Landscape Drawing (part 1)
Exercise: Sketchbook walks
Hmm. January/February is not an ideal time to be starting landscape drawing for the first time, is it. Given the fact that I’d got no idea what I was doing, plus freezing temperatures/rain/snow, I think I’d guessed this one wasn’t going to be a walk in the park. (HA! Well maybe more sitting on benches in the park). I’ve almost missed the fruit. Almost. At least it was inside!
Oh well. I’m never one to shrink at a challenge, and although I think this module is going to require a bit of creative working, (from photos etc), I shall give it a good shot.
To get us warmed up we were encouraged to go on a walk with our sketchbooks and start making quick, rough, sketches of views that we saw.
My first effort (right) was sooo hesitant, with almost no contrast in it at all, now I look at it, but at least a sense of fore, mid, and background which is so important to landscape drawing.
The path a bit further up proved a bit more promising and I set up camp with my little stool to do two quick sketches in ink pen (to try and force me to draw a bit bolder – MUCH better.). I liked the varying curves of the path leading into the distance and tried to capture the perspective in two views, although I was already struggling a little to know how to depict trees and vegetation. Such a mass of branches and details. How to simplify them while still keeping them interesting, but also make sure the lines aren’t so dense that you lose possibility for definition and variation in tone? At this point?… CLUELESS (although I managed it a little better with the silver birches in the second picture).
Without knowing what else to do, at this stage I tried to concentrate on making a good range of marks in my drawings, and to start thinking about things like focal points and how to ‘frame’ a view that you’re looking to draw. The course suggested making and using a viewfinder to help with composing your pictures, but as I always have my camera with me anyway, I found the camera’s viewfinder worked just as well, even if I didn’t take a picture. Looking through my camera helped to compose a possible picture in my head. Just as I would instinctively recognise the right view to photograph, I could look at a view through my camera and mentally note what worked before taking pencil to paper.
My two days in Jersey were bitterly cold but I did manage one walk with my sketchbook, with varying degrees of success, but still, it was fun. People are so friendly to a young girl in a big hat sitting on verges with a sketchbook! I’ve never had so many people come and say hello!
Exercise: 360 degree studies
This next exercise required four sketches from one spot – one north, east, south and west. I chose a spot on my neighbouring marshland nature reserve where I walk nearly every day (and suspect I’ll be doing most of the drawing for this unit), and though it took two sittings, managed all four sketches.
This was haaard – just keeping my energy going with it, and having so much to think about with each varying frame. I attempted to try and find a medium between the soft pencil that made for such an insipid first sketch on my sketchbook walk, and the bolder medium of pen that I preferred but that was harder to vary contrast with, and settled on using a HB mechanical pencil for the first time. I loved it actually, loved the hard lines and the depth of tone, although need to try out some varying thickness of nib in future and see how the softer leads can be used in conjunction as well. Not having to sharpen was perfect for working quickly and keeping a defined line, and I was still able to work areas of mark-making together to get the areas of contrast needed. Will definitely keep practising with this one.
My biggest problem with this one came with the fact that, (like a lemon, I have discovered) I faithfully tried to reproduce everything that I saw. EVERYTHING. I felt bombarded with varying light, and focal points and detail and depth and complex vegetation and and and *head explodes*. I wasn’t really sure what I was supposed to be concentrating on, so I tried to draw everything. I gave some consideration to perspective and fore and background and got a much better range of tones and contrast in these ones, but in all honesty I felt completely out of my depth.
So I decided to hit the books, and what a good idea that turned out to be…. more soon.