Townscapes: Check and log

How did you use a limited colour palette to create a sense of depth?

I’m not really sure how to answer this. The limited palette certainly made me think hard about how how to portray the areas of light and shadow which would give form to the buildings and it became important to use the white of the paper. I used different pressures on the coloured pencils so that I could achieve more intense tonal values in the foreground and lighter areas in the background to convey a sense of perspective. I also combined the colours in order to give more variety of tone so that I could capture different intensities of shadow, in particular.

Did your preliminary sketches give you enough information for your final pieces of work?

No, they didn’t and I found I needed to take photographs for additional reference. However, I did find the process of sketching really useful because it helps you to observe closely and take in character and detail. Simply pointing a camera and clicking, doesn’t do this and a photograph doesn’t reveal half as much as actual observation. I  went back to the scene for the limited palette study three times to look more and try to catch an occasion with some sunlight , so it was just as well it was local!

How would you approach this task differently another time?

I would choose a better time of the year! Because this has been the wettest winter I can remember,  it was extremely difficult to get myself to an appropriate place to sketch when it wasn’t pouring with rain. Even when it wasn’t raining the skies were grey with no discernible light or shadow cast on the buildings. In future I will look out for more cafes with views. I would definitely in future wish to work more from my sketches and less from photos as I am really beginning to understand the limitation of these.

Have you got the scale of the buildings right? Make notes of what worked and what didn’t.

After trial and error (lots of it) I believe I have got the scale of buildings reasonably correct in my final drawings although certainly not perfect. I believe my problems have been more with vertical lines which seem to wander a bit. I did spot some scale problems in my initial sketches and was able to correct these in the final drawings. I’ve made notes of what worked and what didn’t in my blog posts for the various exercises.

Have you captured the colour and atmosphere in your studies. How did you do this?

In terms of colour, the only exercise that required the use of colour was the limited palette study and I do feel the colours reflect the scene and work reasonably well. With regards to atmosphere, I feel that again the limited palette exercise captures quite a bit of atmosphere because of the use of light and shade and the inclusion of a figure. Also  the use of a light grey ink wash across the pavements helped to make it look as if it had just rained which was, of course, the case!

My (somewhat imperfect) townscape using line was looking a bit sterile  before I put a light water wash over parts and this improved it. Also, again, including a figure helped a little because it reminds us that townscapes are where people live and work. I am quite sure I could have done much more to create a sense of atmosphere and I guess that one has to be careful when deciding to leave out objects to simplify a picture that it is not pared down so much that it loses the sense of being a living environment.

In my Thomas Wolsey statue I lightly drew in the street scene (pavement and bollards) in order to give a sense of place. I’d have liked to include the cigarette butts that had been discarded around the statue because of what they say about people’s more informal relationship with street art. However, I think I’d have needed to create a much larger drawing to make this work but the idea is still sitting with me.

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