Project The Moving Figure – Exercise : Fleeting Moments

7 - Follow up Drawing of Man and a Woman Pushing Stall

On the day I started this exercise I woke up to the first day of my second coupe d’etat while I’ve been in Thailand. Not bad going. The TV wasn’t exactly blank, there were 5 military logos on there with some old be proud of Thailand, very fascist sounding music on from a bygone era. The whole country was on curfew and I was wondering if it was safe to go out. If you ever want to know what it feels like to be on curfew at the start of a coupe d’etat, watch iRobot, because the ‘stay in your homes’ scene is quite close.

1st day of Tha Coupe d'etat
1st day of Tha Coupe d’etat

So anyway, while I was on lockdown, that first morning a memory came into my head that I thought I would try and get down on paper, It was the first day I met my girlfriend, September last yea, to be exact. I remember what we were both wearing, where we were and if she was the first up the escalators from the underground train or not. I just couldn’t quite pull it off in an abbreviated drawing, But it was worth a try.

1 - Drawing a Memory from Last Year
1 – Drawing a Memory from Last Year

That morning I was supposed to be teaching 3 students in a private class but everyone had cancelled, luckily for me I had made some very quick pencil sketches of the three students the day before noting their height and frame and how they were sitting and decided to go over them with a more detailed sketch from what I could remember, clothes, hairstyle etc. I haven’t taught them since so I haven’t been able to check if there was any likeness there.

2 - Sketch of 3 Students over outline
2 – Sketch of 3 Students over outline

All but one class had cancelled, which was my 4-6 pm, so I decided to take my spare computer down for repair in the early afternoon and just as I was having some breakfast preparing to get ready the army allowed the first TV broadcast of the day.

The scene on the TV was the yellow shirts who had been occupying the area near my school for the last 7 months, being cleared off by the army and their was a small, chubby, Chinese/Thai guy doing the reporting. The thing that made me want to draw him was that everything about him was that even though he was fat, which you would associate with being round, everything about him seemed to be square from his head to his microphone. After making a quick square sketch of him, I tried to draw him exactly how I remembered him but changed him a few times as his head wasn’t in proportion and I wasn’t sure if he was holding the mic with two hands or not.

3 - News Reporter 1st Day Thai Coupe
3 – News Reporter 1st Day Thai Coupe

That afternoon on my way to taking my computer to repaired I got my first glimpse of the army, stationed (or hiding from the sun) under the flyover at Pinklao intersection, two of them stood on top of the bridge with their backs to me and three of them stood by a Chinese knock off of a hummer. I made a quick drawing of what I remembered about the three stood by the hummer while the guy checked to see if my computer was worth repairing.

4 - Sketch of Soldiers under Pinklao Bridge
4 – Sketch of Soldiers under Pinklao Bridge

The sketch wasn’t up to much so I made a larger drawing with watercolour pencil in my sketch book the next evening. It was really messy, but by then so was my memory of the whole scene.

5 - Quick Watercolour Pencil Drawing from Sketch
5 – Quick Watercolour Pencil Drawing from Sketch

On my way back from my 4-6 pm private I decided to take a taxi, only to find that their was a traffic jam, after 20 minutes of sat in very slow traffic I got to find out what the hold up was, a man and a woman taking their market/food stall out for a jog.

6 - Quick Sketch - Man and a Woman Pushing Stall
6 – Quick Sketch – Man and a Woman Pushing Stall

I made a really quick sketch of them while I was still in the taxi and the following night I tried to replicate the scene with a better drawing.

7 - Follow up Drawing of Man and a Woman Pushing Stall
7 – Follow up Drawing of Man and a Woman Pushing Stall

Finally the last drawing was of two of two motorbike Taxi riders who I have known for the best part of 12 years, I made a very quick sketch of them while I was at the motorbike taxi rank and improved on it when I got home. Unlike the others I went over the top of the initial sketch so you can still see the rough sketch underneath.

8 - Motorbike Taxi Riders Waiting
8 – Motorbike Taxi Riders Waiting

Plotting Space Through Composition and Structure

5 - Photo of drawing with no reflection

‘The aim of this exercise was to establish a foreground, middle ground and background in your drawing. If you can compose and structure your drawing to include these divisions you are then beginning to establish a sense of space in the structure of your drawing. This way of organising space is characteristic of the French classical painters Nicholas Poussin and Claude Lorrain, who in turn influenced the British landscape artist, Joseph Mallord William Turner.’

Now I had already had a glimpsed at some of Claude Lorrain’s paintings but one painting that really inspired me for this exercise was Frederic Edwin Church Heart of the Andes that I looked at in an earlier research point Different Artists’ Depictions of Landscape.

With the red shirts and yellow shirts kicking off here in Bangkok my school has been closed for 3 or 4 days every week for the last week, with them calling a truce just for today, the king’s birthday. Anyway with time off work we made the decision to go away to Sarabruri  for a couple of days and so I decided to take my pencils, an A3 drawing pad and drawing board.

The view from our room balcony at Saraburi
The view from our room balcony at Saraburi

The lodge where we stayed was overlooking some beautiful – what I would call – mountain shaped hills but when we arrived on the first day it was already knocking on so I set my alarm and got up at 6 am.

The mountains looked great with the mist glowing above and in front of them and I knew they wouldn’t look like that forever so I took a few snaps with the camera first and took a great shot, the one above, which was framed with a tree. Using my view finder I began to draw knowing that I could work from the photos later. I had decided to work entirely in Derwent watercolour pencil for the following reasons:

  • Less waxy than Derwent Artists’ Pencils
  • Easy to erase
  • Easy to blend
  • If I needed to I could use them wet

I decided to work from the background down to the foreground as I wanted to get the mountains and the sky just right, However I spent so long working on the mountains that the mist was clearing and I had to keep resorting back to looking at the photo on my Galaxy Tab.

1 - Mountains and Sky Backgrund
1 – Mountains and Sky Backgrund

The second step was the middle ground, the mist had all but lifted by now but using the photo on the tablet as reference I blocked in the middle ground areas with a a blend of grey, violet and blue and then drawing in the trees in thew distance with a 2 shades of green and grey to depict the trees appearing out of the mist.

2 - Middle Ground Complete
2 – Middle Ground Complete

Up until now everything was going well but I was about three hours in and so that I didn’t  ignore the girlfriend I decided to finish off the foreground, frame the picture with a tree then finish the rest of the drawing off back home in Bangkok and too be honest I was a bit overwhelmed by how many trees I had to draw so needed a break anyway.

3 - Plotting Space through Composition and Structure - Watercolour Pencil Mostly Dry
3 – Plotting Space through Composition and Structure – Watercolour Pencil Mostly Dry

When it came to drawing the big trees in the foreground I started by drawing the outlines of the trees in a lighter coloured pencil, then using irregular hatching for the branches from dark to light colours.

4 - Plotting Space through Composition and Structure - Sky finished
4 – Plotting Space through Composition and Structure – Sky finished

I noticed there is a project coming up called Drawing Trees, for me it would have been better to have done that first before this project as I have been drawing nothing but trees since A Sketchbook Walk and it has been a struggle. and this exercise was no different.

5 - Photo of drawing with no reflection
5 – Photo of drawing with no reflection

Due to me not using watercolour paper I refrained from drawing wet until I needed to and that was on the largest tree and three at the side that I framed the drawing with.

To be honest not much of this drawing turned out the way I wanted it to, background great, middle-ground great but then the foreground just changed everything and made the drawing look like some kind of dodgy cartoon. However I am not going to start again as I believe I have achieved the goal of this exercise which was to establish a foreground, middle ground and background in my drawing.

360 Degree Studies

Exercise 360 Degree Studies: North

For this exercise I was to choose an expansive landscape where I had an open view in all directions, then using my viewfinder to find a focal point and to frame my view I was to complete a fifteen-minute drawing.

From there I was to turn my stool on the same spot to face West, South and East, each time repeating the process of finding a focal point and completing another fifteen-minute drawing.

With not much choice of expansive Landscapes in Bangkok I knew I would be going back to the park where I did the sketches for the last exercise ‘A Sketchbook Walk‘ but I wasn’t sure when I would get the chance to go back. Then with a stroke of luck the Thai government tried bringing an ‘Amnesty Bill’ in so exiled former president Thaksin Shinawatra could come back Thailand without being strung up, so the protesters hit the streets again and I got three days off.

Well to start with I didn’t have a stool and I would have looked a bit silly getting in the taxi with a buffet but it hadn’t rained for 2 days so I decided I would sit on the floor, so armed with my artist’s wrap, my A4 sketchbook, my small viewfinder and my small drawing board I headed to Suan Rot Fai again. I’d already decided where I was going to sit and I started drawing what I thought was North and what happened next was a series of accidents.

It was pretty clouded and I was pretty positive the direction I was looking was south and there was no need to look at the GPS on my phone so I pulled out my charcoal pencil from my artist’s wrap and started drawing, two trees in I realised I had forgot my cutter and a pencil sharpener was just not going to do the job so I finished the drawing in compressed charcoal hence the two bushes in front of the trees in the background came out looking more like coal slacks than bushes.

Exercise 360 Degree Studies: South
Exercise 360 Degree Studies: South

This first drawing did take me spot on 15 minutes and although I am not happy with the finished drawing as it looks more like Autumn in England than Rainy season in Thailand I thought I did quite well drawing the landscape with this medium for the first time.

Exercise 360 Degree Studies: East
Exercise 360 Degree Studies: East

As I turned 90 degrees anti-clockwise to draw what I thought was West I realised that the Sun had come out from the clouds behind me and it was nearly three in the afternoon so I was actually facing East, I’m usually great at guessing where North is…however I decided to carry on. East was very tricky it was the first time I had drawn water and I was facing a lake so I chose not to carry on in Charcoal but to switch to a 4B pencil, a decision I now regret.

Focusing on the tree directly in front of me, that looked like it was bending towards the water to get a drink, I began to draw. The whole process from beginning to end was a rush trying to finish in the 15 minute time frame and I was very lucky that it came out looking anything near the view I was drawing, I was going to leave the buildings in the background out but then decided to add them at the end. I wasn’t looking at the time but I reckon the drawing took me about ten minutes over the 15 minute time frame, the problem…too many trees!

Exercise 360 Degree Studies: North
Exercise 360 Degree Studies: North

As I turned North to face more trees, I decided to switch mediums again and this time began to draw in my trusty ball point pen, even though the sun was shining by now and I think I depicted this quite well in the sketch, it probably does look more like an Autumn Scene. It took no time at all to sketch everything out but then another 15 minutes to get the trees looking anything like trees. I feel now that a fine marker would have been a better choice of Medium.

Exercise 360 Degree Studies: West
Exercise 360 Degree Studies: West

The fourth and final drawing, which I thought would be the easiest was left incomplete dead on 15 minutes and after going over it about three times in charcoal, the medium that I thought was the safest for this type of landscape given the 15 minute time frame.

I am not impressed with my performance on this exercise, However I do feel that I have learnt something very important from it and that is choosing the right medium for the right job…the job being a 15 minute sketch in this type of environment.

What I did like about this exercise though were the notable changes in the landscape just by shifting my view a little, I could have got many great and very different drawings just by sitting in the same spot. I took advantage of this by finding the focal points that I thought would be best to start from given the 15 minute time frames.


Observing Negative Space and Perspective

This exercise of observing negative space and perspective involved following the silhouette of a group of objects that shared similar elements with a soft drawing tool such as soft pencil without taking it off the paper.

I drew in from the left using the furthest edge of the table as a starting point and followed the upper silhouette of the objects carefully assessing the silhouette and proportions of each object and changing the direction of the line as the silhouette of one object impacted off another.

Then I went back to my original starting point and followed the line until it reached the first object again then followed the bottom silhouette of the objects following the same steps as the top half. When the bottom half of the silhouette was complete I went back and drew in the details of the objects themselves.

Observing Negative Space and Perspective 1
Observing Negative Space and Perspective 1st Attempt

I used a 6B pencil for this exercise as I am still waiting for Derwent to send me replacements for my 7, 8 and 9B. I found the exercise quite difficult and frankly one that I should keep having ago at from time to time.

Observing Negative Space and Perspective 2
Observing Negative Space and Perspective 2nd Attempt

I made a few attempts without taking my pencil off the paper and I was actually very surprised when I drew the bottom silhouette and the objects looked something similar to what they did in my composition. There were a few errors in each of my attempts, vase to wide (starting to draw it too early and the bowl to narrow and the jar on the right hand side was quite wonky in each of my attempts, but the negative space between each object was the correct shape just not always the right size.

observing-negative-space 3
Observing Negative Space and Perspective Attempt 3 and 4

Like I said earlier it is an exercise that I think I will gain a lot from and should practice from time to time, I also like the way that I arranged the objects and would like to do a similar still life using a similar composition, this exercise maybe a great starting point for that still life.