Monday, 2 January 2012

Assignment 4 - Townscapes

Study of a townscape using line

I'd looked through this section before my visit to Italy and I was inspired by the student drawing in the instructions of rooftops which looks very Mediterranean. I was able to visit Lucca in Tuscany and from the bell tower in the town there is an amazing view of the rooftops of the town. I did some sketches and took some photos to work from later.

 The preliminary drawings in my sketchbook above were useful to get a feel for the drawing. My first attempt of the study I realised was too detailed and I hadn't concentrated on line rather than tone so I did another study of a different view and concentrated solely on line. I like both studies in the end but I prefer the more detailed one and I liked putting in an ink wash over the buildings and background. 

A4 Bockingford Nib pen and inks

A3 black pen

Developing a sketchbook of townscape drawings

For this exercise I chose a small local church which is very pretty. The brief mentions "the sense of place" and if the building does "evoke an emotional response". Not many buildings really do this so I thought I need to choose a building that had a bit of history and character. It's a small country church and it was quite deserted when I visited. It is surrounded by an old graveyard  with many fallen head stones and this adds to the spookiness.
At times the angles were a bit odd because the church grounds are on a hill and I had to look up towards it at times. I don't know much about architecture but it seemed to me quite odd, possibly because it is so small. The simple building has a central steeple or bell tower and there are beautiful windows on each side. It's made of sandstone and the bricks are large and unevenly spaced. I like the texture of these bricks and the pale colouring.
There were strong shadows and the right side of the building was in shade. The darkest tones were in these shadows while the roof and windows were the mid tones and the lightest tones were found at the front of the building.
A4 Sketchbook

A4 Sketchbook

A4 Sketchbook
I tried a few different angles but decided on the first one I chose. With regards to leaving some things out, I decided to omit the two benches at the front of the church and I also cut out some of the gravestones in front of the church as they just seemed to confuse things. I included one in the background and a small stone that was falling down as I felt this added to the feeling of history and age.

A4 pencil

A4 tissue paper on drawing paper with egg shell, mixed media
This last drawing above was a fun experiment with texture. I'd heard about using tissue paper stuck onto paper and then given a wash to describe the texture of stone. The ink wash sticks to the wrinkles in the tissue and gives the effect of cracks in the brickwork. I indicated with a black pen some of the bricks. I used charcoal to show the windows and doors, using oil pastels to keep the white surrounds clean(ish) before an ink wash. I think the tissue was really effective and I would use this again. I also tried out gluing broken egg shells on to the area in front of the building to create the effect of small stones. I wasn't very happy with this and it didn't do what I wanted it to. I think this would work better on a larger scale and if they were painted over with a coat of white acrylic or something before applying colour.

A limited palette study of a townscape from your sketches

I chose conte pastel pencils to do this. I chose the darkest brown I had (which wasn't very dark), an orangy red and black on white paper. In hindsight I should have chosen paper with more tooth for the pastels.

A4 conte pastels

I started using the black to define the lines and shapes and then I planned to use the brown for the darker tones and the orange for the lighter tones. Not sure it really worked out that way though as the brown wasn't dark enough. I definitely found myself looking for other colours to get more tonal variation so it was a good challenge to do this study. If I were to try again I would chose two colours that had more variation in tone and I would use less black to start off.

Drawing statues

I chose for this study my favourite piece of sculpture "Motherless" by George Lawson which is at the Kelvingrove Museum in Glasgow. I've been visiting the Kelvingrove since I was a small child and I've always been drawn to this. It is an incredibly poignant piece, I've always found it incredible how the sculptor could instill so much emotion out of stone.

A4 Sketchbook

I concentrated on the overall outlines and tried to focus on the negative shapes too. This was easier that with another object like a plant or something because the solidity of the statue contrasted so much with its surroundings. I was surprised at how the drawing ended up looking like a statue rather than real people sitting on a chair.

Check and Log

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

The closer objects should have more detail. I've used the black to show individual blades of grass at the front of the drawing at the bottom of the gravestones. I should of however not used so much black on the group of trees behind the church. They maybe should have been brown. I used the brown to describe the forms of the evergreen trees on the left side and only used black for the trunks that are in deep shadow. I've left the horizon vague and left than in the paler tone to indicate this is further away.

2. How did you use your preliminary sketches in your sketchbook give you enough information for you final pieces of work?

My preliminary sketches allowed me to work out the best compositions and they showed which angles were too difficult to show on paper. Sketching helps me practise the object I am drawing, without these preliminary sketches I wouldn't be able to work out the problems in the subject that I didn't even realise. For example, in the sketches of the church I struggled with the angles of the bell tower, so for the final piece I'd worked out how to do this.

It also give you a chance to work out what things add to the composition and what things complicate it and could be left out.

Additionally I was able to try different media to figure out what was the best one to use for the subject in my drawing of the rooftops.

3. In what ways is the drawing from this project better or worse than the last?

I wasn't sure what project to compare this to so I'll compare it to both Perspective and to Landscape drawing.

I think the perspective drawing has helped remind myself of the rules and hopefully this project should be better because of that. It has certainly made it much easier to complete. I'm glad to say that sketching buildings has now become a pleasure compared to a nightmare previously mainly because I can now figure out the angles much easier using the rules of perspective.

If I compare this project to the landscape drawing section it's more difficult as these two subjects are very different. The angles of buildings required me to pay a bit more attention (in the final pieces certainly) while the landscape drawings involved more undefined greenery and vague fields. I think this section has been better because I enjoyed applying the rules of perspective to the drawings and this helped me get a more accurate picture of what I was drawing.

4. Is the scale of the buildings right? Make notes on what worked and what didn't.

I have a tendency to exaggerate the angles I think and this has given a kind of "fisheye" view of the buildings sometimes (the limited palette study) so in thin respect the scale has sometimes been off. It was hard in my rooftops drawings to get the scale right particularly the towers but in my final pieces I think it seems ok. If I give myself enough time to measure properly I can get the scale correct.

5. Have you captured the colour and atmosphere in your studies? How did you do this?

The monochrome pencil study of the church has worked well to capture the atmosphere I think. This is a subject that lends itself well to black and white probably due to our learned associations with spooky movies and haunted graveyards at night. If I where to do this in colour I would keep them very muted.

The colour studies of the rooftops was done so fast it's fairly rubbish and I only used one colour on the roofs when in actual fact there are many colours. I used ink washes in the first rooftop piece and I think this has created some atmosphere.

I'm quite happy with the colours of the extra drawing I did using the tissue paper. The different inks have created quite a good mottled effect that mimics stone. The mottled effect makes the stone look old and therefore more atmospheric.

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