Intimacy, Part 2. Project 2. Detailed observation of natural objects. Exercise 1. Detail and tone.

Exercise 1 Detail and tone

In this exercise practise building up dark, medium and light tones, using pencils and hatching and cross-hatching techniques. Select another object such as a shell or piece of driftwood. Get a varied effect by combining soft and medium grade pencils and altering the direction of the surfaces you make.

Use smooth A3 paper and a variety of soft pencils. Use a putty rubber to lift out the smallest highlights. Lightly sketch in the outlines of the objects. Hatch in the dark areas. Make sure you work all around the drawing so that you can compare the tones of different areas of the drawing. Seek put patterns and really focus on making them key aspects of the drawing.

Introduce contrast into your drawing. Make sure you have strong darks with deep cross-hatching, and other areas that are very light in tone, as well as variety in types of mark, direction of mark, continuous line and broken line.

Constantly review your work by stepping back from it. Ask yourself if you have sufficient contrasts and variation of mark, and whether you’re filling in an interesting and effective way.

Here is my start of studying detail in natural objects. My husband found these snail shells in our garden last year and put them on the mantle piece. They were calling to me to make a piece of art work.

So I’ve created some sketches using different art materials.  These are drawn with soft pastel.  I don’t usually work with soft pastel, but it was enjoyable blending the colours and drawing the details on top was difficult at first, but if I made any marks I didn’t want, I could just rub it out. The pastel gave the snail shell a soft vibrant feel. I decided to use a purple on the background to complement the gentle yellows on the shell surface.


I next drew a small series of snail shells with my reed pen and acrylic ink. These were a quick sketch series, a method I really love. It was to just capture the essence of the shell shape and some of the lines and marks.


Using soft coloured pencils I drew the snail shell and placed it in a square shape composition. I tried to express the background with a cross hatching mark. As my pencils were nice and sharp, I could add very fine details. Like soft pastels, I don’t usually draw with coloured pencils, but I did find this an exciting medium.


I got out the oil pastels for the next set of snail shell drawings, and my approach was a bit different. I decided to use a watercolour paints dropped over the oil pastel, the oily pastel resists the watery paint and it gives a flowing feel. I think I need to draw into this set a bit more to give the shell more form and shape.


My last practice sketch was with watercolour pencils. I had a scribbling time with this drawing, Using the pencils dipped in water and drawing into the yellow ochre watercolour paint gave a variety of marks and dark lines too.  I thought the watercolour pencils made the shells look prehistoric, like fossils.


A 3 Final drawing

I put together a still life composition with some other natural objects and my snail shells to make a final image. This was drawn with soft coloured pencils, which I now love. Hopefully I achieved lots of cross hatched lines to create the forms, creases and table top surface. For ages I played around with placing the objects, but I accidentally just put them down and got a composition I liked. The large shells are snail shells and I popped in a polished fossil and some feathers.








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