Exercise A sketchbook of townscape drawings

Aim of the exercise: To focus on one particular building, noticing how other buildings support your main focus. Make written notes about observations about details of the building, time, light, shadows, use of the building etc and describe the sense of the place, does it evoke an emotional response? Make a detailed study of a section of the building with a 3B pencil in a 10cm square and a tonal study in another 10 cm square showing how the light falls across the building. Make several quick drawings testing out composition before starting the larger drawing. Be selective, try and find your own unique view of the place. The instructions stressed the importance of learning what to leave out.

What I experienced:

Completed 14/08/13.

Prior to starting this exercise, while looking at http://www.arttutor.com (I first read about this website on woman walking slowly’s blog, and a thank you to Glenis as I had not come across it before.) I saw a video by Joanne Boon Thomas, Using Charcoal: Yorkshire Cottage, in which she combined a pen underdrawing with charcoal.  I hadn’t thought of combining those two media. I’d drawn some farm buildings on the 10th and thought it would be interesting to draw them again using this approach. I hoped that it might enable me to get a little more atmosphere into the sketch.

penandinkbarn_NEW penandcharcoal_NEW

I thoroughly enjoyed giving it a go (left hand drawing is the pen and ink, right hand drawing is the pen and charcoal) but would need to be bolder with it next time, A5 sketchbook 2, pages 62 & 63. Basically you do a tonal sketch in pen and then go over that in charcoal. I liked the effect I got and could definitely see potential in using this approach, although I would definitely need a lot more practice at it. I particularly liked the fact that it helped me to think and concentrate on seeing and showing the tones in the scene.

I also read the chapter on ‘Perspective and other Drawing Systems’ from Drawing, Seeing and Observation by Ian Simpson. One of the things I found very useful in this chapter was how it clarified something that I had come across, namely, that if the building/room I was drawing was close to me, I needed to move my head so as to be able to see all of what I was trying to draw and this essentially meant that I was actually drawing from several viewpoints, whereas in perspective drawing there is only one viewpoint. Drawing from several viewpoints will give you distorted perspective between what you are observing directly and what you know from knowledge of perspective theory. I am going to need to read the chapter several times to try and understand all of what he says about this aspect, but it was a relief to know that hopefully in time I will get a better understanding of this.

On 13/08/13 I paid my first visit to Sturry church. I chose the church as it is very old, with a lot of history and atmosphere and I felt that it would be quiet and I could work reasonably undisturbed for lengthy periods. I could also get a wider range of views than I could from Herne Church (which I had tried drawing part of on the 10th). The aim for the first day was to get a feel for the place as it is not a church that I know and to get the preliminary drawings done. I found the questions that the exercise asked me to think and write about very useful, as it encouraged me to really look at materials, colour, tone, shadows, atmosphere etc.

For the detail 10cm square I drew one of the windows as I was fascinated by the play of light on the stonework, but found it incredibly hard to draw. I got rather lost with both the perspective and the shapes. The shadowed areas of the carved areas on the window had me staring at them for ages trying to work out how they went and I still managed to keep getting muddled over them. Clearly I am going to need a lot more practice at decorative windows. The tonal 10cm square showing how the light fell across the building seemed to go better and did not take me nearly as long either. The main problem that I found was that I was initially unable to make the scene small enough for my square. After many unsuccessful attempts I took a photo and then looked at the LCD screen on the back of the camera and roughly marked the rough outer edges of the shape that I wanted to fit into my box. I found this really helpful as it meant that I could then look at the scene in front of me and this then enabled me to draw it at the right scale. A5 sketchbook 2 pages 65 & 66.

sbtownscape1_NEW sbtownscape2_NEW

Next I had a wander round and drew the church from several different angles. A5 sketchbook 2 pages 67 & 69. This again proved to be very productive as it helped to really reinforce that there were several positions that I could draw from, each with their own feel. On one of the views I tried drawing looking up at the tower but I did find it very difficult to draw the tower accurately. I wanted to see if what I was seeing tallied with the knowledge that in tall buildings 3 point perspective would come into play. I think I just ended up getting decidedly muddled, and certainly when I was drawing I was drawing different sections from different view points as I moved my head up to see them. This area is clearly going to need more work.

exsbtownscape4_NEW sbtownscape3_NEW

As, by this time, I had drawn for about as long as I could manage I decided to return fresh the next day.

colouredcharcoal_NEWWhile thinking about what media I could use for the drawing I wondered about the set of Derwent tinted charcoal pencils that I had kindly been given. I had drawn a colour chart in my sketch book, A5 sketchbook 2, page 64 but was very unsure how I would go about using them. With each patch of colour I tried to see how well it smudged and how well it lifted with a putty rubber. Still very unsure how I would actually use them,  at the last minute I added them to my colour supplies for the next day.

For the larger drawing I wanted to see if I could work on something that I had picked up on following my drawing for the previous exercise. I wanted to be able to work on taking the leap, in my drawing, from trying to replicate the scene to, instead, interpreting the scene. To try and incorporate mood and atmosphere. One of the instructions for this exercise had really struck a chord i.e. ‘ Draw what you see as interesting and unusual. Try and find your own unique view of the place’.  Whatever kind of drawing I ended up doing the next day, I wanted it to be drawn with the aim to capturing atmosphere rather than a tightly controlled copy of the scene before me. Looking through my tonal sketches I was finding it hard to narrow down the view that I would do the larger drawing from but was much surer on the direction that I wanted it to take.

sbtownscapes5_NEW_0001With this in mind, the next day found me once again outside the church. To help me find my way with the drawing I started with a monochrome drawing from the main path. I decided to use pen and charcoal combined (the method I had tried out prior to starting the exercise, please see above), A4 sketchbook 2, p.33. I wanted to see if this would help me to create a more atmospheric drawing. I drew in a few guidelines in pencil first and then I did the rest of the drawing in pen before adding charcoal. I tried to draw directly and quickly without fussing and have made quite a few perspective mistakes. I shaded tonally with the pen, trying to think about atmosphere all the time, and then added charcoal, aiming to emphasize atmosphere further with that. At the end I was quite pleased with the drawing. It couldn’t be called a success from the perspective point of view, and I have made a lot of errors in the drawing so that it couldn’t be called well drawn either, but I felt that it succeeded as a more personal interpretation of the scene. I had a lot of fun drawing this and it felt exciting to do. It felt a good start, although not a particularly exciting or unique viewpoint, so that would need to change for the next drawing.

sbcharcoalpentownscape_NEWFor the my final drawing in colour I moved round to another position and decided to try combining pen work with the tinted charcoal. A4 sketchbook 2, page 35. I have never used tinted charcoal before (apart from doing the colour chart) so it was going to prove to be an interesting challenge. I decided to draw with a much narrower viewpoint as this view really caught my attention. I sketched roughly out in pencil first and then drew in pen before going on to shade tonal areas with the pen. I tried to keep my pen moving all the time and kept the hatching of the tonal areas loose (and possibly a bit too scribbly) aiming for movement and life in these areas. I then played with using the tinted charcoal. The range of colours is reasonably restricted and subdued. I had fun seeing what worked and what didn’t and layering and mixing. Again, I tried to keep moving constantly with the charcoal and not allow myself to become bogged down. The sun was shining by now and I really enjoyed sitting there and just playing with the materials to see what I could produce. Overall I am pleased with the completed drawing, it is a complete departure from the way I normally draw and though, again, there are lots of drawing errors, it has more life and atmosphere to it than I normally manage to produce and it was exciting trying it, although perhaps it is a little too illustrative.

Things that I feel went well: I am pleased that I experimented with this exercise and have produced drawings that are freer and have more atmosphere than my usual style. I really enjoyed combining the pen and charcoal and it is a method that definitely appeals to me. I also benefited a lot from sketching the church from multiple viewpoints, it showed just how many possible views there are. Normally I would only ever have drawn one view, probably the first I came upon. I found doing the tonal study very helpful and it gave me encouragement and showed that I am capable of seeing tones. As hard as I found it, I am pleased that I gave myself permission to do badly, to risk failing, to try ideas out, to draw freer. I feel I have learnt a lot from this exercise and also feel that I have taken a small step forward in freeing up. I feel that the colour drawing is closer to fulfilling of the instruction ‘try to find your own unique view of the place’. I feel that both the final drawings are more lively and less stilted than I normally manage.

Things that I feel did not go well: The exercise highlighted again just how hard I find it to see and understand the slope of angles. They often appear to me to be sloping at a completely different angle to which they are actually sloping. Hopefully in time this aspect will get better. I have made a lot of mistakes in my drawings, both structurally and perspectively (if that there is such a word). I find it very difficult to draw in a more lively manner and also draw accurately. At the moment it is more a case of either/or. I don’t seem able to manage both.  I had an idea what I wanted to say with the final drawing, the mood I wished to convey, I don’t think that I have managed very well to do either and will need a lot of work in this area, but at least it is a start. I think that there is probably too much white in the background of the drawing.

What I would like to do following this exercise: I would like to continue to experiment and also remember to look at alternative views. I would like to continue to ask myself the kind of questions that this exercise suggested to ask, I found them very helpful in getting a better feel for the place. I want to try and continue to work on thinking less and doing more. I have largely lost my way with drawing in my sketchbook for outside the coursework at the moment. I had been doing this every day during the two previous sections, but it has been much more sporadic during this section. So I would like to work towards getting back to that. It will be a good place to practice drawing in a freer manner. Most of all I would like to be able to remember the feeling of fun and excitment that I had doing the two final drawings. I thoroughly enjoyed doing them. I also need to relook at the chapter on perspective and work at getting a better understanding of that and how it relates to what I am actually seeing.

This entry was posted in Part 3 Drawing outdoors, Project 3 Townscapes. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Exercise A sketchbook of townscape drawings

  1. harlanneal says:

    Reblogged this on MR. NEAL and his ART STUFF.

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