Assignment 1. Part 1. Form and gesture. ‘Shells in Ink’

Here is my Assignment One picture.

Shells in Ink
Shells in Ink Still Life view

Assignment One; Reflection

I chose this group of shells as they are part of a collection I have kept for many years. I am attached to the shell at the back, as my husband bought it for me and it came from The Shell Grotto in Margate. The large white one at the side, well, I’ve just had that for years and years. The other larger shell in the front, was given to me by a boy in a special school where I lived in the 1970’s, his name was Simon Wakeling. The small shells are newer to my collection, one is a snail shell from my garden and the other I picked up from Poppit Sands in Wales earlier this year.
So I just placed them in a simple height composition and drew with a gel pen in a loose way. Once I had the basic shapes I decided to draw with India ink and a chop stick, the chop stick gives a smoother mark on the paper. I made quite a few marks and scribbles to create some textures and lines on the shells. The light source was a natural side light, but I had quite deep shadows.
I love India ink, it has an amazing quality in that you can made deep dark tones or dilute it for lighter ones. It can take a while to dry and when it does those, areas that are very thick dry shiny and leave a tacky residue. It’s a very tactile product.
The back ground was made with water just touching the ink with a brush so that the wet ink runs into the water and spreads on the paper, this is a watercolour painting technique called ‘wet in wet’. It is an unpredictable method, but that’s the best thing about it. Even though my background was quite dark, I thought it looked like the calm water in a pool. Because the surface was so wet the paper cockled, so next time I’ll use watercolour paper as it can hold the ‘wet in wet’ method better.
Things I would improve are;
1) A heavier paper support.
2) Brighter light source.
3) Variety of mid tones, rather than dark and light.
4) Paint it in watercolour paints.

Additional painting

I drew this still life again, using pen and watercolour washes. Alongside the pen lines I drew with a wax candle to create additional marks. The wax then resisted the watercolour washes.

I think I prefer the inky painting I made earlier, but I was able to make different textures and marks with the watercolour image. My first painting feels looser and has a more watery based composition. I know I was thinking of the sea when I was painting it. The watercolour is more of a formal still life on a work bench. I find it interesting how different mediums has encouraged me to make two different kinds of art, but using the same still life subject. It shows how spontaneous I can be towards the India ink, and how formal I have used the watercolour paint.

Shells in watercolour, wax and pen
Shells in watercolour, wax and pen

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