It’s Bobbins!

I’ve been struggling with the current module for my OCA Drawing Course which I’ve nicknamed ‘Colouring in Cabbages’. It feels that it is just drawing fruit in pencil. So last Monday I went to one of Tom Smith’s Enjoy Learning courses – Drawing Intermediate. My heart sank when it was announced that we would be drawing fruit in pencil! However, by the end I had the OK that for future work I could use ink and that, in our study of texture, Julia, the tutor, would bring in some man-made artefacts. The homework was to draw an object of our choice to show the texture. I drew (in ink, of course, with an ink wash) a smoky glass twisted vase:


Unfortunately, the right hand side of the base is wrong. The vase curved much more than shown.

One concern was that it was smooth. I remember at the photographic club I used to go to we had a monthly competition with the title Texture. Tw0 photographs (including one of mine) were rejected as the objects shown were smooth ‘and therefore didn’t have any texture’. Smooth is not a texture, apparently! However today the group was happy with my drawing and there were no ‘But it’s smooth’ comments. Most of the rest were natural objects in pencil.

True to her word, Julia had brought in a load of textile bobbins and some rusty tin boxes which she had found in a friend’s cellar. I loved drawing them! Unfortunately, I was in a minority of one! There was a lot of complaints from those who preferred fruit. ‘Out of their comfort zone’ is the phrase , I think!

Here is my attempt. I’m generally happy though I got the top of the tin a bit wrong as it should have been narrower from the angle I was viewing. I looks as if I’m looking down at the tin although it was on the table in front of me.



About notes to the milkman

I'm a printmaker based in the North West of England, living in Bolton and printing at Hot Bed Press in Salford. Please visit my website
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14 Responses to It’s Bobbins!

  1. Red Hen says:

    I particularly love old tins with their labelling. Went through an all to brief phase of drawing the little baking powder and Brasso tins that, mercifully, can still be found.`
    Can`t draw anything like you though. Love the glass-ink and wash work well with that.

  2. seascapesaus says:

    Really nice work John! I understand the vase base. The whole thing jumped out at me as an actual object. Well described but with a human touch! Very funny about fruit-in-pencil popping up the second time. People with a different viewpoint might say it was in your life path, so no avoiding it, or something like that. I tried not to say “wacky people”…

  3. Love your ink drawings, John. The slight mistakes just add to the charm.

  4. You have definitely caught the texture of smoky glass and the thread on the bobbins. I’d forgotten bobbins existed…

  5. Nancy Farmer says:

    Lovely drawings John. Would it help if the fruit had slugs? That’s a different texture. I keep having to throw slugs out of my studio since I brought in a load of apples and pears off my trees, so I just wondered…
    I am interested in the inaccurate bits you point out in both your drawings, as I wonder if you noticed they are almost the same thing: The base of the vase, you say, sticks out to much, but looked at another way you could say alternatively you are looking down on the vase from a higher level in its top half and and the perspective is shifted at the bottom – a bit like the tin as well. Not saying this for no reason, only it occurred to me that if I was drawing these shapes I would draw the construction lines of a cylinder and a rectangle in pencil first, and make sure that the objects fitted in them and that everything was in the right plane etc. But then I am a nerd, you have probably already gathered that, and I approach man-made objects in that sort of nerdy way. Anyway, just thought it might be a helpful suggestion.
    Of course, that’s what’s easy about fruit – no straight lines and finicky perspective issues 😉

  6. johnb22 says:

    I think the bobbins are not ‘bobbins’ at all, they are great 😉 I love the depth to these drawings. Particularly love the texture and the added loose thread. I see what you mean with the tin lid. It needed to be higher on the left nearside corner I think. This said, what do I know? I couldn’t draw for toffee these days, used to be a good drawer in my youth, now I just take photographs but would love to draw or paint portraits. Well done DAD!

  7. anne farmer says:

    Of course smooth is a texture! You might as well say ‘small’ isn’t a size. Your vase is really…glassy Love the bobbins too. There is a bobbin mill at Stott Park in the lake district – a fascinating place.

  8. Random thought – What do shops mean when they say they sell ‘quality goods’? Good quality? Poor quality? They don’t say they sell ‘size goods’, End of random thought!

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