I recently signed up for a mixed media and drawing course hoping to explore some techniques they never really teach at Uni. One of my recent projects was about drawing a still life in mixed media (so that includes different tools and different surfaces).
I didn’t really know where to start so I thought: I’d paint a piece of cardboard with black ink and see where that leads me. I then started arranging various paper scraps (I bought some nice selection of papers from Khadi Papers – http://khadi.com) from black sunn hemp fibre paper to magazine pages, on my freshly painted piece of cardboard. While I was going through magazine pages I noticed an advert from a paint company called Marston & Langinger:
I really liked the idea of a vivid floral composition on a dark background, it reminded me of some old still life paintings I recently came across in Taschen’s “Still Life” book. It’s a great publication with separate chapters for each still life subject:
I thought since I have some artificial flower bouquets in my sitting room I could use them to create a similar composition with more modern approach. I decided to use white peonies (as they give nice contrast with a black background), white piece of cloth and a black bowl. I wanted to have as little different colours as possible in order to focus on textures and shapes. I started from sketching peonies using different tools, then quickly drawing the whole set of elements before moving on to the actual exercise.
I started from describing basic shapes (flowers, jug, table, cloth) then covered the jug+flowers with white acrylic paint and leaves with a mixture of green and blue which somehow soaked into the black ink background. I then glued a piece of vellum paper around the jug trying to drape it to make it look like the actual cloth – I ended up using three separate pieces of vellum paper for this job. After that I painted the flowers with a mixture of white, light pink, grey and lime (yellow mixed with green) acrylic paint and glued a large scrap of black sunn hemp fibre paper onto the left side of my painting in order to be able to mix various medias together (as obviously I couldn’t use white chalk on a white acrylic paint surface).
As you can see I let the white acrylic paint drip a bit then added more layers of colour, glued the paper, sketched some petals with white chalk and added details using black pens in 0.5mm and 0.8mm. I also glued another piece of paper (textured page from a magazine) onto the white jug to achieve some pattern effect.
The whole piece measuring 52x67cm which was quite comfortable size to work on. I think this exercise was really useful as it made me realise I shouldn’t limit myself to just one medium or one surface in a single drawing and experiment with different options in order to achieve different effects from line detail to surface pattern or texture. I definitely look forward to drawing more mixed media compositions during my course as working with various tools often results in unexpected (yet exciting) results!