Part Three – Assignment 3 – Outdoor scene

My assignment piece is covering a location near our home. First I strolled around to find an appealing scene. Actually I found two and did some sketches on both. I came to the decision on one scene due to its more mystic appeal and with a more variety of different textures and patterns. The other I could envision for a future painting.

‘Circle of time’:

Stefan513593 - part 3 - assignment 3

Stefan513593 – part 3 – assignment 3


  • Energy and atmosphere of the location
    – Serenity (relaxing), mystic (graveyard, old building), eternity (graveyard), aged (tree), refreshing (green leaves and light)
  • Conceptual thoughts:
    – Building on strong contrasts (old vs new, light vs shadow)
    – Bold and more detail
    – Time passing by / circle of time
    – Freshness vs aged
  • Contextual reference:
    I took some input from George Shaw (ink/watercolor drawings), Kate Downie (ink and paint combination), and Peter Doig (expressive leave marks).

My working progress:

My material:
– Cold press watercolor paper (300 g/sqm) for better texture and grip
– Wet medium ink (brown and black) for building patterns and bold shadows (shining through the trees at 7pm with sun low)
– Charcoal as dry medium along with a primed surface for texture creation of the tree trunk. Also for placing the outlines of the composition.
– Wet medium gouache for fresh and more expressive marks (leaves, tree), to add color and as contrasting marks.

My working method:
– I worked on the floor as this allowed me to better work with ink and brushes (vertical would mean that ink flows down over the paper). Also I felt working on the floor gives me more freedom to act than working on a table.

Stefan513593 - assignment 3 - progress

After applying water (to avoid curling after applying wet medium) and taping it to my board, I put the composition in charcoal on the paper. I out white gouache on the tree trunk to work after drying in charcoal on the texture.

Stefan513593 - assignment 3 - progress #2

Working intensively and in multiple layers in ink and with different sized of brushes. I added the major shadow shapes on the ground.

Stefan513593 - assignment 3 - progress #3

.. continuation and working on surrounding space

Stefan513593 - assignment 3 - progress #4


.. working more on negative space, some finer lines on receding buildings with dip pen, and starting in gouache for the expressive marks (leaves)

Stefan513593 - assignment 3 - progress #5

I worked deeper on the tree and fine tuned the other areas for clarifying the picture and checking with my intention (e.g. highlighting some tree branches to bring them forward).

Overall I am pleased with the composition and the visual effect – a combination of delicacy and boldness. The shadow light pattern on the ground and wall/trunk gives the image a more mystic, expressive appeal.


  • My intense preliminary studies as well as some notes on location and concept helped me to find the right composition and materials
  • My contextual researches helped me to get a better understanding of visual effects.
  • Initially I thought to go for gouache and charcoal as in my larger piece in project 3. After elaborating ink and brush technique I found a better visual effect fitting quite well to the location.
  • After my earlier struggles with ink and tonal gradations, I am happy and confident that with this work I achieved a much better understanding especially considering the multi layer approach.

Next time:
– I reworked the main tree, perhaps overworked. Not so sure.
– Rethinking sky color: the more brown color in the preliminary study made the picture more monochrome – a different overall visual perception (more aged, less ‘fresh’). In the final picture I opted for blue to emphasize ‘freshness’ and contrast. Anyway, to think more about in the future.

My preliminary studies:

  • Finding a scene: I strolled around the scene, checking various viewpoints, and with more distant and closer views. Even I went at different day time and weather conditions back to the location to better understand shadow patterns and to feel more about the energy of the place.
Stefan513593 - assignment 3 - preliminary studies

Stefan513593 – assignment 3 – preliminary studies

  • Finding a composition: From my initial sketches I looked closer at the major shapes in the composition, about what might be more unexpected. I reduced it down to three options:
    – ‘Looking through’  – the entry of the tower with rather parallel perspective,
    – ‘Tower and trees’  – with more focus on pattern contrast tree trunk and bricks, and
    – ‘Sight line’  – with more linear and possible atmospheric perspective.
    Further elaboration with my conceptual thoughts (passing of time, fresh -> aged -> eternity) and a pleasing composition that would let the eye the viewer move around the key elements (tree -> fresh leaves -> entry  of building -> towards tombstone / eternity). Also I checked whether a vertical or horizontal format would be best, finally I decided for a square format as I could play with this format more with the ‘circle of time’
    I checked regularly perspective lines and did a larger study clarifying eve level, the three vanishing points, and to get an understanding about the atmosphercial perspective towards the right side.
Stefan513593 - assignment 3 - preliminary studies 2

Stefan513593 – assignment 3 – preliminary studies 2

  • Material and support testing: I was looking for a medium or combination that would allow me to convey the atmosphere of the location as well as my conceptual thoughts:
    – At the end I decided to go for ink (brown for building and black for shadows), texturized surface with gouache for the tree trunk, gouache for the leaves to convey ‘freshness’
    – I checked paper surface (rough or smooth) but definitely rejected smooth as it did not give me my intended visual effects
Stefan513593 - assignment 3 - preliminary studies 3

Stefan513593 – assignment 3 – preliminary studies 3





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