Category: Part 3

Part 3, Project 3 Composition, Exercise 1 Developing your studies




For this exercise I was to review my preparatory drawing from Project 2 and select the elements I would like to include in a larger drawing. I chose one of a bench I had drawn but wanted to enlarge the scene. I really like the drawing done by artists which have subtle colour within their tone and wanted to try and do something similar. I love Rubens and Isobel Rae.


I have drawn various rough sketches  my first in graphite which was difficult to do, once again it was pouring down with rain and sketching on a pavement in the pouring rain with cars splashing through puddles as you draw is not fun. I am seriously thinking of investing in weather proof paper and a shield. I took various photos on separate days but couldn’t get the shadow I wanted as it was so dull.


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I followed the initial sketch with several, starting with Charcoal and then using various techniques at applying colour under the charcoal. The sketches were done from memory so are not accurate. I tried applying the pastel adding water then covering in charcoal it was too dark, so I tried applying pastel on top of the charcoal, and applying the pastel under without any water, rubbing it well into the paper without fixing.  I liked the effect where the pastel was rubbed without fixing best, charcoal was then applied over the top then as with all the sketches I lifted the leaf shapes out with putty rubber.

The final sketch shows development from the the first drawing I did a few weeks ago which was quick and more of a line drawing with minimal tone and no colour. I practiced various marks and laid down quick blocks of pastel and charcoal lifting the lighter tones and adding the darker. I feel the bushes at the very back behind the bare branches are successful, giving depth to the picture. Also I tried to keep the bench within the Golden Mean and I find its position pleasing, a focal point from which the eye can move around the picture, helped by the circular rows of stone which lead the eye through the composition. I applied tone using charcoal along the edge of the leaves to make them stand out, but if I was to develop this sketch more, I may try to draw in some leaf shapes instead of just using the lifting technique. Also I feel the colour of the leaves  of the bushes just behind the chair are too dark still and if the posts were not in the foreground, it would not be as well balanced. I think the slight touches of colour worked well in the rest of the picture as it added interest. Also the lifting of charcoal and edging in a darker tone worked well in showing the twigs that are coming off the tree on the right, it gives the area an interesting texture.

As can be seen from the above photograph of the area, I omitted to draw the bin and a lamppost in order for it to look more picturesque.

I have enjoyed and feel I have learnt a lot with my sketching in this project, my mark has become loser and more confident. Its difficult for me to explain, but I feel a greater freedom in my work and less pressure on myself to make every drawing look perfect, allowing a freedom in my application to develop more speed in my work and allow me to explore my subject and technique, not just copy it.

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Part 3, Project 2, Exercise 360° studies

For this Exercise I had to choose and expansive landscape where I had an open view in all directions. Start one drawing North using a viewfinder to find a focal point, and complete a 15 minute drawing, then turn to face West, South, and East to do the same. It was an expansive landscape to a point, but due to bad weather this winter I could not get high enough up the hill in the allotted time in order to get a clear view on all 4 sides. It has done nothing but rain for weeks so I grabbed what I could with the time and window of weather I had.


The above drawing was North and took me longer than 15 minuets as I could not get the extension correct. It was difficult as these houses were obscured by a hill and what we are seeing are the higher parts of the houses. It was sunny and about 2pm.

360-2030 Next I turned East there was a sheep in front of the scene with other sheep lower down the hill leading to a wooded area. The sheep’s head looks more like a cow, but I am not the best at quick sketching. One thing I was trying out on this exercise is a solid stick of graphite I used it for the highlights in the drawing and have decided to carry it around with me on field sketches as it worked well. I feel the lack of tone didn’t give depth to the picture, but it was a pleasing picturesque view which I enjoyed drawing.


This view was to the South and was a path leading up the hill. Unfortunately because of its incline it cut out a lot of the view but it had character.



This view is to the West doesn’t look extensive from this drawing and the trees at the back obscure any further view.

Although my views in a couple of the directions are not picturesque I can see that wherever you are, there will always be something different to draw if you change your position or viewpoint. I could, if not drawing landscapes have drawn several different pictures from that one position. I did a quick sketch of a sheep when I got home. I have been looking at various artists and liked the way their drawings were done with minimal colour with an impressionistic tonal background. Although I could do with some practice at achieving a more formed subject by subtle shade, experiment with application of media, and give an impression of surroundings, I really like the picture and want to experiment more. I used soft pastel for the background and wet it moving the pigments around to form and interesting look. Then I used graphite and coloured pencils to draw the sheep. The smooth paper of my sketchbook would not give more tone, so I will have to practice on other types of paper to see if I can achieve the look I am trying to get.


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Photos of area drawn.

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Part 3, Project 2, Exercise 2 Sketchbook Walk

I was to do a walk in my local area and make 4 quick sketches without using a rubber, work rapidly but don’t erase mistakes just draw over them and incorporate them into the sketches.

I was to make written application were appropriate:

The time, weather conditions and direction light and shadow.

The main point of interest such as a building gate or group of trees.

The division of space into foreground, middle ground and background.

Pattern and textures, repetition of large and small shapes, tonal , tonal values etc. across the scene.

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Picture of Stocks at between 12 and 1pm. Sun was high, day sunny, so no really long shadows. Point of interest was the Stocks, which where in the foreground, mid ground were the large thick trees behind, then the lighter trees on the hill fall into the background position. There are a lot of dark shadows to the left side of objects but the were not in mass, the picture was dominated by rectangular shapes.


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Tree on a bank at a road junction between 12 and 1pm, no long shadows except for those seen on the bark of the tree, the day was sunny. Shapes were non-repetitive curving and angular. Point of interest is the tree,  the road and wall were mid, and the evergreen trees in the distance. Because of the size of the tree against the background there was no real horizontal division, but the tree sat vertically in the middle of the page.

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Hay and fields about 2pm back of the trees in shadow the sun coming from front left meaning all branches are in silhouette, the day was sunny. Various different types of shapes and mark, shadow was heavy on the objects. Main subject, tree and circular bale. These occupied the center front of the picture, due to the nature of the tree the mid, vertical line was the main focal point along with the bottom  and top third horizontally.

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Seat at road Junction 12 to 1pm shadow was evident behind the seat but because the whole area was in shadow there was no real shadow to work with. Heavier shadow appeared to the left of the subject and to the side  of the cobbles facing me. The main subject was the bench and the curved platforms,  which gave contrast of shape against the rectangular shape of the bench.

I was pleasantly surprised given the speed I drew these pictures that they came out looking relatively like they should. I failed though on tone and next time I would like to better this by using more shading.











Part 3, Project 1, Exercise 3 Study Of Several Trees

This Exercise was about the study of several trees showing my ability to be selective and simplify the scene. It is for me one of the most difficult aspects of drawing. I chose to do a drawing of various trees and bushes from an area near home. First I sat and did a sketch in graphite. I wasn’t sure how to simplify the Rhododendron and the underlying Bramble but settled on drawing a rough version of the large leaves and just suggested the vegetation underneath with hatched shading then used cross hatch and hatch shading for the leaves.  The distant trees and vegetation were far more complex than I could draw so I simplified the whole scene by omitting various Brambles and greenery, leaving just the most prominent in view, depicting them with just shape and shading.  The holly in the top left was really straight underneath and gave a great frame to the picture, my mark was different here as I found the leaves better scribbled, as I did with the Beech Tree leaves but the scribble was less angular for these as they had less sharp edges. I haven’t used a viewfinder before and found it an absolute boon for selecting a scene and helping perspective. To suggest distance I drew the trees furthest away much smaller than in reality and kept the pencil work much lighter. This was in contrast to the nearest large tree that lost it major branches due to being above the viewfinder area.My highlights across the whole picture were suggested through leaving areas free from mark or making the mark less dense, or lighter in tone.

I then decided to do the whole picture again using Watercolour pencils and a water brush. I bought these pencils ages ago and didn’t like them and had a problem with being able to get the effect I want, often the end picture looking too linear and blotchy. I first did a little studying on how to use them properly and found the lighter their application the better and doing several washes better than using one heavier application. I used a similar technique in drawing the scene as described above. Apart from the light shading the difference was more how I used the material rather than how I portrayed the trees and leaves,  although I did omit one tree which I found distracting.  The nearer and larger Rhododendron leaves were draw with more form than the beech leaves which were scribbled, as were the holly, where the scribbles were more angular. The simplified bushes and trees to the back were suggested by shape and line as with graphite but I washed them over with the water pen. All in all with both pictures I used the same type of mark making, but with the Watercolour I gently infilled with a light and even application of colour, then followed it up with a water wash.

In this exercise I learned there are many ways in which to use different marks to depict leaves and branches, a viewfinder is a very good tool to have, and how to apply Watercolour pencils.

I was shocked that I managed to simplify the scene, as at first I wasnt sure how to, but whilst sketching I found if I drew in the most prominent, I could see how much of the vegetation  to include to balance the picture.

Overall I was pleased with this exercise, probably because it came out better that I thought. It could of looked messy and cluttered but I managed to simplify the scene. In the graphite drawing I omitted some bushes to the front of the evergreen trees, these I added in the Watercolour Pencil sketch as they gave more contrast. I also omitted a tree in the colour sketch as I fount it distracting. The thing that I could do better within these drawings, is to make my mark more uniform and place them more accurate, plus I should have kept my pencils sharper which give a more professional look to the whole drawing. I have copied a few of Leonardo Da Vinci drawings in the past, his mark looks effortless, but after doing the study I realised they were placed very accurately within his subject, to give his shadow and form.



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Part 3, Project 1, Exercise 2, Larger observational study of an individual tree

For this I was to do a more detailed observation of a tree so I started with two sketches of two different Beech trees, I chose to do the study on the tree which whose roots remind me of the tentacles of an Octopus. Local children have a swing attached to a branch and have used it as a swing for years. I decided however it was the roots that I wanted to do the study on, I find them magical to look at. I used A3 Cartridge paper and it was a toss up between Charcoal, Graphite or Ink and Wash. I don’t use Ink and Wash normally, so decided I wanted to experiment with that as my medium. I started with the line and found myself wondering how to show the detail. The bark was smooth, but had blemishes and colour changes which I needed to portray. I tried to wet the tree and then apply ink with a brush. I didn’t like the effect it was too uniform. I then reapplied the line and picked up a brush full of clear water and brushed along the still wet line letting the ink spread from line to center of the trunk this worked well, but still not right. I tried lifting some of the ink with a brush to create highlights and texture, but felt I needed a more patchy effect to show the texture, so dabbed damp areas with tissue lifting away some ink. This worked well. I let the picture dry, but was still not happy, with the bark texture, so I went in again with water and made some areas quite wet, here I dropped in ink and allowed it to spread lifting it from areas I wanted to keep the highlights. This gave a really good affect.  I still needed to add some lines and marks which appear like fine cracks and blemishes in the bark, I tried two method. One I dropped water into not quite dry ink and it caused the ink to feather as wanted but too much so, so I had to manipulate this with a damp brush to get the correct affect. The other way I added line and mark was to draw it in with my ink pen,  and wash over it, this was done near the roots. Finally I added a couple of blotchy washes to the ground and then fine line and mark to  give an impression of surface. The sky I chose to keep clear in order to give the tree the prominence and the focus I wanted. It was a dull day so I had to guess at shadow especially as the surrounding trees cut out  a lot of natural light so I placed it to the back right of the tree.

I felt the texture of the tree went well and showed the blemishes and bark tone changes I was after.

What I didn’t like was the thickness of line on the roots, so if I was to do it again I would try painting shadow in with a wash rather than let it spread as I kept having to reapply the line to get the darker areas of tone I wanted.

This was a great learning curve as I have only drawn with simple line and a wash before just enough to show shadow and only on a couple of occasions. I found it reacted like using watercolour and that with careful use it can be applied in many ways to create line and tone, the manipulation of the ink from various methods such as removing ink with paper, brush or water ,can create highlights, whilst tone can be created by mark, application and manipulation. I really enjoyed using it this way and would like to practice using the medium further.



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Part 3, Project 1, Exercise 1 Sketching Individual Trees

I had trouble finding a suitable tree to study the foliage as it is winter, pouring with rain and cold. However I did find an interesting Oak Tree which I decided to draw in Charcoal, I had never used Charcoal until starting this course, but love the tones that can be achieved when using it. As I didn’t have any foliage to draw, or very little I decided to sketch in the tones of the tree starting with the outline of the tree shape as required and building its tone and definition over 4 pictures, indicating all but the main branches with  increasingly finer marks. I had never used this method before and found it useful as it gives a good indication where to place the branches. Seeing the negative space between  each branch also helped with accuracy of placement. Drawing this reminded me of, The Grey Tree by Piet Mondrian, where he experimented with drawing trees and the negative space between. I started this as a quick sketch in situ, but had to move indoors to finish the drawing, and felt in drawing it I had learnt a new technique.

As this was not exactly as the Exercise had asked, I went out the next day and looked for a tree with at least some leaves. I found one in a neighbours garden but had no idea of its type. I decided this time to draw it in pencil. First I drew the outline and in the second drawing drew hatched areas where the leaves were on the tree. In the third picture I drew the trunk and main branches and followed it up with the forth drawing by representing the leaves with scribble outlines. The third and forth pictures were drawn in the studio.  I found this exercise really helped with perspective and highlighting the areas of negative space within the tree. If I was to do it again I would like to try varying my pencil strength to show dark and light tone.

Having enjoyed this exercise I decided to attempt another drawing of a Poplar Tree, well at least I think that is what the tree is. For this drawing given I had no leaves again I could only partially use the technique learned and drew a lollipop tree to capture the shape, then drew the branches in pencil, before returning back home to overlay the pencil with ink, adding some tone. I had sketched some of Leonardo Da Vinci drawings in the past and seen how evenly his lines of shading were placed and tried to be a little more careful in my placement. I am still not as controlled as I want to be, but felt I was heading in the right direction.

What I felt I did well with these exercises was I had begun to loosen up my style helping me experiment a little more with my style. What I didn’t think worked well was applying scribble to my leafy tree as it looked one toned and I would try and use heavier or more dense scribble in the darker areas in future.

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