For my line drawing of a townscape I went to Ramsgate as I have always liked the view back to the hill in the town from the harbour. To avoid people I again went very early in the morning and sat on the harbour arm looking back across the harbour to the hill. In reality the foreground is very cluttered with boats in the harbour but I decided to leave these out and concentrate on the view from the bottom of the hill (where old fishing nets and crates are stacked against an industrial unit) up the hill to the old houses and hotels.
The drawing took much longer than I anticipated and became quite rushed at the end. I also did not notice until I had finished that a lot of the verticals are not quite vertical and that my perspectives go a bit astray on some of the elements within the image. I think it a classic case that as time went on I began to concentrate too much on what I was drawing rather than looking at the scene and drawing what I saw. Still, you do get a sense of the place and the cluttered nature of the buildings on the hill.
Update: 15 November 2017
On a visit to Folkestone I looked across the harbour and saw a similar view to my original drawing and wanted to draw this again, without the clutter of windows, etc; I had an idea to draw a sketch of just the building outlines as they cascaded down the hill.
I went down to Folkestone early in the morning and parked in the harbour car park using my car as a sketching studio. I first sketches the outlines in light pencil to get the shapes and perspective correct.
On return to my home, I went over the outlines using a 0.01 pen for the background, 0.1 & 0.3 pen for the middle ground and a 0.8 pen for the foreground to try to help create a sense of perspective. The difference between the smaller sizes is not that noticeable but the thicker nib for the foreground is quite noticeable.
I like the simplicity of this drawing and am pleased with the result, especially as I did not use a ruler for any of the lines (but did use an eraser).
I decided to look at the art of Georgia O’Keeffe as I admire her simplification of shapes and forms in her landscapes and cityscapes. One of the things which struck me when looking through her images was how much to me they seemed to be design-led. This was from some of her very first images, such as the charcoal drawing Early No. 2, 1915 through to her flower paintings (e.g. Two Calla Lilies on Pink, 1928), her cityscapes (e.g. Radiator Building – Night, New York, 1927), her landscapes (e.g. Red Hills and Bones, 1941) and her later works (such as Above the Clouds I, 1962-63). I think this may come from her early training and her first job as a commercial artist working as a freelance illustrator. I have also read that it comes from the influence of photography in the early 20th century and in particular her marriage to Edward Stieglitz who was a famous photographer.
What I like about her work is the clean lines she creates catching the main shapes devoid of other clutter, the way she uses positive and negative shapes to create form, her use of colour and the decorative patterns she creates from the shapes she observes. She also captured the sense of place and time whether it be the city or a New Mexico landscape. Her work shows her interpretation of what she observes rather than the visual appearance, something I am trying to achieve in my own art.
Book Read: Georgia O’Keeffe, Randall Green, Phaidon Press, 2014.
Links to images:
Early No. 2, 1915
Two Calla Lilies on Pink, 1928
Radiator Building – Night New York, 1927
Red Hill and Bones, 1941
Above the Clouds 1, 1962-1963
For these drawings I first visited Rye, a small town quite near my home. However, when I was walking around the town I seemed to get very little inspiration from the buildings, everything seemed to be a little bit quaint and twee. I did eventually find a little alleyway I decided to draw as I liked the light and shade.
However, the pencil drawing did not bring out the effect I wanted so I redrew it at home from the sketch and memory in pen and ink. I used a foam brush to first draw in the different blocks of shading within the allay itself and the dark frame of the alley doorway. I also simplified the elements within the alley, giving the whole drawing a looser feel.
After Rye, I decided to visit Folkestone early the next morning and did a couple of little sketches of some houses on Marina Parade (which did not really work for me in terms of composition), the bottom of the Old High Street and a view of a housing estate.
Of the three images I liked the composition of the Old High Street so whilst there drew a larger A4 version.
Once home, I thought I would add colour to my line drawing. At first I was going to add a watercolour wash over an ink drawing but then thought I would try something different. My tutor had recommended I look at the work of Patrick Caulfield and this drawing seemed ripe for trying out a coloured ink version in his style. One thing I noticed when looking at his art was the way he repeated colour across the canvas to create unity and lead the eye around the image. The buildings on Old High Street had been painted in quite bright colours as they are part of the Creative Quarter of the town and I wanted to bring out these bright colours in the drawing.
I went over the pencil lines with a black felt tip pen and then added the colours using brush pens. I picked out just a few colours, repeating them in the drawing to add some unity across the image and then filled in the rest of the areas in green.
It was quite fun doing this as it is not something I would have normally tried and whilst the colours could have been more smoothly applied with a brush and paint I am wary of doing a painting rather than a drawing. It is interesting as before I started this course I would have been drawn to the more precise nature of artists such as Patrick Caulfield, with quite controlled application of marks, paint and colour, but now I am beginning to move more towards freer gestural drawing where you can see the energy in the marks of the artist. Perhaps that is what my tutor intended by suggesting I look at this artist?
I visited this exhibition twice, once as part of an OCA Study Day on 21 January and again at the Sainsbury Centre of Visual Arts on 18th August. Paul Nash has always been a favourite artist of mine, ever since I saw one of his tree drawings as a child.
I wrote about three images in my sketchbook following my second visit. One of the main things I take from this exhibition is how life experiences are reflected in subsequent artworks. You can see the emotional trauma Paul Nash experienced in the First War World is included both in his work as a war artist and in subsequent years.
As I progress through this degree I hope that my work will start to have that ‘life experience element’ and become part of my personal voice.
Following my reflection on progress to date, I decided to revisit the Sketch Walk as I was never really happy with my original pencil sketches. I thought I would experiment with changing my viewpoint this time and do a sketch walk looking down to find textures and shapes. I visited Ramsgate Harbour early on a Sunday morning before too many people arrived.
I had an idea to make each sketch like an individual paving stone so decided I would draw each sketch within a 6×6 inch frame. I made a template so I could draw this frame on any of the papers I had brought with me to save time whilst out.
Before arriving I thought I might just end up with views of concrete and paving stones of various colours but found the harbour to have an amazing range of materials, structures and textures; I could easily have drawn twenty different views rather than just four. I used a picture finder with a grid to look down through so that I looked straight down each time rather than at an angle.
- Pencil – The smooth white diamond shape contrasting with the rough of the flint pavement repair draw me to this image.
- Watercolour Pencil – It was the colour of the blue steel plate and the rust as well as the hole for lifting the plate which attracted me to this area. I exaggerated the colours to bring them out.
- Pen and Ink – The different textures of the steel plate, manhole colour and concrete caught my eye as well as the angles of the shapes.
- Bamboo Pen and Ink – The rusting round pole hole against the cracked surface made this area interesting. I like using Bamboo pens (first used in my life drawing class) as they have a softer quality than metal nibs and give a greater variation in line.
I enjoyed undertaking this exercise again as although the images are fairly representation I could easily extend these drawings into abstract images. Looking down has also opened my eyes to a whole range of images that I could focus upon.
My tutor recommended I look at the drawings of Anish Kapoor. Obtaining information on the drawings rather than his sculptures and installations proved surprising difficult until I eventually found a book by Jeremy Lewison of an exhibition he had at the Tate Gallery in 1990/91.
The introduction of the book mainly relates Kapoor’s drawings to spiritual, cultural, sexual and religious ideas, with repeated images of mountains, voids and explosive eruptions. For me the drawings have a predominately sexual origin, particularly the vagina. He defines the forms through the energy of his marks and his use of strong colours. Many of the drawings seem to have an element of chance and spontaneity which I would want to capture in my own drawings.
It is difficult to refer directly to any one drawing as they are all untitled, however, Untitled, 1987, an explosion of yellow on a brown background with a thin void in the centre, caught my eye for the sheer energy in the marks; as did Untitled, 1990, a blue phallic like void at the centre of a mass of black marks on a swirling brown background.
These drawings inspire me to be more free and experimental with my drawings and to focus in on a shape or idea and experiment, then experiment again with just making marks. Transforming a drawing (which might be the visual appearance) until the final drawing is far removed from the original by a process of change.
Artist’s Website here.
I kept putting off undertaking this exercise until there were some decent cloud formations. Once a fairly stormy sky had appeared I went out to sketch the clouds using charcoal. This proved more difficult than I anticipated as the clouds move d surprisingly quickly. For both drawings, I rubbed powdered charcoal into the paper with a cotton wool ball to get the overall tones and added compressed charcoal to darkened areas and give form to the clouds. I then rubbed back for the whiter highlights using a pencil eraser.
I do not think I got the structure and form of the clouds quite right as they do not look like they have enough volume; also, I have not captured that sense of the clouds receding across the expanse of the sky, they look more like they are stacked up. An exercise to repeat at a later date.