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Landscape Drawing (part 2)

It’s been a while since I updated my learning journal. It’s been such a tough couple of months. My health has been dreadful, childcare has been short with holidays and Kai off poorly, all of which has added up to tiny, scraped amounts of time to give over to my course and my drawing, trying to fit them round breaks in the weather when I could get outside to work. BUT I have kept going, albeit with confidence struggling, and I’ve managed to get another unit finished. Huzzah. I shall be writing up a bit about it over the next few days so my tutor can follow my progress.

I left off last time having started some landscape drawing and feeling a bit overwhelmed with the complexity of the subject. Looking at a landscape view there was SO MUCH to think about, a mass of focal points and tone and depth and detail, which I was trying to include all of. Feeling really out of my depth (postscript: I’ve just realised that’s a really awful landscape drawing joke. Boom boom!) I bought a book on landscape drawing to see if I could get some pointers (Drawing Scenery: landscapes and seascapes by Jack Hamm). It helped hugely – the book helped me see that drawing landscapes is a process of crafting a picture. Your job is not the faithfully reproduce what’s in front of you – it’s to create something interesting and compelling to look at. Your job is to lead a viewer’s eye in and around a picture. So I learnt about framing a picture and picking focal points and using to take the viewer’s eyes on a journey. You chose to emphasise certain things, through the amount of detail you give it, or by manipulating light and contrast in the picture. And I learnt more about composition in general – how the ‘rule of thirds’ (working in areas of threes, and, imagining your picture within a three by three grid position and positioning focal points on the cross lines) helps to create pictures more pleasing to the eye. (Why is that, do you think? It does seem to be true though).

I spent some time wandering round Birmingham Art Gallery looking at landscape paintings with all these new little bits of knowledge in my head and all of a sudden I found I understood what the artists were aiming for when they planned their picture. I saw how that darker area of path lead your eye HERE to THAT cottage and then the sweep of foliage and the way the fall of light in the distance had been emphasised lead you round to THAT group of trees etc etc.

And with all that in mind I sat down to plan my next exercise…

Exercise: Plotting space through composition and structure

(click to make bigger)

This was done in graphite pencil on A3. Here I tried to demonstrate a distinct foreground, midground and background with graduated amounts of detail to show depth, using the subtlest amounts of shading in the far background. I chose the subject carefully, positioning the gate and tree to one side and then using heavier areas of contrast to emphasise the shape of the landscape  and pattern of trees and bushes to lead you round to a single tree in the far distance. I loved doing this, it felt like a kind of magic, trying to get the atmosphere of the cold, snowy fields and low light, and get the right kind of mark making to depict the tree branches, reflections on the water and the low grasses. I used a tiny eraser to rub out areas of snow and long sweeping areas of grass which I loved the effect of. FINALLY I felt a bit more in control of my picture-making. Most of all the feeling of having learnt something, starting from panicked sketches and getting to something more considered felt wonderful.

It was good to have something I felt positive about under my belt, cause up next was perspective drawing which was to be a whole new (HORRIBLE AWFUL OHMYGODIHATEIT!) ballgame.


1 Comment

  1. Lovely. My mum does wonderful landscapes – and sells prints and postcards in the village – but I’ve never been able to master them, but just a few of the things you’ve said above have given me a ‘ding!’ moment. I might just have another go. 

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  1. Drawing Trees | Sleep is for the Weak - [...] part of a much busier background of undergrowth and scrub but using what I’d learnt from my landscape drawing …

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