Kettle & Canisters

Kettle and Canisters

My composition Kettle & Canisters features a dark (low tone) electric kettle centred in the frame with two light (high tone) canisters on either side. The objects are arranged symmetrically, as my interpretation was influenced by the structural shapes within. In addition, I have used a low range horizon and vantage point to construct a sense of intensified scale, making the objects dominate the frame (Willenbrink & Willenbrink, 2006, pp. 32-33). The small foreground assists in emphasising the perspective as the subjects appear to ascend from a restricted to open space. I have used the dynamics of tonal perspective (Stobart, 2006, p. 34) to draw the viewer into the centre of the frame with the dark kettle and leading the eye outwards to the lighter canisters. 

Kettle & Canisters was constructed with natural charcoal, white pastel, a kneadable eraser and a blending tool. The charcoal is a dynamic medium that allows for quick replication of tone and the ability to create contrast with the eraser or white pastel. I began the composition by referencing the visual exploration, focusing on structure, perspective and proportions. Then, I created quick sketches using a sharpened piece of charcoal and refined the shapes with the details. Next, I applied a wider area of charcoal to define darker areas and gradually smudged with a blending tool. I continued to apply and blend more charcoal until the desired depth was achieved. Finally, to add contrast, I used a white pastel to blend softer greys and the kneadable eraser to add highlights. Charcoal was an appropriate medium because of the limited pallet, low reliance on detail and focus on form. In addition, the blending technique creates a three-dimensional realism and insights the viewer to interpret the objects as situated in reality. 

I could have improved the composition by focusing on four primary areas; arrangement, perspective, tone and details. While my intention was the symmetrical construction of the objects, an asymmetrical arrangement may have made the composition more realistic and appealing (Willenbrink & Willenbrink, 2006, p. 87) to the viewer. In addition, further experimentation with perspective and vantage points would have improved the replication of the objects into more natural forms. Improvements on the tonal blending of the kettle would have offered a better rendition between the light and dark areas and created a greater sense of depth. I could also have drawn on tonal perspective to position the canisters further away from the kettle. Finally, attention could be applied to small details within the kettle, which would refine the work further.

Completed for VPA211 Materials & Image Development at CSU.


Stobart, J. (2006). Line, tone, colour. In Drawing matters (pp. 29-44). A & C Black.

Willenbrink, M. & Willenbrink, M. (2006). Principles of good drawing. In Drawing for the absolute beginner : a clear & easy guide to successful drawing (pp. 26-47). North Light Books.