Part 3: Project 5: Exercise 3: A limited palette study


Were you able to convey a sense of depth with your limited colour palette?

The short answer is yes!

From black through all the tonal ranges of red… and pressing harder or softer and mixing with white right up to pure white you have all the tonal ranges anybody could want.

And if a set of pencils from 4H to 6B can seem like a box of colours adding red gives you a whole new dimension!!!

Aerial perspective gives depth (as well as linear perspective) and shadows give 3D modelling.

The issue is not whether it is possible but the restrictions of my skill and of using conte on drawing paper.

Wonderful things could be achieved with these three colours but you almost need to get it right first time. The eye is very, very good at picking up a wrong perspective line and with such a beautiful chalky subtle medium having to use them like pencils was frustrating and difficult.

Over working quickly fills the bite on the paper and after an initial overdrawing/mixing more alterations just go a horrible grey colour.

The bits I like the best were the chimney pots:


A couple of quick marks (SIMPLIFICATION AGAIN!!!) and these have the look and feel of chimney pots!

They are fresh and clean and work.

So, I think my problem with this task was it has lots of perspective lines which I had to work to get right… constantly blowing the chalk away and making fine adjustments… most of the detail had to be reworked too so looks tight.

Also I pinned up my preliminary sketch and balanced the book on my knee. Which was good… I liked sketching my sketch! It made me work intuitively and simplify again. But the small size of paper and only having one hand – I was holding my sketchbook with the other – was frustrating.

What I really wanted was to be at an easel and free. To use my whole body to draw.

It was a very unhappy mix of working in a tight way with a loose medium.

Maybe I should have torn out some pages… put them on the easel and just done a whole set of very quick sketches not worrying if I got the perspective exactly right?


This has come up before but different media are better for different things. So for perspective line heavy drawings and detailed work small paper and conte crayons are difficult.

I would think they’re better suited to tonal rather than line work… on bigger pieces of paper… and on proper pastel paper. But, they would be brilliant for quick sketches of people or landscapes… an odd house or a castle would be fine as you don’t have lots of perspective lines all relating to each other.

And you’ve (ideally) got to get it right first time as conte crayons don’t tolerate re-drawing very well.

I think you could do a good street scene with conte crayons but you might have to go semi abstract on a bigger piece of paper and not worry about getting all your perspective lines right: windows, rooftops, paving stones, doorways etc.

But then, if you’re skilled enough, at an easel, and have a nice big bit of paper maybe you can just do it intuitively??!!!!!





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