Project 1.2 : Using space

This project begins with a short clip about Elizabeth Blackadder’s working practice, emphasising how empty space becomes crucial in her composition: how the space around her still life objects informs and energises the objects and thus the whole composition.

It instructs me to set up a space – I choose my bed, its cover, a blanket, a cushion, a knitted jumper, a scarf and the wall behind it which features a drawing that I amend by adding a scarf. The sun how it casts a shadow of the window across the wall becomes part of it too.

The space in this is extensive; the objects are textured, the light is strong, direct.

I draw with various graphite implements, coloured pencil and oil pastel. I add another sheet on the lower left edge to expand, extend. The drawing is largely additive, I erase relatively little. The shadow cast changes over the time. The next day I rework the bedspread’s left side, numerous times, during which the drawing acquires a few more pieces of paper to cover pastel marks.

Over the next few days I redraw the blanket on a larger scale. I also produce a line drawing, which I in turn photocopy to create a template on which I add ink, oil pastel and use cooking oil to experiment with staining.

I crop all drawings rather strongly to remodel the edges.

Main drawing of project 2; graphite, oil pastel, colourd pencil on paper (approx 70x65cm)


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Various sketchbook and other images; also: series of drawings on top of photocopied line drawing


  • this is the first colour drawing I did in several years; I let it be and became curious in the marks that I was using after such long time; the marks are strong, varied, expressive and able to signify the energy of the objects, their arrangement in space
  • I remember how strong a drawing is effectively modelling space: the window shadow angles forward, the right hand side of the bedspread downwards, the cushion is softly rounded and the blanket acts like a soft rive, not quite shapeless but rather fluid.
    << this is in strong contrast of course to working with lens-based media where my role is to deduct, re-arrange, alter the lighting to re-order the image in front of the lens.
  • Focussing on the blanket alone on a larger scale isn’t successful: the c/pencil marks depend on the earlier scale, here they become too laboured
  • The line drawing is so-so, largely due to its uniformity of shade, but once photocopied acts as a very good base layer to draw on top: the oil marks are good, varied, even on the recycled A3 paper;
  • knocking back the right-hand side of the line drawing with Indian ink is good: it removes that space but on the photocopies becomes an element to interact with, restate and attend in terms of cropping.
  • Quite a bit of the project involves a testing of materials: photocopy paper and toner ink; Indian ink and oil pastel interaction; the effect of cooking oil on the papers and surfaces.
  • I am becoming interested in assembling various images relating to this as the assignment submission, see thoughts on this post: Working in series/ as set


My drawings bear little resemblance to Blackadder’s, which doesn’t surprise: I feel fairly confident in my approach to negative space and the edge of the drawing; being invited to restate the edge in this early exercise was great and appreciated. My marks are more scrawly, nervous, energetic (but then again: I use line and drawing media rather than w/colour.

I looked at Matisse’s cut-outs quite a lot during Drawing 1, as well as his construction of the picture plane. I realised back then how incredibly accomplished his late work was in terms of use of scissor as drawing tool: of attending to the edge only, His arbitrary and complex use of space in interior scenes, e.g. The Painter’s Family 1911, and still life continues to amaze me and I find it resonates with my own interests more strongly than Blackadder’s who in my mind veers too much to the decorative, or perhaps: it is too contemplative, still for me.

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