No Pencils! I wrote that in big letters in my sketchbook just before class started, I said last week how I would force myself to stop using pencils this week. However, as class started, Katie Comley Jones said, “We’re only using pencils this week” lol The universe is playing tricks with me :) This weeks topic was depth and tone, but next week we can use any medium we want, so I’ll give the pencils a rest then.

The first forty minutes of class were spent doing some tonal exercises. We had to split our sheet of paper into six sections, with each square being a mini exercise. Katie drew on the board the six exercises we were to do and off we went. The six exercises were

1. a dark to light tonal square
2. a tonal square within a tonal square
3. a tonal square with a cylinder inside
4. a tonal square with a sphere inside
5. a tonal square with a sphere within a sphere
6. a tonal square with a sphere within a sphere within a sphere :)

Katie Comley Jones Art Class Depth & Tone Drawing Exercises by Artist Sophie Lawson

I forced myself to draw bigger than I normally do this week, but that meant I didn’t have enough time to finish all the exercises, which was a shame, because I was really getting into them. A lot of the other people in class said at the end how they enjoyed these exercises too, I will be practising these in my sketchbook for sure!

While we were all scribbling away, Katie was busy setting up a still life for us to draw. Before we got drawing, Katie said how we should spend the first bit of time establishing our lines, than checking our proportions, iterating were necessary. Than look for contrasting elements within the scene and pick them out on our drawing by placing dark lines and marks, like a reference map. Bert Dodson talks about a mapping exercise in chapter four of his book Keys to Drawing just like this. Katie than said we should look for the main folds we wanted to capture, before starting to build up our shading.

So the scene was set, and off we went.

Katie Comley Jones Art Class Still Life by Artist Sophie Lawson

One of the things I needed to do this week was push myself to draw big, so I made sure I used every inch of the paper as I started placing my lines. This did mean however, that I wouldn’t be able to get the drawing finished; but I guess class isn’t about finishing your drawings, it’s about learning. That’s what they say, but I always want to finish my drawings lol The main thing I learnt during class this week, was how it’s important to look at the whole, like Katie said, build up the whole image in stages.

At life drawing class, I have a habit of doing the initial lines and than focusing on one area I like the look of, doing too much detail in that one area and than running out of time. During class I noticed I started to do this again with the straw basket, I liked its interesting shapes. I thought about just rendering the basket and forgetting about the rest of the image. Katie said to build up the whole image, so I stopped myself and moved around the paper placing more lines.

Katie was giving us all feedback, I had a sense something was wrong with my drawing but couldn’t work out what it was, with her fresh eyes Katie said she felt I needed to make my cushions bigger, so that’s what I did. All the while still thinking about that straw basket lol Something about the way its handles were flopped over, I really wanted to draw it in more detail but my cushions needed adjusting first. That sounds rude lol

I than started adding in the various folds of the fabric, just as I was starting the shading phase, the time was up :( Katie walked around one last time and as she got to my drawing said, in a really cute way, “that’s looking lovely” lol Shame we couldn’t have stayed there all day, I really enjoyed myself this week.

Katie Comley Jones Art Class Still Life Drawing by Artist Sophie Lawson

With the bell ringing to signify the end of class, Katie had just enough time to tell us what we would be doing next week. Three sketches, using three different mediums, before selecting one of our sketches to turn into a more advanced drawing with any medium we choose. So no pencils for me next week, I love you Universe :) We also need to take in some photos, or a still life, to draw. I’ll be taking in the images I printed out for this weeks class. They’re all black and white, so I may be using charcoal, or maybe just a single coloured pastel for a monochrome drawing next week, but no pencils lol

After class I walked a little way home with one of the ladies who said she really enjoyed this weeks class too, I think we all left there wanting to go home and draw :)

You can find Katie Comley Jones at


Thomas Merton