Project Five – Exercise 1: Sketchbook of townscape drawings

For this exercise I went to the old downtown of the city Leer, close to the Northsea coast. It is an old sea town with many ships and boats. In the past there were fisherman living in the little houses. Now they are partly modernized – still residential buildings. On some buildings the very old bricks are exposed, with angles in all directions. All the buildings have some deviations from the perfect vertical and horizontal – quite usual in this region for older buildings (sea level, not very solid foundation)

It was an overcast day, but not too cold so I could comfortably sit with my stool in the small streets to take sketches from different viewpoints. Those streets are not main roads, but rather frequented by pedestrians, bicycles, and perhaps a few cars of the residents. While sketching nobody disturbed me, the few people moved along. First I walked through the streets till I came across a very old building with old bricks exposed. Some window openings were bricked up I assume long time ago, the façade tilting forward. I made from this my detailed sketch. The tonal sketch I made from a bit more distant viewpoint with two neighbor buildings. I exaggerated this a bit as due to the overcast weather most of the tonal values were in the mid tones range.

Stefan513593  - project 5 - exercise 1 - sketchbook #1

Stefan513593 – project 5 – exercise 1 – sketchbook #1

I continued with different viewpoint sketches along the street with different colored buildings  Those are plastered in modern time and painted, by that they are contrasting to the exposed old bricks buildings.  I walked around the corner with a traffic road to the right. Here the centered building is nicely distinguished through it orange/red color.

Stefan513593  - project 5 - exercise 1 - sketchbook #2

Stefan513593 – project 5 – exercise 1 – sketchbook #2

I went back and turned around another corner. I took as well another sketch with a more distant view on the street with my focused building at the left end. Another one with more focus on the right side of the street.

Stefan513593  - project 5 - exercise 1 - sketchbook #3

Stefan513593 – project 5 – exercise 1 – sketchbook #3

I returned to my focus building and the neighbor buildings, this time with a much closer view eliminating the street, most of the sky. I was quite happy with this viewpoint as it helped me to focus on the key elements of my impression of the location:
– very old bricks building
– repetitive patterns of windows
– different colored façade of the neighbor buildings and its contrast to the old bricks façade.

I went on to check again the format for my viewpoint and I definitely decided for a square format as this would enhance better the shapes of the buildings and the bricks as well as exclude incidental objects (too much sky, trees to the right). I did make a more texture sketch of the old bricks in wax resist technique with watercolor and some conte chalk markings at the end. I am pleased with the results and I would take this further for a larger scale work.

Stefan513593  - project 5 - exercise 1 - sketchbook #4

Stefan513593 – project 5 – exercise 1 – sketchbook #4

I continued with color sketches with watercolor and a quick wax resist technique for the old bricks. With that I obtained a good image of my view on location and my feeling towards the building.

Stefan513593  - project 5 - exercise 1 - sketchbook #5

Stefan513593 – project 5 – exercise 1 – sketchbook #5

At the end I would say that I have everything for a larger scale work: an overall impression from the location, shapes, color, mood. Overall I am quite impressed by this exercise and the power that gave me to funnel it down to a clear idea. I did not expect the result when I started. As the exercise stated it clearly: learning through practice, and only by drawing the excitement starts.

Learnings:

  • To discover the location through observation, sketching, and notetaking is a very practical and helpful way to get most of the location absorbed. With this I am really ready for a large scale work at home.

Next time:
– Thinking about working large scale on location (as Kate Downie).
– More sketchwalking – also with more tonal variation

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