippling.

2.  What sort of marks work well to create tone, pattern and texture? Make notes beside some sample marks.
Shading and dots works well to create tone, pattern and texture but I am not sympathetic to hatching. I agree it produces an effect that can be used to differentiate planes, textures etc. but it does not occur in real life and accordingly I consider it to be more decorative than natural.

3.  Did you enjoy capturing details or are you more at home creating big broad brush sketches?
I prefer producing detailed drawings and creating the minutiae as realistically as possible. Time consuming but very absorbing. I haven’t learned a “big broad brush” approach yet but whilst I can appreciate the talent of expressive or gestural drawing, I am not sure it’s for me.

4. Look at the composition of the drawings you have done in this project. Make some sketches and notes about how you could improve your composition
As all my drawings were of single objects, other than viewing angles I couldn’t have made a difference. It might be that more interesting angles could have been achieved – perhaps unstable or imbalanced situations.

Project – Detailed Observation

Exercise – Stipples and Dots


The object is a wave worn soft red brick, about an eighth part of a whole, which has had the sharp edges worn off.

The ballpoint pen drawing is reasonably accurate in shape. I used stippling where effective though a ballpoint is not particularly appropriate for this technique. Surprisingly this particular ballpoint produced some delicate lines.

Perhaps the drawing appears a bit flat.

Project – Detailed Observation

Exercise – Getting Tone and Depth in Detail


The drawing possibly hasn’t got the degree of hatching envisaged by the exercise or the intensity of the darkest tones correct. Apart from some near the edge markings there was not a lot of extreme contrasts

Most of the darker areas of the shell are fine hatching and not shading and whilst not an extreme dark they are dark enough bearing in mind that the shadows are the darkest areas.

However the wider/broader hatching on the left hand side of the shell does not work, it looks like fur. Likewise hatching the mouth of the shell doesn’t work. I could have done better with shading.

Experimenting with crosshatching for the shadows did not give the desired effect. The natural marks on the edges of the shell clashed with the shadow.

I do have a concern that use of cross-hatching or hatching rarely gives a realistic or natural effect. There is no hatching in nature. With the facility of different thicknesses and grades of lead a more representational effect can be readily produced.

Hoping that I might create a better drawing with a more linear object I also drew a second object – a 6” piece o driftwood.


I didn’t get the effect I wanted with the hatching and probably would have done better by using shading. I thought the natural striations and grain in the wood would be easier ro portray with hatching but the drawing has little depth.

Perhaps I would have done better with simple still life shapes. I found the textbooks lacking in good guidance on hatching, i.e. how to define shape and texture with hatching but a websearch turned up some good examples particularly Morandi.

The use of the putty rubber for highlights was limited in the drawing.

Project – Detailed Observation

Exercise – Line Drawing Detail


Unfortunately for the first line drawing, a section through a Chinese lettuce (Bok Choy), I overlooked the exercise instruction requiring “continuous lines” which obviously my lines are not and could not have been with this object. However I have included it. I had to put the dots in the leaf stalk sections as they and the voids, if blank, did not make the drawing realistic enough/sufficiently representational.


The second drawing, a section through a broccoli, is not as realistic as the first but is a continuous line drawing.

The limitations of the technique prevented me getting the overall shape correct and also creating some of the details.

However it’s OK and I doubt a second attempt would have been any better.

Research Point

Drawings by Two Contrasting Artists

Find drawings by two artists who work in contrasting ways: from tight rigorous work to a more sketchy, expressive style.
J D Hillberry is a present day American artist who produces very detailed drawings which are almost photo-realistic.

white-bouquet-web2[1]  After-the-critic-clean-web[1]

His rigorous attention to detail is obvious and is accomplished by incorporating a wide range of contrasting tones and precise textures in order to produce realism. He goes beyond the darkest tones that graphite pencil can produce by incorporating carbon pencils and also charcoal to create the blackest tones, often by layering the medium.

Onions%20and%20Garlic[1]  pencil_drawings_man_behind_artwork[1]

He creates 3D effects by pitching the extremes of light and dark tones against each other.

The gradation of his shading is seamless and takes hours of precision mark making supplemented by using his eraser as a tool for lightening.

Persona_web[1]  The%20Frustrated%20Artist%20w[1]

Where appropriate he makes great use of tonal edges accentuated by contrast with the adjoining space rather than by defined lines.

Story%20Time%20W[1]   craig%20kline[1]It is his laborious attention to detail that gives his drawing life rather than a representation formed by linear marks. He has obviously studied hard the way that the effect of light and shadow contribute to the depiction of form.

Giacometti (1901-66) was better known for his skinny sculptures and his paintings rather than his drawings though it was drawing that formed the greater part of his early artistic output.

giacometti-drawing4[1]  a1192757b[1]

His depiction of detail, say, in the triplet of heads drawing is made up by a greater intensity/density of his lines rather than drawing a shape of that detail. Shading is a multiplicity of lines.

giacometti-drawing7[1]  GIACOMETTI[1]

The “whirliness” of some of his lines certainly does not accurately portray the detail of the subject but still conveys the essence of what the subject is. It is as though the frenzied marks are more important to Giacometti than the accuracy of his drawing, i.e. his physical act of expression is more important than the image.

If I had made such a drawing I am sure the observers would be less than ecstatic!

giacometti-drawing3[1]    giacometti-web[1]

In the drawing xx many of his marks are contrary to the detail you would expect in a face or neck though the image conveys the information you would expect to see in a head and shoulders portrait.


The three “room” drawings portray a different style insofar that the majority of his lines are straight even though in places they are depicting curves.


I found no reference as to the amount of time it took Giacometti to complete his drawings. Were they very quick sketches or studied drawings. Are his many lines searching for the right one or is he adding lines for dramatic expression?


Course Books Reviewed

Ways Of Seeing

The book is written by John Berger (an art critic) and four others and is offered as seven essays, four textural and three pictorial.

The topics of the untitled essays are –
1.  The essay describes how art has been mystified by imagery and description in order to satisfy the elite and not to be judged by its inherent qualities or uniqueness. It discusses how the mystery intensifies by virtue of its monetary value. Also the essay discusses how photography changed art and the way we perceive it.

2.  Medieval and modern pictures of mostly naked women, perhaps trying to demonstrate the evolution, of how women have been portrayed over the ages.

3.  How men and women in particular are perceived by themselves and by society. The perceptions of female nudity in art. How men and women are portrayed differently in art and why. Men in pictures are shown in a powerful or action stance whilst women merely appear. Men are generally the observer of a picture of a woman and often the procurer of the picture.

4.  Some more nakedness, some still life and some portraits and no indication of what these images are meant to portray and little realised from looking at them.

5.  The creation and possession of traditional European art from about 1500 to about 1900. The chapter explores the reason for paintings and suggests that they were to display wealth either in the imagery or by the possession of the item. It suggests that traditional oil painting in that period established norms which still form many of our cultural assumptions. It also suggests that traditional oil paintings are really just about the monetary element, ie. the investment?

6.  See 4 though with less nakedness and again with no evident message.

7.  “Publicity is usually explained and justified as a competitive medium which ultimately benefits the public/consumer and the most efficient manufacturer.” A confusing essay which posits that the essence of publicity or advertising is to make you feel inadequate or inefficient or generally lacking in self esteem. Buy the product and your live will be transformed and you will be very attractive to the opposite sex. Much of the text is out of date. The industry has moved on. The chapter somewhat bizarrely relates itself to oil paintings and stretches the meanings of words to fit, see 11 and 12 below.

A curious book for a number of reasons –
1.  The presentation. The book is poorly printed in a bold type and in an unusual and unattractive layout of text. The photographs of paintings coupled with the poorly reproduced photographs have been reduced to such a size to make any detail indistinguishable. If the authors were trying to be radical in presentation they failed and the amateur appearance detracts from any credibility the authors might have.

2.  In the Notes to the Reader the authors posit the statement  “Our principal aim has been to start a process of questioning. Their writing style is not particularly questioning though maybe it is trying to stimulate thought. However as many of the ideologies introduced are received as personal without substantiation it is difficult to be provoked into lingering with the theory and arguments put forward.

3. Much of the thinking is out of date since the book was published in 1972.

4.  There is much anti-capitalist propaganda represented with an obvious resentment by the authors of those with wealth which rankles. The book suggests that European art was the plaything of the rich who used it to station their place in life over those perceived to be beneath them, ie. everybody else.. Perhaps the authors were in sympathy with the Communist propaganda of the day.

Those on the right may say if it were not for the rich there would be no art insofar that virtually until modern times all art was commissioned and not undertaken speculatively.

5.  The authors have drawn much of their positioning from other peoples work and this element negates any “freshness” of their own thoughts. For myself the logic of some of the questions asked or arguments made does not stand up and so was dismissed as “interesting” but not worthy of further thought.

In summation there are some worthy points, often made in a few words but these could mostly have been made in a single essay which would have been quite interesting. I think for a newcomer to art the authors have a few stimulating thoughts to offer which might alter the reader’s own initial or naive thinking but these points would have been more valuable had they not been muddled in with nebulous political contentions and extreme personal opinions. However generally interesting and stimulating in places and I learned a little.

Some muses, some slightly modified, extracted from the book which might provoke thought.
1.  “The way we see or perceive things is affected by what we know or believe”.

2.  “To touch something is to situate oneself in relation to it.”

3.  “We never look at just one thing – we are always looking at the relation between things and ourselves.”

4.  “Images were first made to recreate the appearance of something that was absent. As an image could outlast the object the image became a record of that object. The image allows us to share the artists experience of the visible. “Images are more precise and richer than literature.”

5.  “Mystification is the process of explaining away what might otherwise be evident.”

6.  “The photographers way of seeing is reflected in his choice of subject. The painters way of seeing is reconstituted by the marks he makes on the canvas or paper.”

7.  “The past is a well of conclusions from which we draw in order to act.”

8.  “When we see a landscape we situate ourselves in it.”

9.  “A man’s presence is dependent upon the promise of power which he embodies. If the promise is large and credible his presence is striking. If it is small or incredible he is found to have little presence etc.

By contrast, a woman’s presence expresses her own attitude to herself and defines what can and cannot be done to her.”

10.  Kenneth Clark – “to be naked is simply to be without clothes whereas the nude is a form of art.” To be naked is to be oneself. To be nude is to be seen naked by others.”

11. “The spectator buyer is meant to envy herself as she will become if she buys the product. She is meant to imagine herself transformed by the product into an object of envy for others, an envy which will then justify her loving herself.`

One could put this another way; the publicity image steals her love of herself as she is and offers it back to her for the price of the product.”

12.  “Any work of art “quoted” by publicity serves two purposes. Art is a sign of affluence; it belongs to the good life; it is part of the furnishing which the world gives to the rich and the beautiful.”

13. “Capitalism survives by forcing the majority, whom it exploits, to define their own interests as narrowly as possible. This was once achieved by extensive deprivation. Today in the developed countries it is being achieved by imposing a false standard of what is and what is not desirable.”

Project – Exploring Coloured Media

Exercise – Exploring Coloured Media





Check and Log
Which of the media you have experimented with did you find most expressive? Make notes in your learning log on the pros and cons of each medium.
Coloured Pencils
Expressive –
•    Yes, react to hard and soft pressure.
Pros. –
•    easy to draw with using the point or side of point.
•    Makes most marks except fine.
Cons. –
•    Difficult to form a fine point.
•    Does not make a solid mark.

Thick and Thin Fibre Tip Pen
Expressive –
•    Yes
Pros. –
•    Solid, dependable line.
Cons. –
•    Not subtle, either on or off.
•    No variation in line width or tone.

Expressive –
•    No. Sweeping marks can be made but not expressive.
Pros. –
•    Solid, dependable line.
•    Makes fine lines for hatching.
Cons. –
•    Can be blotchy.
•    No variation in tone or line width.

Thin Lead Coloured Pencil
Expressive –
•    Yes for small scale work.
Pros. –
•    Fine detail drawing implement.
Cons. –
•    Limited colour range
•    Only thin lines

Dip Pen
Expressive –
•    Yes.
Pros. –
•    Fine to wide marks can be made
•    Pressure will alter the line breadth as will turning the pen with some nibs.
•    Makes fluid marks
Cons –
•    Only carries limited ink so limited line lengths
•    Some nibs don’t start first time.

Wax Crayon (Round)
Expressive –
•    Yes
Pros. –
•    Responds to pressure.
•    Has tonal variety.
•    2 colours blend well but no more
Cons. –
•    Not a solid line

Oil Pastels (Square section)
Expressive –
•    Yes.
Pros. –
•    Some colours merge well.
•    Side and end can be used
•    Interesting effects using the end lightly and turning the pastel
Cons. –
•    Not particularly responsive to pressure
•    Finished work needs to be sealed

Pastels (Square section)
Expressive –
•    Yes but only on large paper
Pros. –
•    Edges, sides or ends can be used
Cons –
•    Finished work need to be sealed

The most expressive single medium was the wax crayon. Whilst the size of the drawn box limited its use on large paper it would be possible to get good hard gestural marks from the tip. Light use of the tip produced some interesting marks. Furthermore the side of the tip produced some good shading.

The dip pen was a close second but has limited use as the ink keeps running out.

Which medium do you think lends itself to very detailed work.
The fine fibre tip, thin lead coloured pencils and the finer of the dip pen nibs all give good results for detail. If one stands out it is probably the fine fibre tip which also has a good colour range.