Project 5: Townscapes: Exercise 4: Statues

I went out on a hunt for a statue.  I visited Tate Britain where I thought I might find some.  I found lots of sculptures of people, but wasn’t sure that these counted as “statues”.

Wikipedia gives this definition:  “A statue is a sculpture representing one or more people or animals (including abstract concepts allegorically represented as people or animals), normally full-length, as opposed to a bust, and at least close to life-size, or larger. … Many statues are intended as public art, exhibited outdoors or in public buildings.”

I selected a strange looking sculpture/statue of a woman which looked as if it could be allegorical, but decided not to look at the description of what it was before I finished the drawing.  I was attracted to the piece because of the unusual stance – head stooped and hands held together in an attitude of supplication.  The head looked a little on the large side, and there was a strong profile.  There were interesting textures in the clothing and the hair.  It was made from a dark material – bronze?  I managed to get a seat nearby and sat at a position where my eye level was around her elbow.  The statue was roughly life-size.

Statue 1
Fig. 1.

I decided to draw this (Fig. 1.) in biro for a change, which seemed right because of the hard, dark nature of the material to statue was made of.  The main problem is that you can’t erase biro so I was probably too cautious with the drawing in case I made mistakes.  Though I did start with faint marks and then firmed up the tones as I went along.  I used black conte for some background shading after the drawing. 

I did take quite a lot of time on this and overall I think it is fairly successful, though it is very tight.  I struggled with how to portray the dark material the sculpture was made of.  I made the face much darker than the rest, but I then lightened it a bit when I returned home with some white ink to balance out the piece (which has made it a bit muddy).  I also added some shading with diluted black ink to darken areas of the clothing.  I wasn’t too happy with the angle of the head – it should have been bent forward more.  I got the negative space between the arms right, but the angle of the neck is wrong and so is the negative space between the body and the right arm.

I indicated that the statue was in a gallery space by loosely outlining other sculptures and paintings around it.

I had taken a photo and when printed off it was about the same size as my A4 drawing so I could trace the outline to see how far off I was on observation.  Comparing the outline with my drawing (Fig. 2.)  it is clear that i got the angle of the back wrong, otherwise not too badly observed.  I have just started life drawing classes and there too I have noticed that I tend to straighten things up bit.  I know how to measure angles with a pencil, so I need to pay more attention to this going forward.

Statue 2
Fig. 2.

When I had finished my drawing I checked what the work was.  I was surprised to discover that it was by Jacob Epstein, an artist whose work I had looked at a few weeks ago (Jacob and the Angel).  The Visitation (1926) Bronze is a biblical study of the Virgin Mary sharing the news with her cousin that she is to give birth to Jesus.  The Tate notes say that Epstein described the figure as expressing “a humility so profound as to shame the beholder who comes to my sculpture expecting rhetoric or splendour of gesture”.

Having completed something that might not be described as a statue I decided to wander along from the Tate to Parliament Square to try a quick sketch to try something that might exhibit “rhetoric or splendour of gesture”.   There are plenty of larger than life (literally and metaphorically) figures there.  I decided on a particularly prominent statue of Winston Churchill. 

Statue 3
Fig. 3.

Leaning on a lamp-post (me that is, not Churchill) and trying not be stampeded by hordes of tourists, I did a very quick sketch (Fig. 3.) in black conte stick.  Given the subject matter I wanted this to be bolder with broader strokes, leaving the detail to the minimum.  I was at a level below the plinth it was on, so looking right up at it.  Again, I started with the head too big!  And conte is not the easiest to erase so he has a slight aura around him.  The body and plinth I established quickly with broad sweeps of the side of the conte, adding small details with the edge.  The surrounding trees are hinted at in the background.  The face was the trickiest and I have overworked it.  I tried to make it look more like Churchill by using graphite pencil for the face but just muddied it.  Should have left it vague.  Apart from the head there are a few small changes I would make – the left shoulder sloping down a little more.  But I do feel that it looks like the figure is using the stick to lean on and that I haven’t overworked the majority of it.

 

Project 5: Exercise 2: Study of townscape using line … continued

I wasn’t happy with my original sketch/study, though I did have some lovely comments from fellow students which cheered me up a bit.  I am in the final few days putting together everything for submission to my tutor and I have still not managed to summon up the enthusiasm to return to these sketches.  But I have been doodling a townscape/pareidolia drawing in breaks between completing my Assignment pieces which I wanted to slot in here.

 

Paradoelia
Yellow A4 paper.  Watercolour wash rolled on.  Ink; Tombow (black); black and white fine-liner pens; yellow and orange highlighter pen; gouache.

 

It’s on one of my pre-prepared background and some of the marks seemed to describe rows of houses; some churches; a statue; bus stop; signs; shrubbery etc.

This doesn’t adhere to the European Renaissance convention of a single vanishing point, but I like to think I was tapping into the Chinese perspective aesthetic of “shifting viewpoints” (Hockney/Gayford, 2016: 89).  Well that’s my excuse anyway.  Apart from anything else it was great fun and cheered me up enormously.

Project 5 Exercise 2: Study of a townscape using line

I found this exercise very difficult.  I wasn’t entirely clear what was required.  I have a feeling I might have to re-do/complete it, but I don’t have the time right now.

I wanted to record the un-picturesque shopping arcade in our town (Fig. 1.).  This is typical of many around the country.  The local butcher and baker no longer exist and have been replaced with small supermarkets, McDonalds, Superdrug, Poundland etc.

Butterfly walk sketch
Fig. 1.

I think my first mistake was that I wasn’t sure whether this was a sketch or a study, and what the difference is between them anyway.  I guess a study is developed from a sketch and has more detail and refinement of composition etc.  My second mistake was starting this in pen.  I think I should have used pencil for the sketch.  Having started in pen I used a fine-liner for the main lines, using a ruler to get the perspectives right.  I then used a Tombow brush pen to emphasise some aspects.  This is also water-soluble so I also added some washes in places.

The perspective looking straight down the shopping arcade isn’t great as all you see is an expanse of floor with shops either side.  So I decided to sketch one side, then another and overlap them on the pages.  This is OK for the sketch but I need to think creatively of how to combine these for a final study in order to make it “interesting and unexpected.”  I could deliberately subvert the perspective and make it bend more to fit the shops into one view.  I need to give this further thought. 

I really missed using colour too.  For me towns and cities are all about colour and I felt restricted using just black and white.  I also didn’t pay much attention to shade and tone.    I get confused with this when doing a line drawing.  I know I can alter the weight of lines but I am not sure about the use of hatching etc.  And what about texture – I have just outlined mostly. 

I also didn’t incorporate people into the sketches themselves.  There were a lot of people to-ing and fro-ing and I haven’t captured this as I was concentrating on getting the perspective of the shops right. 

I did try and do some rough sketches of people as they were rushing about but put them outside the scene.  I need to do more of these though as they aren’t very good generally, and also need to think of a way to incorporate them into a final study. 

I was overwhelmed with the detail of everything, so in the end there is hardly any detail at all.  The sketches don’t give me enough information for a final piece of work.  What I think I need to do is to focus more on the detail of the nearest shops and perhaps a few people in the foreground (perhaps blurred to indicate rushing about?), then worry less about detail as the view recedes.  I need to remind myself of Jeanette Barnes and how she approached detail, though her rubbing out approach wouldn’t work with ink drawing I fear.  I feel I need to work bigger too.  Should try a study on A2?  Getting the structure right will be crucial – there are lots of interesting shapes and lines to explore.  I should have taken some photographs for reference too.  I can go back and do this. 

I really feel frustrated and despondent after doing this.  I need to put it aside and have a re-think in a few days.  

Part 5: Exercise 3: sketchbook practise with conte

IMG_1664I had some old cheap conte crayons but didn’t have a white and the two browns we’re very similar so I treated myself to some new ones. They are so much better.   Going to have a play around with them for a bit in my A3 sketchbook.

On black paper (A4) I used the edges and the flat sided of the conte sticks to make a variety of marks and also used chalk, white fineliner pen.  I saw a strange bird with a snake in its beak peeking out at me so I defined that a bit more.  I need to get some bigger sheets of black paper to explore this more.

 

 

Project 5: Townscapes: Sketchbook of townscape drawings

I must admit that it has taken me such a long time to get started on this.  I have been wandering around near where I live looking for inspiration, seeking out the perfect views, and ones where I can sit for any length of time to draw (perhaps I should buy a folding stool?).  Nothing has seemed right.  I drew two 10cm squares in my sketchbook to encourage myself, but they remained blank.

I had started the Research point on John Virtue but needed to add other contemporary artists to complete it.  I came across the artist Simon Ling whose work inspired me to just get on with it.  It’s not about what you are drawing – it’s what you make of it.

Our house is on three floors, with a first floor balcony to the rear with a table and chairs on it.  I thought “there must be something to draw here” – and there was.  What started as a chore has turned into something interesting.

I have lived here for 24 years and over that time have seen many changes.  In particular the number of, mainly Victorian, houses that have been renovated – some more sympathetically than others.  From our house I have noticed with interest how several of the homes backing on to ours have been altered and added to.  I focused initially on one view of a fairly recent conversion of a house in a street whose backs run at right angles to ours (Fig. 1.)

Two square sketches
Fig. 1.

I like the way that the rhythm of the old brick and slate terraced buildings has been echoed in the slant of the new extended house in the centre.  It has been faced in different materials but I think it fits in quite well.

The only downside of drawing this view was that it is a little far away to see detail.  I did resort to my binoculars at one point.  Then I decided to take a few photos too so I could zoom in if I needed the sketches for a more study later.

I noted my eye level, time of day and light direction on my sketches.  For the tonal sketch I tried to do it without lines so it’s a bit out, but it reminds me where the deepest shadows and tones are.

There wasn’t much activity, it was a lovely calm sunny/cloudy day and quite warm.  Although our back gardens face each other they are quite private because of the garden foliage.  It’s quite an urban haven, with lots of bird activity.  I might emphasise this more in any further studies.  I will aim to do some more sketches of the plants too.

As I knew there was a limited palette study coming up I thought I would try sketch of the same view in the limited colours (Fig. 2.) in my A3 sketchbook.

Limited palette sketch
Fig. 2.

This is not a good sketch.  It didn’t add anything to my understanding of the subject.  I did it to try out the conte and compressed charcoal but I didn’t pay enough attention to line or tone or take enough care with it.  The drawing is probably too small for these mediums.  Though I did attempt some mark-making to indicate the bricks which could be useful.

I then did an initial drawing and checked out the perspective lines (see below).  Not perfect but not wildly out.

I then did two more sketches/studies on this view in different media.

House pink orange
Figure 3.

In Fig. 3. I tried a line and ink wash approach, trying to get tone/shade and some colour.  As well as the diagonal rhythm of the buildings I liked the satellite dishes which contrasted with the straight lines – I added more than were actually there.  I didn’t include the background trees beyond the buildings, but I did hint at foliage in the foreground.  I used some of the mark-making I had used in Fig. 2. for the bricks, which I think works.  I made the marks smaller as the houses move to the distance.  I used the pink as a cypher for the new (building and satellite dishes and plants) and orange for the old (bricks). I kept the washes loose by dropping in colour with a pipette – into wet paper for the buildings, and on to wet and dry paper for the foreground flowers (which shapes also echo the satellite dishes).    I tried to firm up the detailed shadows formed by the drainpipe and the chimneys.  Not sure I have the level of the chimneys right.  The houses further away are going up a hill so if I am going to develop this further I need to ensure I have my perspective right.  Overall I like the feel of this – all the houses tucked in together.  I may have got too graphic in places (fence in foreground) but I think the detail works to help indicate perspective.

It was a challenge to get the angles right in this sketch.  Differentiating between what was horizontal, what was vertical and what was diagonal may seem easy but I often didn’t get it entirely right.  As an exercise (Fig. 4.) I tried to draw the same scene with the horizontal lines in red; the verticals and circles in green; and the diagonals in purple.

House lines colours
Fig. 4.

I printed a lightly textured background on to yellow paper as a ground.  I used a ruler for most of the straight lines.  This was a useful exercise – I can see that some lines are still wrong.  The window lines should not be horizontal (red) because the building is moving away from me as I am viewing that plane from the corner – they should be slightly diagonal (purple).

Then I wanted to record a different view from the same position on my balcony, but at night.  I remember when we moved here we thought the night view straight out the back was like something from the film Rear Window.

Rear Window film
Rear Window. Still from Film.

My partner liked to speculate whether we might see a murder, or (like in an old episode of Friends) an “ugly naked guy” who we could poke with a stick to see if he was alive.  We have seen neither yet, but it is fascinating to speculate about the lives of the people who live opposite.  The lights from the windows are all different too.  Some permanently with the blinds down; others who seem to have the TV on all the time – it gives a particularly strange blue flickering glow.

I started by sketching the view on navy blue paper using white, black and dark blue Inktense pencils (Fig. 5.).

Night window
Fig. 5.

I tried mainly to get the tones and highlights right, which was quite difficult.  It came out looking darker than it actually was – it never gets really dark here with the urban glow.  I tried to hint at the differing activities in each home, including a potential murderer in one!  I used ink to darken the large tree in the foreground and some other shrubs, though I am not sure that this comes across well.  I want to try this again when it’s a bit warmer as I want to get the different coloured lights which I didn’t capture in this sketch.

As I was now rather cold I decided to return to my lovely warm living room (I drew the curtains) where I tried some Photoshop effects on this night sketch (Fig. 6.).

Nights windows Photoshop
Fig. 6.

 

This threw up some interesting effects.  I particularly like the glowing aspects of some of them.  The top left image I decided to work into some more to see what effects I could get by adding to the digit image of my original drawing.

Night window higlighter
Fig. 6.

For this drawing (Fig. 6.) I added highlighter pen to some of the windows and marks in marker pen to add tone and texture. I was initially a little heavy-handed with the pen – could have varied the width of the marks more, so I then mixed it up a bit with white finer-liner marker to improve it.  There could be more white areas left like the ones bottom right to balance it out.  This isn’t brilliantly executed but I like the idea and effect and feel that this is worth exploring further.. 

For a final experiment I printed off another copy of the top left image in Fig. 5. on to a sheet of Mylar (plastic sheet) so I could see the effect of laying that on top of the other images.  But the effect was too subtle to make any real difference. So I tried printing the same image converted to negative (Photoshop) and combined it with the Mylar print to give some interesting effects (see below).

Combining the positive and negative images exactly gave an embossed effect.  Slightly offsetting the images gave a tonal effect.

The only problem with printing on Mylar from an inkjet printer is that the ink doesn’t dry.  So I thought I would combine the two images and protect the ink surface by putting them with an additional plastic layer through my laminator.  It would have worked perfectly I am sure if I had put it through straight!  As it was I didn’t, so the end product was out of shape and full of air bubbles (Fig. 7.).

image5
Fig. 7. Laminator mistake

Reflection

I have had such fun doing all these.  Not sure it has helped to improve my observational drawing skills any, but it has given me some ideas for developing drawings beyond sketches, particularly using digital manipulation.

I first found out about Mylar when looking at Julie Mehretu’s layering, so I got some sheets to experiment with.  It was then I found out that printer ink doesn’t stick to it – you can actually use it for a mono-print, which is something else I must try out.  But I think I can draw on to the Mylar with some pens that will not rub off (perhaps Posca) so that might be worth experimenting with too.

Re-drawing into digitally changed images of my original drawing also has potential to produce interesting work.  The limitation for me is that I only have an A4 printer.  I will need to look into getting larger print versions.

I subjected my poor printer to some abuse while experimenting.  Before trying Mylar I tried printing on tracing paper and rice paper.  Both were too thin to feed through properly and either did not register or got tangled up in the machine.   I also tried watercolour paper and found that anything above 190gsm was too thick and didn’t feed through.

Finally, apart from enjoying the process bits, I felt really engaged with this exercise as although they are familiar views there are stories behind them which I relate to and find interesting.  And it’s so easy just to pop back out on to the balcony to take more sketches and views.  I am going to try out different views – from the garden; upper floor of the house – even perhaps from neighbours gardens.  I can feel a project coming on – all I need is the time to do it!

P.S.  Update 2nd May 2017.  I wasn’t sure while I was doing this exercise about the legitimacy of using photographs and Photoshop digital manipulation for a drawing course.  I have since revisited Experimental Drawing and had forgotten there is a section on Photographs, Grids, and Projected Images (Kaupelis, 1992: 95 et seq.).  Kaupelis’ statement that “many of our foremost artists don’t care how images are achieved, so long as the results satisfy their artistic intentions.” has reassured me.  This section contains many other interesting exercises to develop work, some of which I will aim to try out for Assignment 3.

 

 

Part 3: Project 5: Townscapes

Research point.  The urban environment as landscape.  John Virtue and other contemporary artists.

I had started looking at John Virtue as part of research in Project 2 Landscape.  There I looked at his Lancashire landscapes.   For this research it is suggested that we find information about Virtue’s work while in residence at the National Gallery.

His work is between abstract and figurative.  Influenced by Oriental brush painting (Japanese Zen calligraphers) he also greatly admired Turner and Constable (I can particularly see the Turner influence).  He also refers to Dutch and Flemish landscapes of Ruisdael, Konink and Rubens.

Virtue works solely in black and white.  White acrylic, black ink and shellac.

Virtue Landscape 707
John Virtue.  Landscape No. 707.  2003 – 4.  Copyright John Virtue.  Photo The National Gallery.

I also returned to look at the Culture Show video which interested me, particularly as in it he discusses his approach to building a final work.  In the video interview Virtue explains that he wanted to look at familiar London landmark buildings more closely He sketched, sometimes quite roughly, each day; built the images up sequentially; then mixed them up at the studio as a basis for a final painting.  I also noted that he used a variety of tools to produce his works, including rags and brushes – as he says “anything to get different effects.”

Virtue marvels at the changing colours and moods of the London views “silver/pewter”, “blue sky and mists”.  But he is mostly influences by lights and darks – admiring the tone of a Constable painting at the National Gallery he says that it could have been painted in black and white without loss of impact. He wants to get to the essentials:  no colour; no people; no traffic.

I guess this is where Virtue and I part company.  I can admire the dramatic impact of his work, with faintly recognisable views looming out of a range of noirs.  But it isn’t the London that I know and love, with its vibrant changing colour and activity – even on the darkest moonless night when the sky is a glowing moody navy-blue.   But it’s how Virtue truly sees it, and it’s taken him years to find this particular personal voice.   I respect him for that.  It does make me think I should try some night scenes as part of this project.

Jeanette Barnes (b. 1961) (also born in Lancashire – must be something in the air there) is another artist associated with drawing London scenes – and in black and white.  Working on a large scale in the studio, Barnes also makes numerous preparatory sketches outdoors.  She is an inveterate sketcher – even if it does not lead to further work (something I know I could learn from).   Erasing for her is as much part of the process as drawing, she is constantly working and re-working her drawings.  Her work reminds me of some of Alberto Giacometti’s drawings of interiors – calm and focus among seeming chaos.  I have tried her approach in a drawing class last year, but couldn’t get beyond the “this is too messy” stage.  Perhaps I should try again.

I find Barnes’ King’s Cross Interior (see http://jeanettebarnesart.co.uk/) completed in compressed charcoal, particularly impressive.  It appears to contain a myriad of detail, yet when you look closely figures are only hinted at – giving a sense of movement and frantic activity.  Even the station’s sinewy infrastructure itself looks alive, as if it could pick itself up and stride off at any moment.  I am currently struggling with how to make buildings which I see as all straight lines more interesting (getting perspective right will be the death of me).  Perhaps Barnes’ inspiration might help.

I came across the work of Simon Ling (b. 1968) while I was looking for something else.  That often happens to me – I have lots of threads open in my mind and sometimes they connect.  Doesn’t help with getting a good night’s sleep though.

What I find inspiring about Ling’s work is that his subject matter is very ordinary, yet he makes it interesting.  His attention to detail is a little daunting, but the deliberate unevenness is comforting.   I love his vibrant use of colour too – raising even the drabbest scene to new life.

I often wander around (did at home with still lifes and now with outdoors sketching) thinking “but there is nothing interesting to draw” or “if I go somewhere else I will find something more interesting” – thinking that this will transform my final drawings.  It is now dawning on me (I know I should have got it earlier) that it’s up to me to make it interesting.  It’s not about the subject matter – it’s about me and my imagination and creativity.

Josephine New (Frieze article) writes about the paintings of Simon Ling. (b. 1968) “At the heart of Ling’s practice are two preoccupations. Firstly, his fascination with making ‘something’ (a painting) out of ‘nothing’ (a uniformly overlooked corner of an urban housing estate, say). Secondly, perhaps more significant, is the understanding that the imagination is partnered with the external acts of vision and touch… Ling … talks about a different ‘texture of decision-making’, that is ‘sharper, healthier and quicker’ when painting directly from life. This ‘live’ element, as he terms it, adds to the contemporaneity of the works. The pace of the marks and the time spent observing each detail are all savoured by the artist as an integral part of his method. You can almost piece together each element of a building, as if hung on (albeit wonky) planes: his doorways, for instance, are characteristically off-kilter, as though they had been painted on an easel rocking on an undulating pavement.”

Part 3: Project 4: Exercise 2: Angular perspective

I thought I had missed something.  I forgot to post Exercise 2 before Exercise 3.

In this exercise we are asked to draw a building seen corner-on.  I live in a mews with a block of flats in the middle just across from me, so the view from my front bedroom window is perfect.  Again I used an ink pen as I didn’t want to be tempted to rub anything out.  I also added an ink wash to the final drawing (Fig. 1.).

Mews drawing final
Fig. 1.

 

 

I tried to measure everything and get the proportions right.  I did get a bit fed up with the windows and probably didn’t spend as much time as I could have to ensure everything was lined up.  When I stood back, even before getting the ruler out, I could see that I had got the bottom line of the arches wrong – the box with them in is a parallelogram rather than narrowing into the distance.

Applying the dread red marker to the correct The vanishing points (which were off the paper so I just did them on a bigger bit of paper) confirmed my worse suspicions (Fig. 2.)

Mews drawing correct perspective
Fig. 2.

The black lines are my perspective, the red lines are the correct ones, the eye line being at upper window level.  The left hand side isn’t too bad, but as I suspected the bottom right hand side went totally awry.  I drew the lines over tracing paper (Fig. 3.) so that I could leave the original drawing intact.

Mews drawing tracing paper
Fig. 3.

 

 

I quite like to result on the tracing paper which gave me an idea for a further experiment.

I have some Posca markers which are supposed to be good for drawing on plastic.  I also had prepared some watercolour backgrounds for use in drawing.  So I though if I drew an outline drawing of the building in Posca pen on the inside of a laminate sheet I could laminate them together.  For a bit of added excitement I added a few tiny blobs of undiluted watercolour before putting it through the laminating machine (don’t try this at home!).  This is the result (Fig. 4).

Mews laminated
Fig. 4.

The sketch was very rough, and thank goodness I only put a few small blobs of watercolour paint as otherwise it would have leaked out, but I think this has potential.  It has certainly added plenty of tone!

Overall my reflection on this is about the importance of careful measurement.  Getting the eye line right on this was easier after Exercise 1, but I still got a number of angles seriously wrong.  Next time I will try out in pencil first, use a ruler, stand back and check, and only then will I commit to pen when I am satisfied.

Part 3: Project 4: Exercise 3 Aerial or atmospheric perspective

This exercise is about tonal graduation.  Tonal values lessen towards horizon and details become less distinct. I chose to work from a photograph I took while on holiday in South Africa earlier this year.  It is a view from the Drakensberg Mountains (Fig. 1.).  You could see for miles from the high vantage point and the day was very clear.  I used soft, medium and hard pencil, willow charcoal, conte stick, Pentel pen and white chalk.

I drew from my photo but did not grid up.  The dimensions are about right, but I found getting the nuances of tone very difficult.  I did an outline drawing first, establishing the horizon.  Then added tone, keeping it lighter for the distant mountains and darkening the nearer ones and the foreground shrubbery.  I used a putty rubber to softer some of the edges.  It was difficult to judge how much tone/line to leave on the far mountains and when I took it back too much it just disappeared when I stepped back.  I must have gone into this at least five times deepening the tone, I started with pencil but soon moved on to pen and ink and charcoal to get the darkest tones.  I am disappointed that this final drawing (I have to move on now) hasn’t reflected all this work.  It still looks very tentative.  I might come back to it in a few week’s time when I am less frustrated.  I probably need to go over it a few times more.  But I have fixed it at this stage so I can’t rub out.  Sigh.  But I can add!

South Africa view final
Fig. 1.  View from Drakensberg Mountains

Updated 14th April (Fig. 1a) .  More marks added.  Getting there!

Drakensberg 15-04
Fig. 1a.

 

I wanted to have another go at achieving aerial perspective using other media.  I chose another South Africa photo (the coast off Cape Hope) and tried two methods with black ink.

Mountains tissue
Fig. 2.  A5 cartridge paper.

With a 1/2 inch paintbrush I applied undiluted ink at the same consistency to each mountain; touches for the sea and dry brush marks for the sky.  I then tried out different transparent papers to apply to indicate distance.  I left the first “mountain” in undiluted black ink, but added cloud effects with the three levels of transparent materials. For the second “mountain” I used the most transparent paper which was tracing paper – it also gives a nice textured effect where the glue is patchy.  The third is paper tissue, one ply of a paper napkin.  The forth is covered by Japanese rice paper.  I intentionally made the papers a little too small to leave an outline.

I am happy with these effects – less so with the “clouds”.  Rice paper is probably too opaque, but could give a subtle effect if needed.

For the same view I tried black ink again, but this time using drier and drier brushes to indicate distance (Fig. 3.).

Mountains fuji
Fig. 3. A5

I also used Tombow pen for some of the marks and some white ink.  I went a bit mad and added a geographically impossible Mt Fuji-like mountain at the very distance which doesn’t show up very well, neither do the misty clouds I tried to draw in gouache.  I do like the effects of dry brush ink though.  I think this would also lend itself well to Townscapes and buildings for tone and shade.

 

Part 3: Project 4: Exercise 1: Parallel perspective – an interior view

And now for the bit I was most nervous about – perspective.  Yes, even more than naked bodies.  I chose a view from the living room, across the landing (rug added) into the tiled bathroom.  I decided to use a Pentel ink pen so that I wouldn’t be tempted to rub anything out.  I started with a cunning plan – its all about proportion of course.  I have learned a method to gauge the relative size of things using a pencil at arms length, so I lined the mat up on one side with the tiles, measured the relative differences in how the vertical doors frames appeared apart, and used that as my guide.  Easy.  I was quite pleased with the result – until I looked at where the lines should actually have gone! (Fig. 1.).

Door 1
Figure 1.

My eye line was around the light switch level.  The red lines indicate where my perspective lines really went – nowhere near to eye line.  I didn’t even get the left hand side of the mat running in the same direction as the bathroom floor tiles.   I think my biggest mistake was relying too much on my measurements of the width of the door frames as guides.  I should have looked much more closely at all the lines.  Because my initial guides were out, they were all out.  The green lines indicate where the lines should have been.  This is what my drawing should have looked like – I traced the green lines on to a separate sheet of paper (Fig. 2.).

Door 2
Fig. 2.

I can see now that this is a much more realistic view from the eye level that I drew from.  My actual drawing (Fig. 1. ) appears as if I am floating in the air somewhere looking down on the scene.

Note:  The following should follow Exercise 2 which I have posted out of sequence.

As extra punishment I then went on to copy the pencil sketch of Rome by Sir Muirhead Bone.  To increase my chances of success I must admit that I did grid up the photo to help me complete the (very) simplified version (Fig. 3.).

Bone
Fig. 3.

This was better, but even using the grid method I was still quite off on one of the angles.

Reflection.  Had I used a ruler for my initial drawings then many of my mistakes would have been avoided, but the key things for me is to establish the eye level first.  I must admit I had not even thought of this before – quite a revelation.  I know it must sound so obvious to those used to perspective drawing, but I now realise that lines above eye level angle down, those that are below eye level angle up, and if they are at eye level they are flat.  Doh!