Project Five – Exercise 2: Study of a townscape using line

During my sketchbook walk in the city of Leer around the port, I came across an interesting pattern of lines: a modern residential building at the waterfront. First I’ve seen only the repetitive diagonal and horizontal lines (small sketch in my A5 sketchbook). I went back for a more open viewpoint on the scene and than I discovered the kids playhouse on the wooden pier in front of the compared to it huge building. To the right a fence with its shadow pattern. I chose the playhouse as my focal point. Somehow it felt a bit displaced in this environment. The repetitive patterns engaging and leading the eye toward this focal point.

With my viewpoint settled I started with the preliminary drawing on double page of my A4 sketchbook.

Stefan513593  - project 5 - exercise 2 - sketchbook #1

Stefan513593 – project 5 – exercise 2 – sketchbook #1

It was a bright sunny day, and I felt uplifted and excited. Actually before I went to this scene I was interviewed by a local TV station about my urban sketching. There is so much engagement involved in outdoor drawing. By that I didn’t feel so lonely as a distant learner and far away from my coursemates.
Shapes: Building = straight broad lines, shadows = broad free strokes, nature/trees = free more abstract patterns, playhouse = joyful, color!, wood = shorter marks for wood perception, reflection on glass front= ink washes.

At the end I found that something was missing and I decided to add the left pillar of the diagonal as well. By that I could see that the eye is even more led towards the focal point. Interestingly I found out later that by that my focal point moved into the sweet spot of the golden rule 😉

Stefan513593  - project 5 - exercise 2 - sketchbook #2

Stefan513593 – project 5 – exercise 2 – sketchbook #2

Back home I worked from my sketches in ink with a dip pen (fine tip for most marks and a broad tip for the shadow and tree pattern). The front of the building is made out of glass and I added towards the end some light ink washes for a more believable perception of reflection. After applying the color marks on the playhouse to make it sticking out as my focal point, I incidentally spoiled a bit the red color. I left it and washed it slighty towards the left – a small hint of my joyful mood. This brought me the idea of joy creeping into the otherwise straight lines image. More to elaborate on in a larger and more thoroughly worked piece.

Stefan513593  - project 5 - exercise 2

Stefan513593 – project 5 – exercise 2



  • With my preliminary drawings and my notes on mood and marks I had enough information to complete this study. (Although only with my ‘mistake’ more thoughts came up – to be considered more upfront?)
  • Only with sketching/drawing on location I was to find an interesting focal point within an otherwise complex and overwhelming scene.
  • Overall the composition works fine for me. Compositional elements can emphasize an idea or a message.
  • The study reminded me of the work from Peter Doig ‘Briey (concrete cabin)’, 1992-6. Although this building is pretty new.

Next time:
– I was not sure about the brief as it stated to complete in line with a pen. I added only a few washes but next time I would like to work more in tonal differentiation.
– Considering conceptual thoughts in my mark making and how they can impact the picture.



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