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Tuesday, 27 July 2010


Event: Outdoor sketching, nr Lindisfarne NE coast

Date: July 23rd/4th/5th 2010

Activity: Brief sketches of coast in conte & pen, photos taken for ref in studio

Reflection: Like the conte light sketch of Embleton Bay and pen sketch of cliffs at Dunstanburgh castle but needed light gouache wash in areas to capture tonal ranges/ colours/ erratic patterning of cliff faces. Also needed slightly wider range of resources to try to capture the essence of the places -sky, sea in partic.
As usual, tried to draw too much - maybe too wide a sketch at times rather than reference marks and a cleaner focus in on point of interest. Not as accurate as wanted in mark making - no sandpaper with me!

Friday, 16 July 2010

Developing range of tones

Have never had enough sketches that help to scaffold my painting of landscapes in past. Have undertaken some studies in several mediums and these have helped. However I can become too 'tight' and detailed at times thereby losing the vibrancy and dynamism that attracted me to the subject/object.
Looked RA painter Ken Howard's 'Dora,summer interior, Cornwall, 2009 (Image pasted in Exhibition Visits logbook) and 'Silver still life', Chelsea, at

Evaluation: counted tones and tints where light and shade is cast in partic and also looked to where the same tones and tints used throughout painting. At least 5 - 7 tones with succint, powerful and at times subtle use of contrast. Just delicious use of paint.Reminds me that the juxtaposition of tones is a key factor.
Next steps:

  • draw many more objects and still subjects in sketchbook (tend to use A1 for fugures as it's effective for me) to develop tonal range so that I interpret and represent more precisely rather than rely on lines where tones would say more.
  • look again at tonal range used in assignment painting after a short period of time has elapsed.
  • Ask myself if juxtaposition of tones and highlights could be bettered.

Wednesday, 14 July 2010

Sketch 7

Used the side of charcoal here so more or less achieved the 4 tones. Not the most interesting sketch though.

Sketch 2

Like the angle.

Sketching from different angles in 4 tones

It does make a positive difference to the composition when one takes the time to reflect on angle, level and distance when selecting a viewpoint to sketch. Faster sketching does enable improved discrimination and more interesting shape(s) because I am forced to select quickly. I think this helps my hand-eye-arm agility too because I step back and look and re-look more swiftly, then match with the charcoal faster.

Sketch 1 too detailed and too many tones tight despite pulling back. Old habits and all that.
Sketch 2 diagonal angle, makes more interest. Slightly loser sketching but still more than 4 tones I think. Next steps- quicker, brief sketch?
Sketch 3 Much better -closer to 4 tones and just below eye level seems to draw viewer in well
Sketch 4 Again closer to 4 tones and fairly interesting

In two A3 sketches (5 and 6 )I have concentrated on tones to hone in on requirements more precisely with some success (where I've used tiny shapes of the darkest tone.) Have managed to veer away from detail better than in prev. ones. Next steps- must try using the sides of charcoal to achieve a tonal drawing without lines.

Sketch 7 Much better and I think I have achieved the 4 tones reasonably and I could take out the lines completely here.