Exercise: A sketchbook walk
Observations for first drawing: I made this drawing at around three o’clock in the afternoon. It took around twenty minutes, drawing rapidly.
- The sun was behind me to my right. There are broken shadows on the grass from trees to the right, which are not in the drawing.
- The main point of interest is the building in the central distance, and the dark collection of trees in the distance to the left.
- In the foreground there is a small grassy mound with woody stems sticking out at different angles and lengths. In the middle ground is a large area of grass; in the background are two houses and lots of trees and bushes.
- The grass makes spiky textures; the bricks and tiles on the buildings make linear patterns which contrast against the dappled inconsistent patterns of the leaves. I did not capture very much of the leafy patterns because I had to draw rapidly in accordance with the exercise, but I make a note of it.
- I liked drawing this view. I was a little bit daunted at first by all the things in my view, but having a time limit helped me – I just had to get everything drawn in, no matter what. Thinking like that stops you from thinking too much. All you need to do is draw what you see. So it shouldn’t matter or make a difference whether you are drawing a house or a bowl of fruit or a person.
- The second drawing was made around half three. It took around twenty minutes, drawing rapidly.
- It was sunny and cloudy.
- The house is the main point of interest, I think, because it is a brighter place in the upper part of the image.
- I think this drawing does not have a very good sense of depth – the foreground is grass, but I didn’t draw it, I left it white. The middle ground is hedge rows, and the background is trees and a building. I think the middle ground and the background mix together so the drawing is not deep.
- The trees and hedges are all scratchy and jagged. The building is smooth with linear patterns.
- The tonal values are bright at the foreground and dark in the middle ground and background, except for the building.
- Each tree makes a different shape.
The third drawing was made at eleven o’clock in the morning. It took around twenty minutes, drawing rapidly.
- The light was to my left, although I was standing in the shade of trees.
- It was a bright day. The immediate foreground has brambles, some of which are dark because of shade.
- There is a large area of middle ground, the background is at a distance.
- Grasses make interesting patterns and textures, depending on the shade and light.
- The shapes of the trees are repetitive along the horizon.
- It is very dark in the near distance, and a little misty in the far distance. The dark branches in the foreground are so because of shade, and the middle ground is bright.
My fourth drawing was drawn at around twelve o’clock, and it took roughly twenty minutes to draw.
- The light is coming from my right side, and above me. The strongest shadows are in the distance, where there are a lot of trees and dark bushes. It was quite a bright view in the foreground. The tree in the foreground had noticeable shadows on the left side, and small shadows on the right, probably from its own branches.
- I think the main point of interest is the house in the central distance because it contrasts the trees and it is in the centre. I would have possibly thought the path would be a point of interest, except that you can’t see where it leads from this point of view, so it is not very interesting.
- Foreground, middle ground and background are divided fairly evenly. They are not particularly divided, so the foreground drifts into the middle ground. The foreground is just grass and path, and the background is really quite dark compared to the rest of the drawing.
- There are patterns on the roof of the building, and in the trees and on the grass. Prickly patterns on the grass, and linear patterns on the roof of the house. The trees branches make these criss-cross interwoven patterns which are difficult to unravel with your eyes.
- The shapes of the trees are large and repeated. And the prickly tops of the grass blades are a repeated small shapes.
- This drawing has very dark tonal values at the background, with light values at the foreground, and then they gradually start to get to a medium tone in the middle ground. Except for the big tree, which is quite a dark presence in the middle ground.
Exercise: 360° studies
These drawings took fifteen minutes each.
I did run out of time drawing the North view, but I think it works well, despite my not having time to draw in the grasses. I stood in the middle of a field for these drawings, which I think makes a good landscape because you can see a lot over a distance.
I am pleased with these drawings because I think they have a sense of depth. I especially like the East view drawing, because it has a range of different shapes in it; the houses and the trees and clouds, and grasses in the foreground
The South view also was unfinished when my fifteen minutes ran out, but I think it is effective. It looks into a thicket, which you could see the sky through.
I am pleased with the West view drawing because it has a sense of the shape of the field and the textures of the grass; you can see the trees and bushes running along the edge of it.
Exercise: Drawing cloud formations
I have found this task very challenging. I think I have made progress from it.
In my first drawings I have explored different uses of charcoal and how I can blend and smudge and use different sides of the media to get different marks to draw the clouds. Trying to make them look three dimensional and to get the softness of their appearance.
Above I used conte crayons to draw in colour and to draw the sky or the negative spaces around the clouds instead of outlining them. This is quite effective, but I don’t think the clouds look three dimensional, even with the shadow details I added. (I limited the colour to monochrome at this point – just using one blue.)
I explored using different pressures with drawing above – filling the space around the cloud, drawing tones and shadows and drawing outlines. Below is a detail from this page of drawings which shows how you can use different mark making and smudging to get different textures and shadows.
Below I have used lines to try to describe the shapes of the clouds. I think this method is quite effective, but does not perhaps suit the observation of extensive details.
Below are some drawings in oil pastels. I found it difficult to draw clouds in black oil pastel, but the coloured ones worked quite well. I drew a sunset and the oils were excellent at blending with each other in subtle ways; observing the way the clouds taper off around the edges in soft almost dissolving puffs.
Here is a detail from this drawing to show how you can blend the pastels.
Below is another oil pastel study of a white cloud, just drawing the sky around it.
At this point I felt the need to work in pencils, rather than charcoal, pastels and conte crayons, as the exercise specified.
So above are a drawing in graphite pencil and a drawing using both graphite pencil and coloured pencils. This was helpful to me. I mostly used hatching. Below are further graphite studies trying to understand the forms and the way the clouds seem to be only partly solid in some places.
Below is a drawing I made using graphite pencil and coloured oil pastel.
Above I have used graphite pencil to draw a cloud, and the space around the cloud. It does not look three dimensional.
Below I have explored colour, line, tone and texture in oil pastels. It was a bright windy day, and so the clouds were not in view for very long for me to draw them. These drawings observe different elements of the clouds. At the bottom I have used the pastel very softly to make softer outlines which I think works really well.
The middle drawing where I have drawn a solid outline and made softer marks around the cloud shows where the cloud is solid and where it becomes fuzzy and transparent around the edges. I also observed the light shining on the cloud in yellowy grey, which the oil pastels are good for drawing.
I made a drawing on brown paper because I wanted to work larger and I wanted to try drawing the clouds in white. I found the conte crayons quite effective, smudging them to get different qualities of mark. Though this method was effective, I still don’t think the clouds look three dimensional.
The exercise mentions John Constable as being an amateur meteorologist and an expert on cloud structures, so I looked into his art work. I got “Constable” by Michael Rosenthal from the library, and then I did further research on the internet.
I found paintings and drawings which help me to see how you might draw clouds. In Flatford Mill from a Lock on the Stour he uses blues, white and a grey-pink type of colour.
In this drawing he uses a range of marks for the clouds. Below is a study of the clouds. I wonder if this type of thing could be achieved using oil pastels? I think he uses blues, greens, yellows, greys and whites.
I came across a series of pencil studies by Constable. These are very helpful to me. However, I find that these drawings do not look three dimensional either.
The drawings have notes on them. They also say the drawings are studies “after Alexander Cozens”. I have also looked into the drawings of Alexander Cozens and find his work useful too. He uses an unusual method of hatching and cross hatching to draw his cloud studies.
For this exercise I have done a great deal of research so rather than put it all here I have made a research page, where I look further into the works of Constable and Cozens. Click here to view the page.
Exercise: Plotting space through composition and structure
Above is my first drawing in this exercise, attempting to establish a foreground, middle ground and background. I began by working on A4 paper in my sketchbook. The second drawing I made on A3, which is pictured below.
Below are some close up detail photos for this drawing, to record mark making in different areas of the drawing. I used a 5B, a 3B and a 1B pencil. I decided not to use colours in this second drawing.
I am really pleased with these drawings although I am not certain I have achieved a foreground, middle ground and background. I think I got foreground and background, but I don’t know if it is clear where they divide into middle ground.
Look at the work of Claude Lorrain and J M W Turner. Write notes on how those artists divide their landscapes into foreground, middle ground and background. I have also looked at a couple of other landscape artists during this research point, and they have been included on the page.
Check and Log
In what way did you simplify and select in your study? Were you able to focus on simple shapes and patterns amid all the visual information available to you?
Drawing every blade of grass seemed impossible, so I focussed on the most striking features in view. I was able to focus on simple shapes and patterns , especially by squinting at the landscape. At first when I approached the drawing I looked at the tree and saw uncountable leaves and seeds and branches, a confusing mesh to draw. I began attempting to draw each branch as it weaved through the other branches, but this was not effective or efficient. That was when I realised I had to look at what the tree looked like without closely examining all the elements which construct it. I began to use lines, dots and circles to draw the tree; viewing it in shapes and patterns, drawing it as it looked.
How did you create a sense of distance and form in your sketches?
In my pencil drawings I used softer marks and an eraser to show the paleness of things in the distance. Also the foreground and the middle ground take up the lower portion of the page, which puts the background at the top, giving the impression of distance.
How did you use the light and shade? Was it successful?
In one of my drawings there is shade on the left side. This is successful. In another drawing there is a lot of shade in the central background, which is good because it adds to the sense of depth. The shade and light are very successful in my “East” view drawing this was another timed study on a bright day. I think the shade adds to the sense of space. In the “South” drawing I found it difficult to get light and shade right, because the light was coming from behind the trees and through all the branches. This drawing was less successful. As was the “West” drawing, for similar reasons.
What additional preliminary work would have been helpful towards the larger study?
Further research into the landscape drawings and paintings of historical and contemporary artists? More studies and practice drawings of landscapes with foreground, middle ground and background? More compositional planning in general – this is a strange task when thinking about landscape drawing because you cannot rearrange the land, you simply need to move yourself and your viewpoint. I would like to make some drawings on a very clear day, so that you can see hills in the long distance, the way you see them in old landscapes. A lot of my drawings were made from a field or a footpath, and you can mostly just see the field itself, and the things which border the field. Or from a road, and that which borders the road. I think it might be good to make landscape drawings from the top of a big hill, so I will try that.