Part 3: Project 3: Exercise 1 – Developing your studies

Brief

Review your preparatory drawings from Project 2 and select those that have most of the elements that you would like to include in a larger drawing. It may be that you’ve already produced a composition that you now feel is strong enough to take further. You could decide to focus on a single form that dominates the composition, or you may have in mind a group of forms that can be positioned in an interesting manner, using repeated colours, lines, marks, textures and so on across the picture plane. Whatever you decide, try to be adventurous in your subject and in your composition. Test your growing skills and show that you can work beyond the expected.

Working outside involves some planning and preparation and a clear sense of intention. Always take a sketchbook and digital camera with you while searching for locations. In softer rural landscapes, look at the main compositional lines such as those along hills, valleys, roads, walls, trees and buildings. Consider the most interesting features and shapes and decide on a focal point. This could be an object or area of dramatic contrast, say between pasture and woodland, or it could be a rocky outcrop, a barn or a group of trees in the distance. Think about how to exploit other elements in the foreground or middle distance to lead the eye around the picture as well as towards the focal point.

Part 3 Project 3 Exercise 1 - course notes image
OCA student, Sally Hunt

If you’re studying a ‘hard’ landscape with strong geological elements, you can simplify massive structures such as mountains, hills, cliffs or rock faces by following the dynamic forces that shaped them. Look for fault lines and facets, deep crevices and areas of shadow and light. Don’t be intimidated by scale and keep thinking about the viewpoint and ways to use perspective to convey distance and close-up viewpoints. Exciting abstract handling can result from drawing the ‘bones’ of the landscape.

Process

360º study - looking south down the shoreline towards Arisaig
360º study – looking south down the shoreline towards Arisaig

I chose this view from Project 2: Exercise 3 – 360º studies. I had also used it in my research notes on composition to experiment with overlaying a Phi Grid 1 outward by 1.618 using PhiMatrix golden ratio design and analysis software [http://www.phimatrix.com] – I think that the composition is neatly broken down into recognisable constituent parts according to the golden ratio.

360º study - looking south - rule of thirds and diagonals
360º study – looking south – rule of thirds and diagonals

Here we see the Rule of Thirds superimposed in the red vertical and horizontal lines with blue circles on the intersections representing the power or focal points. The red circles halfway along the the intersecting diagonals on the picture plane represent the ‘eyes of the rectangle’ in golden ratio theory and between them – focal points and ‘eyes’ – we have a relatively east method of placing the areas of interest in the composition around or within these points of visual attraction.

Part 3 Project 3 Exercise 1 - Developing your studies - ground
Part 3 Project 3 Exercise 1 – Developing your studies – ground

I chose a Gerstaeker 24x30cm canvas board that I had been using as a palette to clean off oil paint from my brushes over a period of months. It had been set aside and was now dried out. I liked the roughness and the various colourings and wanted to try using this as my ground for the exercise as an experiment.

Some of my Tutor’s comments from previous assessments came to mind when making this decision:

‘Make textured grounds to scour and draw into’
‘Push layering of multiple viewpoints’
‘Incorporate a stronger material aspect, allowing the drawings to literally thicken’

These were exciting and inspiring directional comments and I plan to embrace them in this development exercise. Let’s see what happens.

Part 3 Project 3 Exercise 1 - Developing your studies - overlays
Part 3 Project 3 Exercise 1 – Developing your studies – drawing-in line

I had a ‘kind-of’ idea in mind when I chose to use this ground and focus on the 360º study looking south down the shoreline towards Arisaig. You can’t actually see the village as it is round in the next bay, but the name sets the location just north looking down the coast. In my mind’s eye I could envision similarities of form, shape and compositional layout – if not colour. But I’m not too bothered about the colour element at this stage as I intend to build on this first rendition.

I went full bore here and drew the basic shapes of the composition by ‘scouring’ into the ground freehand using a Dremel MultiPro electric tool and a small abrasive sanding head to pick out the lines.

Part 3 Project 3 Exercise 1 - Developing your studies - drawing tool
Part 3 Project 3 Exercise 1 – Developing your studies – drawing tool
Part 3 Project 3 Exercise 1 - overlays
Part 3 Project 3 Exercise 1 – overlays

The Rule of Thirds superimposed in the red vertical and horizontal lines with blue circles on the intersections representing the power or focal points. The red circles halfway along the the intersecting diagonals on the picture plane represent the ‘eyes of the rectangle’ in golden ratio theory and the green ovals represent the area around the focal points and ‘eyes’ that indicate the areas of interest /visual attraction in the composition.

Finished drawing

Part 3 Project 3 Exercise 1 - Developing your studies - finished drawing
Part 3 Project 3 Exercise 1 – Developing your studies – finished drawing

I used Inktense block ink and waterbrush pens to add washes of colour over the ground to better suggest sand, sea and rocks of the cove, as well as the distant hills and sky. Once dry, I then used oil based pens to mark in the ‘dremeled’ outlines. I think that there is an abstract feel to the final drawing that developed organically from the original 360º sketch and I like how the original ground colours shine through the applied ink washes. I am reasonably happy with the end result.

Critique

Part 3 Project 3 Exercise 1 - Developing your studies - finished drawing with overlays
Part 3 Project 3 Exercise 1 – Developing your studies – finished drawing with overlays

I am pleased that the compositional focal points have been pretty much maintained and in my eyes I believe the brief has been met:

“… a group of forms that can be positioned in an interesting manner”
“… using repeated colours, lines, marks, textures and so on across the picture plane”
“… try to be adventurous in your subject and in your composition”
“… consider the most interesting features and shapes and decide on a focal point”
“… think about how to exploit other elements in the foreground or middle distance to lead the eye around the picture as well as towards the focal point”
“… look for fault lines and facets, deep crevices and areas of shadow and light”
“… keep thinking about the viewpoint and ways to use perspective to convey distance and close-up viewpoints”
“… exciting abstract handling can result from drawing the ‘bones’ of the landscape”.

So, in the end, where is my main focal point to lead the eye around the picture? Well, of the four power/focal points and areas of interest I believe that the bottom right “focal point/eye of the rectangle” area where the tide marks in the sand lead the eye into the cove and up around the rocks towards the outcrop on the top right “focal point/eye of the rectangle” area of the picture plane, behind which is the stretch of sea and backdrop of hill and sky.

Stuart Brownlee – 512319
7 October 2015