Project Three – Exercise 1: Developing your studies

After the various researches I was happy to continue with drawing on large scale.  My head was so full of input that I was looking forward to put some of them into practice. I went through my sketchbook studies and one drawing from the sketchbook walk got my great atttention #1: ‘At the end of town‘ with the sign ‘No Entry’.  I went back on location at different times of the day to see whether some changes are happening that I could include into my drawing (especially cloud formations). As we live on flat land I definetely wanted to include an expansive cloudy sky – just like the dutch landscape painters from the 17th century. I felt that a blue sky would be too ‘boring’ to draw.

Stefan513593 - project3 - exercise 1

Stefan513593 – project3 – exercise 1

After several more sketches on compositions and format I decided to go for a vertical format to emphasize the upwards movement of the tree alongside the sign post. The slight bending of the post and the tree in the foreground was so compelling to me. From my research on compositions and some underlying theories and hints I was careful to place the sign in the sweet spot of the rule of third and the horizon above one third from the bottom.  Some other sight lines are around the center. I cut off some shapes at the picture edge (tree trunk, sign post) to force a more intimate perception and closeness to the viewer.

As drawing medium I wanted to work more with two materials I did not use so much till now: conte chalk and watercolor (besides for wash on wax resist technique). I ensured that chalk can behave similar to charcoal on a gesso primed surface for texture. I found out that a smoother surface is better fitting for chalk than for charcoal (especially for the sign post and the clouds). Learnings from assignment 2: going directly for a strong support: hot press (for the smoother surface compared to cold press) water color paper in 300g/m² from a 1.4m wide roll. I cut out a A1 format. Actually I even liked to draw on A0, perhaps something to consider for future works. I placed the paper with tape (something new for me) on a large board on an easel – drawing standing and vertical the whole time.

My drawing tools: brushes (2″, 1/2″ and one of size 8), broad side and tip of chalk (black, brown, sepia, white), tissue (for tonal modulation of clouds).

I intended to get strong textures for the trees and the field, therefore I primed those areas first with gesso and keeping the smooth texture of the paper for the sky, meadow and sign post. On those areas I applied with bold brush strokes watercolour before continuing with line drawing in chalk.  The sign post, right tree trunk and the clouds are heavily modulated with chalk. On the clouds I also used a tissue for smoother tonal gradation and volume perception  On the field I continued with some more detailed shadow marks to indicate the rough structure and the earthy lumps. This work reminded me of the work of Vija Celmins especially her work ‘Irregular desert‘, 1973. Here I experienced the challenge to modulate smaller objects (earth lumps) on the rough gesso primed surface. Now I understood more clearly why she is so anxious to smoothen out the paper surface as much as possible (spraying of acryl ground). I think I will experiment more with such different kinds of primings.

For the background objects (house, cars, receding trees) I made simple line marks and some light washes. I worked out the left trees rather simplified with watercolour and chalk with some hatching – ensuring that they do not attract too much attention.

Here some closeups to visualise different textures and patterns:

Stefan513593 - project3 - exercise 1 - closeups

Stefan513593 – project3 – exercise 1 – closeups

I am quite happy with the process and result of partly primed paper surface for texture creation. The final picture conveys the ‘crispy’ atmosphere  that I observed on location. I think this is because of some blue of the sky shining through as well as clear shapes and texture in the foreground.


  • Working on the field area is already a complex endeavour. I was happy that I started more simple with rather abstract patterns and moving on with detailed shadow markings. Overall I kept it more indicative, perhaps I could have pushed it more.
  • Outlining the overall compositional elements,  sight lines, and vanishing points, simplifies the following drawing (more to discover for me in project four). By that I could than pay more attention to the individual texture and patterns in the different areas.
  • Working on the sky with the clouds (around half of the picture area) highlighted to me the fact that it would be important to establish an overall compositional structure for the sky. In the process of drawing I felt at times quite overwhelmed. It felt like the clouds moving over my head  – an interesting experience that I will make a note for future large scale works.
  • Working heavily with chalk produces quite some dust that I had to blow away from the surface. Working vertically helped to keep other areas rather clean.

Next time:
– Developing further more abstract marks and to see how I can push the atmospherical perception further
– To experiment further with different kinds of rough and smooth priming and considering directionality of markings left in the gesso ground (see works of Vija Clemens)
– Discovering more the physical space of sky and clouds and see how I can include this feeling an perception in works.
– I kept around the sign some white space to push for a more iconic appeal. At the end I felt that together with the left trees a darker tonal value could have pushed the overall visual effect more. Overall I think that I made the marks on the left trees too tentatively.

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