Assignment One – A Personal Still Life

We are asked to find a few objects that say something about us to create a still life on a A2 or A3 paper.

I have tried on two themes.   My first option was a pair of walking boots which has accompanied me to many continents around the world.  Places include such as mainland China, Tibet, Nepal and Malaysia in Asia; up the Arctic Circle and down the Antarctic Circle; and also many places in Europe and the British Isles.   The second one was a few things that I collected from my trips: a Tang tricolour pottery horse from Xian, a porcelain Chinese Guan Yin buddhist statue from Hong Kong, two terracotta decorative bricks from Nepal and a white stone Greek statue replica from Acropolis Museum .  Both themes connected to my travels.  My collection is of no monetary value but are reminders of wonderful experiences of meeting other peoples and cultures.

I did a charcoal study on both themes on A2 paper to work out the composition.  Here are the images.

Walking Boots, charcoal on A2 paper

Walking Boots, charcoal on A2 paper

Memorabilia, charcoal on A2 paper

Memorabilia, charcoal on A2 paper










I like both charcoal study.  I like the fluidity of charcoal.  I think I captured the solidity and depth of the objects.   I like both composition too.  I decided to challenge myself by chosen the more complex configuration of the Memorabilia collection to develop further.  I did another study of the Memorabilia with charcoal and pastel on A2 paper.  Even though I quite like the colour, I don’t think pastel was the right medium for detailed work.  So I try pencil.  I was inspired by the exquisite pencil drawings of Salvador Dali at his Theatre Museum in Figueres that I saw recently.  The quality of his drawings was the best I have ever seen, not just his masterful skill but also they are in mint condition.  It is because he was still relatively contemporary, the paper that he drew on still snowy white.  I can see every fine pencil line that make up an object.


Stage one of the pencil drawing after 3 days and countless attempts.

Stage one of the pencil drawing after 3 days and countless attempts










The pencil drawing did not start well.  I spent about three days and many alternations to get the basic shapes in place.  I don’t think I have got it right at the end but closed enough.  Below is the image of the final pencil drawing.

Final drawing, pencil on A2 paper

Final drawing, pencil on A2 paper










Reflection and Self Assessment

Demonstration of technical and visual skills – materials, techniques, observational skills, visual awareness, design and compositional skills 

I like the overall design and composition of the final drawing.  The light shows the three dimensionality of the objects.  I believe I have good visual awareness and observational skills.  I can see the tonal variation and different textures.  I can see relationship between objects.  My trouble is my lack of the skills in order to put them on a piece of paper.  My hands did not obey my mind.  Hopefully, this is only the beginning of my learning and I will improve as I progress with the course materials.

Quality of outcome – content, application of knowledge, presentation of work in a coherent manner, discernment, conceptualisation of thoughts, communication of ideas

There are elements of the final drawings that I did well and some don’t.  I am happy with the head of the horse and the bricks.  I like the confident strokes description of the horse head and the tonal variation of the shadow of the horse mane.  I am not happy with the buddha status.  I don’t think I got the texture of the shinny porcelain right.  The shape of the buddha statue was not quite accurate.  However, I think the objects did feel solid with weight and mass.

Demonstration of creativity – imagination, experimentation, invention, development of a personal voice

I don’t think I have used my imagination in a big way but in the course of drawing, I encountered and resolved problems like how to represent solid objects on a piece of paper; how to depict light and shadow and depth of fields by using different marks.  I believe in a small way I have developed some personal voice and style.

Context reflection – research, critical thinking (learning logs and, at second and third level, critical reviews and essays) 

I’ve thought carefully what a personal still life could say something about myself.  Travelling is my passion.  It broadens my knowledge and mind.  I chose the objects and composition, setting up the light and tested them out with some charcoal study.  The charcoal and the other pastel study helped me decided on medium and confirmed the composition.

I felt being challenged but I am happy that this assignment consolidated the techniques we learnt so far.  I look forward to the next chapter.



6 thoughts on “Assignment One – A Personal Still Life

  1. The way long distance learning is structured requires you to not only do well in practical work but look inside yourself. You have to be quite vocal about how you tackle the assignments. In this way you develop your voice. I think you have chosen the right course for yourself. Very happy for you. Date: Fri, 17 Oct 2014 14:21:21 +0000 To:


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