Exercise: Still life sketches of man made objects

I choose three Moroccan tagines for this this exercise. They are brightly  coloured ceramics with a trim of Berber silver. I bartered for them at the Souk in Marrakech and after a lot of haggling paid more for them than perhaps I would have if I’d bought them on Camden market! As they are handmade the shapes are slightly distorted, which I like. Each tagine is subtly different. One is large and two are smaller and the same size. They have nice, shiny reflective surfaces.


In each instance the tagines were lit with daylight from the right. By the time I got to (3) the light had almost completely faded. I used pencil, graphite pen, watercolour pencils, charcoal pencil and pen.

(1) In this ‘thumbnail’ I drew the light and shadow as I saw it and at this point there was lots complex light patterns and shadow. This is my preferred composition because of the interesting outlines. This could work Patrick Caulfield style perhaps using a simplified approach to the light and shadow and emphasis on the interesting outlines. The horizon line is adding nothing – it is detracting from pleasing negative shapes.

(2) This diagonal placing of the objects gave a reasonable composition but would have worked better had the three tagines been different sizes – then there would have been a much sharper ‘tailing off’. The light was still strong and casting complex shadows.  I simplified the light patterns which works in a way but also has the effect of making my tagines look like stripey wig wams!

(3) For this composition I looked down on the objects. The light was low by this point so it was difficult to pick out light and shadow and I was a bit uncomfortable so it’s rather a hurried sketch. But the outcome is interesting and the subtle differences in the silver trim of the three tagines shows up quite markedly. This gives much more abstract picture than the others and is definitely an approach I will explore more in future.


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