For this exercise I chose a plain white plate, two red chillis and a green chilli, together with a spray of small orange/red roses. I was aiming for simple red and green colour palette. I experimented with the composition as follows:
- using a white plate and white background to create a light, airy image; using a darker background to create contrast
- with the position and arrangement of the flowers and chillis, e.g. red, green red, or two reds together for the chillis, whether to keep components separate or overlapping
- explored the different play of shadows
- using the whole plate or part of the plate
- using the chillis on their own.
Then I decided I didn’t really like any of the compositions because a still life of chillis and roses somehow wasn’t making sense. I’d settled on a preference for the arrangement of the chillis and then replaced the roses with a sprig of basil and did another thumbnail, which I was happy with as the earlier work had helped to develop my ideas. I added a dark background because I liked the stark contrast with the plate and added some red into the background to reflect the red in the chillis.
This final picture uses sketching pen and watercolour pencils (with a wash over). It was lit from the right. The picture is darker than I had intended and I think perhaps had I worked more in my preliminary sketches on the areas of light I might have avoided this. But I’m not entirely unhappy as there are elements that work quite well.
- the sharp contrast with the plate
- use of a different hatching technique for the background
- the red chillis even though quite dark have definite form and shadow.
Things that could be better:
- the green chilli looks blobby because I’ve not captured the shadow and light patterns well
- the shadow cast by the chillis on the plate is too dark and could perhaps have been done with a finer pen and wider spaced hatching. This would have lightened up the picture and improved the contrast.
Note to self: dig out the finer sketching pens I bought last year as using different pens for different areas will help to create variety in shaded areas.