Owl and Apple – Light and Shade Studies

This week’s Life Book lessons were all about light and shade and creating contrast.

The primary lesson was by Lynn Whipple who had taught the Jar of Favourites lesson earlier in the year.  The idea was to create a monochrome study in light, dark and intermediate tones and consider how the visual might suggest something about other types of contrast such as perception of human qualities or lists of pros and cons.

Lynn Whipple’s demonstration was a study of an apple but I decided to use another subject for my still life.  After looking around the house, my eyes finally settled on a little stone carving of an owl that I bought in Crete years ago.  It seemed appropriate as a nocturnal creature that it should be the basis of a study in light and shade and it also has some nice nooks and crannies that would create contrast.

I decided to sketch directly with the India ink, no pencil outline, and worked the ink with a wet brush.  I liked drawing with ink on top of the book pages.  I think that is something I will return to again.  I should also endevour to do more still life studies to hone my observational skills.

Week 21 - Black and White - Still Life

The second lesson was a bonus lesson taken by Tamara Laporte.  It was another still life of an apple and this time I decided I would stick with the apple as the subject.  I used my Liquitex acrylics to build up the red tones of the apple, six different colours of paint excluding the white for the highlights.  I could not get the camera to capture the darkest tones accurately.  They are actually quite maroon.

Week 21 - Apple - Still Life

Shadow and Light

This week’s Life Book lesson was taken by Jessica Swift.  The idea was to explore visual contrasts and dualities through having “shadow and light” pages that mirrored each other.  The creative element was the instruction for us to carve our own stamps and to use these in our piece.  I had kept some decent sized chunks of lino from block printing and also had some circular discs of soft carve so I set about carving a few stamps.  This is something I have been meaning to do for a while now so it was great to have this lesson give me the impetus to crack on with it.  I carved a circular pattern into the disc and fashioned a shape that could be a leaf or feather out of one lino scrap.  I had two smaller lino scraps that I turned into a trio of curved shapes and a trio of triangles.

In the video tutorial, Swift had used the stamps to create a border for each of her pages – using contrasting inks – and had then written in the centre of each page.  I am not big into writing in my art, not even in my art journal, so I decided to try using a lino block of a whale I had carved last year as if it was a stamp.  I chose my colour palette based simply on the colours of block printing ink I had available that would provide good contrast.  I could have gone black and white with the ink but I decided to go with blue and white so shades of blue acrylic paint then became the palette for my background page.  I was short on time this week (I seem to write that phrase a lot) so I decided to actually work on one page split in half rather than on two pages, the smaller scale making it manageable.

Week 19 - Light & Dark

Treating the whale block print like a stamp did not quite work.  Although I applied pressure to it, I placed it down on the paper rather than vice versa as I would when block printing and I did not, therefore, use my baren.  Clearly the pressure was uneven since the print quality is patchy – especially with the white version.  The smaller stamps I carved worked a lot better presumably because I could apply more even pressure to them.  I am not convinced this page turned out so well but carving my own stamps was fun and is something I shall try to do more of.