I needed to now look at textures and how to go about using them. It’s not something I have ever really tried before, except for a little collage. I had been looking at variations whilst studying artists and found people often use Gesso and tissue to create a textured surface in which to draw. I felt it may be a good way of producing the effect I wanted. Tree bark pattern is different for each type of tree so taking a few rubbings to get the feel of the marks was one of the first things I did then I tried out various methods on how to create and use the texture.
The first textured work was done using Acrylic paint tinted with watercolour and tissue. It was totally random and I wanted to try out the technique whilst waiting for my Gesso to arrive. I used Charcoal, C. Pencil and Pencil, I liked the tinted background but I feel it will limit the distance in the picture, but I did like the texture on the tree stumps this was effective and felt tactile. So I thought I would extend the texture further back into the picture next time.
I then tried Gesso and tissue to create the background in which to draw, and used oil pastels and coloured pencils to draw on the surface and silverpoint in the background. I felt there wasn’t too much texture in relation the rear of the picture, so it lost depth, however the foreground was really nice and the affect was how I wanted. The colour was a nice touch, but I wasn’t sure there was a little too much. The definition on the bark wasn’t good either and the tree came out looking flat and overworked, so I needed to tone down the overuse of media and try something a little less dominant. I did like the oil pastel in the foreground it gave the whole area a tangled look which was similar to the wood near where I live. Silverpoint did work but it didn’t bring anything to the table graphite wouldn’t in this particular picture.
Next instead of using tissue, I covered the paper with tinted gesso, this was left rough, the brushstrokes giving a lovely textured affect. I really like the deer which is a coloured pencil sketch. Unfortunately for the Assignment I really needed to showcase all that had learnt in Drawing 1 and this type of drawing wouldn’t show that. However I decided I would to try and better the technique in the future and improve on the above, it is a style I feel will combine with my more photorealistic style and I find it really enjoyable to do.
I then did various experiments using the Gesso and mark making and went through a number of media, both on Gesso alone and on Gesso overpainted with silverpoint paint in increasing layers 1-4. When mark making I used cocktail sticks, pallet knives, wire, fingers and piping, all worked well enough depending on what texture you wanted, and as I discovered earlier you can get a good effect from the hairs of a paint brush. Most media worked relatively well and had its use, but one thing apparent was there was little change in quality with the increasing layers of silverpoint ground. Silverpoint worked well on the surface but I am not sure I will use it in the final work as its delicate mark feels a little at odds with the heavy texture of the trees.
For this exercise I was to throw a piece of clothing or length of plain fabric across a chair to make folded and soft layers of fabric and then, using an appropriate medium for each make two 15 minute sketches, one using line only and the other concentrating on tone. On the line drawing I used graphite and darkened the line where the fold area was in shadow. For the tonal drawing I also used Graphite Pencil one 2b and worked the tone by applying more layers when needing shadow.
I then had to loosely divide a large sheet of paper into 8-12 cm squares and draw 5 minute sketches of different parts of the fabric. Look at the shapes cause by the folds.
I used various media as was suggested choosing, Chalk Pastel, Graphite Pencil, Pencil and Ink, Watercolour Pencil, Wax Pastel, Charcoal, Ball Pen, Felt Tip.
The approach to how I drew the folds and shapes, was different according to the media I used but all started with a line drawing in Graphite first. I thought I would find the media that could be smudged, or blended in some way would give the best effect and largely that was correct, however each one had its merit depending on the effect wanted. The Ball Pen had a pleasing linear effect which I may use in the future, and the Felt Tip actually looked better than the others when viewed from a distance. Out of all the media I felt the Wax Pastel was the less pleasing which surprised me. This could be the way I applied the Pastel, or it didnt work well within a small area, so I decided I would try Wax Pastel on a larger drawing. It was applied very quickly and still worked loose. I liked the effect and may try a similar drawing again but be more precise with application and spending longer in achieving the affect I am looking by trying a more layered effect. I certainly feel used in such a loose way a bigger drawing works better.
For this exercise I was to use two sketchbook pages to make a preliminary drawing , establish the primary focus and any other shapes and object i thought necessary to make the drawing interesting and unexpected. Make notes about the weather conditions and how they affect my approach to the drawing. Then complete a study using pen and ink or black drawing pen using my preliminary drawings.
Did my preliminary drawings give enough info for my final piece? Not without a photograph there were too many angles to get correct in the field and the weather way too bad to sit for long, so I did a rough sketch. When home I practiced the chimney. I had drawn this view before in a quick sketch in a silhouette form trying to get a feel of a John Virtues way of working and earlier in the year from a photo. It is not easy to get the angles correct as the buildings are on various cambers. I would not like to have drawn it from photograph alone as there are certain aspects you cant see. When I drew the chimney from a photo a few months ago, I got the windows in the wrong position, they are not central to the building, but I couldn’t tell from the photo. Neither do I think you get the same depth or angle to your view, you can see and choose in the field. I live near enough to go back and look at the buildings to make sure I was getting certain aspects correct. However if I was drawing something like this any distance from home I would have to wait for better weather in order I could make more preliminary sketches. I made note of eye level and when home drew a red line to make sure I knew where it was and it didn’t get lost among the line.
As mentioned weather on the day was very windy, cold and not bright enough for any real shadow, but at least it wasn’t raining. I knew the direction of the sun on the buildings should be to the right as I have noticed the way it falls on them before and have a photo from some time ago showing its position. My preliminary sketch was done around 11.30am.
If I was to do it again I would work on the shadow more I feel I lack tone within this drawing as my mark if very fine, also I would wait for better weather in order to make more sketches. Unfortunately doing outside work whilst trying to keep to the set time frame of the course is difficult, there is often no other choice than to work with what you have at the time.
The other thing I would like to work on is my perspective. I was really worried about doing this drawing and maybe I should have sat in a Cafe and drawn something simpler in the field, but for reasons I cant explain I really wanted to draw these buildings they have a majesty about them. Having drawn them I feel more confident with perspective, although I would be pushing it if I said I felt confident.
I have learned you can never do too many sketches and getting perspective correct can be difficult in the field, I think unless it was a simple drawing at the moment I would need photographs to get all the angles correct.
For this exercise I was to sketch and make, notes focus on one particular building, for example a corner and notice how the other buildings support your main focus.
Make written notes about my sense of the place and appearance . Take note of eye level for the horizon line. Make a detailed study with a 3b pencil in a 10cm square, showing a section of the building. Draw a second 10cm square,tonal study show in how the light falls across the building.
Make notes about light, its direction, its strength and the shadows. Note atmosphere people, use of the buildings. Make quick sketches of the buildings to decide on the most interesting view. Draw the main shapes in pencil before committing to colour. Be selective and draw you own unique view of your chose place. Giving a sense of the actual location.
I chose some old mill buildings, and did some quick sketches on site following up with perspective and detail at home. I chose a row of buildings all adjoining, the small drawing with trees was a little room attached on the end, I think this was the pump house, it is no longer in use and a tree is taking over is broken exterior. I was interested in this building and thought it would be the one I took further, I liked the angle and did a detailed sketch, making notes of the shade from the surrounding trees and the light which fell on the short wall. I added the side clear of debris but infact there was rubbish along the shorter side obscuring the wall. Oddly I felt the tree obscured what I wanted to show not so much the rubbish.The mill is in slow decline, unloved and mistreated. It is an interesting site and although used by various companies it is decaying, with little money spent on its upkeep, it is alive, but looking tired and unloved. I wanted to show this and felt the little door in the side of the building I past on my way to the pump house, did just that. I tried various sketches and made notes beside one of the drawings. Unfortunately there wasn’t much light contrast, even thought is was sunny and around 1.45. This part of the site was in shadow thrown across from surrounding buildings. There were not many people at the site, but a number of cars which were to be worked on, and I had to negotiate this to draw the little building. It was the last of my sketches I developed further by adding a colour wash and pen work. I tried a light wash but it didn’t work, so I added more layers which gave a more dramatic effect and worked well with the old brickwork and the low contrast. My pen work was too thick, making marks that were too heavy, so in future if I was to do pen and wash I would need a finer nib. I would also be interested in doing further studies in charcoal with and without a brown tint. Once again I learned that sometimes what we think will work well, doesn’t and it pays to do various sketches and not attack a subject with a closed mind. Also that even the most unattractive of subjects can produce a pleasant drawing.
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.