The view from Robin Hood’s Hut, on the top of a hillside near Goathurst in Somerset is spectacular. It is also a classic example how what the eye sees is very different to the flattened view of the camera. I spent hours and hours on this terrace at all times of the day and night, watching, drawing, listening, taking it in. The view changed constantly with the light, the shifting clouds, descending mist and nightfall. It was a really wonderful opportunity to observe from dawn until dusk, over my muesli in the morning and glass of dry white at night!
I interpreted the brief to suit the location and drew a series of different viewpoints (not necessarily turning 90 degrees) using different materials and focusing on different aspects. Some drawings are better than others but all help to give me a sense of what works best and the direction to take.
My first take, drawn with brush and very wet ink, and probably my favourite because I feel it captures what I was seeing directly in front of me – fields, trees and hedgerows often shrouded in a light diffusing mist. But is it a drawing or a painting?!
Turning to the left and focusing on the group of trees. The hard lines created as the wet ink has dried make marks which are pleasing to me. Perhaps the trees could be shifted down to reduce the foreground and allow for a little more sky / distant view?
Same viewpoint to above but much less successful. I felt the this drawing with pencils was too vibrant, lacking subtlety so I scrubbed it with water a little too vigorously!
Viewpoint to the right. using pencil and ink wash. This enabled me to show more foreground detail and reproduce the lines / textures of the fields some of which had just been harvested and others that were ploughed. I like the gentle lines of the landscape. This would be a better composition if the hut was positioned a little more to one side. A bit neat and proper!
An experiment with different ways to reproduce the foreground using masking tape with torn edges and strong pencil lines in the spaces between. Interesting…
An attempt to use the masking tape technique for the foreground. I feel the foreground doesn’t match the rest of the picture. However, I like the overall feeling of mistiness created by the bleach. I shifted the hut to the right which works.
Same viewpoint later in the evening, without the hut, foreground drawn with bamboo pen. An exercise in aerial perspective.
Later back at home I found a photo by Bob Small in the The Times of the Mendip Hills. The photo had a lot of the misty landscape elements that I had observed and this drawing is taken from a section. The way I used the pencil was too harsh and the shiny contrast of the graphite with the matt Conté pencils looks odd at certain angles. I did not capture the mist well but I do find myself intrigued and excited about how gesso can be used to prime the paper and create texture and atmosphere.
Inspired by the gesso, I went back to one of my earlier Robin Hood’s Hut viewpoints to see how gesso might help to create the lines and textures of the foreground fields. Interesting outcome – the drawing has atmosphere but because of the way I have drawn the gesso lines it seem to be raining in the top half of the picture but not the bottom. I’m concluding that gesso is a good thing but needs to be planned in advance and applied carefully. Having said that, this is one of my favourite sketches so far. Maybe there should a be a hut or other feature but I like the simple layers and lines.
I feel I’ve completed a fairly thorough exploration with these exercises and it has certainly filled me with ideas that I feel confident and excited about developing further. Finally, I am in my stride!