Exercise: Plotting space through composition and structure


Caerlaverock Castle, coloured pencils

I chose to work from a photograph taken in the autumn when were on holiday on the Solway Firth in Scotland.

There were one or two of my local sketches that might have worked for this exercise but I felt a compelling need to draw something that didn’t involve mud and rain and grey scenery.  I remember stopping to take the photo because the light on the fields was so lovely and Caerlaverock Castle was in the distance.

I’m not totally displeased with this picture although choosing A3 portrait may not have been the wisest decision because I feel there is too much mountain and sky relative to the rest of the picture. I opted for portrait because I thought that otherwise I would have a long strip of trees / castle running along the middle of my picture that would not look right.

I feel this is a reasonable attempt at a foreground, middle ground and background and there is a sense of distance. I wondered whether I should have made the sky bolder with some clearly delineated clouds. I went back to look at some of Claude Lorrain’s work and the clouds are a prominent feature of his landscapes. I was torn because I also liked the subtlety and quietness of a simple sky. I feel the quite limited colour palette  I’ve used is cohesive, and restful. I thought about putting a little glow of yellow in the sky but I was concerned that I would overplay it… The foreground could be more sharply focused but I found this difficult with the coloured pencils.

The thistles were not in my original photo so I had to improvise. I found a photo of thistles I had taken on the same holiday and also had a look at images on the internet. I did the same for the longer grasses.

I feel quite encouraged by this exercise because I’ve not had success with drawing / painting landscapes in the past and this is definite progress, even though there is plenty of scope for improvement.

[Late note: Looking back at this having just completed  Drawing Outdoors I’m not so pleased with this picture as it now looks a bit ‘painting by numbers’ to me. That I suspect is the result of working from a photo and therefore not having the benefit of direct observation to bring an extra something to it.]


castle-prepSketchbook prep for composition and colour palette.

Source photos

castle-close thistles


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