Assignment 3

Preparatory Work

I decided to begin this assignment by working my way back from the start of this Part of the course and to include as many techniques from the exercises within it.

My first task was to choose a viewpoint which included a bit of all, or as many as possible, of this Part. I had been looking around for a while but then decided on the view from my in-laws’ home, which overlooks a lot of trees and other greenery, sky and clouds which lead to an atmospheric / aerial perspective in the distance, houses which show the other different perspectives, and a statue (a birds’ feeding post) in their garden.

Photographs of Chosen Scenery

Looking around, there was a lot of scenery, atmospheric perspective and beautiful rolling clouds. It was an overcast day and there was a dampness in the air, yet there was not much wind.

Whilst I could choose from any of these viewpoints as they were all beautiful to behold. I decided to create a quick sketch of some of the more interesting and diverse scenes to assist me in deciding, as I felt I could only see things properly through actually drawing the scene to understand it better and in more detail.

Quick Sketches

I began by carrying out some quick sketches in willow charcoal of the area by turning and zooming in on sections I felt were interesting and which held several different angles, sharper areas and softer curves.

Quick sketches of viewpoints

10cm x 10cm Square Sketches

From the sketches above, I then decided to create six 10cm x 10cm squares; one zoomed-in box for each quick sketch and each in line and tone, as with the earlier exercise in this manner.

Linear and Tonal 10cm x 10cm Boxes

I really enjoyed doing this exercise again as I genuinely really enjoy zooming in on certain areas and I am rather pleased my tutor suggested it. My favourite was by far the bottom right tonal piece as I really like the angles and sharp contrasts within it as well as the softness of the greenery.

Selecting a Viewpoint

I decided that my favourite viewpoint which held a bit of all the previous exercises was the view with the birds’ feeder in the foreground, houses in the middle ground and sky / clouds in the background. Whilst I actually thought the last 10cm x 10cm square was really interesting, I decided to look at the full viewpoint again for my final piece.

Quick Studies of Clouds

Next, I decided to revisit the clouds experiments to assist me with developing my final piece. The coloured pencils I felt were rather unsuitable as I could not manipulate them in the way I wanted. I really liked the soft pastels and how subtle the colouring could be within it. I liked the willow charcoal as I was able to manipulate this rather well, however, it was a little heavy in the delivery compared to the soft pastels. The oil pastels was the most disappointing, however, I think that may purely be down to my approach and heavy-handedness.

Foreground, Middle-Ground and Background

Next, I decided to break down the three grounds within my chosen viewpoint as I had done in an earlier exercise as I really found that that helped me to distinguish between the three rather well. This time, however, I decided to use some oil pastels to quickly jot down the colours I could see (and which I had the closest representative to).

Separating grounds

I noticed that the background was very washed out with barely any intensity or detail at all. There were only small areas where the sky broke through the clouds. It was a very overcast day, which I thought perfect for assisting in creating an atmospheric perspective within the piece.

The middle and foregrounds confused me slightly, however. From my earlier practice, I had found that the more distant the object, the lighter it would appear. These two grounds appeared to be in reverse. The greenery of the middle-ground was rather dark, yet dull, whereas the greenery in the foreground was rather light and rich in colour. Besides this, it was apparent that there was much less detail to the middle-ground than the foreground. I decided that when it came to my final piece, I would lighten the middle-ground to assist in following the method I had previously used, leading to the light background.

I decided that the houses which I had put in the middle-ground section would help create that sense of distance and I had read in my research of grounds that including an object such as a building within your piece in the middle-ground will assist in the divisions. I chose to leave the house closest to the bird feeder out of the piece as I think I would have made it harder to distinguish between the grounds and make that area generally too cumbersome.

Perspectives in Chosen View

Having chosen my viewpoint, I the used a page in my sketchbook to look at the perspectives of the objects in my piece. I found that there the roof of one of the houses and the electricity unit were both seen in one-point perspective and that the second roof and the bird feeder were both two-point perspective. Due to not having enough room to find the actual vanishing points for these objects, I decided to measure the widest area and then the narrowest area of the angles as it was not always clearly distinguishable that the lines were narrowing just by looking with the naked eye. For instance, the base of the bird feeder looks as though it is completely parallel upon first viewing, but if you look closer and actually measure the distance between the lines, it becomes clear that they definitely narrow over towards the left-hand side of the page, so the vanishing point would clearly be over in that direction as opposed to over in the right-hand direction. However, other areas, such as the top right of the bird feeder’s roof seemed to run almost parallel. This would really assist me when plotting out these details for my final piece as I think it really does help me to see the facts of the objects in a much clearer way as opposed to what I think I see.

Perspective experiment

Choice of Palette

Next, I played with the different colours I could see within the three grounds and different objects of the piece. I merged the next colour with the previous one and so on. I then worked over the top of the shades with other colours in the same category to see how they would interact with each other.

Once I had done this, I decided to work into each with the lid of my pen to blend the colourings, add a lightness to them and also to add a little texture.

I really enjoyed this exercise as I found a few colour combinations I had not considered previously. I also really liked the scratchings as I think these will be really useful for the greenery and also the wood of the bird feeder to create some texture within the piece.

Choosing a palette

Quick Sketch of Whole Composition

I then decided to create a line study of the whole piece quickly in charcoal in my sketchbook. I tried to look up during the creation of the sketch to see what I was drawing as opposed to what I thought I was seeing.

On reflection, I think I have actually done rather well with this sketch as the depth in the bird feeder is good as a result of the tonal differences created with the charcoal. I stayed with the natural darker middle-ground, but I think I was correct earlier when I decided that the darker middle-ground would not be the best way to complete my piece.

Quick sketch in charcoal

I then created a piece purely using the side of my oil pastels to create broad strokes of the general colours within the chosen piece. This time, I swapped the middle-ground and foreground tonal ranges so that the foreground was darker and the middle-ground lighter to blend easier with the blue and white of the background.

It was only when I had finished that I realised the outline of the A4 piece of paper on the page behind had come through. I actually really like it. I think it frames it rather nicely and adds a sense of intrigue to the sketch. Whilst it was an accident, I think it would have the viewer question why it was there, why it is not central etc and would draw them in to the piece.

Final Piece

I felt finally ready to begin my final piece and decided I would use oil pastels to help me do so as I had really enjoyed working with it in the preliminary stage.

I began by taking the photograph of my chosen viewpoint and drawing a grid over it. I decided to do this as I wanted to be as accurate as possible with my perspectives, measurements and structures of the skeleton of the piece. I had found this really useful in my earlier exercises and wanted to use this method within my final piece.

I decided to use a piece of pastel paper which had a good texture to it and which I knew would work well with the oil pastels in creating even more texture within the piece. I drew the objects into place and roughly drew the divides between the three grounds.

Luckily, due to having a wet and miserable summer, the day I returned to complete my final piece, the weather was exactly almost identical to the day I had originally taken my photograph and had created the preliminary sketches.

I then put in the base colours on the three grounds in an almost solid colour so I could build over it. I then began working in the detail of the roofs and building the greenery up, which I decided to stay rather expressive with as opposed to adding much in the way of actual detail.

I got to a certain stage and took a step back from the work to look at it and see if I needed to make any changes. I realised that the rooftops appeared to just be floating in mid-green sea, so I decided to bring the tones used in the greenery of the foreground up to the roofs, thus separating the roofs specifically into the middle-ground.

For the sky, I considered my earlier experiment with the oil pastel to recreate the clouds and thought them too much, so tried to recreate the effect of the soft pastels with only the slightest touches of blue, grey and silver to add density to the clouds, which I believe has been rather successful.

Final piece – first stage

I kept on building up several layers of colours and scratchings (changing the movement and flow to suit the object) to create depth and definition in the foreground until I finally decided I had gone as far as I could without overworking the piece.

Finished piece

Overall, I am actually rather pleased with this final piece and think it rather successful. I have managed to include a lot of the exercises and projects worked with in this Part of the course and believe I have learned an extraordinary amount in such a short space of time.

I think the piece is believable and the grounds distinguishable. I am happy with the atmosphere I was able to create in the background with the rolling clouds and the subtle density and thinning to the blue sky behind. I think my greenery could perhaps have been a bit more distinguished, but I thoroughly enjoyed being really expressive within these parts of the piece and feel I allowed this to come through, yet be restrained when needed (such as the roofs and the electricity unit).

Project Five: Townscapes

Research Point: John Virtue

Please click here for my findings from this research.

Exercise One: Sketchbook of Townscape Drawings

Sketchbook page of 10cm x 10cm close-up squares

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.

Sketches of townscape

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

Preparatory Sketch

Preparatory drawing in sketchbook

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.

Final Piece

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.

Final piece

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.

Limited palette final piece

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.

Sketches from varied viewpoints

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.

Final piece

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.