In what way did you simplify and select in your study? Were you able to focus on simple shapes and patterns amid all the visual information available to you?
For me these two questions are intertwined I was able to simplify and select by putting everything into group shapes in the sketches and or blocks of colour in the larger study.
How did you create a sense of distance and form in your studies?
I created a sense of distance by using stronger shading or colour in the foreground with lighter shading or colour in the background to make the background look generally more misty. I also used softer pencils in the foreground or in sketches where I used pens I created a sense of distance by drawing simpler and smaller shapes between the more dominant ones to make them look like they are at the back.
How did you use light and shade? Was it successful?
In the sketch above I made the tree solid black and put the shadows in the foreground to depict the sun shining behind the tree then drew the leaves of the tree in a lighter pencil to show light shining through the trees. The result was definitely a success.
What additional preliminary work would have been helpful towards the larger study?
Like I said in the exercises, for me and where I am, to do the drawing trees exercises before the final study would have been a great help.
I actually thought I had drawn 3 different tree types but looking at the drawings again and my photos I think I have only drawn two, three if you count the strangler fig as a species iof tree. I thought that the trees in the study of a several trees exercise were a different species from the Banyan tree in the Larger Study of an Individual tree but looking at them now I think the tree in the latter is the same tree in the later stages of being strangled to death by the fig.
What techniques did you use to distinguish each type?
I’d say smoothing and hatching the first ‘Alien’ tree in the sketching individual tree exercise was very smooth like it was naked without bark. So smooth that you could see the stretch marks in the tree so for this tree I used very fine hatching, smoothing with my finger and erasing with the putty rubber. For the individual Banyan tree I used more hatching and did less smoothing but with the study of several trees it was all very rough hatching with oil pastels.
What did you do to convey the mass of folioge?
The banyan trees were pretty much borrowing most of their folioge but where their was some I used squiggling and the sketches of an individual tree I came to realise that the leaves were in groups of three and so I squiggled in a kind of upside down Adidas trifoil shape not that it is noticeable in the drawings. To convey depth I then shaded in under the squiggles with more pressure on the pencil.
How did you handle light on the trees? Was it successful?
For the first sketches the light was above the folioge and so I showed light and shadow on the tree by way of hatching and yes I think I was successful. For the larger study of an individual tree the sun was behind the tree and so the whole of the tree was very dark but I depicted the light shining through the branches on the right by drawing the trees fainter than on the left. I don’t know how others will see it but it worked for me. I was going to use the putty rubber to show rays of light shining through but I sprayed it too soon.
In the last exercise I used colour, it was early evening, and I think I managed to show this quite well in my drawing.
Did you manage to select and simplify? How did you do this, and what could you do better?
I did this differently in all three exercises. In the first exercise it was a case of not drawing to the top of the tree and only drawing what I felt was important, the roots, the trunk and the squiggled leaf shapes that framed the branches and trunk.
In the second exercise, I wasn’t too sure where branches and leaves were coming from and would have probably had to draw another 5 plants and bushes to get to the source, so I decided draw only what was within the branches of the Banyan tree.
With the third drawing, a study of several trees I simplified by zooming in, I could probably do better next time by drawing more of the branches of the trees. However, I am still pretty pleased with the close up of the trees in the finished drawing.
While in the park browsing unique trees for the last two exercises I came across this group of trees and just had to take a photograph. I have no idea what kind of trees they are but they seem to be the same tree as the Banyan in the last exercise at the early stages of being latched on by the strangler fig, I don’t know why but they made me think of wailing banshees.
Being in a great location with a European style bridge visible in the background and some nice reflections in the water behind them, I had no doubt at all that it would be these trees that I would be drawing for this exercise until it came down to choosing the medium. Given the trees surroundings oil pastels were ideal but on A3 quite clumsy and so I thought twice about them. I also thought twice about drawing these trees and started to look at other photos I had taken.
In the end I did like the brief suggested and zoomed in on the three trees in the centre until I thought they were large enough to work on in oil pastel and give some texture through hatching rather than clumsily sketching from a distance. Being late with my third assignment I was dying to rush through this piece but I decided to take it steady and use a second sheet to get colours and blends right before committing to the final piece. There would have been nothing worse than getting half way through the drawing and messing up.
I love the final drawing, which, because of the texture of the paper seems to be made up of little dots which reminds me of a George Seurat painting and has given me some ideas for my assignment piece.
I have no idea what kind of tree I drew in the last exercise ‘Sketching an Individual Tree‘ but my subject for this exercise was very interesting. In the same ‘Trees in Literature’ section of the park was a Banyan tree, and this one was a wonderful example.
The Banyan Tree
The Banyan tree or ‘strangler fig’ is the national tree of India, it is pollinated by fig wasps and then the seeds are dispersed by fruit eating birds. If the seed is dropped on soil it is unlikely to survive but often the seeds are dropped on branches of other trees, where they germinate and send roots to the ground. The strangler fee often envelops part of the host tree and is also known to starve the host tree until it has rotted away inside.
The tree in Chatuchak park had been well and truly taken over and it looked to me like the strangler fig was squeezing the host tree so tightly that the tree had been deformed by it’s grasp, with the branches of the host reaching out in every direction as though they were desperately reaching out for help.
The sun was behind the tree facing me and so the tree was quite dark which was great because I got to use some wonderful tones and like the previous drawings of my alien tree in the last exercise the finished drawing came off looking quite ‘bio arty’.
I started with a 6B pencil and then realised after about an inch of drawing, that the 6B pencil on the more toothy A3 sheet I was using, was far too smudgy and so quickly changed to a 4B pencil.
I began by drawing the outlines of the branches in the top left hand corner of the paper and then drawing in the leaves with a squiggly line technique and from their I moved onto the texture of the branches and then did the same with the top right hand corner working my way down to the tree trunk. This was to make sure I didn’t smudge anything with the palm of my hand. Finally I worked my way to the roots of the tree through the tree trunk.
With the sun being behind the tree I had to try and depict the sun shining through the tree branches and leaves in some way. I tried doing this by drawing the leaves more lightly on the right hand side. I was going to drag my putty rubber lightly over the top from the center of the leaves outwards in a star shape but then forgot and sprayed the drawing with hair lacquer too early.
Most of the leaves that are in the drawing are not on the tree itself but rather on the trees around it with the host tree being practically bare but I wanted to use the branches of the Banyan tree to frame the life of the other trees above and behind it. The reason why I did not do a full background to the drawing was that it would not have done the tree justice plus I wanted to make it look like the life within the branches was spilling over through the roots of the fig hanging off the branches.
For this exercise I headed out to Suan Rot Fai Park again, railway park, where I did most of my work for Landscape Drawing. There was a eucalyptus tree there that really interested me due to it’s amazing rainbow colours. However, on the way there the traffic was so bad due to yellow shirt roadblocks in that area that we jumped out of the tuk tuk and decided to walk the rest of the way which was about a kilometre. To get to Suan Rot Fai we had to walk through another park, Chatuchak park which is just past the famous JJ weekend market and that was when the magic happened.
There were hundreds of people in the park and most of those were yellow shirt protesters who were using Chatuchak park as a campsite and using the public toilets there as temporary showers. Anyway to get to Suan Rot Fai I had to walk around the whole inside of the park and in doing so I came across a section of the park called, trees in literature (translated from Thai), which was basically a collection of trees from fairy tale movies.
The first tree that took my eye looked like two alien hands coming together and I just had to put pencil to paper. I split my sketchbook page in half and did two preliminary drawings at that size one of the trunk and one of the roots.
Both drawings were in 6B but with the paper being almost toothless looked just the same as 3B or 4B, I thought it was the Mars Lumograph pencils that left less lead on the paper until the next exercise.
The next drawing was on a full page of the whole tree, or most of the tree including roots, bark and foliage and like the brief said I built up on the two previous preliminary sketches and the tree was really starting to come alive, reminding me of a bio art tattoo especially the roots and where the twin trunks meet. I didn’t think I could improve on it but my next drawing proved me wrong.
There were details the tree was missing, things that we see all the time in tree but never give a thought to, stretch marks! I only started to notice them on the last drawing so I managed to depict these stretch mark lines pointing a putty rubber and dragging it across the widest part of the trunk and branches.
I have been drawing trees throughout this module or at least leaves and branches of them and there has been so much green that I haven’t enjoyed drawing them at all until now and I was really looking forward to the next having already chosen my next subject.
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?
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
What problems did you find in executing perspective drawings?
I thought I would fly through this project as I’ve always been quite good with perspective, having studied design and communication at school but I struggled with the Angular Perspective exercise and did quite a lot of line correction, mostly due to the irregular shape of the temple roof and getting that wrong threw everything out.
Another problem I had was lining the wall up at the side and to the front of the temple which was like drawing another level at the same perspective.
My biggest problem is trying to get everything perfect rather than trying to keep the right perspective while simplifying the drawings.
Make notes on the merits of using, or not using, rulers to guide you.
I think that using a ruler for me would have to be the final solution for a smaller drawing but maybe a necessity for larger drawings.
For smaller drawings taking your pencil from A to B without wobbling all over the place isn’t that difficult and once you have the basic shape of the subject it can be developed with some correction and modeled to almost perfection.
I feel that using rulers on the other hand for anything other than technical or larger drawings, for me especially, may lead to overworking the drawing and even more correction trying to find the right angles, right lengths etc.