Experiment with mixed media

Project 2: Still life

Exercise 3: Experiment with mixed media

This exercise involved experimenting with various materials, including traditional and ‘non-art’ media. I wanted to draw something completely different from my previous exercises, and I eventually set up a still life that consisted of an electric guitar, a mini amp and guitar cable. I set these up in front of my fireplace, but I did not want the background to be a big focus in this as I wanted to make the most of the interesting shapes and colour of the body of the guitar.

Fig. 1

I found this subject extremely difficult to draw, which was my first challenge, and I found that it was easier to focus on the body of the guitar and not worry so much about fitting the whole of the neck onto the paper!

My first attempt (Figure 1) used conte crayons, and a dipping pen and black ink for lines. I deliberately kept this rough and as a very quick ‘warm up’ drawing, which I enjoyed doing. I didn’t allow myself to blend or smudge any of the pastel, as it my usual habit, which felt very strange, but made me a lot freer and rougher with my mark making.

Fig. 2

For my second attempt (Figure 2), I stuck with the conte crayons once again, but this time chose to lay down a coloured wash first with watercolours. I liked the idea of putting a coloured background onto paper first, but have noted that when using watercolour paints in the future, I probably should use a heavier paper! The conte crayons worked fairly well on top of the paints, and again, trying not to overthink too much, I worked quickly and used only three shades of crayon to capture the overall shape of the guitar with more of a focus on lines than tone.

Fig. 3

For my final attempt (Figure 3), I worked on this in a few stages. First I draw a line drawing of the objects in biro, then filled in colour with watercolours. I wasn’t sure how best to tackle the background, so thought I would go back to chalk pastels and shade the background very roughly. Still not happy, I then decided to take the experimenting a bit further and use PVA glue and tissue paper on top of the chalk pastel shading and colour the background with a collage effect.

I thought this looked interesting, and was great fun to do, but it took over the objects, and I felt that the biro was no longer bold enough to stand out against it, so I went over the main features of the guitar and amp with a Sharpie. I thought that doing the strings in marker pen would be too much, and so instead found some silver thread, and pierced a few holes in the paper and ‘stitched’ the thread onto the paper so it looked like the guitar stings (Figure 4).

Fig. 4


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