Project 3: Changing scale (2) Tomato stalks and stone


My subject matter; a stone with interesting contour lines and ripple like patterns and a vine tomato stalks.

I enjoyed the changing scale exercise so much that I had another go.  I selected a stone with pleasing contour lines and marks, and some vine tomato stalks. Using a dipping pen and ink I drew the stalks and then the contours of the stone. The markings on the stone resembled ripples of water so I wondered if the stalks could become underwater plants. When I stepped back I wasn’t happy; I’d created an over complicated drawing with no particular focus. I chucked it to one side.


Initial ink drawing which I discarded

A few days later I came back to my drawing (right) and, with nothing to lose, I painted on a very dilute bleach solution which broke up the solid colour. I then reinstated the stalks and  drew over areas with a white chalk pen (a useful thing to have) to create areas of reflected, diffused light. I still had a messy over complicated drawing but it had started to resemble  rippling water (see below).


The ink drawing I photographed in close up. Ink (Quink), Brusho ink, drawing pen, chalk pen.

I got my camera out  and started to play with zooming into particular areas. My drawing started to look much more interesting.  I tilted the camera and positioned it at the same level as my drawing; this had the effect of elongating the foreground and scrunching up the background. Now my drawing was becoming exciting and looking like the surface of an icy, glacial stream.

This outcome truly surprised me; there is no way I could have predicted where this was going. An unpromising initial drawing went through a metamorphosis to become something  striking that actually did follow through my initial thoughts about patterns on water. This certainly reinforces for me the OCA message that experiment and an open mind are vital for personal development.   I’ve also had a reminder that it’s worth reviewing work that initially feels unpromising with a fresh eye and renewed energy.

I’ve taken my drawing and photographed it in an experimental way to create images that have, I believe, some depth and intrigue about them. My next challenge has to be to take some of these photos and recreate them as drawings… This has the potential to be the subject of my first assignment.


Project 3: Changing scale (1) Dolls, oyster shells etc

I so enjoyed this exercise. I started with two small broken dolls, some oyster shells , a bit of mesh ribbon and a honey dipper. I’ve ended up with giant, rather wicked looking twins in an alien landscape and a great god-like hand striking the earth with a stake (very William Blake).


A very valuable exercise. It tells me to look widely for subjects to draw and experiment with scale and to not be afraid to let the imagination run riot. I started to feel some kind of story was unfolding with this drawing. I did not set up the objects as a still life, instead I held them in my hand so I could see the detail and drew with the other and made up the composition as I went along.

The  oyster shells with all their layers and contours make great rocks and mountains. The mesh ribbon forms very interesting marks and I could incorporate these into many things as background or objects in their own right. When I drew the honey dipper I thought it might become a tower but  it gained a hand at the top and took on a life of its own. I’m sure I’ll be drawing the broken dolls again; they might be a good visual metaphor for the cruelty of war and the loss of innocent lives. The one doll’s fixed eyes looking the other way are odd but they contribute to the narrative as they say something else is happening that we cannot see.

I ended up with a more powerful drawings after cropping; the drama is more focused; the edges are more interesting and the colour better balanced.

The tide makes seaweed drawings in the sand

Walking along a beach on the Hook Peninsula in County Wexford, Ireland,  I found some amazing drawings made in the sand by the action of the tide pulling seaweed back into the ocean. They are found, transient drawings  made by the tides and they thrill me. They remind me of curls of hair, translucent fabric, the folds of landscapes. I will find a way to weave  these wonderful flowing shapes into my own work.


Project 1 – Observational drawing – part 2b – photoshop experiments

I was about to move on from this project when I remembered an exercise I did as part of Creative Arts Today which involved creating a grid of photographic images with similarities and subtle differences to get the viewer thinking. So I thought I’d play around with my photographic and drawn images of the basil plant and see what might emerge. I experimented with scale, and repetition, mixing photographic and drawn images, layering and colour adjustment.


Also see Observational drawing…

Part 1 – initial photos and sketches

Part 2 – experiments with composition

Part 3- Reflection


Project 1: Observational drawing (Part 3) – Reflection

This has been an really good exercise for me. I’ve struggled with still life composition in the past and agonised over the choice and arrangement of the elements to such a  degree that I’ve had no energy or creativity left by the time I got to painting and drawing. This exercise has given me a whole new insight into a more creative way of designing a composition and with it a new enthusiasm for still life.

I don’t have a final drawing but I do have a lot of experiments in composition and I’ve pulled out below those that I think have the most potential. These have moved a long way from my original ready-made still life on a window sill and brought in the blinds, brickwork and a ‘comma’ shape ( the negative space inside the watering can handle) as repeated motifs.

I’ve never worked this way before and I’m excited by it, while also recognising that I’ve still a way to go in achieving a creative composition that I feel truly happy with. I need to explore and experiment with the space around the elements (which is addressed in the next exercise) and I could do with using the red brick motifs with much more subtlety. Nonetheless, I’m pleased with the outcomes of my experiments and feel that the character of the basil and parsley in my observational drawings has been carried through.

Also include my basil drawing made with very wet ink because although the composition is not particularly exploratory the technique is one that I’m keen to return to.

I went back to this exercise to have play around in Photoshop to explore layering, scale and repetition. I’m glad I did because a few of the outcomes surprised me.


Late additions… my most successful Photoshop experiments

Also see:

Part 1 – Initial photography and sketches

Part 2- Experiments with composition

Part 2b – experiments with composition in Photoshop

Project 1: Observational drawing (Part 2) – putting the elements together to explore composition

Next I had a lot of fun photographing, printing and cutting up some of my initial drawings to explore the different ways the various elements could be arranged to make a more creative still life composition.


Also see

Part 1 – Initial photography and sketches

Part 2b – experiments with composition in Photoshop

Part 3- Reflection