Etiqueta: landscape

Part 3 Expanse

Project 3 Composition

Exercise 1 Developing your studies

This was an interesting part of the course for me and I am not quite sure that I have achieved what is expected at this stage. After reading Contemporary Drawing by Margaret Davidson, and researching Julie Mehretu I thought that I had increased my range of tools and techniques – maybe I have…but not consistently. I am though more aware of my goals.

Firstly, I picked the ‘Abandoned field’ sketch from my sketchbook walk to develop further. I liked the repetition of the shape of the pylons in the wooden tree frames in the field. I also felt a connection with this space – I used to walk in open fields when I was about 9-12 years old – often with a sketchbook.  The pylons are a connection to my engineering training and an imposing manmade structure in a rural landscape – something that is not often seen in for instance an English landscape. Their were other connections like my interest in aliens and HG Wells’ War of the Worlds – the pylons as the alien invaders, and my weekend bike rides which pass this field.

When in the field sketching, I sat on a stool with a very low eye level – see sketch in Project 2. I later made a watercolour sketch but took up a standing position with easel. Additionally I took many photos to review compositional possibilities – all whilst standing!

It was interesting to note that the initial sketch shows the pylons touching the top of the page – towering over me, but in the watercolour, the pylons were not so imposing and my eyelevel was higher and looked over the field from the outside.

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I made a pencil drawing in my sketchbook using as a guide the above watercolour and made notes of my feelings about the drawing:

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There were several interesting notes: the use of a limited palette, the smaller pylons reminded me of angels, there was also a feeling of being in a graveyard, the noise of the cables – a crack-crackle/constant humming, and lastly something I may take forward the theme of the letter A upside down forced into the ground.

I decided to experiment with some new Duralar sketchpads bought in the USA. One was for dry media and the other wet media – this trial drawing was by memory – note that I painted the big pylon upside down!:

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There were some interesting marks and I liked the indian ink washes that I made in both versions. I need to explore this combination of ink and gouache on Duralar again.

Then I decided to make a finished drawing using a 2B Pencil and coloured pencil on Duralar for dry media combining traced elements, erasing, drawing over erasures, working on the composition, including foreground, middleground and background, and finally including geometric shapes drawn with coloured pencil on the back of the support – using its transparent quality.

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Original drawing without coloured elements
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Drawing with geometric shapes drawn with coloured pencil on reverse side of Duralar Film

Relating this final piece to my recent research on Margaret Davisons book on Contemporary Drawing:

Have I shown the relationship between negative spaces and the forms?  The negative spaces in the sky and mountains balance the busy foreground/middlegound, and also there is a connection with this negative space and the forms by means of the connecting cables.

Have I shown a relationship between the surface and the mark? It was my aim with this drawing to work on the smooth Duralar surface and also an intention to use its transparency to trace elements and to use the interesting effects of pencil/coloured pencil on this dry media support. Prior to starting the drawing I made various trial marks on a sheet of the same surface.

Is it clear why I chose certain materials and a particular surface?  To me it was clear why I used the surface/materials – there is no relation between the subject and my choice.

Does the scale tell me or the viewer anything?  In this case no as it is a normal size.

Have I been clear in how space is depicted?  I believe that I have been clear in my use of and depiction of space. The pylons/wooden frames helped in depicting perspective increasing the sense of space, and the large open sky framed the large imposing pylon. The lightly coloured mountains also contributed to depicting distance and scale.

What is the eye level?  The eye level is approximately level with the horizon or even a little higher – looking into the field. My initial sketch was low down seated within the wild plants with the pylons as giants towering above.  This has not been depicted in the final version.

What is the message and is the message clear?  I have never been in agreement with the placing of pylons in the countryside, and I feel strongly that they are an impostion although I marvel at the engineering and the power transmitted by the grid. The repetion of the forms – the pylons with the wooden tree supports are clearly the subject – this has worked and is clear in the composition – I also included repetition in the blue lines.

What helps, or hurts, the clarity of the message?  The blue lines and the large detailed drawing of the pylons helped the message, the added colours may have distracted the viewer from the message and produced less clarity.

Intentionality:  Now this is an interesting issue – yes I did intent to use the materials/ support for this drawing and I believe it was a successful choice. If I am honest the eye level was not chosen it just happened – I need to be more careful with this point. The scale was chosen solely because it was the size of my new sketchpad, although I did have a larger sheet available. The message was intentional but may not have been as clear to the viewer as it was for me.

In conclusion this was an interesting exercise for me and one that I enjoyed.

Exercise 2 Foreground, middleground, background

For this exercise I chose one of my mountain scenes. I chose to draw the scene using 9B graphite in both pencil and block type with chalk on a Strathmore toned grey paper with a medium surface (118g/m2) – size aprox. 22x30cm.

The combination worked well and I drew two copies of the scene – both in terms of the exercise set were not successful:

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First copy – landscape format

This photo of the drawing does not show the image well and there is greater contrast in the original however I did not structure the drawing the same as Poussin/Lorrain and Turner as asked for. There is more detail in the foreground and the middleground is shown by the houses although they have nearly the  same tone/level of detail as the foreground. The background mountains should be less clearly defined and shaded lighter to make them almost fade into the sky.

The second drawing in portrait format again had the same faults although this time I tried to incorporate more tonal contrast:

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Second image – more tonal contrast but same errors as the first drawing

I then searched among my books to find a suitable example to use as a guide.

I liked some of the examples from JWM Turners watercolour sketches – delicate masterpieces with depth:

Turner Marseilles In the port 1828

JMW Turner The Blue Rigi Sunrise 1842

These two examples do not have much detail in the foreground but just enough to show greater definition in a darker tone, then examples of middleground touching the edge of the image and much lighter tones in the background.

I needed to create something similar:

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In this version, I introduced a little green pastel. This was more successful in creating  depth – removing the excessive detail in the houses, leaving in the line of trees to the left  and keeping the mountains middle grey. I also lightened the sky to outline the mountains.

I need to improve and practice on this technique much more.

Reflecting on the last two exercises

On reflection, I was happy with my work in the first exercise but deeply lacked practice in the second.

I was able to select simple shapes in the second exercise but it was obvious that I relied again on line more than tone! In Turners watercolours there is almost a total absence of line and he creates depth entirely by using tone – adding a small amount of detail in the foreground.

In the first exercise I did create depth and was happy with my experimentation and final image. Again I was able to simplify the large landscape.

In the first image There was a sense of depth/distance but not form.  In the second I did manage to represent form but relied too much on line to help me.

In the first exercise I did not use the light at all! This was probably due to drawing and photography the scene on dull cloudy days and at a time when the sun was highest – no shadows.

In the second exercise I was more aware of the effect of the bright light on the scene and used it to create form – successfully? – no. Why? – because I relied on line.

Additionally I should make more smaller detailed sketches of the scene to record detail, shapes, tonal contrasts, and choose the correct time of day when the light shows off the form best. Many of Turners watercolours are of sunrise and sunset – beautiful colours and long contrasting shadows. Make more tonal studies of buildings, landscapes and natural features such as rocks and mountains.

As I was not happy with the second exercise I decided to redraw it again but this time in watercolour avoiding the use of line until the end:

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This final drawing was much more in line with the brief and I achieved a much greater sense of depth using tone! Must practice and push myself more.

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Part 3 Expanse

Project 2 Landscape

Exercise 1 Cloud formations and tone

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Early morning clouds, Santiago CHILE

After watching the videos and studying the work of Vija Celmins, I was intrigued by the way with certain of her works they were executed over a long period of time. The piece of work would evolve and grow over time, and the artist’s mind and thought process might also change over the same period. A process similar to oil painting which also evolves over a relatively long period of time – waiting for paint to dry etc. Whilst the paintings appear still they have a sense of depth and also one of infinity – time that does not stop. Stars appear and disappear, they grow brighter/duller, they move very fast but appear slow – there is so much to capture in just a simple (or seemingly so) subject matter. The universe is constantly moving like her waves another subject with a surface that defies capture, defies taming and suprises nature itself with its power that has a range from tranquillity to a force so destructive it can change our maps forever.

Clouds are constantly moving, forming, dissolving into space – they have a smell and form a damp humid atmostphere – for instance walking or driving on a mountain road in cloud you can experience the sense of capturing or living in the cloud.

This exercise was both frustrating and in a way thrilling – a chance to experiment and to really see if one understands the use of tone or line to represent a three dimensional object even as fleeting as a cloud!

Small sketchbook studies using line…

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Cloud mark-making using a twig with indian ink/water…

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Experimenting with mixed media/brush using tone…

These studies using a brush were quick but frustratingly unsuccessful.

Thinking about a bigger study and using John Virtue’s London paintings as a guide, I made a cloud study experimenting with a different support…gessoed brown wrapping paper which I had to stretch as it got wetter. This paper is extremely delicate when wet! I then made the cloud study using compressed charcoal:

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Evening cloud study. Compressed charcoal on gessoed brown paper (100 x 80 cm)

In this drawing I have captured movement, perspective and form whilst achieving a full tonal range (although this was a little dampened by the application of fixative after taking this photo).

The support is fragile and brittle – and I am now frightened of removing it from the board – it cannot be rolled up and will have to be mounted on card.

Exercise 2 Sketchbook Walk

This for me was a actually a bike ride not a walk. I used a small sketchbook and a fineline biro.

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This Polo Club is source of inspiration for me and I look forward to seeing/sketching the horses/riders in action soon. I sketched reasonably quickly trying to incorporate as much detail as possible but trying to create an atmosphere as well – the club house is a restaurant and is actually dwarfed by the mountains and polo fields – although this is not captured in my sketch.

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The horse paddocks with mountains in the background has great potential with horses in the foreground, stable blocks and trees in the middleground with mountains and clouds in the background.

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I was actually going to make a completely different sketch at this spot but liked the dead tree trunk to use as a frame for the fields, far off buildings and mountains.

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I have ridden past this spot many times and was interested in the wooden fruit tree supports that have been left to rot in this abandoned field. The pattern of the supports is repeated in the very large imposing pylons that cross the field. Not sure what the yellow plant is that has invaded this field – perhaps rape seed – it will not be there for long as the hot summer sun will destroy it until next year. This has a potential to develop further and with an architectural feel to the pylons is an opportunity for me to explore the style and methods of Julie Mehretu? Perhaps on Mylar if I can get some.

In the meantime I took lots of photos of the field from many angles and made a watercolour sketch (on a very overcast cold day):

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Exercise 3 360deg studies

It was difficult to find time to go out and draw in an expansive landscape but finally I found a location about 30 mins away looking towards the Andes mountains.

It was also difficult to find a safe location to park the car and set up my easel/gear to draw uninterrupted. The day was sunny, hot and cloudless but gave a clear view of the mountains and surrounding countryside.

My drawings were made in my new landscape size 6″ x 12″ 130lb sketchbook in pencil and ink markers:

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Looking east towards the mountains
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Looking south
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Looking west
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Looking north

Some of my direction notes on the drawings were actually incorrect.

The first two sketches captured large chunks of the landscape and the last two homed in on smaller areas. It was as anticipated difficult to capture everything and editing/simplifying was essential, especially in 15 min sketches.

Research Point

Upon researching historic and contemporary artists who work in series with the landscape, I was deeply impressed with the work of John Virtue who I wish to go back to in the next section on Townscapes/Cityscapes. The scale of his works and the way he works up quick small sketches into large scale works is an inspiration.  My recent work in indian ink is showing more confidence and I feel ready to go bolder – ever darker with a greater range of tonal contrast. Nicholas Herbert’s work on the Chiltern Hills is too poetic for me although I appreciated his influences from Turners work. Hockney is a favorite and I may use his influence to build an image of my road in the townscape section of this part of the course. In particular his road pictures where he makes a picture about his journeys: Mullholland Drive: The road to the studio, 1980  and The road to Malibu, 1988.

I have been researching the work of Julie Mehetru – an artist that, whilst she is not a landscape artist, she has used architectural drawings and urban spaces in her works on both modest and gigantic scales! Whilst I cannot move to her scale at present, I want to explore working on Mylar and creating similar spaces to her works such as the Untitled. 2000 works found in Drawing Now. Eight Propositions by Laura Hoptmann, 2002 – where she uses coloured pencil, ink and cut paper on Mylar. This will be a challenge for me also because it may mean more controlled use of line and a methodic form of working – well outside of my comfort zone and I could go to A2 maybe. In particular I want to explore her use of what she calls the 3rd space – a space outside of the picture plane swirling, deconstructing and exploding – a space that is also truly three dimensional.

 

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.

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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.

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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:

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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.

 

Afternoon visit to Chartwell

Afternoon visit to Chartwell

During my business trip to Europe, I had the chance to visit my family in the UK and on one afternoon Chartwell, the home of Winston Churchill. The visit to Chartwell included a walk around the grounds, his art studio and house. Winston painted many scenes of his estate (not really to my taste) and there are strategic chairs placed in positions from which he may have painted – you can just imagine him having his paints brought to him along with an ample supply of tea, sandwiches and cigars! I sat in one of the chairs to have my photo taken and in that time made an extremely quick sketch.

The most interesting part of the visit were the grounds and scenery – the views are stunning and unspoilt by road, rail, buildings etc – from the estate you cannot see anything but green countryside.

For anyone on Part 3 Expanse a visit to Chartwell has a wealth of material: varied landscape, woodland and beautifully manicured ‘English’ country garden borders. For those who need trees this estate is a treasure trove.

I will use some of these images to complement local trees near my home in Chile.

At the end of the tour in the House, there was a wonderful portrait of Churchill and his wife by William Nicholson (1872-1949) entitled:

Study for ‘Breakfast at Chartwell II’ (Sir Winston Churchill, 1874–1965, and Clementine Ogilvy Hozier, 1885–1977, Lady Churchill, in the Dining Room at Chartwell, with Their Cat ‘Tango’) c.1932/1933

Link to image: https://artuk.org/discover/stories/interview-with-chartwells-cat-jock-vi

I liked the informal nature of the study and all the ‘normal’ items on the table (except the cat of course!) – Churchill is almost a siluette but unmistakenly him.

In the link you can also see a couple of his paintings.