Part 3: Assignment 3: Outdoor scene

Brief

Draw an outdoor scene of your choice. Try to find a view that includes some natural objects – trees, shrubs, pot plants, fields, garden plants. Also try to find a view that will allow you to demonstrate your understanding of aerial or linear perspective – in other words a view that has some demonstrable depth to it. Look for a view that offers an opportunity to draw straight-lined objects as well as items drawn from nature: buildings, walls, fences, gates and so on. This may seem like a lot to look for, but most views from windows and doors will offer you a bit of all of these things.

Set yourself plenty of time for this assignment.

Do some preliminary drawings in your sketchbook to experiment with the composition. Try different versions, eliminating and moving objects if necessary to create a pleasing composition. Make some sketches to practise getting the perspective of the scene right. How are you going to create depth? Are you going to use receding lines (linear perspective) or use graduated tone (aerial perspective) and the receding size of objects, people and buildings?

Next do some broad sketches in charcoal or diluted ink and brush and trial other media before you select which to use. Think about the atmosphere and energy of the place and whether you’ll be able to give a sense of this through your chosen material and approach to mark-making.

With an A2 or A1 sheet of paper pinned or taped on a board or on a pad, get settled comfortably and keep your preliminary sketches around you for reference. Think about your successes in previous exercises and look very carefully at the scene in front of you. You should spend anything up to two hours on this final drawing, not including all the preliminary work you’ve already done.

Part 3 Assignment 3 - course notes image
John Virtue, Landscape No.739, 2004

Process

My chosen subject for Assignment 3 is to develop a drawing based on sketches of Flora MacDonald’s statue at Inverness Castle – from behind standing in front of the Castle at a slightly higher level with Flora looking down the Great Glen south of Inverness.

Part 3 Assignment 3 - preliminary sketches
Part 3 Assignment 3 – preliminary sketches

I used 2B pencil for these preliminary sketches and decided to leave out the statue plinth and contract the view at the bottom and top (sky) and bring the edges in slightly for an overall tighter arrangement.

My intention is to attempt to use aerial/atmospheric perspective graduated tone to create a sense of depth.

Part 3 Assignment 3 - preliminary media sketches
Part 3 Assignment 3 – preliminary media sketches

Using charcoal, conté crayon, Inktense block and waterbrush, and finally oil pastel and thinner, I sketched out four versions of the composition.

I was looking to try for an atmospheric view using gradations of tone to capture Flora’s look down the Great Glen from her elevated position outside the Castle.

My feeling is that the conté crayon sketch seemed a bit too hazy and the Inktense block sketch looked washy.

I quite liked the oil pastel sketch as it appeared to capture the tonal gradations better than the first two efforts.

However, for romanticism, drama and the evocative nature of the subject matter, my feeling is that the charcoal sketch offered the best medium for me to try and produce a final drawing.

Drawing – first attempt

Part 3 Assignment 3 - final drawing, first attempt
Part 3 Assignment 3 – final drawing, first attempt

My fist attempt at a final drawing captured something of what I was after. However, having left it overnight to reflect, when I looked at it the next morning, it just didn’t feel right. I had a feeling when I was working on it that the paper was proving quite difficult to work the charcoal into blended areas.

I used 220gsm heavy weight A2 paper which I now believe is too shiny for charcoal drawing. Therefore, I decided to start over.

Final drawing

This time I chose 200gsm fine grain heavy weight A2 paper, which turned out to have more texture and bite that allowed the charcoal to move on the paper better.

Part 3 Assignment 3 - final drawing
Part 3 Assignment 3 – final drawing

This has allowed for a much subtler final drawing I think with regards to the gradations from dark to light. Unlike the first effort I also chose to leave the sky relatively unworked with only a few light marks indicating cloud movement. I also think that the rendition of the suspension bridge over the River Ness is finer/less clunky looking.

All-in-all, I am pretty pleased with how this drawing has turned out

Assessment criteria points
● Demonstration of technical and visual skills – materials, techniques, observational skills, visual awareness, design and compositional skills (35%).
● Quality of outcome – content, application of knowledge, presentation of work in a coherent manner, discernment, conceptualisation of thoughts, communication of ideas (20%).
● Demonstration of creativity – imagination, experimentation, invention, development of a personal voice (25%).
● Context reflection – research, critical thinking (learning logs and, at second and third level, critical reviews and essays) (20%).

In reviewing my work for “Outdoors” I think that my work shows continued technical and visual development and willingness to try new things and be more imaginative in my choice of content. I am particularly pleased that having spent a good couple of hours on the final assessment drawing and having reflected on it overnight, that I was strong enough in myself to say, “oh well, I’m not really that happy with this, let’s have another go” – it would have been so easy to just submit that first attempt as my final drawing. I am much happier with the subtler application and working of the charcoal in my final assignment drawing. I also quite enjoyed the discipline of trying out different media in the preliminary sketches for the assignment piece and believe that I learnt a fair bit from this about what different media can and cannot do (at least in my hands!).

I found the scariness of drawing outdoors – buildings and streetscapes quite and exhilarating (in parts) experience. Staying in a very rural landscape/environment, it certainly was a new challenge, and getting over self-consciousness was a learning experience.

Whether or not I am yet starting to develop a ‘personal voice’, I’m not quite sure. Researching so many varying artist styles and techniques can be a bit confusing at times – what do you try, what will work, can I do this? Anyway, I think that my own personal credo is developing to be – ‘give it a try, you never know until you do’!

Stuart Brownlee – 512319
26 October 2015