Part 3: Project 2 (Landscape): Excercise 2: Sketchbook walk.

Wow!!! There’s such a lot of information in a landscape!

I followed the instruction and drew rapidly without rubbing anything out. And tried to find a point of interest for each drawing.

All these sketches were done on the same day, Tuesday 21st June 2017, in Fen Drayton near Cambridge, between 1pm and 4pm and then 5pm to 6pm. Each took about one hour.

There was no wind, barely a cloud in the sky… sweltering hot… 31 degrees and bright sunshine.

Here goes…

(1) My Garden


2B pencil.

Light coming from the left fairly high up. The chair is the main point of interest.

This is mainly foreground (the slabs) and middle ground (the garden) with hardly any background… just the house roof to the left and a tree.

I found this very interesting. How the leaves fall along the branches and how each tree is like a song – they have their own repeating patterns, shapes and tonal values. So when I was doing the trees it was more like I was drawing visual music than a solid object.

It was frustrating that I had to use line instead of tone for the tree leaves in the near middle ground. But working at speed without my glasses line was the only way… though I tried to shade up to the line so the leaves then had a tonal value in their own right.

For the complex foliage in the foreground I was fascinated by just how the leaves, flowers, stems etc fell and intertwined; and the tonal values of one against another.

(2) The Lake



This is always my first stop on my daily walk… I have a mile walk that ends just before this but when I have time I go the extra 30 yards and stand and admire the view!

I loved doing this.

The point of interest is meant to be the sign which reads: Private fishing/No swimming. But it was difficult with the charcoal to leave the white letters and then it got covered up with grass seed heads.

From a composition perspective, I think it would have been better if the sign had been more readable but it still adds interest.

It was very interesting… with the trees in the distance it felt like sculpting. Adding charcoal, removing it with my finger like shaping clay, and the black marks like the little clay tool.

The foreground was more like building layers of foliage… for flower heads and seed heads I used a putty rubber. All the foliage merges so it’s like a noisy orchestra – and lots of tone – it’s not really a conscious process I’m in the moment till I feel it’s right.

Middle ground is the water… this wasn’t wight! There were swans on it which I would have loved to draw but by the time I got round to it the drawing was nearly finished and it was impossible to darken it and keep all the trees and foliage I’d drawn into it. So I just tried to capture the surface.

(3) Doubling back on myself 50 yards and there’s the guided bus stop.


2B pencil.

Hurray!!! This has a foreground with daisies and leaves… a middle ground where we lost the detail but keep the flowers… a distance wrapped in a hedge and big trees… and a point of interest!

I can’t say anything about this apart from I’d love to take it home and paint it!

(4) Lake viewing point with bike


Conte crayon.

Sun lower and straight towards me.

So, I’ve had an hours break… cycled into St Ive’s and had my hair cut… and an ice cream!

This is different as it’s now 5 o’clock so the sun isn’t as fierce and we have the first rumblings of cloud blotting the horizon.

My first problem was that there was no point of interest (I’m learning!), so I leant my bike up against the rail.

The foreground was boring as it was just sandy but the bike shadow gave it some interest and the plants by the rail just about count as foreground.

I found the conte crayon quite hard to use. It wasn’t fluid like the charcoal and wasn’t precise and controllable like the pencil. But it was nice and black so I persevered.

Strangely I like the geometric shapes of the bike and the way the water frames it. I can’t decide whether not having the horizon is frustrating or enticing… the lake leads us out of the drawing and I’d quite like to go explore but then I can’t and I’m pulled back to the bike… maybe I should jump on and ride off!!!

(The black bird was a swan but had hard shadow and the dark water around it made its plumage glow. So I thought I’d have a go… more practice needed as it turned into a black bird!)


(1) There too much information to include it all.

(2) Shadows and tones make it work… and in the foreground significant detail which you can (subconsciously apply) to the rest of the foliage.

(3) The trees are like songs… it’s not like drawing ‘things’. They have shapes and patterns and dance.

(4) Water can provide a negative space.

(5) A point of interest immediately gives the drawing ‘human’ meaning. Emotionally the garden without the chair; the lake view without the sign; the flowery field and trees without the station and the lake without the bike would have been much less meaningful.

It’s not just visually – there’s plenty of visual information!!!!! But it gives the drawing a human content.

I’m sure an animal could be used as a point of interest (though it would produce a different kind of drawing) or a stunning natural feature like a waterfall or mountain view with lake… but again it wouldn’t be the same.

And I suspect a lot of expressionistic technique would go into enhancing the pure landscape and giving it majesty.




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