Exercise: Detailed Studies

7-12/11/14

Exercise: Detailed Studies

… Explore all of the features of your subjects in detail.  Alternatively, could you present these objects in a simplified or less focussed way?  Beware of sentimental or fussy elements.

As I have narrowed down my composition to a specific sections of the gates with a back drop of receding trees, bushes and foliage, I will be relying on enlarging all aspects to at least an A2 scale. This means the details of the mechanics and the natural forms will be important regardless of the expressive nature of the treatments and techniques I hope to use.  I have tried to make studies from differing angles to help me understand the three dimensions, shapes and forms.  The pencil drawings assisted with this and the limited palette colour studies aided the tonal considerations.

Exercise: Detailed Studies 4B Pencil - A6

Exercise: Detailed Studies
4B Pencil – A6

 

Exercise: Detailed Studies 4B Pencil - A6

Exercise: Detailed Studies
4B Pencil – A6

 

Exercise: Detailed Studies 4B Pencil - A6

Exercise: Detailed Studies
4B Pencil – A6

 

Exercise: Detailed Studies Graphik Line Painters & Dark Sepia Artist Pen - A6

Exercise: Detailed Studies
Graphik Line Painters & Dark Sepia Artist Pen – A6

 

Exercise: Detailed Studies Watercolour - Indigo & Burnt Sienna - A6

Exercise: Detailed Studies
Watercolour – Indigo & Burnt Sienna – A6

Now, and before I begin the final piece, I want to fully explore colours, textures, materials, tools and mark making options to decide on the overall style and atmosphere I want to achieve.

 

Exercise: Composition

03/11/14

Exercise: Composition

Exercise: Composition Study 1 - Landscape Orientation Looking North Study 2 - Portrait Orientation Looking North Water-soluble Graphite Stick (plus pen on study 1)

Exercise: Composition
Study 1 – Landscape Orientation Looking North
Study 2 – Portrait Orientation Looking North
Water-soluble Graphite Stick (plus pen on study 1)

Notes:  Having already explored a portrait orientation for my view, I may struggle to incorporate all the “required” elements.  It was good to explore the landscape possibility too.  This may, however, include too much.  With the portrait version, I have to be careful not to give the tree too much prominence and move it away from the central position it occupies here.

Exercise: Composition Study 3 - Portrait Orientation Looking South Study 4 - Landscape Orientation Looking South Water-soluble Graphite Stick

Exercise: Composition
Study 3 – Portrait Orientation Looking South
Study 4 – Landscape Orientation Looking South
Water-soluble Graphite Stick

I still haven’t quite let go of the possibility of using the South view for my final assignment work.  As I was unhappy about including the mill houses in the background, and I had already decided to zoom in on the sluice gates in the North view, I thought I should do that with this one too – just to be sure.  My notes are written at the time of drawing and are interesting to compare with my table of assessments against considered criteria a while later – see below.

Exercise: Composition Study 5 - Portrait Orientation Looking North Water-soluble Graphite Stick

Exercise: Composition
Study 5 – Portrait Orientation Looking North
Water-soluble Graphite Stick

Not entirely satisfied with the variety of composition studies so returned to the North facing view and zoomed in even more.  The tree is less centre stage and the mix of horizontal, vertical and diagonal lines are more interesting.  The criteria I felt were important to me are listed and have been incorporated into the upcoming table, checking each composition against each point.

 

Atmosphere & Appeal Opportunities for Media Effects Representational or Abstract Perspective – Aerial and/or Linear
Study 1 Traditional not overly appealing Features may be too small to work on the iron rust etc Too representational – boring Good for perspective, both aerial and linear
Study 2 Middle ground could be atmospheric, has more appeal as more focussed on subject Able to use effects in wooded area, plus some on sluice gate features Quite design led – abstraction could come from the media effects Linear and aerial perspective
Study 3 Atmosphere low, although subject does have appeal for me Success would be purely down to media handling Definite abstract possibilities Linea only – not a bad thing but may be better to illustrate both
Study 4 As Study 3 Opportunity for effects but think a flat approach may be better Definitely abstract – from a distance this looks an interesting design – a completely different direction Linear only
Study 5 Both – softening of hard structure with mid and back ground trees Opportunity for effects to show textures etc An element of both – the patterns, shapes and lines of the interest have shifted to the right Both incorporated but to a lesser degree – yet doesn’t detract from the view

This was a good process to go through – I left it over lunch to be able to come back with fresh eyes and stood my sketchbook up on an easel to view from a distance.  This clarified the whole effect of each study – taking each in turn and applied my assessment of my criteria.

Conclusion

My favourites were between studies 4 and 5 much to my surprise.

Study 4:  An interesting composition for abstract treatment.  Something I could revisit but for this assignment, I’m thinking it could all be too new and would not demonstrate what I have learnt over the duration of the course.  I will, however, have these sketches and studies in my sketchbook, should I want to develop this further.

Study 5:  This has all the elements that would show progress and learning eg:

  • observation
  • mark making
  • perspectives
  • atmosphere
  • composition

I think that this study, compared with number 2, which is similar, has shifted its focal point to the right hand side with interesting shapes.  It is simplified with less elements ie no water to speak of, less vegetation but enough to soften the overall composition.  Some interesting effects clan be added for textures without throwing the “kitchen sink” at it and making the overall result incoherent.  I hope this will produce a pleasing, interesting and engaging take on the subject I’ve studied a lot over the last couple of weeks.

 

Exercise: Aerial Perspective

29 – 31/10/14

Exercise: Aerial Perspective

29/10/14

Using tonal media such as charcoal, soft graphite, conte crayon, soft pastel, oil pastel or watercolour, make several tonal studies that analyse receding features of the landscape from foreground to middle and far distance… You can work in colour or monochrome at this stage or work with colour purely as a tonal medium without attempting to replicate the actual colours before you…

Monochrome Study in Charcoal and Black Conte Stick

In order for me to begin to understand the aerial perspective in my view, I chose to use a monochrome method to illustrate the tonal range. Using the off-white of the paper for the lightest to black conte for the darkest tones.

Exercise: Aerial Perspective Charcoal and Black Conte on Paper - A5 work area

Exercise: Aerial Perspective
Charcoal and Black Conte on Paper – A5 work area

 

Limited Palette Study in Soft Pastel

In this study, I tested out four pastel colours to represent the tonal range, and chose dark green for the darkest, burnt sienna, yellow ochre and a pale blue for the lightest tone.  As is often the case with pastel, I struggled to obtain the darkest darks, so had to improvise with a black pastel to intensify these areas.

Exercise: Aerial Perspective Limited Palette Study in Soft Pastel on Paper - A5 work area

Exercise: Aerial Perspective
Limited Palette Study in Soft Pastel on Paper – A5 work area

As with all my studies as I am working on a project, I stuck this up on the window (or wall if room) and was struck by the luminosity of the light coming through the thin paper – it made quite a different image.

Exercise: Aerial Perspective Limited Palette Study in Soft Pastel on Paper - A5 work area

Exercise: Aerial Perspective
Limited Palette Study in Soft Pastel on Paper – A5 work area

29-30/10/14

Colour Study in Watercolour, Soft Pastel and Pen on Watercolour Paper –  approximately A3

With no initial drawing, the paper was dampened completely so that watercolour washes could be laid in wet-in-wet. This was to block in the main tonal areas to denote distance, middle and foregrounds. Again the darkest darks were difficult to establish with the intensity required, after many attempts at layering washes resulting in various shades of mud, I fell back on soft pastel and stated the sluice gate features loosely in pen.

Exercise: Aerial Perspective Colour Study in Watercolour,  Soft Pastel and Pen on Watercolour Paper - A3 approx.

Exercise: Aerial Perspective
Colour Study in Watercolour, Soft Pastel and Pen on Watercolour Paper – A3 approx.

30-31/10/14

Colour Study in Watercolour on Watercolour Paper –  approximately A3

Another watercolour study with no pre-drawing.  Again, laying down washes wet-in-wet, but using stronger colours.  Once again I was remiss in not photographing work in progress as the initial washes were very vibrant and interesting to see – and, again, the main problem was creating the intense darks.  This time, I used tube watercolour paint rather than student pans, this made it easier to obtain a larger quantity of stronger pigment on my brush, I also found some indigo which produced the required level of strength in the dark tones.  I felt no need to add other media because of this and did not add all the features of the view as I was purely attempting to produce the aerial perspective and generate distance rather than a faithful reproduction.

Exercise: Aerial Perspective Colour Study in Watercolour on Watercolour Paper -  approximately A3

Exercise: Aerial Perspective
Colour Study in Watercolour on Watercolour Paper – approximately A3

Observations

  • Much easier to produce the tonal variations required for successful aerial perspective with monochrome media
  • Choice of coloured media will be a major factor in producing effective results in the final piece of work.  Whereas the watercolour was fun to use wet-in-wet, the intensity of colour was difficult to reach without muddying the colours.  Before attempting the final work, I will experiment with acrylic ink as they have a transparent quality, yet are intensely coloured and vibrant and do not shift as more layers are added – maybe a combination of the two?
  • I noticed that as I worked on more studies, the main features of the views ie the sluice gates and their accoutrements, were less and less prominent both in size and definition.  I will need to decide the main focal points when working out the composition.
  • Although, I thoroughly enjoy using watercolour wet-in-wet and tipping the paper in different directions (a lot of the time the watercolour study was painted upside down), my skill in actual watercolour painting is sadly lacking.  So will utilise other media and drawing techniques to produce the subjects of the painting and look to watercolour/inks to create the mood and atmosphere.

 

Exercise: Linear Perspective

27 & 28/10/14

Exercise: Linear Perspective

27/10/14

I revisited my chosen location of the sluice gates to make studies concentrating on linear perspective.  I decided to work on the two views that gave the most challenge regarding distance, using the sluice gates and the various walkways and bridges along side them together with the river itself.

I spent an hour working on site using line markers and Sharpie pens.  I remembered to mark in my eye level as the horizon line, which unfortunately, aligned with the horizontal centre of my workspace.  I continued regardless as this could be altered when working on the composition specifically.

Exercise: Linear Perspective Liner, Sharpie and Water-soluble Pens A5 Looking down river

Exercise: Linear Perspective
Liner, Sharpie and Water-soluble Pens A5
Looking down river

Exercise: Linear Perspective Liner and Sharpie Pens A5 Looking towards the mill houses

Exercise: Linear Perspective
Liner and Sharpie Pens A5
Looking towards the mill houses

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On returning, I simplified the “looking down river” view into perspective and cross over lines.  At this point I was still uncertain about this view, as it seemed too traditional.  I was originally strongly drawn to the “looking towards the mill houses” view because of the rusty iron work etc, yet I wasn’t enamoured with the mill houses themselves as part of the composition.  There were like an ill placed full stop in a sentence, the image stopped dead at their walls.  I did then realise that from my eye level, I would see more of the bushes between the footbridge and the road bridge in front of the building, but the wall was still visible.  After, making this second drawing, I was more confused than ever as to which to choose.

Exercise: Linear Perspective Liner Pens A5 Looking down river

Exercise: Linear Perspective
Liner Pens A5
Looking down river

 

Looking back over the first view, I did like the sense of distance, even though the sluice gates were less prominent.  I decided to sleep on it before deciding which to make into a larger drawing.

28/10/14

Back to work and I decided to work up both drawings to a larger scale.

This time using a tinted pastel paper on its smoother side, I used sepia liner and brush pens to help invoke a feeling of an autumnal scene without using a full colour palette.

Exercise: Linear Perspective Sepia Liner and Brush Pens on tinted pastel paper 30 x 40cm Looking down river

Exercise: Linear Perspective
Sepia Liner and Brush Pens on tinted pastel paper 30 x 40cm
Looking down river

Using the previous sketches and reference photos that I could enlarge on-screen to see more detail, I worked directly onto the paper with the sepia pens.  The ratio for this paper was wider to height than the A5 size previously used.  This worked much better in regards to including more of the machinery of the sluice gates.  The distance down river works well and the perspective of the gates and particularly the iron girder on top of them is much more successful.  I also like the fact that the steering/turning wheel is visible together with the planked road bridge adjacent to the gates.  I decided therefore to stick with this view, allowing for a similar paper size or larger with the same ratio for the final work.  I have found a good compromise for describing the distance as well as the workings of the sluice gates that is acceptable to me.  If this happy accident hadn’t occurred I think I wouldn’t have been completely satisfied with either view.  Another plus, is that with the more natural objects ie trees, river etc, I can be more expressive and experimental with their treatment in the final work.  I am also looking forward to experimenting with the various textures of the iron and concrete.

The exercise challenges whether:

  • a sense of space has been achieved – I believe so, with this particular view with the river going off into the distance.
  • the interpretation of the linear perspective of the landscape is accurate – with the slight alteration of the walkway railings that were sloping a little too high across to the right, this is a fair representation of what I could see.
  • it feels right – generally, the entire drawing gives me a realistic feeling of the scene before me, with the additional features to the left ie the road bridge and machinery, adding to the perspective and draws the eye along the river bank to the distance with the walkway allowing a way back in to the image.  It feels like an autumn day, with trees losing their leaves and reflections in the water.

This has been a very worthwhile exercise allowing me to analyse which view would be more successful and interesting in the end – with the added width of frame giving me a complete image rather than two that were not quite right.

 

Exercise: Points of View

24/10/14

Exercise: Points of View

Exercise: Points of View Sketchbook and Notes Bickton Mill Sluice Gates

Exercise: Points of View
Sketchbook and Notes
Bickton Mill Sluice Gates

Points for consideration:

  • Zoom in or expand the view
  • Forms of the landscape
  • Map out main areas
  • Relationships between features
  • Do not get involved with detail
  • Work swiftly
  • Foreground, middle and far distance
  • Strong horizontal, diagonal or vertical lines?
  • Rhythmic shapes?

After the first drawing, applying the above considerations, we were to turn 90 degrees, complete another and turn again, repeating until covering a 360 degree rotation.  There was a similar exercise in Part 3, that I followed to the letter, however, I am hoping that my current efforts will be forgiven as I really want to focus on the sluice gates and as there was a distinct possibility of my getting very wet I skewed the brief a little.  Drawing in a 360 degree circle would mean I was looking outward from my viewpoint, however, I decided to keep the sluice gates as my subject and move around said subject.  I was still creating a 360 degree view but looking inwards.  I have to admit, I did begin to include too much detail, although some was necessary to bring the foreground objects into focus.

Conditions:

24/10/14 12.07 – 13.14

Very overcast with dark clouds forming.
Began raining lightly but steadily as I started drawing.  Being dressed in waterproofs, I was dry but my paper was becoming wet.  I had decided to use black Sharpie pens to avoid erasing any marks and using thick and thin points to help describe distance.  The pens began struggling against the damp paper and would barely make a mark at all as time went on, so I had to switch to pencil to mark out the drawing. My intention was to reiterate with pen on my return, which I did.

Although I still would like to concentrate on the sluice gates, it was a welcome change and fun to concentrate on the foreground branches and foliage in the last drawing.  It was quite noticeable how many leaves had fallen from the trees since my last visit on 22/10/14, many more branches were bare and the distant trees had more oranges and russets in their remaining leaves.

Drawing One (Detail) – Looking North

Exercise: Points of View Looking North Bickton Mill Sluice Gates Sharpie Pens A4

Exercise: Points of View
Looking North
Bickton Mill Sluice Gates
Sharpie Pens A5

 

This viewpoint was from the footbridge, looking North up river.  I’m not entirely satisfied with the far distance in this drawing, it is indistinct which is what I was aiming for, however, the tone is a little too dark and doesn’t imply how far away the vanishing point is.  If I decided to develop this view further in future drawings, it may be more successful in colour.  Although a beautiful view with real distance (in life), I am reticent to choose this as it’s quite a traditional composition and I had set myself a goal to avoid the predictable.

 

 

 

 

Drawing Two (Detail) – Looking South

Exercise: Points of View Looking South Bickton Mill Sluice Gates Sharpie Pens and pencil - A5

Exercise: Points of View
Looking South
Bickton Mill Sluice Gates
Sharpie Pens and pencil – A5

 

This drawing, in particular, suffered from damp paper, so is half in Sharpie pen and half in pencil, with some reiteration of line done back at home.  This is an interesting view in, due to the radiation of diagonals from the top right corner.  The mechanics of the sluice gates are quite visible, although I feel I should have strengthened the lines in the turning wheel nearest to us a little more.  The rust on the iron and the lichen on the concrete buttresses were more pronounced at this angle and proximity.  The shadows under the foot bridge were also descriptive in life, which again, would be easier to portray in colour should this view be developed.  The perspective of the diagonals, although, not entirely accurate, does help to describe the distance and also highlights the lack of the same in the previous drawing, particularly as here the buildings are much closer to me.

 

 

Drawing Three (Detail) – Looking West

Exercise: Points of View Looking West Bickton Mill Sluice Gates Sharpie Pens - A5

Exercise: Points of View
Looking West
Bickton Mill Sluice Gates
Sharpie Pens – A5

This viewpoint is the least interesting for me. It has too many horizontals, with the main vertical being almost in the middle of the frame.  I didn’t notice this at the time, as I was concentrating on placing the wheel to the left.  The opposite river bank has no real draw for the eye to take it towards the distance, and as the distance isn’t far away and stops dead at the fence, the most that can be done is looking left to right and back.  I do like the turning wheel and the gearing in view though, so maybe I could include these in another drawing or focus in on them in another way.  The smell of the congealed grease at the bottom of the wheel’s mechanism was really strong.

 

Drawing Four (Detail) – Looking East

Exercise: Points of View Looking East Bickton Mill Sluice Gates Sharpie Pens - A5

Exercise: Points of View
Looking East
Bickton Mill Sluice Gates
Sharpie Pens – A5

 

This was a welcome change from the hard lines and industrial feel of the other drawings.  Situated across the river on the far bank, crouched under the overhanging trees, not only was the actual view different, I was also lower down so could see more distance over the main wooden bridge adjacent to the sluice gates.  The overhanging trees and reeds worked well in silhouette, with the river a pleasing rest for the eye in front of the gates, the current was fairly still with clear reflections.  From here the sluice gates took on an impression of merely a bridge, there was no obvious rusty iron, or mechanical workings visible.  I could see over to the other side towards distant trees and some sky.  Unfortunately, in the drawing, these distant trees are reduced to light scribbling to maintain the illusion of distance.  However, again in colour, these may be more obvious, whilst still retaining the aerial perspective.

After spending around an hour sketching in the drizzle and looming cloud, I decided to call it a day.  I didn’t really observe much difference in the quality of light over that time.  It was fairly static due to the heavy cloud and tonal qualities were subdued.  I have tried to indicate what I saw and to apply aerial perspective, with varying degrees of success, in very gloomy conditions.  However, with the multitude of considerations before me when drawing outdoors, I consider the exercise very successful, with a collection of drawings that will help me decide what to develop next.  I am still very much drawn to the original idea of the sluice gates being my subject, however, the last drawing from under the trees has made me question how to move it forward.  I will mull this over at the weekend.

 

Exercise: Finding a View

22/10/14

Exercise: Finding a View

After initial research see Selection of Personal Project for Final Assignment, I was sure where I wanted to focus my view, although, not how to tackle it.  Today I have spent around an hour at the site, sketching, looking and taking some generic photographs to better understand the area.  Below are the pages from my sketchbook with the thumbnail sketches and notes made at the scene and on reflection back at home.

 

Exercise: Finding the  View Sketchbook thumbnails 6B pencil, liner and Sharpie pens

Exercise: Finding the View
Sketchbook thumbnails
6B pencil, liner and Sharpie pens

 

Exercise: Finding the View Sketchbook Notes and Reflection

Exercise: Finding the View
Sketchbook Notes and Reflection

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photos were taken as reference and reminders of the area – also to retain some colour comparisons.

Sluice Gates Looking North

Sluice Gates Looking North

Sluice Gates Looking South

Sluice Gates Looking South

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sluice Gates Looking North from Footbridge

Sluice Gates Looking North from Footbridge

Sluice Gates Looking North East from Footbridge

Sluice Gates Looking North East from Footbridge

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sluice Gates Regulating the Flow of Water on the River

Sluice Gates Regulating the Flow of Water on the River

Water Level

Water Level

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The photographs may, or may not be appealing, however, I am  hoping to express my inspiration in using this scene in an interesting, unusual and textural way.  We will see how my experiments progress through the coming exercises and preliminary work.