Part 3: Project 2: Landscape

Research Point:
Vija Celmins

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Exercise 1: Cloud Formations and Tone

Exercise 1: Cloud Formations and Tone

For this exercise, I chose to sit out one day and, true to typical British weather, felt I had the luck of several different ‘skies’ all in one day.

Morning

The day began rather sunny, but with a bit of cloud in places. I decided to recreate the bright blue of the sky behind the clouds using a blue ink wash in my sketchbook. I then used some white, light grey and dark grey pastels to recreate some of the clouds I could see, trying to capture the movement of the clouds across the page. I tried to capture how light and fluffy the top of the clouds were, as well as how heavy and dense the bottom of the clouds were. I did try to make the top of the clouds much, much lighter, but there was only so much the pastel would lift. I thought about using something such as correction fluid or acrylic paint, however, I thought the use of them would make the lightness of the cloud much too heavy.

Afternoon

Later in the day, the sky clouded over and the clouds which were much lighter and sparser had become much heavier and closer together, overlapping each other in places. I tried, again, to lift the area where the sun was, increase the depth and layers between the clouds using pastels. Again, the pastel would not lift enough for the ‘sun’ section. I think, perhaps, I would be better to leave this section of the page white without applying the blue ink wash all over and building from there.

Evening

For this piece, I tried to use the pastels to recreate the colours in the clouds where were utterly beautiful, since the weather had, once again, taken a turn! The sky had cleared and the clouds were spread out like lines across the sky. I used a blue ink wash again and then applied a red and yellow wash beneath. I then used coloured pastels to recreate the colours I saw. I was a bit disappointed with the outcome as I think it is a great representation of a sky, but I don’t think the clouds are distinguishable really.

Dusk

Again, the sky was rather clear and the sunset was beautiful.

Calm clouds

Finally, i decided to take a piece of A3 cartridge paper and used some blue / white mixed ink to create the sky in the background. I then used soft pastel to create the clouds, which were constantly moving, and tried to show this movement within the piece. I also tried to create a bit of weight to the bottom of the clouds with a touch of grey. Remembering what my tutor said about less being more, I only added a slight amount of the grey, so it was almost invisible. I admit, I did find it a struggle to remain so light-handed as I do enjoy my darker colours!

Exercise 2: Sketchbook Walk

Due to this being a quick study exercise, I decided the best medium would be willow charcoal. I went for a walk during a warm summery day at around midday and came across these four scenes which interested me for different reasons, but mostly for the potential for depth, perspective and patches of tone, again, trying to work on my tutor’s feedback.

I was actually rather pleased with myself consider how fast I had worked to create these studies and feel I have been successful in creating depth rather well within the sketch of the single tree with trees in the background as the shadows and different strengths of tone really does work to create the impression of depth.

However, I do not think the study of a single tree with leaves and shadow was quite as successful as I think the shadow appears too similar in tone to the actual leaves of the tree.

I am rather pleased with the perspective of the first study of the trees with the pathway and do think it is somewhat believable.

Whilst, I’m not majorly impressed with the close-up of the tree trunk, I am happy with the texture I think I have got across within it.

Observations to Note from Course Textbook

I carried out this exercise on a summery day at around midday. The weather was warm and there was not much of a breeze. There were not many clouds and those which were visible were light and fluffy. The light fell to the right, left and in front of the trees, depending on my chosen viewpoint when selecting what I thought were rather interesting views. I chose the views I did as I felt they all offered something different; a full tree with foliage, trees leading down a path, a single tree’s trunk to show texture and also another single tree with smaller ones in the background with fantastic tonal changes.

Exercise 3: 360° Studies

For this exercise, I decided to work in biro due to its flexibility, expressive nature and my natural preference for this medium. I spent 15 minutes on each section and tried to work as quickly as possible, getting as much detail in as possible.

I found this exercise really good for practising my perspective skills (again, as recommended by my tutor) and thoroughly enjoyed some, if not all parts of the process.

My favourite is by far the curved wall piece as I just think I have managed to get a fair bit of depth and tone in this quick study as opposed to the other pieces. I also really like how the pieces appear to be just messy squiggly lines until you start to see them properly and they form an actual image.

Research Point: Artists Working in Series

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Assignment One

To begin this assignment, I decided to work through my previous exercises in coming up with my main piece.  I began by working out what I wanted to draw and why by creating a mind map:

Assignment One Mind Map

Preliminary Work for Final Piece

I had settled on several objects which were of significant importance to me, draw each one with eight different media (pencil, biro pen, drawing pen, ink and wash, soft pastels, oil pastels, watercolour pencils and charcoal).  I decided on the most suitable as follows:

Assignment One Group of Objects
  • Pearl bracelet: This item represents myself.  I was given this as a gift from my best friend for my wedding, so my emotional attachment to this object is very strong.  I also like how this object allows me to attempt to recreate spheres and a pearlized surface.  I decided after the mixed-media experiment that I really liked both the ink and wash and the charcoal to best represent this object.  The charcoal is much more flexible in recreating the pearlized surface and can also be lifted with a putty rubber if needed for the lighter areas.  
  • Metal tool: This item belongs to my husband, who is a mechanic and whose (almost!) whole life revolves around his phenomenal capabilities with objects such as this.  This object also allows me to recreate a reflective surface, but also offers a textured surface in the middle section, where I intend to use or recreate a piece of frottage.  My favourite resulting media for this object was the charcoal and soft pastels due to their ability to blend and be lifted with a putty rubber as and when needed.
  • Cactus plant and pot: This object belongs to my eldest daughter, who has a love of cactuses (possibly because it doesn’t matter so much if she forgets to water them every now and again! Haha!).  For the cactus, I preferred the charcoal and soft pastel as I felt they gave the object the rough and furry appearance it holds in real life.  I also really like the drawing pen as this really recreates the spikiness of the plant’s spines well.  For the plant pot, I really liked the charcoal as it was the best result in creating a smooth, flat (but curved) surface, but also the messy texture of the soil.
  • Toy sheep: This object belongs to my youngest daughter and was her bedtime buddy for a rather long time.  I found this object rather difficult to master with the majority of the media as they all seemed to add texture that would be present in actual wool, but not in a plastic toy.  I decided my favourite media for this was the pencil and watercolour pencils due to their smoothness.  I think, with more time and patience, the charcoal and soft pastel would also work better as they could be lifted with a putty rubber to show a reflection of light.
  • Pot towel: This represents our family home and life together.  Whilst a pot towel holds no actual significance, I liked that it is a good representation of fabric for texture and it was just the right size to put alongside my other items.  I found that my favourite media for this object was charcoal as it was the most accurate result.  My second favourite media was the oil pastel due to the white of the background showing through, similar to the actual object.

As a few quick exercises to familiarise myself with the group of objects before I got to work on my actual final piece, I decided to attempt some basic exercises I remembered from my school days:

  • A continuous line drawing: I wanted to practice my skill of looking without removing my pencil from the page or looking down and relying solely on my hand / eye co-ordination to reach a final piece.  Whilst I think the piece looks like something my three-year-old could do, I can see my skill of looking is actually improving somewhat and it is something I will work on more going forward, especially if I am going to create quick, rough sketches of things which may move position quickly (such as people in a café etc).
Assignment One continuous line drawing
  • A drawing with my left (non-dominant) hand:  I am rather ambidextrous anyway, but I thought by attempting to use my non-dominant hand, I may be able to remove my inhibitions and potentially see something with the other side of my brain which I hadn’t previously seen.  What resulted was actually that I could not really apply any pressure to the piece with the pencil.  I also found that my scaling ability was rather
Assignment One left-hand drawing

I also drew a ‘normal’ quick sketch of the group of objects, using very quick, rough marks to highlight points of note in the objects – the spines on the cactus, the folds in the material and so on.

Assignment One expressive lines and marks quick sketch

I then created another quick sketch of the basic shapes I could see in the group of objects as a point of reference when completing my final piece.

Assignment One basic shapes seen in group of objects

The End Result

I decided to begin my final piece in charcoal as that had had the best results in my experiments.  I created a sketch of the basic shapes and outline of the piece, then moved on to creating a base layer of shadows and tone with willow charcoal.  Once I had finished that, I worked into the tone to deepen certain areas with a charcoal conté stick, lift areas with the lightest tonal value with a putty rubber and also used a white soft pastel conté stick for such areas as the cactus’s spines due to the ease of control provided.

Overall, I think this piece has been quite successful, however, I think I have misjudged the proportions and scale of the plant pot.  I really like how my pot towel worked out and have found a real passion for fabrics.  I found the metal tool rather hard to recreate due to still not having the best grasp on working with reflected light, but I think my pearl bracelet and plastic toy sheep has turned out rather well.  I really enjoyed creating the cactus, but think changing the spines to white instead of using the charcoal, as I did in my experimental sketch, has lost some of its structure and realism, although it does create a ‘fuzziness’ which is apparent in cacti, so maybe it is actually somewhat better than I think? 

Assignment One: Finished Piece

Looking at the piece from afar, I think I may have overworked the darkest tones and, in doing so, have created a cartoon-like response, which I was determined to try to avoid.  Maybe I should accept that that is just my style of working, but I am determined to improve in this area.  I have definitely learned some skills to take with me into the next part of my course.