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Sally Pepper – Arranging Lines and Shapes in Space

Today I am highlighting Sally Pepper’s submission for assignment two of her drawing 1 course, this is because she has investigated the process of drawing, and shown a variety of approaches to creating shape and form.




Images 1-3 pages from A4 sketchbook Experiments with texture and detail with line.
I have chosen to select some of Sally’s sketchbook pages here, because they begin to show her thinking process and progression. In her own words she speaks about image 3;“I wanted to go back to the earlier experiment with technical pens and cabbage texture. So at first I worked up the cabbage in a detailed way (see smaller drawing inset). I then realized that this didn’t really fit the brief so drew again, keeping my eyes on the subject. I really enjoyed the way the lines flowed around the outside of the cabbage. I found the sliced section more difficult until I hit on combining two thicknesses of technical pen, so the finer pen could hint at the delicacy of the tightly packed cabbage texture”.
Responding to Sally’s thoughts about straying away from the brief, one of the root meanings of the word illusion is to play. The time that she spent playing with ideas was well spent, because the sketchbook in many ways simulates a creative laboratory, and in this laboratory one gets to experiment and take risks. Any ideas that she has found exciting or perhaps do not meet the course criteria, can be re visited later on and expanded upon. This is the value of keeping a sketchbook, making notes, and creating visual ideas.

4. Mixed media on paper 18’X24”
4. Mixed media on paper 18’X24”

5. Mixed media on paper 18’X24”
5. Mixed media on paper 18’X24”

Sally created the drawings above by reversing her lights and darks. The end results are a bunch of images that begin to resemble a photographic negative. Above are two out of a sequence of six works that she presented. I’ve included Sally’s comments below just to give you an idea of her thinking process and how these works have developed so far.
“I started out with a sea- inspired composition – some rope which was sea salvage and still damp, some shells and a Dorset fossil. I wanted to use Chinese brush, bamboo pen and various inks to show the different textures. I quickly moved from white paper to black because I was enjoying using some really opaque white ink. I made a lot of drawings and had a lot of discards – I was working freehand without preparatory outlines or sketches and I really lack confidence in using the Chinese brush in this way. Eventually I removed the rope and concentrated on the idea of contrasting the delicate shells with the rough, several millions of years old ammonite, which comes from a cliff-side near where I grew up. Things started getting more interesting once I introduced colour – I was making broad and not very accurate sweeps with the Chinese brush then refining the shape with bamboo pen detail”.


Here is a description of Sally’s working process regarding image 6 (above) in her own words; “I started by drawing the outline, then laying down the background only, in charcoal and grey pastel. I used fixative on this, though I discovered that the sanded paper was fragile while the fixative was wet. I laid in the shading and texture, then finished up by further darkening he background and adding a touch of red to indicate the thickness of the shell rim, and the back of the shell. I was really pleased with the glow coming from the shell – and also that by allowing the paper to show through on the more textured parts of the shell, they seem to glow too and it emphasized the rough texture”. I do agree that the shell seems to glow from within, and this, was no easy feat. When I look at this image, I am reminded of the drawings of Henry Moore, mainly because of its sculptural presence and energetically drawn marks.

Posted by author: Michelle Charles
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2 thoughts on “Sally Pepper – Arranging Lines and Shapes in Space

  • Thanks Michelle.
    One thing I am enjoying about the course is that it does feel OK to experiment and make mistakes. Often I finish a drawing and think it’s not great, but that it has a detail or type of mark I like. Occasionally I post something and caption it “I hate this drawing!” So long as I have some idea what went wrong I find that liberating – it’s encouraging me to keep working, and posting.
    I loved drawing on that sanded red paper – I sometimes overwork drawings and that paper just doesn’t let fussiness come into it.

    • You are welcome! Its always good to experiment and make mistakes or errors! This is what artists have to do to create! The process is never perfect for anyone. These marks or mistakes you speak of give your work a sense of history (in your mark making), vitality and strength. I hope you can join us on one of our BM workshops because this is the very subject I address!

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