Exercise: Aerial perspective

Using tonal media such as charcoal, soft graphite, Conté crayon, soft pastel or watercolour, make several tonal studies that analyse receding features of the landscape from foreground to middle and far distance…

Although I think I will work with the East Quantoxhead view for the my final assignment picture, I’m still finding I want to explore other Somerset views, particularly the view from Robin Hood’s Hut . The two locations have very different characters  / features so it is useful (and enjoyable) practice to continue to work with both.

Views from Robin Hood’s Hut


View from Robin Hood’s Hut, pastels, A3

This drawing with pastels is perhaps a little grey but I feel it does convey a reasonable sense of aerial perspective. The plough lines provide the foreground detail and the landscape gradually recedes away to the greyish blue hills in the distance. I discovered how different pastels are to Conté crayons; more chalky and it is easier to add white highlights to dark areas.


View from Robin Hood’s Hut, ink (A3)

For this second drawing I used very wet inks and a brush. It’s a development of a quick ink/brush drawing I did in my sketchbook some time back. Due to the nature of the wet inks the whole picture has a lightly misty, opaque look. There are some very subtle foreground details (wet inks were not going to lend themselves to hard lines so I didn’t try) and the landscape features (trees, hedges, meadows) recede into the distance. Or at least they do in my imagination! I like this drawing (or is it a painting?) as an impressionistic take on the view, capturing the essence rather than detail.


View from Robin Hood’s Hut, inks (A3 cropped to square)


When you insert photo into WordPress (which I use for this blog) the images in the library are displayed as square thumbnails and I often think my drawings look better in a square format. This was the case with this drawing, so here’s a square crop for comparison.




 Views from East Quantoxhead


East Quantoxhead (A3), inks

I had the inks out so I drew this picture with a brush and dilute solution of Quink. I used a little white candle wax here and there to create some highlights and then went over with subtle colour (sand and grey). I used a rolled up piece of paper to create some of  foreground marks and then added denser black highlights with a bamboo dipping pen and ink. I am sorry that I did not resist the temptation to put a black outline around the distant peninsula… I also feel there is too much dense foreground and it could have started to fade out earlier.  However, I am pleased with the texture, marks and colour palette.

Overall, I feel aerial perspective is reasonably demonstrated here in the foreground, middleground and background.


East Quantoxhead (A2), gesso, conte crayons, wax crayons

This second aerial perspective drawing of East Quantoxhead gave me an opportunity to experiment with how using gesso to prime the paper and create some texture would work at a larger scale. For this A2 drawing I used Conté  and wax crayons. Conté to add colour and the wax to pick out some gesso highlights. I put bees wax polish over the whole picture to hold it together and in the process I rubbed away a lot of the original colour so it is now much more subtle than I intended and I’m not sure how I feel about that!  While I am pleased with this as a technique which I can further develop, in terms of aerial perspective there is not a great deal of contrast between the foreground, middle ground and background.


East Quantoxhead (A3) drawing with laser printer ink and Conte crayons

East Quantoxhead, aerial perspective drawing number three using laser printer ink and Conté crayons. While it’s incredibly difficult to get the black ink out of the cartridge without a big cloud of it enveloping me and the house, it’s worth the effort as the deep contrast that can be achieved is effective. This has created a dense, detailed foreground. I used putty rubber to reveal white highlights and the printer ink worked really well with this (better than charcoal or Conté). The peninsula in the background is a little less distinct – it is in the near, rather than far distance and sort of complies to the rules of aerial perspective.


East Quantoxhead – printer ink (crop to an abstract image?)


The composition doesn’t feel quite right. I wonder about cropping it to a purely abstract image?

Is it the curve of the rock that feels wrong?

A3 is about as big as I would want to go using printer ink as it so fiddly.




Aerial perspective in hot arid zones

I found the workbook notes about aerial perspective barely existing  in hot, arid zones fascinating and this sent me back to look at my blog post on the 2013 Australia exhibition at the Royal Academy.  Most of the landscape artists seem to have portrayed distant hills as less distinct than the foreground… this may be because they were painting in the European tradition. Or it might be that while there might not have been distortion of the distant view because of moisture in the atmosphere, there was plenty of heat shimmer!

What did I gain from this exercise?
Looking closely at aerial perspective has been helpful because it is easy to forget to apply the lessons we’ve learnt. Also, I’m taking quite an experimental approach which hopefully I will not regret so lots of practice with different media is extremely useful. I need to narrow down my focus now and get on with the studies for my final piece, which will be East Quantoxhead. This practice has led me to feel that I need to explore light on water and also look again at composition.


2 thoughts on “Exercise: Aerial perspective

  1. Hello Sara. Love reading your blog as its so fresh and easy to navigate around and your learning log is so clearly discribed. Please can you tell me how you attach page links on your pages and how you place photos wrap around on your blog. My tutor suggested I edit my blog, so I set up pages but am finding it diffulcult to place pages. Thanks in advance and good luck with your studies. mel

  2. Hi Mel – thanks for your comments. To attach page links – first, select the text that you want to form the link, then click on the paperclip icon, then you can type in an external web address or select from the listing of your blog posts. To make text wrap around a photo – I find it easiest to type the text first, then put the cursor at the beginning of the text, click add media, select the photo you want and before you insert it into your post, you’ll find that under the heading Attachment display settings, you can specify the size of the picture and whether you want it to align right, left or centre. If you miss these settings you can amend them later by clicking on the picture and selecting the edit icon (the pencil). It’s all trial and error really, took me a while to get the hang of it! Good luck – enjoy your studies. Sara

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