Project: Drawing Trees – Check and Log

11/07/14

Check & Log

  • How many different tree types have you drawn?
    I drew several types of trees: Mulberry (in full leaf but no fruit); an unknown named tree (in full leaf); Bramley apple tree (full leaf, some fruit); Coxes apple tree (full leaf, some fruit) and an old Lilac tree (full leaf, flowers gone over).
  • What techniques did you use to distinguish each type?
    The apple trees were in full leaf with some fruit forming, so they were quite dense and solid in shape. I tried to concentrate on the tone of the whole leafy area, picking out a few leaves and branches only where they were actually visible. The Mulberry tree had been pruned from the bottom so a lot of trunk and lower branches were showing. the trunk was quite textured so more sharp, scratchy marks were used to show that. the leaves were more individual and a nice broad shape theat curled interestingly. These shapes were drawn more realistically and in the expanded view tree drawing, I tried to show the direction they pointed in and how as a group they “fell” in a certain way, almost as if draped. The “tree with no name”, had a tangle of branches with numerous knobbly twigs which were fun to draw with pen, using stop/start strokes with different thicknesses.
Project: Drawing Trees Exercise: Sketching an Individual Tree

Project: Drawing Trees
Exercise: Sketching an Individual Tree
Studies of the whole Mulberry (top left) and “tree with no name” (top right) and then zoomed in detail of leaves and branches beneath each.

Project: Drawing Trees Exercise: Larger Study of an Individual Tree  Bramley Apple Tree  Markers and liner pens on A3 white cartridge paper

Project: Drawing Trees
Exercise: Larger Study of an Individual Tree
Bramley Apple Tree
Markers and liner pens on A3 white cartridge paper

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • What did you do to convey the mass of foliage?
    I avoided detail and concentrated on lights and darks which help give the illusion of an abundance of foliage. By working pen marks in different directions and hatching into where the darks were, leaving areas for the lights, the leaves seemed to appear without specifically drawing them.
  • How did you handle light on the trees? Was it successful?
    The way light fell or showed itself on the tree was a little unexpected as it was bounced around within the leaves.  It didn’t always follow the pattern of dark away from the sunlight – it was sometimes reflected by the leaves up and/or down and around the edges of the leaf canopy, the sun shone through individual leaves giving them a translucent quality.  Using drawing pens for uncoloured work, made it easier to distinguish light and dark. By laying in bold darks at first, I was able to convey some light as well as texture and shape.  Once changing to colour it was easier to see whilst working, although using oil pastel there was a limit to the amount of pastel the paper would take, even if scratched off first.  Probably the most successful was the lone apple tree – this done in monochrome with differing pen thicknesses and also placing it in a background so darks and lights could be added around it in the negative shapes.
Project: Drawing Trees Exercise: Study of Several Trees

Project: Drawing Trees
Exercise: Study of Several Trees
Coxes apple tree and old, leaning lilac tree against beech hedging. Late morning to mid afternoon, bright sun with dappled shadow.
Underpainted with watercolour pencil washes, marker pen and oil pastel on watercolour paper A2

  • Did you manage to select and simplify? Look at your drawings and make notes on how you did this, and what could you do better?
    • Homed in on interesting part of larger trees to fill the frame
    • Simplified foliage by concentrating on tone and adding small amounts of detail close to.
    • With the colour oil pastel drawing, I think I could have made the darks darker to help emphasis light.  I did try to concentrate on the trees but needed to place it in its setting – maybe the background is a little too distracting?

 

Project: Townscapes – Check and Log

23/06/14

Check & Log

  • How did you use a limited colour palette to create a sense of depth?
    Project: Townscapes Exercise: A Limited Palette Study from your Sketches

    Project: Townscapes
    Exercise: A Limited Palette Study from your Sketches
    Conte Pencils – black & sanguine
    Coloured Pencil – sky blue
    On white cartridge paper – A2

    I used primarily two colours plus the white of the paper ie sanguine and black conte pencils. In the distance I used both colours very lightly to show aerial perspective, yet still varied tones by hatching albeit faintly.  Middle ground was depicted a little stronger using the black over the sanguine to keep colour subtle but to indicated tone, shape, recesses and shadows.  In the foreground I have used stronger contrasts and increased the strength of both colours – the sanguine to give more strength of colour and the black to increase the depth of shadows, particularly in the through alleyway.  At the end I introduced a pale blue in the sky to indicate some light clouds and distance.

  • Did your preliminary sketches give you enough information for your final pieces of work?
    I was much happier with my initial sketches as source material this time – especially compared with my previous 360 degree studies in the Landscape project. The detail, slightly differing views and particularly the tonal sketch were extremely helpful.
Project: Townscapes Exercise: A Sketchbook of Townscape Drawings  Alms Houses, Fordingbridge, Hampshire

Project: Townscapes
Exercise: A Sketchbook of Townscape Drawings
Alms Houses, Fordingbridge, Hampshire
First on the spot sketch with notes in pencil

Project: Townscapes Exercise: A Sketchbook of Townscape Drawings Alms Houses, Fordingbridge, Hampshire

Project: Townscapes
Exercise: A Sketchbook of Townscape Drawings
Alms Houses, Fordingbridge, Hampshire
Tonal sketch which also simplified shapes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

They made me adapt my composition by putting the focal point in its setting and making it more of a picture rather than just a sketch of building architecture.

  • Would you approach this task differently next time?
    I think I would consider my drawing position more carefully another time.  Unfortunately, I had to keep moving for cars leaving and entering the parking space next to me – typically no other space had comings and goings! Also in this kind of view, I think I would occasionally sketch the people/movement through the scene, it wasn’t as bustling as in the hight street but not deserted either. I had to imagine the figures in the final piece. I would definitely, do a tonal drawing again – maybe even simpler than this one.
  • Have you got the scale of the buildings right? Make notes on what worked and what didn’t.
    I am happy with the scale as I put a lot of effort into it. For my preliminary sketches, I drew a

    Project: Townscapes Exercise: A Sketchbook of Townscape Drawings Alms Houses, Fordingbridge, Hampshire

    Project: Townscapes
    Exercise: A Sketchbook of Townscape Drawings
    Alms Houses, Fordingbridge, Hampshire
    Adjusting the composition to give a sense of place.

    frame and marked it around the edges and squared it up.  As there were many diagonals and perspectives, I felt it important to mark where lines began and finished.  Marking in the eye level was also very helpful.  This was particularly difficult as the buildings did follow the bend in the road which skewed the perspective slightly with small differences in vanishing points.  I was careful to note the height of the distant trees, the size of the car in the distance and how the windows followed the same pattern around the building.  Adding in the figures also assisted with showing the scale.  I tried to relate each element to its neighbour.

  •  Have you captured the colour and atmosphere in your studies? How did you do this?
    I am pleased with the colour aspect.  By using the sanguine for the predominantly red brick and clay roofed buildings, this has given a sense of realism, even with a limited palette.  As
Project: Townscapes Exercise: A Sketchbook of Townscape Drawings  Alms Houses, Fordingbridge, Hampshire

Project: Townscapes
Exercise: A Sketchbook of Townscape Drawings
Alms Houses, Fordingbridge, Hampshire
Final sketch before the limited palette study, all the elements worked through are included here to include in the final piece.

for the atmosphere, I was trying to avoid an architectural style of drawing (albeit not as accurate), which is difficult when concentrating on the more mathematical aspects such as perspective and scale.  This is where the tonal sketch was particularly useful as detail was secondary to the tones and shadows.  I think this worked to a degree but in future, to obtain more atmosphere and a less clinical feel, I would introduce more tone and less detail, even in the foreground.  I also tried to make lines a little more uneven as the buildings are fairly old (early 20th Century) and have gained character and some crookedness. Adding trees and figures in the distance helped plus a shadowy figure exiting the foreground (a la Degas?) gives it more of a narrative.  However, on the whole I think that this is its biggest weakness.

A Note Regarding the Previous Project: Perspective

As noted in my previous post Check and Log – Perspective, one of my key stumbling points in successfully understanding this, was “How do I decide whether a line/angle runs up or down?”.  During the exercise: Study of a Townscape Using Line, I thoroughly worked through my difficulties. Sitting in the High Street of Fordingbridge, I attempted sketching the view down the street.

  1. I used the view finder
  2. Marked points around the edge of my drawn frame in my sketchbook
  3. Marked my eye line
  4. Noted the elements contained in fore, middle and backgrounds
  5. Employed aerial perspective
  6. Noted where lines began and ended
  7. Tried to reproduce what I could see
  8. Drew the row of shops and buildings using parallel perspective – hang on, is that line running up or down? Here we go again I thought!

I struggled on for an hour or so and took some photos so I had more reference when I got home.  I returned to the same spot the next day and around the same time. Worked on the original sketch again and made some zoomed in detail sketches and notes. I came home and prepared my A3 cartridge paper, squaring up in readiness to enlarge my sketches – with some trepidation as I still didn’t really understand why I wasn’t getting it. Next day, determined to crack this, I set about enlarging my drawing – tackling the row of shops, I drew in a faint line for my eye level and … by jove I think I’ve got it! Lines below the eye level run up to the vanishing point, lines above run down! Why on earth I couldn’t get this I don’t know – so simple and let’s be honest very logical! Anyway, that’s the happy ending – so now to practice, practice, practice!

Project: Townscapes Exercise: Study of a Townscape Using Line  Fordingbridge High Street

Project: Townscapes
Exercise: Study of a Townscape Using Line
Fordingbridge High Street
My initial sketchbook sketch – when I was still struggling.

 

Note: I would have loved to post the A3 study to illustrate the breakthrough, however, frustratingly it was lost in the “post” with my other work and even more annoyingly, I omitted to photograph that one piece before it was despatched.

However, once the drawing was sketched out, I re-enforced the lines of foreground objects with a thicker Sharpie marker and gradually used thinner nibbed drawing pens through the image to the background. This enhanced the aerial perspective as well.

Project: Perspective – Check and Log

10/06/14

Check & Log

  • What problems did you find in executing perspective drawings?
  1. Parallel Perspective: Unsure whether I’d judged the eye level correctly.
    Parallel Perspective - an Interior View

    Project: Perspective
    Exercise: Parallel Perspective – an Interior View

    What looks right doesn’t always seem to follow the perspective rules.

  2. Angular Perspective: This completely lost me to start with. I had external and internal corners to draw and have often, in the past, been unable to decide if a line is angled up or down and this results in the drawing not being “right” but unsure why.
    Open doors and windows throw in opposite angles to the frame they are within.
    It seems that sometimes the mathematically drawn version looks wrong too, especially with old buildings with warps and twists and leaning walls.
Project: Perspective Exercise: Angular Perspective

Project: Perspective
Exercise: Angular Perspective
An unsuccessful drawing with a myriad of confusing lines and angles – will I ever get this?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Make notes on the merits of using, or not using, rulers to guide you.
  1. For using: I found using a ruler to check parallel perspective useful as a guide and to correct anything obviously wrong on occasion.  However, regarding angular or oblique perspective, I found it invaluable. I had to study the perspective section in The Artist’s Handbook of Materials and Techniques* to begin to understand the principle. It helped me clarify the angles from an internal corner and ruler allowed me to see where the line hit on the eye level line.
    For not using: This is a matter of aesthetics, using rulers gives straight lines, old buildings in particular, may appear to be straight but have evolved due to weather, ground levels shifting and general aging. If a ruler is over-used in these instances, the building loses its character.
    NB:  I am typing this retrospectively, as my work was lost en route to my tutor with a handmade and handwritten learning log. Enough said on that – not happy! However, the above is a collation of notes I took at the time, and I had not completed Assignment 3. With the benefit of hind sight, the slight indication that I was beginning to understand angular perspective, proved to be false when attempting the next project of Townscapes – I am pleased to say that, eventually, there was a happy ending – but I won’t spoil the story now.

*The Artist’s Handbook of Materials and Techniques by Ralph Meyer Fifth revised and Expanded Edition 1991.

 

 

Project: Landscape Drawing – Check and Log

02/06/14

Check & Log

  • In what way did you simplify and select in your study? Were you able to focus on simple shapes and patterns amid all the visual information available to you?
360 degree studies

Project: Landscape Drawing
Exercise: 360 Degree Studies
Location: Hengistbury Head, Dorset

Drawings made in the Exercises: Sketchbook Walk and 360 Degree Studies, were made easier to simplify by using the view finder. It not only helped frame the scene in front of me, it also gave me markers for where elements needed to fit onto the paper around the edges, I then had points to refer and relate to for the entire content of the image.  For selecting which of the 360 degree studies to develop further in a larger study, I found that by putting all the sketches on one large piece of paper, I could judge my choice more easily. I could see the composition most suited to illustrate the three main sections of the image, back, middle and foreground. The bottom two sketches had more depth and interest, with the last one having simple shapes to develop leading from near to far.

  • How did you create a sense of distance and form in your sketches?

I tried to use the whole scene’s sense of perspective ie not only the more obvious subjects in the landscape but the sky as well.  This helped enormously as I was having difficulty with the media I’d chosen to use (conte sticks in black, grey and white) in knocking back the tone in the distance. In retrospect I think I was more successful in creating the atmosphere rather than specific forms, particularly as I got colder and worked quicker and with less detail.

  • How did you use light and shade? Was it successful?

As mentioned above, the conte sticks being fairly hard in texture, I struggled with tonal ranges, particularly with the distance – I was aware that the distant objects should be lighter in tone and tried over-hatching with light shades with a limited degree of success.  Consquently, in theory, I knew I should darken the foreground as a foil to the distance, again with limited success. Yes I should have used charcoal, but I will learn from my mistaken choices.

  • What additional preliminary work would have been helpful towards the larger study?
  1. Considering which sketch was to be developed whilst I was on site.
  2. Sketching the same scene again a few times with each drawing focussing on different aspects. ie it would have been helpful to have information specifically for:
    1. Perspective of the manmade features (beach huts)
    2. A more detailed study of the natural formation of the sand dunes
    3. Study of the textures within the foreground
    4. A basic simple tonal representation of shapes
Project: Landscape Drawing Exercise: Plotting Space Through Composition and Structure

Project: Landscape Drawing
Exercise: Plotting Space Through Composition and Structure
Graphite and water soluble graphite pencils on paper

Instead I had a great “impression” of the scene and could remember the feeling and atmosphere of being there with the sounds and smells of the sea. This in itself was a step forward, however, I need to be able to develop these impressions and stay true to them rather than dilute with over work, which is what I think I did in the end.

Claude Lorrain re division of landscapes

02/06/16

Research Point

Look at the work of Claude Lorrain and Turner.  Write notes on how those artists divide their landscapes into foreground, middle ground and background.

landscape with brigands - claude lorrain

Landscape with Brigands 1633 by Claude Lorrain

Referring back to the illustration already used for Claude Lorrain.
Lorrain used tone and colour to great effect to achieve aerial perspective. Landscape with Brigands 1633 – Even though this is a monochrome etching, the use of tone is striking in separating the three main areas of the image.  The distant hills progressively become stronger in line and tone as they come forwards. The middle ground is more defined but less so than the foreground where all the action is, not only with the figures but with tonal values and detail on the near trees.

Lorrain predates Turner by well over a hundred years, yet Turner and his contemporaries have obviously observed and learnt from him. Turner used similar techniques in composition even though his style evolved very differently becoming a major influence on the Impressionists to come.

 

 

 

Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775-1851 re division of landscapes

21/05/14

Research Point

Look at the work of Claude Lorrain and Turner. Write notes on how those artists divide their landscapes into foreground, middle ground and background.

Crossing the Brook exhibited 1815 Joseph Mallord William Turner

Crossing the Brook by Joseph Mallord William Turner 1815
Tate Gallery London

An epic landscape painting which clearly defines fore, middle and backgrounds. The great sense of space and depth is my first impression. The distance is achieved with proportional scale and a more ethereal painting technique that eliminates detail and relies on subtle tones and muted colours for its illusion.  Even the sky has depth due to the smaller clouds closer together with them increasing in size and space as they come nearer to the viewer.  The middle ground has more features but these are still handled delicately plus encompassing the sunlight falling on the buildings and rocky, tree covered hills.

The foreground has much more detail and more contrasting tones. Features and subjects appear nearer due to the increase in size and detail. The whole painting is brought together by the framing of the trees on the left, the diagonal of the tree-lined hill guiding the eye up and to the right tree group and then off into the distance. Turner has crafted this beautifully and leads the viewer, although, one can also just get lost in the sheer expanse of the composition as if seeing the view in real life.

Raby Castle by  Joseph Mallord William Turner 1818

Raby Castle by
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1818
Walters Art Gallery, Baltimore

Raby Castle commissioned by the 3rd Earl of Darlington.
Again, this has distinct separation of back, middle and foregrounds, although this time the subject, the castle itself, is positioned in the middle ground. All the usual techniques have been employed ie the distant hills are muted and give atmosphere and depth. Stronger contrasts and details of the flora and fauna give a sense of closeness to the viewer, with the hounds and riders of the hunt showing scale. Cleverly, Turner has used the sky to great effect, not only for a sense of drama and framing the left upper section with a strong cloud formation, but also by using shafts of sunlight to illuminate the painting’s subject, even though the castle itself is fairly minimal in detail. Bringing the whole image together again with the composition leading the eye backwards and forwards across the painting in a natural and rhythmic way. So very clever.

Research and photographs from
JMW Turner 1775-1
851 from the Discovering Art Series
Turner by KE Sullivan First published 1996 Brockhampton Press, reprinted 2004

Pictures courtesy of Visual Arts Library London, Bridgeman Art Library

 

David Hockney (again)

18-19/05/14

Research Point

Look at artists who worked in series with the landscape such as Monet, Pissarro or Cezanne. Make notes in your learning log about the challenges they faced and how they tackled them.

Three Trees near Thixendale, Spring 2008 by David Hockney

Three Trees near Thixendale, Spring 2008
by David Hockney
(8 Canvasses put together 2×4)

Three Trees near Thixendale, Summer 2007 by David Hockney

Three Trees near Thixendale, Summer 2007
by David Hockney
(8 Canvasses put together 2×4)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Three Trees near Thixendale, Autumn 2008 by David Hockney

Three Trees near Thixendale, Autumn
2008
by David Hockney
(8 Canvasses put together 2×4)

Three Trees near Thixendale, Winter 2008 by David Hockney

Three Trees near Thixendale, Winter
2008
(8 Canvasses put together 2×4)
by David Hockney

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I feel I have to return to David Hockney’s The Bigger Picture exhibition.  Within this collection there are numerous series of works recording the same scenes at differing timings, over seasons and years. Interestingly with the Three Trees series, it looks like Hockney revisited this scene the following year to produce the Autumn, Spring and Winter paintings after producing the Summer work in 2007.

Painting outside

Painting outside, putting canvasses together to increase overall painting size.

 

The challenges are much the same as any outdoor art work making. Hockney, allegedly dressed in layers of coats and heated gloves is not unexpected, yet his insistence in creating mammoth sized paintings outdoors in the countryside, probably is.  As mentioned in my previous post re Mr Hockney, he got round this by using several, medium-sized canvasses placed together in collections of 6, 9, 15 or so. Alignment also being a challenge, he turned, as many times before in his work, to photography to help him out.  Using digital photographs and photoshop he would “stitch” together the individual images to make one cohesive picture.

An early start and set up ready to paint.

An early start and set up ready to paint.

Many times he arrived at his chosen painting spot with canvasses, easels, camping tables accommodating boxes of paints, pots of brushes etc but also made use of iPad technology and apps as a digital sketchbook, needing only the tablet to paint on and his finger to paint with (plus, I am sure, many hours of practice with the thing!).

Interestingly, Hockney refers back to Albrecht Durer, Monet, Turner, Ruskin, Constable among others and even made his own versions of Claude Lorrain’s Sermon on the Mount in his own style.

 

 

All images are photographs of pages from the official catalogue of work “David Hockney RA: A Bigger Picture” published by the Royal Academy of Arts, London. Authors: Tim Barringer, Edith Devaney, Margaret Drabble, Martin Gayford, Marco Livingsone and Xavier F Salomon – Photographic Acknowledgements contained within. Research also from the above.