Check and log: Landscape drawing

In what way did you simplify and select in your study? Were you able to focus on simple shapes and patterns amid all the visual information available to you?

The complexity and busyness of the outside world is what struck me immediately on starting this project and I have only so far gone a small way towards simplifying my imagery. Being selective about what to include by framing helps and having a growing confidence to know what to include and exclude. For example, I am beginning to understand that you do not need to include every branch and twig in a tree and that it’s fine to include just enough to convey the character and essence. Looking for clear shapes and blocks of colour and areas of light and shade also helps. I have only just begun to understand all this and have a considerable way to go in implementing these techniques but I am now much more aware of them.

How did you create a sense of distance and form in your sketches?
A sense of distance can be created using a detailed foreground, slightly less detailed middle ground with slightly more muted colours and a less distinct background with lighter, greyish colours. I’m beginning to implement these concepts, but again, I need to keep working on this. Form is very much about capturing light and shade.

How did you use light and shade? Was it successful?
I am making progress in this respect. In my drawing of Caerlaverock Castle I used my observation of how light and shade touches the trees to depict these, rather than trying to draw them in detail. I was very conscious of the direction of light and used light and shade on the castle itself while being careful not to be too intense with either as the castle was in the middle ground. For the meadow land in the foreground I included cast shadows on the grass and areas of sunlight. Also for the background hills I used some subtle light and shade to give a sense of contour. All this has been reasonably successful and I did a better job of the castle picture than I would have done without the increased understanding of technique that this project has given me. 

What additional preliminary work would have been helpful towards the larger study?
I wasn’t entirely happy with the composition and the balance between the different elements of the picture so some more rough sketches to explore composition would have helped. I would have explored ways to break up the horizontal lines. Also I think that I could have looked at ways to make the foreground thistles sharper. I painted them over the grass and this made it difficult to get the sharper, darker lines that might have worked better.

All in all this has been a very beneficial project even if it feels like a whistlestop tour through landscape drawing. It has left me with much to think about and a desire to get out and draw more landscapes.

The research projects often feel like very hard work but when I get to the end of them they always result in certain pennies dropping so that the effort feels worthwhile.

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