Pr1-Ex4: Plotting Space Through Composition and Structure


Water colour pencil and space, plotting space through composition and structure

I found this exercise quite challenging (in a good way). I started by making some notes from the exercise text. Sometimes I find myself forgetting what the exercise asks for and can go off on a bit of a tangent. So from now on for exercises that ask us to think about more than one element as we make them I am going to scribble down a few pointers to remind myself what to include.


Notes and thumbs

I decided to work from a photo to save time. I trolled though a large library of photos from a walking holiday around the coastal path in west Cornwall. Although Most are landscape views only a handful fitted the criteria I was after. I was looking for an image with a strong sense of fore, mid and back ground. Also  I wanted the fore ground to frame the mid and back. However, on reflection I think I took this a little to literally and could have still used this device with a forming foreground object just on one side. Also it didn’t have to be a ‘looking through’ effect but a tree or building set back a little would have sufficed.

I select 4 posable images and first made some thumb nails to plan the fore middle and back drop. Once I had an idea of that I progresses o some colour small sketches with the water soluble pencils to start plotting colour schemes, Look at which colours advanced and receded and to remind myself of the capabilities of the pencils.


Sketch book studies

I looked at the pros and cons of 3 possible views with the small colour sketches. I selected a portrait view with a chimney stack in its centre in the diastase framed by rooks and grasses in the fore. I used this on as it was taken in the sunshine so has clear light and dark definition.


Clour blocking beginnings. I drew in a cross hair lines to add scaling up.

I began the A3 drawing on cartridge paper by plotting in light and dark in yellow and violet leaving the lightest areas white. Then it was just a case of filling in the detail. This I did with hatching and smoothing with water as well as using a variety of dash marks to represent the grasses. The brow dash marks far distance are supposed to represent roofs. Hopefully they do,not sure.

Successes and failures:

  • I kept in mind high detail in the fore and low in the back ground with mid detail in he mid ground. This has worked well.
  • The further back the more atmospheric perspective apples. I am happy that the bak ground is sufficiently lighter and appears to recede against the bright sharp fore. The mid ground was the biggest struggle. I am still not happy with it but fear making it darker would brig it to the fore and make it appear vertical. This is a draw back of working from a photo. The camera captured this hole area as black so I had limited info to work from. In life I know he shadow would have been alive with its own detail.
  • I didn’t use graphite pencils in the large drawing as I couldn’t see a way of making them work with my vision of the drawing. I avoided using black as I wanted the colours to do the talking. Pencils would have bought a more graphic feel I feel. I suppose I could have used them to help with the grass light and dark in the fore.
  • If I did this image again, say progress to a painting of it or a further drawing I would sample some clouds like the ones I was working with in the previous exercise. I think this would bring interest to the large space that id the sky. It would be a fun challenge to get them to balance with the fore but look as if they are in the distance. So light application and not to much detail.
  • I lost some of the fore ground grasses in the shadows which makes the tufts in the light lost the spiky grass shoots. To avoid this happening in future I should use masking fluid in the early stages on the small details that are to remain white, or light.

About Emma Perring

Artist, oil painter

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