Research Point: John Virtue
Please click here for my findings from this research.
Exercise One: Sketchbook of Townscape Drawings
For the first part of this exercise, I created three squares which held close-up quick line sketches of points which interested me and then another three squares which held close-ups of tonal sketches.
Having learned what I have learned so far, it is very apparent to me that my perspective skills when used without assistance still need a lot of work. However, I have found I am looking for ‘clues’ now which I wasn’t before. Bearing this in mind, I am happy with the outcome of these as quick sketches, as I think they do show some improvement.
For the next part of the exercise, I created two quick sketches in biro of two interesting points of view.
As with the previous part of this exercise, I have found again that my perception is not completely accurate. I was aware there were errors during the creation of these sketches, however, I tried to work through these errors and correct them during the process. I really tried to imagine the vanishing points again when creating this, but do think this is going to take some time and practice to be able to see naturally, however, I am happy with the results and how I am progressing in this way. It will take some time to perfect, but I think I am getting there slowly!
Exercise Two: Study of a Townscape using Line
For this exercise, I began by creating a sketch in my sketchbook over two pages, as instructed to do, of a townscape scene I thought appealing. After the previous exercise, I decided to continue the study of my own house in an attempt to ‘work in series’, showing my continued development of my understanding and appreciation of the details of the exterior of my home. I have actually found this rather enjoyable as, not only is it very sentimental to me and I enjoy working with sentimental things, I feel I have looked more closely at things I have merely taken for granted and walked by obliviously when coming and going from my home, day in, day out.
Composition for Final Piece
I then decided to use a piece of tracing paper as a view finder as the view finder I had made for myself was only roughly A4 in size. I placed the tracing paper at different angles on my preliminary sketch (as can be seen in the pics below – if you squint hard enough!) before choosing my favourite.
In all honesty, I actually really liked Viewpoint 3 and thought it rather abstract and interesting, but decided to play it a little safe and go with Viewpoint 4 as it held a lot of visual information and different parts of the preliminary sketch.
I decided I was rather intrigued as to what the piece would look like if completed on the tracing paper and – although a bit of a cheat on my behalf – traced my preliminary sketch with my finer drawing pen before adding in the extra bits of detail with thicker pens, using the thickest to show the darkest (and actually black) areas of the composition as well as the shadows and darker parts of the clouds.
Whilst I think I have been rather successful with this piece in respect of the depth and perspective, I did struggle somewhat with my really straight lines as my tremor was rather strong when I created the piece, so i was a little disappointed with that. I actually wanted to keep the slightly wobbly lines more for the brick walls, but my arm had other ideas! Also, I think I have definitely overdone it with the clouds as it was a beautiful sunny day and I think the markings used would represent a more dense and rain-filled cloud as opposed to the light and wispy clouds which were actually visible. Again, this is a little disappointing, but definitely something I can consider for future pieces. I also think they try to jostle for the foreground focus too much too – another reason to keep them thin and dainty. I don’t think I have been all that successful in separating the grounds in this piece, but I do think it rather difficult when working with line. This is something I will have to try and work on.
Exercise Three: A Limited Palette Study
For this exercise, I chose again to continue studying my home and to recreate the same piece again, but this time using as close to the traditional colouring as possible. Again, due to my increased tremor and a little weakness in my hand, I chose to work with wax crayons. I made this decision as I thought the finer grip / motor skills needed would cause much more cramp in my hand, so I chose to avoid these. I then considered soft pastels, but did not have a good enough match to the colours (I had black, but no brown, only yellow and orange). Then I considered oil pastels but decided they were too loose and expressive for the piece as I did want to keep it delicate, bearing in mind the weather of the day (I waited -a little too long! – for the sunshine to come back and for the conditions to be roughly the same as the day I had created my preliminary sketch in my earlier exercise.
Whilst I think there are still a few issues with my work which I need to address (the bricks I drew in quickly do not fully sit at the right angle, so this spoils the effect somewhat, the door is too narrow and the garage roof was difficult to recreate due to its strange angles, to name just a few), I used this exercise to practice my lighter touches in the clouds and in the shadow on the white sections of the piece. Again, I think my angles still need a lot of practice and I did struggle to see things clearly, but I think I have definitely improved dramatically since beginning the course and, hopefully, this will continue.
Exercise Four: Statues
When I first thought of this exercise, there was only one statue which came to mind that I wanted to study due to its place in my memory; having grown up driving past this statue on numerous occasions, I had always been fascinated by the ‘magic’ it held as it seemed to reach up to the sky at an angle, as though anchoring the giants’ world from the ancient fairy tale, Jack and the Beanstalk, to ours!
I went to visit the statue and noticed things I had never noticed about it before, having always been solely focused on the ‘magic’. The shadows were fantastic for working on my tutor’s comments regarding patches of tone and the contrast between the two. Also, the fact it disappeared into the distance and everything became smaller as it became further away was also really good the help me practice my foreshortening skills. I tried to move around the statue for different viewpoints, but also zoomed in on key points of interest to try recreating.
I think I was a little tame with my first two sketches (top left and top right) as I stood in a position where there was not much shadow (I was here for some time, so the light changed position too). I think I have made the mistake again though on the top two of giving them too defined an outline. I just cannot seem to get away from this!
The bottom two are much more interesting I feel and are less outlined than the previous two; I think the lack of tone in the top two compared to the bottom two really seems to affect me. It is as though I just cannot get my mind around the fact the very solid outline does not have to be there for it to look realistic. I think I should have blended it a little better so it was not so solid a line. I am, however, very pleased with the links in the bottom right piece. I used the lifting method with a rubber to lift to the lightest value and I think it has genuinely paid off! I tried to draw the links roughly in place so I knew where I was going, but then just followed the tonal changes and worked my way downwards. I think this has really helped make the sketch look convincing.
After doing the four quick sketches, I decided to draw the whole statue on a page in my sketchbook, trying to take note of what I had gathered in the quick sketches I had made. As a whole, there was not masses of shadow and tonal contrast from the view I had now chosen (and with the sun’s placement changing etc), so I decided to work quite lightly in tone and use very deep tonal areas for the shadows, as well as lifting areas (such as the scratching to the lower half of the hook) and the reflected light on the links.
I was actually quite impressed with the finished result and, again, think it has helped my understanding of foreshortening massively, which I think will help me no end in the next Part of the course.