Townscapes – Check and Log

Section of School in 3B and Dry Watercolour Pencils

How did you use a limited colour palette to create a sense of depth?

Firstly I chose three colours that I knew would go well together, chocolate brown pastel pencil, Black and Sanguine Conté pencils and a Derwent Chinese white drawing pencil. I used the three colours together to create a sense of depth when drawing the trees then on the buildings, shadows etc. I used the pencils at different pressures to create light and dark tones. The Chinese white helped to relieve the colour if I put too much pressure on on the first attempt. Hatching and cross hatching also helped me to take the colours even deeper.

Did your preliminary sketches give you enough information for your final pieces of work?

Undoubtedly yes, they also helped me to eliminate details that I did not need and simplify more difficult parts of the buildings and scenes for the final pieces.

Would you approach this task differently another time?

It depends on the task at hand, a sketchbook of townscape drawings, no, A limited palette study from your sketches, no but drawing statues definitely yes and hopefully at a different time there will not be obstacles preventing me from getting around my adopted city for Drawing Statues.

Have you got the scale of the buildings right?

Yes, most definitely scale is one thing I am very aware of and I believe that all buildings in the drawings are to scale.

Have you captured the colour and atmosphere in your drawings? How did you do this?

In the pencil sketches I think I captured the atmosphere quite well with use of shadow. As I said in the ‘A sketchbook of townscape drawings exercise’ it was a fresh morning and with the shadows cast from the trees around the temple it reminded of me of a road near my home in Wakefield, for me the sketches still arouse these emotions. However, the limited palette study does not seem to depict the brightness and freshness of the day and I’m left wondering what I could have done differently.

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Drawing Statues

Soonthornpoo Conte and Pastel Pencil

It has been a bit hard to get around Bangkok the last few weeks and the ‘mob’ protesters have shut off the main road entrances into the city. You can still get around, they aren’t preventing pedestrians but there has been numerous grenade attacks and shootings over the last few weeks; so unfortunately I had to stick to the national art gallery and in and around school.

My first drawing was in Conté and hard pastel. I liked using them in the last exercise a limited palette study from your sketches and i thought that the three colours that I used in that exercise would be great for Bronze. In the teacher’s room on the third floor of the school, there was a reproduction bronze statue of the Thai playwright and poet Soonthornpoo (so highly regarded in Thailand that he has his own day).

Soonthornpoo Conte and Pastel Pencil
Soonthornpoo Conte and Pastel Pencil

Surprisingly the three colours worked very differently together in this exercise as the subject was very dark and I had to bring in a yellow and orange pastel pencil.

My next drawings were done at the national art gallery, I was due a visit and I also planned to get some drawings of statues done while I was there. The protesters had been camped out round the corner from the gallery for the last three months which probably put everyone off exhibiting anything at the gallery so there was only one artist exhibiting. There were some nice statues in the permanent exhibition though.

The next subject was a statue of a naked young girl that caught my eye because of the smoothness and colour of the statue but after about 5 attempts in pastel pencil, that ended up in the bin, I gave up trying in colour and did two successful drawings in 4B pencil. Well not quite that successful as it was quite difficult to get the body and facial proportions right of a girl at that age, Drawing the kids heads at school has helped.

Statue of a Young Girl in 4B pencil
Statue of a Young Girl in 4B pencil

The next drawing in pastel and Conté of a women’s head in the gallery was the last drawing I did in the gallery, this particular statue caught my eye because of the strong contrast in colours of the light and shadow caused by being placed in the corner of the not-so-well lit statue exhibition. Disappointingly the finished drawing does not look like the statue, although it does look female, it does look Asian and the colours are spot on, the original statue’s face looked more primate-looking with the face stretching forwards and big cheeks.

Bust of a Thai Woman National Art Gallery
Bust of a Thai Woman National Art Gallery

I was back at school on the Monday and so I had time to draw a statue depicting one of the 7 faces of Buddha (I think that’s how many there are). Phra Mahanchanok and the other 6 faces are depicted in different scenes around Wat (temple) Makut near the school and are statues molded from a cement time mixture around a metal frame. This was a disappointing effort as the drawing just looks flat.

Phra Mahanchanok Outside Temple in 4B
Phra Mahanchanok Outside Temple in 4B

The last statue was of a southern Thai style female figure in bronze, from a photo that I took in the art gallery, I loved bronze appeared to be different colours in different parts of the statue due to the contrast in curves and textures, I thought it was the perfect subject for a larger drawing and so I completed her in pastel pencil and Conté on an A3 sheet of paper.

Statue of a Southern Thai Woman Dancing
Statue of a Southern Thai Woman Dancing

A Limited Palette Study from Your Sketches

Adding Colour

For this exercise I was to make a limited palette study from the sketches in my previous exercise ‘a Sketchbook of Townscape Drawings‘ in 2-3 colours. I used a chocolate pastel pencil, sanguine and black Conté pencils and a Derwent Chinese White drawing pencil.

I had already done a pencil sketch of my school in the last exercise as well as a drawing of the same school in colour pencil and knowing that it would work for this exercise I decided to develop those sketches into a larger drawing with a limited palette.

1 - Sketch of School in H pencil w notes
Sketch of School in H pencil w notes
Section of School in 3B and Dry Watercolour Pencils
Section of School in 3B and Dry Watercolour Pencils

I followed the instructions of this exercise, drawing in the strongest verticals first, which were the corners of the main school building. From there I drew in the diagonals which were the many roofs of the school building and most of everything else.

Adding Colour
Adding Colour

Drawing in the detail was quite easy simply because I got the verticals and diagonal lines right the first time but if not then drawing in the windows, roof beams etc. could have been a disaster.

A Limited Palette Study in Conte, Pastel and China White
A Limited Palette Study in Conte, Pastel and Chinese White

The colours that I chose for this exercise went very well together and so the roll of each colour i.e. light, dark and mid-tone swapped over in different parts of the picture with the most prominent colours being the Sanguine and the Black Conté simply because they helped me depict how bright and fresh the day was.

The chocolate colour pastel pencil was mainly used for shadow along with the black Conté  at minimum pressure. The Chinese white was grade for toning down the Conté and also adding 3D properties to the tiled roofs.

I have to be honest and say I love the finished study which does remind me of some drawing from an history lesson at school.

A Sketchbook of Townscape Drawings

10 cm Squares Tonal and Detail Drawings with 3B and Colour Pencils

With the threat of protests shutting the roads down around my school I had to move quickly with this exercise. I decided to use the square sketchbook that I had purchased from the school suppliers especially for the last exercise ‘Study of a Townscape Using Line‘ which I completed in drawing pen.

The sketchbook wouldn’t have been my first choice for pencil sketches as the paper is very smooth with no tooth at all but as part of the learning process I decided to go with it to see what results I would get putting drawing pencil to paper.

For this exercise the brief told us to, ‘carefully select a viewpoint that gives you somewhere to sit comfortably while you are sketching and making notes. Focus on one particular building, for example a corner site or a building facade, and notice how the other buildings support your main focus.

It was 9 a.m. and one of the coolest mornings we had experienced in Bangkok for a long time, probably the first  morning of the cold season and at 18 degrees it was really quite cold for Bangkok. There were activities in the morning so I took my camera with me to school so I could take some photos of the buildings around the school at what is the best time of the day. From 9-11 the buildings and roads around the school are saturated with the shadows of the trees around the temple. On this fresh morning the area reminded me of a road close to my house in Wakefield, which made me quite home sick as I’ve only been back once in 14 years..

After taking some photos that I could use for reference later I took a chair out to settle down and make some sketches. My first sketch was of my school itself, which is a temple school and therefore built in the same style as a temple and with its external roof beams it looks similar to a building from the middle ages, when viewed at certain angles

1 - Sketch of School in H pencil w notes
1 – Sketch of School in H pencil w notes

I chose an angle that captured the best part of the school with its tiled roofs sloping in different directions, framed by trees at either side and an old apartment block to the back. I didn’t take the drawing all the way to the road as at this stage I thought I woulds be spending more time drawing around the corner.

Sketch of Temple Gates in H Pencil w Notes
Sketch of Temple Gates in H Pencil w Notes

There are plenty of opportunities to make sketches that capture the contrast between old and new within a stone throw of the school grounds. My next sketch was of the temple wall, including two of the temple’s gates and part of the Prathom (secondary) school opposite the primary school where I work.

Sketch of Ginnel in H Pencil w Notes
Sketch of Ginnel in H Pencil w Notes

From there I made a sketch of the ginnel at the side of the school with the shop on the corner. I left out a lot of detail in this drawing while still trying to include the most important parts, which was a real lesson that helped with the next few sketches.

By now I was beginning to find my feet around the area and I had worked my way round to the back of a group of shops that really caught my attention when taking the photos unfortunately I didn’t have enough time to continue outside so the next few sketches were done at home.

Back of the Shops in H Pencil w Notes
Back of the Shops in H Pencil w Notes

It’s amazing how far I am into this course and yet I’m still having problems fitting the subject on the canvas but then again drawing the buildings here that have been built then added onto year after year, are made up of lots of irregular shapes and are definitely not that easy to draw.

10 cm Squares Tonal and Detail Drawings with 3B and Colour Pencils
10 cm Squares Tonal and Detail Drawings with 3B and Colour Pencils

The brief for this exercise also instructed me to make a 10 cm drawing of a detailed part of the building and then another 10 cm tonal drawing depicting how the light falls across the building. I found it difficult to draw detail without drawing the shadows on the building and so I did two 3B pencil drawings and 2 coloured pencil drawings showing both. The drawings turned out rather like a comic strip.

Back of the Shops in 3B Pencil and Dry Watercolour Pencils
Back of the Shops in 3B Pencil and Dry Watercolour Pencils

I have never liked the waxy feel of the Derwent colour pencils and so the next sketch was done 3B and dry water colour pencils. I really thought that this would be the sketch that I would use for the next exercise but when I finished it I wasn’t that satisfied that I could do that good a job with a limited palette and so did another drawing of the school this time in 3B and colour pencil.

Section of School in 3B and Dry Watercolour Pencils
Section of School in 3B and Dry Watercolour Pencils

I loved working on this which was a lot easier to draw than the very awkward shapes in the last drawing, which is why the final sketch looks a lot stronger and so i thought it was an ideal piece to reproduce in a limited palette for the next exercise.

Study of a Townscape Using Line

2 Study of Landscape Using Line 2nd Attempt

When I first started this course I went upstairs to the third floor of my school for a bit of sketching practise and did a couple of drawings of the outside of the school building from the balcony. When this exercise came up it was a good excuse to get back up there as the school has a great view of the temple next door.

I actually completed this exercise well over a month ago but for the last couple of months I have been concentrating on drawing rather than my online log as Townscapes as been quite a long project for me with the irregular shapes of Thai architecture making this part of the course quite difficult but also very interesting.

So anyway it was the start of the cool season and clouds were getting less and less in the sky and the only chance I got to go out on the balcony was 1:30 pm and the sun was beating almost straight down.

Study of Townscape Using Line first Drawing
Study of Townscape Using Line first Drawing

The first preliminary drawing took me a little over 25 minutes with a Rotring Tikky Graphic 0.3 and even though it was quite messy I felt that that could have been the final drawing for this study. And reminded me of a couple of the pen drawings in the Urban Sketching Handbook, particularly Singapore by Kampong Glam by Paul Heaston and Nanjing Fuzimiao by Frank Ching, the latter drawn in 30 minutes roughly about the same time as my drawing.

2 Study of Landscape Using Line 2nd Attempt
2 Study of Landscape Using Line 2nd Attempt

The second drawing took me from a flowing line drawing to something a bit more technical, with the first drawing everything flowed, I didn’t worry about the marks I was making and I wasn’t trying at all, with the second drawing I started to think about perspective the marks I was making the shapes I was drawing, negative space and everything went wrong. Instead of drawing objects I was familiar with I started to draw them like I was seeing them for the first time and everything went wrong. One of the biggest notable errors is the spire of the temple in the second drawing making it look like a Tibetan temple rather than a Thai temple.

Study of Landscape Using Line - Final Study
Study of Landscape Using Line – Final Study

The final study was drawn from both of the preliminary drawings, using the temple from the first drawing and the school building from the second drawing every thing else was a mixture of both.

I never had any doubts about what I would use for the  fore, middle and background but what lines and marks to use was always going to stress me out. This is the second time I have had to do line drawings in an exercise and the second time I have found it hard not to hatch and even though I know a degree of hatching was needed I know I went over the top with it.

The Roof from the 3rd Floor

After enrolling on this course I realised how lucky I was to be working at a temple school with it’s open plan floors and Thai style roofs and architecture. So today I took time out to have a sit down and actually sketch what I see every day and I made a promise to myself that I will put pencil to paper every chance I get.

This was the first of what I hope will many sketches of this wonderful working environment and in 35 minutes I think I did quite well.

The school roof from the 4th floor
The school roof from the 3rd floor