Exercise: experiment with mixed media

For this exercise I decided to do a simpler composition so I could concentrate more on tone and colour use. Building on the previous exercise I decided again to do an analogous colour scheme except for then adding in a complementary green by using one apple in a group of oranges to make an interesting contrast.

I played around with the oranges on my mantlepiece and piled them and started directly by taking photos to help me with composition which I quite like as its an automatic viewfinder for me.

I then got the sketchbook out and started also trying thumbnails for my drawing and thinking about where the shade was and trying out actually doing an even more closer up still life, cropping at the left – again to be a bit more interesting that just having it in the middle.

I then tried out some small thumbnails in colour to decide where to place the one green apple and went for the left as I felt that I wanted to have it be the first thing the eye is drawn to and also placed two thirds from the top and left – following the rule of thirds again. I also thought it would get the most contrast but not being against the while wall but fully inside the brown mantelpiece and orange of the oranges.

This exercise was meant to be an experiment of using different media which I really enjoyed. I also decided to use a dusky pink grey cotton textured paper (visible in the unpainted part of the image below) to help establish a midtone and as it was thick and grainy, I could use different layers of media to get the effects I was going for.

I first tried out some options below including gouache paint, alcohol markers, posca markers, crayon and oil paint and tried a few different combinations below.

The best green for the apple was the alcohol marker then crayon and then oil pastel for more tone. The orange was better with gouache base paint and then crayon and oil pastel. So I applied that and even applied gouache paints for the marbly red/brown of the mantelpiece. Then applied more texture to capture the marbly effect with smaller brushes and lighter tones and mixing them and really trying to apply loose strokes.

I then used a mop paint brush to dab gouache paints of grey and white on the background to get the textured surface though it came out too patchy so I added more pastel on top to still have texture but not overtake the fruit.

I arrived at the final piece below which I find quite rich compared to my other pieces and definitely the use of layers and mixed media helped with this. Using crayon and oil pastel on such a toothy paper was also great to get the texture of the orange though now looking at it all, it may have been better to only use paint for the apple which has a smoother texture – for more realism. Again I used complementary colours for tone, and some grey and then added highlights with white oil pastel which really helped bring out the light parts.

I really like this compared to previous coloured tone drawings and really also enjoyed using mixed media. Now looking back at my previous one with the foreground figs I think I could have used oil pastel in the end to help lighten further parts for example. I realise also that even when using textured paper I can try to get smoother looks if needed depending on the medium used and the desired effect. Working on a mid tone paper clearly also works for me and helps me really apply dark tones which I sometimes shy away from unconsciously.

I haven’t been overly enthusiastic about still life drawing but the more I tried to apply techniques and think about composition, lines, colours etc, the more I got into it and enjoyed it – and appreciated how even simple still life drawings can be really specifically planned.

Things that worked for me:

  • layers of mixed media and experimenting with this first really helped me be selective about what I wanted and trial out some ideas
  • applying ground layers and background colours first helped also ensure I had the tone and colours I wanted rather than start with the main subject first- I decided to do this on purpose and also using the mid tone colour paper so that I would not fall into my tendency to applying tone and colour too lightly
  • Using textured paper for desired texture of fruit really worked, particularly for the oranges and yet the paint and oil pastels for the marble worked really well for a smooth surface with a pattern

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this:
search previous next tag category expand menu location phone mail time cart zoom edit close