Exercise 8 – Drawing & Painting

This exercise required us to create our own sketchbook and explore drawing and painting using various media and surfaces.  We are also required to draw just one item over and over again whilst experimenting.

I found some really surprising and satisfying results doing this exercise.  It was interesting and fun and I hope that I learn to continue experimenting with mixed media and thinking outside the box with my approach to illustration.

Here is what my handmade sketchbook looks like:

FrontHandmadeNbookEx8handmadesketchbookpagesex8  NotebookSpreadOutEx8















I found some old crochet thread to use to bind the pages together and it worked really well and I was pleased to find a variety of paper and card to use for the pages of the book too. Many of the pages are still blank but I will enjoy filling them up over time whenever I want to experiment again.


This experiment above was done on a thick card that had one side matte and the other side a lovely lavender coloured satin surface.  Because the gouache is water based, it didn’t expect it to work very well on the satin surface, but it actually gave an interesting result.  I find that I sometimes like to use gouache as I would acrylic paint by putting on layers and layers of paint but I like the added bonus of being able to use water to thin and dilute the paint without it drying too quickly.  I had left the paint to dry and the page wasn’t flat so as you can see the paint ran over to meet the collaged apple as a happy little accident.

The collage idea above on the same page was inspired by viewing the work of illustrator Tracey English:


Image above from Tracey English’ website

She has used hand painted tissue paper which she collages to create her images.  I love the texture!


The above illustrations were done on a beige piece of thin paper which I think maybe recycled because I have a few stashes of recycled paper from years ago.  The various pens I used gave predicable results so I will have to try some other types of media on this paper to see if anything interesting emerges.  This is one of the least inspiring spreads but there is space to do more.


Most of this page didn’t bring up any surprises with how they turned out but it’s good to step back and see the effect that different ways of using the same medium on different papers pans out.  The most interesting apple for me with this spread is the one drawn with nail polish.  The bottle is a very old bottle of polish and should probably be thrown out now but it came in useful for this exercise. It produced a very thickly textured apple and the polish was a bit difficult to draw with but produced a really satisfying texture.  It would be interesting to try the polish out on more surfaces.


Within the course text about mark making and trying out different surfaces, there was a suggestion to try drawing with a sewing machine onto fabric so I decided to try something similar.  I used the same old crochet thread that I bound the book with and hand sewed it into the brown card.  I used a faint pencil sketch as a guide and I think it turned out as I expected. For more interesting effects in the future, I could vary the type of stitch and see how that looks.


The page above on the left shows the back of the stitched apple mentioned previously.  I’m noticing now that maybe it looks more interesting than the one on the other side of the brown card!  The right side of the page shows some experiments with mainly pencils on recycled kraft paper.


I didn’t think that watermedia would work well with the recycled kraft paper on the left, but it actually worked fine.  I would just need to be careful that I don’t wet the paper too much, which as you can see, I did on the other side when I used watercolour pencils and water and it’s now showing through.  The right hand side experiments on heavyweight paper were fun and I especially enjoyed the acrylic paint apple and splattering the watercolour paint on the apple beside it. The splatters were inspired by the food illustration work of Emma Dibben.


The metallic pens I used on the black page above don’t show up very well when scanned and are not much better in real life.  The paint pen seems to work best on this textured elephant dung paper.  I tore this out of a sketchbook that I purchased some time ago which is full of this type of paper and I think in the future I will try some paint on it to see how it turns out.  For some reason, I didn’t think of using anything else on this paper except white paint and white pens.  Not sure why.


This little page of watermedia experiments on rough watercolour paper was satisfying to work on as I’m quite familiar with watercolours and it’s the medium I use the most.  The paper is called Khadi paper and is handmade in India using 100% cotton rag. I use this paper sometimes for my watercolour work so I had some to spare.  The drybrush technique is one that I don’t use very often but I enjoyed working on these apples.  My favourite on this page would have to be the gouache apple on the bottom right with all that lovely texture and the different colours showing through.


The page above shows what is probably my most favourite experiment.  I was so surprised that I could actually paint with a sponge and end up with it looking like the object I’m trying to portray.  I love the movement and I’m sorry but I can’t stop mentioning how much I love the texture.  Again these were done on the Khadi paper mentioned previously and I am so pleased with how they turned out.


I like this little apple too done using gouache paint on black elephant dung paper. The way I’ve painted this could actually do well for an illustration of snowy mountains.


I definitely prefer using paints to do the apples than I do using just ink.  The apples on the brown card above are some of my favourites.


The page spread above is another one that I don’t find very inspiring that can be fixed but just thinking up more ideas and by doing some more research.  I could just keep experimenting with different mediums and fill up the page some more as I go along.  I’ve already thought up some more drawing implements to try like twigs and leaves and it will be interesting to see how the apples turn out when using these.

Whenever I do more work in this sketchbook, I will make sure to post them up on this blog.


As food illustration is the topic of Assignment 2, I tried to keep that in mind as I went through this exercise.  I can see the benefit of exploring different media and surfaces to find more interesting ways to illustrate food.  There are many food illustrations out there that use watercolour or gouache as the primary medium because it is very effective, but some of the most appealing to me are ones that use an underused medium in a creative way such as Tracey English’s work above.

The one thing I’ve noticed about the most delicious looking food illustrations are the illustrations depicting white, light and bright shiny areas on the surface, especially with fruit and veg.  This gives the illustrations a fresh, delicious and juicy look as if you would want to bite into them so I will have to remember to keep this in mind as I continue to think of ways to tackle the next assignment.

I can’t see that the nail polish would be an appealing way to represent food to the masses, but it was fun to try it nevertheless.

The illustrations that left the biggest impression on me were the ones I did using a sponge and this method of painting fruit is a very strong contender for use in Assignment 2.


2 thoughts on “Exercise 8 – Drawing & Painting

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