Exercise 1.1

Right hand / Left hand

Right handed drawing of these simple kitchen utensils was simple but not easy. My brain knew what my eyes were seeing by my hands weren’t so keen to illustrate exactly what was in front of me. While the shapes are distinguishable, the proportions really bug me.  Hopefully in future exercises, I can either find greater accuracy or learn to accept the imperfections. An interesting metaphor for life. 

The left handed attempt was far more challenging. While the shapes are just as distinguishable as when my dominant hand drew them, the lines are far less steady. Interestingly, I’m far less critical of the results. 

In drawing these same items with new media – brush tip felt pen – I afforded myself greater leeway with regard to the level of perfection I achieved. There was more room in my thinking for the pen to bend and move however the angle and pressure from my hand led it to. I was again far less critical of the original drawing. 

With this portion of the exercise, I was tasked with using unconventional tools/media. I opted to return to the India Ink but this time, chose to use a toothpick as my drawing tool. The results were very fine lines and the experience was very positive and rewarding. I did use a timer to limit the time invested in this work. Within the 30 minute limit, slow, thin lines were created and I feel that the lack of haste that sometimes presents itself in my work led to very satisfying results. It would have been worthwhile to repeat this part of the exercise and to explore allowing the drawing to leave the boundaries of the page. 

This exercise really engaged my brain in ways that the warm up exercises didn’t. Using my dominant and non-dominant hands in the drawing process had me think about mark making, hand placement, and media selection in new ways. As previously noted, I am apprehensive when the possibility of the marks leaving the boundaries of the page presents itself. I will endeavour to work through this and find inspiration in moving outside of this limited thinking. 

Revisiting the Exercises (post tutor feedback)

After a long break between the original date of doing these exercises, submitting them to my tutor, and finally having the opportunity to reflect on my tutor’s feedback, I’m revisiting Part One – Line and am spending more time on each component. I am applying the recommendations of my tutor and am exploring each challenge more deeply and am giving more thought to the process and the outcomes. Below are the expanded drawings for Exercise 1.1

This series of exercises begins with using graphite media. I chose to use my Opus drawing pencils using the 8B pencil. This is the softest one in the range. Also, since this portion of the work is follow-up to the work posted above, I chose to use A4 cartridge paper to expand on what was done previously so that I could allow myself the freedom of exploration without the pressure of the larger A2 paper. I wanted to be mindful of my tutor’s suggestions and see what I could discover with this revisiting of the exercises. I was really open minded and quite excited by the potential with new guidelines.

With my 8B graphite pencil and my right hand ready, I placed my handmade knife in various positions. I wanted to see where the shadows fell and attempt to draw the knife from different points of view. I expected the simple shape to have the potential for boredom so I preempted that by focusing on different parts of the form. In this series of sketches, I was emphasizing the blade. I focused on the texture of the metal – rough vs. shiny, round edges vs. straight ones. I wanted to use the soft graphite to introduce some of the rough texture – I couldn’t resist. 

In this second page of exploration, I wanted to focus on the handle portion and the blade edge with the finger choil. On the left and bottom of the page, I used the 8B to illustrate the wood grain separated by the blade tang. It was mostly straightforward but still a challenge as the grain had beautiful parallel grain with curves in some places. On the upper right of the page, I was exploring the combination of curves and straight lines working together. This is repeated in the left hand portion of the exercise below. 

Instead of being frustrated by my left hand’s limitations, I relaxed into it and allowed the uncoordinated feeling in my left hand paired with the soft graphite to express the shapes of the knife without expectation or attachment to outcome. Of course the drawings were less refined, they were still clearly knives on the page. Throughout these drawing exercises, I also allowed the subject to reach beyond the limitations of the paper’s edge. I explored a more varied use of the paper, unlike in earlier  drawings. 

As with the right-handed attempts at drawing the knife from this point of view, the focus is on both the handle – wood grain and blade tang as well as on the blade edge lines and the finger choil. Experimenting with how my brain guided my hand was very interesting and super difficult. Straight lines are particularly tough and parallel ones even more so!

Selecting a new drawing tool was my next task. A felt-tipped marker was my next choice. It was about as opposite to an 8B pencil as I could find without going as far as actual painting. I was curious to see how the soft, flexible brush tip worked in creating some of the shapes drawn in earlier pages. I found this right-handed drawing to be straightforward. However, creating the wood grain was difficult when trying to control the soft, flexible brush tip. As was making straight, parallel lines. I was very curious to see how my left handed attempt compared. 

As I expected, controlling the brush tip was very difficult but because I was prepared for this, I worked to relax and instead of resisting the challenge, I eased into it, letting my left hand move freely and to allow the brush tip to go where my hand was telling it to. The marks are definitely less controlled but the freedom of movement is a benefit and I see this exercise as a success.

Moving on, I wanted to see how using a Micron pen (02) would feel in drawing some additional kitchen tools. I inadvertently found myself making most of the marks in this part of the work using the continuous line method. It made sense for illustrating the fork in particular as the shape wasn’t such that I needed the pen to leave the paper before completing the shape. However, accurate spacing of the fork tines was humerously imperfect. The tongs were a fun challenge with regard to the scalloped shaping of the end. 

I didn’t notice at the time but I now see that while concentrating on using my left hand to draw the kitchen tools with the Micron pen, I was paying more attention to drawing the items and fell into the old habit of being restricted by the edges of the page. That aside, I can say that I’m quite pleased with how my left hand was able to render these items; especially the end of the tongs with the locking mechanism. Not easy shapes but I find them quite easy to identify. Parallel lines are extremely difficult to draw freehand with my non dominant hand, however. 

In the final exploration of Exercise 1.1 I wanted to explore truly unconventional drawing tools. I chose two to experiment with before settling on one for the A2 sized illustration. I used the fork as my reference item. This mark making tool is simply a length of fingering-weight wool yarn that was twisted tightly and plied back onto itself. I did this to increase thickness and rigidity. I then dipped it into India ink to paint with. 

The lines were very difficult to control, especially straight lines and even more so for parallel ones. I pushed through the experimentation with long flowing lines as well as with looser, more sketchy lines. I didn’t expect the yarn to be so hard to control. I wasn’t happy with the results although, I’m pleased with what I learned. 

My second tool was a length of plastic wrap from a magazine that had come in the mail. I did the same thing with the plastic as I did with the yarn – I twisted it tightly then plied it back onto itself. It made a much more rigid tool which wound up being easier to control when painting. 

Using India Ink again, I found this tool much easier to control. I was able to form bolder marks and to better manipulate the end so that I could create lines and shapes closer to what I was trying to draw/paint. I enjoyed this exploration much more than I did the yarn drawing. I opted to use this tool to create the A2 illustration. 

My desk is situated in a very small space in my apartment so working at this scale is very challenging. I used the recommendation of taping the page to the wall but what I found was that forks don’t tend to take up a lot of space. In an effort to better utilize the page, I actually held the fork far from the paper and used the shadow cast from my desk lamp to follow with my twisted plastic drawing tool. One of the biggest challenges in working on the wall (vertically) rather than down on a desk was that with every dip of the drawing tool into the India ink, I’d raise my hand to the wall and the ink wold wick up the twists of the plastic, onto my hands but away from the paper. This is where the need to reposition my drawing hand came into play. It was fairly difficult and in looking at the page now, I think my attention was more on managing the ink and less on filling the page. An ongoing challenge. 

Overall, I really enjoyed coming back to this exercise and having a real curiosity about communicating what I could see with the tools I had available. I also really enjoyed innovating and creating mark making tools that involved thinking in a new way about how marks are made. I’m looking forward to revisiting additional exercises throughout the “Line” segment of the course.