Etiqueta: drawing

Part 3 Expanse

Project 2 Landscape

Research Point – Artists who use landscape as their main subject

Albrecht Durer (1471-1528) was not on my list of artists that I recognise as a landscape painter- so as one of the earliest to use landscapes in his work I researched a little into his studies in watercolour and ink: His ‘View of Trento, Watercolour and gouache on paper (1494) was a lovely study where he has simplified the trees and mountains – which maybe useful for me drawing the Andes mountains near where I live. He has a very clear Foreground, middleground and background.


The other work I picked out was his ‘View of Innsbruck’ Watercolour on paper (1495)

I liked this watercolour because of its simplified clouds, and reflections in the water – very cleverly and delicately painted!

My HERO of landscape painting has always been John Constable ((1776-1837) evr since I saw his ‘The Hay Wain’ at the National Gallery at the age of 14. I loved the immense detail of his paintings, the small details such as shepherds and people going about their rural business. Small touches of red in perhaps a coat or a cart, birds flying in the sky, wonderful cloud detail, wind rain and storm also starred in his awesome landscapes. John Virtue in his tour of the National Gallery was also impressed by Constable’s bold courageous brushstrokes.

Constable made several studies of this view of ‘Dedham from Langham’. In both versions above there are very clear Foreground, Middleground and Background elements. I believe that he was a master of simplification of the landscapein what were landscapes ahead of their time…such as ‘Summer, Afternoon after a shower’ Oil on Canvas (1828) and ‘A rain storm over the sea’ Oil on canvas (1834).

Jean Camille Baptiste Corot (1796-1875) is another landscape artist that I deeply admire.  Some of his delicate drawings of trees are a joy and I love the details of people and animals strategically placed within his landscapes.  Examples are ‘Lanscape with three figures’ Oil on canvas (1850-60) and ‘Pastures in the Marais’ Oil on canvas (1865-70.


I made a couple of small copies in pencil of these paintings:

About 7-8 years ago I was lucky to be able to visit the Lowry Centre in Manchester. From this visit I obtained a book which I subsequently read on the life and works of Lowry by Shelley Rhohde. LS Lowry (1887-1976) like George Shaw painted and sketched the life and scenes around him – but unlike Shaw, Lowry formed his own style of painting (not realistic) – at the time not recognised as a serious painter he did not achieve success from his work until the latter part of his life. He painted the monotonous life of the worker going to and from the factories – ‘Our town’ Oil on Canvas (1943) and the daily life of for instance ‘An arrest’ Oil on canvas (1927):

Among his more emotional paintings, I really admired his ‘The Lake’ Oil on Canvas (1937) part of his black series – painted after the death of his father. The image below does not do justice to the real painting:


A painting about death…human death in the graveyard (foreground detail), the dark and polluted lake (middleground) and the death creating factories in the backgound belching out black smoke. This image is very similar to that on P62 of the course – Drawing by James Lloyd.

In my sketchbook studies to follow, I want to have in mind the studies of Corot and Constable and look for little details in the landscape that could bring life and realism to my drawings.



Part 3 Expanse

Project 1 – Trees

I found drawing trees a challenge – with so many variations, heights, forms and colours. It was also difficult to select suitable trees for drawing. In the end I sketched trees from afar, nearby and at a suitable distance according to the exercise requirements. I did not always follow the exercises exactly.

As a warm up I just went out sketching:



and then a small sketch using coloured pencils:


In Chile there is a famous native tree – the Araucaria.  It is a tall pine tree with distinctive form; not quite sure if I have captured it in these small sketches in my pocket sketchbook:

Exercise 1 Sketching individual trees

For this exercise I chose a fir tree not far from my house. It was drawn using a small piece of compressed charcoal on a bright overcast day:


This was a huge towering tree with spreading branches – very beautiful. I was interested in capturing the overall form and movement of the tree with its large branches … also trying to imitate the movement and line of the individual branches.

I then chose another evergreen fir tree.


This time I used indian ink, white chalk and pencil.  I felt that this was a brave experiment that did not quite work. This was a dense tree – a bit like the large cedar trees found in graveyards in England.

I have since walked past this tree several times and the overall form is very like the drawing above – so maybe this was more succesful than I at first thought.

Exercise 2 Large observational study of an individual tree

The large tree drawn above in ink was my subject for this study.  I worked in an A3 sketchpad with large 2B and 6B pencils and gradually built up layers and textures:


The tree trunk and branches reminded me of an elephant. I do not think that I have ever drawn anything like this before and had to find my feet regarding the shading and textures.

The modelling of the tree trunk was not successful but some parts of the texturing worked well. The upper part of the tree put most of the trunk in shade and there was an even light all around the tree, so difficult to model without any form of directional lighting – perhaps it would have been better early in the morning or late in the afternoon on a sunny day. It was cold and overcast when I was sketching – not ideal!

During the sketching sessions on the same day, I also made a colour study of the fir tree using oil pastels – I love the effects and colours that you can achieve using oil pastels and was very happy with this study although it could be judged as quite flat!


I must remember next time to take some baby wipes with me to clean my hands during sketching – you can see the thumbprints on the page due to dirty hands after drawing with charcoal.

After receiving my feedback from Part 2, I decided to make a further observational study of an individual tree to improve the tonal range in a drawing and render the form more accurately:

Charcoal on A2 heavy mixed media paper

This was a very large Eucalytus tree with beautiful exposed roots and dark overhanging branches. I believe that this was a much improved study and I increased the tonal range of the drawing whilst maintaining expressive use of line.

Exercise 3 Study of several trees

Watercolour and pencil on A2 heavy mixed media paper

This was a study of a group of very tall Eucalyptus trees – the day was a very bright sunny day, late morning so the sun was already quite high. I was drawing for at least one hour and the sun was moving fast. The left hand side of the tree trunks had a bright white patch which I did not capture – I therefore used some yellow to give the trees a glow.

I would like to go back and make a sketch similar to the Corot drawings in my recent research, as this is a picknic area and I could include people in the sketch to give a better sense of scale.

This was a group of similar trees so I was unable on this occasion to distinguish one species of tree from another. The mass of foliage included very bright patches on the LHS and very dark parts on the RHS of each tree. I used a grey base colour for the trunks and added yellow to the LHS of the truck to indicate the sun hitting them. I then relied on line and a little shading using pencil to render form…not very effective. I managed to simplify the shadows on the ground, the background, the masses of foliage and a sense of depth by fading out one of the trees.

To improve this drawing further  I could have observed better the position/form of the trees to give a greater depth, I should have used a greater range of tones in the tree trunks without resorting to line/pencil shading, and I could have been more delicate with the foliage by using delicate lines in support of the green washes. A mountain, horizon or other feature in the background together with a few figures would have given greater depth and scale to the drawing.

Part 1 Form and gesture

Exercise 4 Shadows and reflected light

In this exercise I used a stainless steel coffee pot and a silver morrocan teapot. Whilst both surfaces were reflective they were not that interesting in terms of reflections/reflected light. The forms however were quite different in that the coffee pot was a modern design and the teapot a more traditional ornamental one.

I used a new heavy 250g mixed media A2 sketch pad from Daler Rowney. As per the exercise instructions the drawing was made using charcoal and a putty rubber.

In the first drawing I used compressed charcoal and found the exercise extremely difficult – the forms worked out ok but I feel that I did not represent the reflective surfaces very well…possibly due to the choice of objects or lack of detail in my drawing/mark making.

Tea and coffee pots 1

I did however like my rendering of the teapot: the handle, spout and feet and the introduction of patterning on the surfaces. I believe that the highlights were not successful and used a white charcoal on top of the black which turned out grey! This was possibly because I should have fixed first.

As I was not entirely pleased with this drawing I made a further study – this time with willow and compressed charcoal, a large paper stump and a putty rubber. I also changed the position of the objects to try and improve reflections between the two surfaces.

Tea and coffe pots 2

Tea and coffe pots 2

The use of the paper stump  and the richness of the marks made with the willow charcoal helped this time, and made a significant difference to the rendering of reflections and the range of light and dark in this drawing. I was also much more successful in making highlights with the rubber without resorting to the use of white charcoal. I need to be more aware of my mark making as in this drawing there was less variation compared to my first attempt.

Obviously I need more practice in the rendering of reflective surfaces in charcoal!

Upon reveiwing my work and the rendering of primary/secondary reflected light – I am aware of the meaning and the visual effects created but have not as yet been succesful in demonstrating this adequately enough in my work. The nearest to it is the second drawing above – where in the teapot surface you can see the reflected effects of the coffee pot.

Part 1 Form and Gesture

Project 2 Exercise 2 Observing shadow using blocks of tone.

The two simple shaped objects I chose for this exercise were two yellow – very ripe (and just about to rot!) quinces. I placed then on a white cloth and lit them from the side with a lamp – during the exercise I realised that there was another light source playing on the objects – that of the ceiling (the light I was obviously using to work).

Quinces I worked with large charcoal sticks on a grainy, roughly A2 sized, paper. My first instinct was to draw lines to outline the quinces – in the upper drawing you can see the lines I used quite clearly. I then used a small stick and my finger to manipulate the tones. This quick drawing worked well but I needed to practice more the use of tone only…. in the lower drawing I introduced some background detail to help define the shape rather than draw the shape. I used line only at the end of the sketch – see below:

Quince 02  I then realised that it was entirely possible to work in just tone to make the form believable so made two more sketches on another large sheet. This time I worked carefully with a small piece of charcoal to find the midtones, leaving the whiter lighter areas blank. Then as the exercise required worked up the darker elements using very little rubber to find the highlights. Again in the second (lower) sketch I introduced background elements to emphrasize the form and used very little line.

Quince 01 I noticed the secondary light source shadows and shadow cast from the RH quince on the other. Also in the upper LH quince I managed to show a little of the form of the fruit emerging from the stalk.

After finishing the exercise and reflecting on my work, I felt that there were some basics that I missed.  Firstly I did not have a background to fill the sheet and introduce more shadows/reflections – or at the very least an interesting background to help ouline the form of the objects. Secondly, I could have changed the composition or changed the objects to add variation to the exercise. I did not have time to do this as I had to prepare for a business trip to Europe (next week).

From a very early age I have been awestruct with the still life drawings and watercolours of apples by Cezanne – for that reason I thoroughly enjoyed this exercise and will revisit it in the future –  the works of Cezanne are now in my sight as a challenge!