Expanse. Part 3. Project 1. Trees. Exercise 3. Study of several trees.

Spent one or two hours on this exercise. Work in a wood or study a group of trees. You might work in a variety of media… Look for an interest point, i.e. a path to develop perspective, or strong contrasts of light and shade, or the dynamic form of the trees themselves. A bank or rocks could form part of your study.

Try to work in broad tonal areas, look for strong light or dark or intense areas of colour, especially in autumn, or brightness of moss in winter. Tree trunks will dominate in either dark or pale tones.

Your drawing should suggest form and mass, don’t get stuck with detail. Use watercolour washes to map out tones. Leaf litter in autumn make vivid colours….. If woodlands and trees overwhelm you then ‘zoom in’ to help focus on an area of interest.


I made many sketches and drawings of woodlands near where I live. Here they are, these were from my woodland walk, as I sketched many trees and path ways which I though would help me with this exercise too.



I also made sketches of a group of trees, covering two pages in my sketch book. I concentrated on their shape rather than the backgrounds.



Whilst in the wood I made some paintings in watercolour and pencil of some other views of the wood. I wanted to show the light coming from behind the trees, making them very dark. I think the watercolour pencil on the textured watercolour paper gave the trunks some textures.

Trees in watercolour pencils and pens
Trees in watercolours

As I moved around the wood, I decided to quickly draw and paint this view of a some trees with a strong area of light shining through the woodland.

Watercolour and ink on paper.

As my time in the wood shows it was a day of strong light. All my paintings and drawings show the trees very dark with light behind them.

Q. What techniques did you use to distinguish one species from another?

A. I only used pencil, watercolours and pens to draw the trees with. The thin black pens emphasized some of the slimmer trees. I painted by ‘dropping in’ wet into wet watercolour paints to make the feeling of foliage shapes.

Q.How did you convey the mass of foliage and space between?

A. I either scribbled or painted light washes to convey the bushes. I left the white of paper or painted with lighter washes to show the gaps of light,

Q. How did you handle the light on the different parts of the tree?

A. When I was drawing I left spaces or gaps in my mark making lines where the light was on the trunks.

Q. Did you manage to select and simplify?

A. Yes I did, as there was a lot of extra foliage and branches, I decided to concentrate on the shape of the trees and the light.

I think I could have drawn in more detail and with more energy. The woods I chose to walk through, have not turned into these wonderful autumn colours yet. So another painting to convey these would be a way to go.

However I really like my loose blue watercolor painting of the trees. The paint effect made the trees look as if they were moving and hence making the light bounce around too.

Back at home I decided to experiment with mono printing. I rolled out some ink onto a glass sheet, and placed my paper face down on the ink and drew in pencil on the back a quick sketch of my woodland scene.

This first print took on too much ink, but left a small light area on one of the trees, which is wonderful. Here it is.

Print No 1. Mono print on paper

This is the second print which is clearer. You can see that I used scribbling to describe the middle ground foliage and kept the trees blank without texture, except the ink pressure has made ‘textures’ on the surfaces.

Print No 2. Mono print on paper.



Expanse. Part 3. Project 2. Landscape. Exercise 2. Sketchbook walk. Exercise 3. 360 degree studies.

Go for a walk in your local park, around your garden or somewhere you normally walk. Find a view you like or familiar with and use your view finder to help you focus on a point of interest…….

Make four sketches during your walk. Draw rapidly, don’t rub out mistakes. Draw over them and re-state what you want to depict. Try to capture the idea of what you see through drawing; think of your sketching as taking notes. Try to get everything in, no matter how roughly. Fast drawing helps you to concentrate and see more clearly, shutting out unnecessary ‘noise’

Make written notes;

  • the time, weather, conditions, light direction and shadow
  • the main point of interest such as a building, gate, trees
  • the division of space into the foreground, middle ground and background
  • pattern and textures, repetition of large and small shapes, tonal values etc


On the 7th October I took a walk, firstly down Marshalswick Lane towards our local shops. It was a very bright sunny day, about late morning time. Dividing up a sheet of A3 size paper, I drew quickly with a soft pencil, which can be see below. I put my little sketches inside drawn boxes, to help me focus on the areas I was looking at.

As it was quite sunny there were lots of deep contrasting shadows and bright light on the buildings. As the morning progressed it became overcast and in my last sketch I lost those strong light and dark areas. When I got home, I quickly drew St Mary’s Church in ink on a coffee toned paper, as I didn’t want to lose that wonderful feeling of the light I had experienced outside earlier.

St Mary’s Church in ink on coffee ground paper.

I did an additional walk the next day, but to the Heartwood Forest and made a further four sketches in pencil on paper. The weather was good, but the sky was overcast and featureless it was about 2 pm.

Heartwood Forest in pencil with a tree outside St Mary’s Church

These sketches above, gave me the opportunity to explore scribbling to express the foliage and start to describe foreground, middle ground and background. The bottom right drawing is of a large tree outside St Mary’s Church.

I was quite keen to do some more ‘walks’ and on the 10 -13th Oct I went back to the Heartwood Forest and Jersey Farm Woodland Park (as they are near each other) to look for different views that included foreground, middle ground and background. The weather was cloudy but a warm day.

Here are my sketches.

I love these sketches as I have worked quickly, using rapid dashed marks, and shading to define the woodland trees and bushes. I drew in portrait and landscape formats to gain a better idea of composition.

I was totally ‘lost’ in my drawing exercise, and the marks I made seem to reflect my energy and visual stimulus. It’s probably why I went back to make more drawings. I hope to use them for additional work.

360 degree Studies of Heartwood Forest view

Heartwood Forest view
Heartwood Forest view
Heartwood Forest view

I did a series of small sketches by turning around, and drawing inside boxes to capture the whole scene.

Intimacy. Part 2. Assignment two. ‘Harold’s Chair’

This assignment is designed to pull together the fine observation and practice that you’ve done on this part of the course. You’re free to to chose your own source material and media provided you take into account the factors listed below.

In the work you produce now must demonstrate a growing understanding of;

  • the use of colour in drawing
  • the most appropriate medium for the subject
  • composition and context
  • mark-making and contrasts of line and tone
  • accurate and expressive depiction of form
  • experimentation with ideas and method

Planning and reflection

For this assignment I decided to draw an image from one of my quick sketch book drawings and ink paintings of Harold’s Chair.

I also made further drawings of the dining room, that stores Harold’s chair, I wanted to show the light and dark areas of the room. I drew these in very loose inky washes with quick dark lines.

In addition I took a group of photographs to show the layout of the room. These photos were glued together. I was thinking of drawing the whole room, but felt it was too much to do, hence I focused on one part, Harold’s chair.

Sketch book notes and photos

I was also influenced by the art of William Scott, who drew and painted common household items and created open still life images. So taking further references from my sketch book I decided to place a few objects on a round table next to Harold’s chair for my drawing.

I made some quick sketches of the round table to use in my final drawing.

Sketch book work

I decided to keep my drawing simple, so the composition is based on the rule of thirds with the chair being the main focus. And the emphasis on light and dark areas in the room. Including my sketches I also sat in the room to draw and use the chair as additional reference.

My choice of materials were;

  • coloured pencils
  • soft drawing pencil
  • Clairefontaine ‘Paint On’, 250 g/m Natural paper, for multi-techniques. I like this paper as it’s smooth and takes coloured crayons really well, plus it is a lovely natural colour which helps, as I find white a harsh base to work on.

Here is my final drawing of Harold’s Chair. This chair is an old Victorian seat, with a high back covered in a throw and cushions. My father-in-law was Harold, and in his later life he spent many hours asleep in this room on this chair, with a blanket over his knees. So the room is just as important as the chair, he also loved apples from the garden and the green stool was from his work shop, so I included these items too. This room is not totally dark, but had a light source from the open door. The corner was in shadow. I have tried to express the light and dark with my shading and crosshatching. I wanted to keep the drawing fairly loose, using the colours that are in the room itself. Even though I used the rule of thirds as my composition base, the drawing seemed to evolve as I sketched. I now have two dark areas dividing the picture plane, the shadow and the curtain, but I feel it works as it gives interest to the scene. I wanted to tell a simple story with things.

I added the round table, which I inherited with the chair and placed three apples, plus a small white jug, which was mine, I needed to add something of mine that I did not inherit, something new so to speak. The conservatory is a light place, so I kept my marks light and soft. I used scribbles for the green in he garden area. Finally on the wall is a picture I drew of Harold many years age, which I had to include, it seems like he is looking down at his chair.

I know my drawing has flaws, some of the form is not quite there, and I have flatten out the table surface, but I like that. I think drawing has to have some feeling of time and place, and this room holds a lot of memories for myself and that’s why I chose to make a drawing of it.

Harold’s Chair

As an experiment I have also drawn ‘Harold’s Chair’ in pink ink using a Reed pen, on A 3 sized paper. I really like it. I wanted to convey the light and dark, the line and the sense of absence.

‘Harold’s Chair in pink ink on paper

Assessment Criteria Reflection Thoughts

Demonstration of technical and visual skills- materials, techniques, observational skills, visual awareness, design and compositional skills (35%)

I am able to chose materials and use drawing techniques to help me describe my work. I have already explained my composition ideas in my reflection notes. I chose to draw in coloured crayons as it’s a material I don’t often use. Through my inky drawings and those in my sketch book, I was keen to observe my home in open line drawings and tonal sketches.

For all of Part Two, Intimacy I have explored a wide range of materials, engaged in different drawing techniques and tested my observational skills, by drawing shells, stones and my home. Hopefully I have been successful with covering all the requirements in the exercises.

I do rely on using my digital camera to help develop, and record my work, and I have tried videoing .

Quality of outcome- content, application of knowledge, presentation of work in a coherent manner, discernment, conceptualisation of thoughts, communication of ideas (20%)

I am able to research artists and use their ideas and techniques for my work. I often read and listen, on the radio a variety of art programmes and art articles found on line or in books. In my sketch books I like to draw and make a variety of images to help my thinking and personal development. I took on a drawing challenge, of 50 Drawings in four hours, which was very interesting, testing of my creativity and speed of drawing skill.

However I do find the final Assignment difficult as I have too many ideas, and feel I need some extra outside input to help me refine my thoughts. Ask for more help !!

Demonstration of creativity- imagination, experimentation, invention, development of a personal voice (25%)

I think I am a very creative person. Drawing indoors is a big leap for me, as I have spent years outside drawing the landscape. My drawing has started to change, to a more loose and fluid mark. I am now exploring different formats, and shapes in the presentation of my art.

Context reflection- research, critical thinking ( learning logs and, at second and third level, critical reviews and essays (20%)

Keeping a Learning log is new to me, and I am teaching myself something new every time I use it !!  I have not written any essays yet for Part two, but have made notes about artists and their work which is in both log and sketch books.


Expanse. Part 3. Project 2. Landscape. Artist research, Vija Celmins. Exercise. Cloud formations and tone.

Artist Research Vija Celmins  (born 1938) Celmins works in a slow meticulous and photo realistic way. Using found photos and objects as her reference material. Her work has no horizon, reference points, depth or emotion. She paints, draws with graphite, and prints pictures of spiders webs, star fields, moon surface, rocks, ocean and waves, usually in monochromatic tones. In addition she is know for making sculptures of rocks she collected on a walk. Her other print making methods are drypoint, lithographs and mezzotints. She has said;  ‘I’m not a confessional artist, you know. I don’t ever reveal what I am feeling in my work, or what I think about the president. I use nature. I use found images’ Vija Celmins.

(from http://www.tate.org.uk/art/artists/vija-celmins-2731/explore-art-vija-celmins)

Exercise 1. Cloud formations and tone, in this exercise you’ll concentrate on drawing clouds in the same way you concentrated on trees……………..use a variety of mediums to draw with, observe weather conditions….. look at light direction…..movement……draw quickly to capture the contrasts and tonal effects……………………….

Here are my cloud studies from my small sketch book page. I spend a weekend in South Yorkshire sketching the afternoon clouds over the soft hills. I used pencil and coloured pencils, my work was soft and gentle as the clouds drifted across the sky. These clouds were mainly Cumulus clouds with some long Cirrius clouds too. The weather was warm but very overcast, with low clouds often back lit too.


I also drew clouds over The Heartwood Forest, St Albans, it was a fine sunny day with large flat white skies plus some small Cumulus clouds moving from left to right. the light was mainly above with the classic dark under the cloud.


I drew some clouds from my living room window as it was a very windy day and the clouds were quite large and moving quickly, which is difficult to draw. So I captured them in ink, working speedily.

Clouds over St Albans in ink

Using my pencil studies and some found photos of The Heartwood Forest, I created some pastel images on pastel paper of some larger clouds.


Finally, using again my Yorkshire drawings and photos, I painted these images in oil paints on canvases to capture some of the colour and texture in the sky.


Reflection.   I found drawing and painting the sky a very abstract exercise to do. But I loved it. It was challenging to make tonal shapes and forms of the clouds, as they were moving all the time. But working quickly with a soft medium helped me to draw either in lines or using soft shading techniques. I can understand why Celmins draws nature in a photo realistic way as it’s quite compelling and makes you look at every detail. In some of my sketches I did rub out and re-draw as it helped with the construction of the shapes. I also drew with coloured pencil which made me draw in a light gentle way, hence my photos of my drawings have not picked up all the light lines and shades. Using ink helped me to express movement in the clouds, as did pastels. Oil paints took longer for me to construct the cloud shapes, but gave me the chance to blend the colours.

In addition I have painted some thundery clouds with Gouache paints and some with white pen on black paper.



Expanse. Part 3. Project 1. Trees. Exercise 1 Sketching individual trees. Exercise 2 Larger observational study of an individual tree

Find a tree that interests you in a park, garden or anywhere you feel comfortable sitting or standing. Look out from ground a ground floor window if that suits you better. You’ll need to be some distance from a big tree.

Do around four preliminary drawings- divide your paper up into four landscape/portrait boxes. Use a soft 2B-6B pencil, charcoal or pen/ink.

  • Draw a simple outline of the tree’s overall shape
  • Draw basic shapes in outline, or shaded areas that describe how the forms in different masses around the trees
  • Draw the outlines of the trunk and the main branches of the tree that you can see
  • Draw with lots of scribbled outlines or shade roughly to try and indicate something of the texture of the foliage


For this exercise I decided to work from my garden.

Here are my quick sketches of trees in my garden and our next door neighbour’s garden. They are mainly in outline with some extra lines to explain texture and shapes.

Four quick tree sketches
Four quick tree sketches
Outline of a tree in pen
Outline tree in pencil
Apple tree sketch

We have three apple trees and next door has two large Scott’s Pine trees. I drew quickly using a soft pencil to capture the outline of the tree and some of it’s branches.

In our local wood, called The Wick Wood, I found these trees and made individual sketches of them. As the wood was very dark I tried to express this with deep lines and shading. The bushes I just scribbled to get the leaf effect.

The Wick trees
The Wick trees

Whilst away one weekend, I quickly drew these Silver Birch trees that were growing close to a fence. I used a fine black pen to draw the details.

Silver Birch trees
Silver Birch trees

Also from working in my garden I made drawings in ink, Chinese brush painting style of my large apple tree.

Apple Tree in ink
Apple Tree in ink

Exercise 2 Larger observational study of an individual tree

Spend more time really looking at a tree in detail. Spend at least an hour on this drawing. Chose which media will suit the individual characteristics of your tree. For example, you might decide to use A3 cartridge paper and a fine drawing medium such as a drawing pen, pencil or ballpoint.

Draw quickly, so that you keep a free and flowing hand to follow the fluid line……….. Notice the light source and see where the deepest shadows are and the strongest light…………..Hint at texture by fluid use of shading or lines.

Detail of tree trunk both sides


Materials; Fine black pen and paper

On one of my walks I found this odd looking tree. I think It’s been trimmed in it’s life time, so was a strange shape at the base, with a large canopy. I made a detailed sketches of the trunk of both sides. The light was even as it was a cloudy day, but there were some deeper shadows in the texture of the trunk. The fine pen was the right tool to draw with. as it flowed smoothly on the paper. I had to draw quickly as it was quite chilly standing outside.




Expanse. Part 3. Research point. Landscape Artists.

Albrecht Durer (1471-1528)  German painter, print maker and theorist. A prolific artist of the Northern Renaissance era. He was the first to realise the importance of the printing press. He was an excellent oil painter. He travelled abroad to collect watercolour sketches and paintings. He drew ‘plein air’ (working outside) and added colour to his sketches too. Durer created a vast amount of art, engravings, alter pieces, woodcuts, self-portraits, portraits and watercolours. He theorised about  mathematics, human proportion and perspective. Durer documented many places he visited and later in his life wrote books about his art findings.


The Willow Mill near Nuremberg. Watercolour with body colour by Albrecht Durer c1495. (From Durer the artist and his drawings by Christohper White, Phiadon. 1971)

Claude Lorrain (1604-165?) A French landscape artist who lived in the Duchy of Lorraine, but he left to live in Germany then moved to Rome. He was known for his big romantic landscapes and seascapes. He was influenced by Nicholas Poussin and mostly worked outdoors. Lorrain’s was know to walk in open green spaces, stroll through the evening sunsets and stayed to see the sun rise too. He was committed to ‘plein air’ painting, so he could experience nature, he would lie in the fields to examine the sky. His art was dominated by big skies, he used the ‘rule of thirds’ to help with composition, adding trees to frame the scene, in fact his paintings were of a ‘classical’ visual balance. Lorrain was known for using his imagination in his oil landscapes, to give the viewer an ‘easy time’ or leisurely feel. Lorrain influenced painters such as J M W Turner.

claude lorrain

Pastoral Landscape with Mill. Oil on canvas 1634. 59.1 x 82.9 cm.  (From https://www.britannica.com/biography/Claude-Lorrain)

Utagawa Hiroshige, also known as Ando Hiroshige (1797-1858) A Japanese Ukiyo-e artist, a master woodblock printer. He is well know for his horizontal format landscapes, ‘The Fifty-three Stations of Tokaido’ and his vertical landscape series of ‘One Hundred Famous Views of Edo’. Hiroshige was influenced by Hokusai, but his use of colour was subtle and labour intensive, as he used a ‘graduation’ technique called bokashi. The impressionist painters, such as Monet and Manet collected his work as they wanted to study his compositions. Van Gogh painted from his ‘One Hundred Views of Edo’ series. Over his life time Hiroshige produced thousands of prints from his many travels. He dominated landscape printing, making smaller and more intimate pictures, which expressed the snow, rain and all weathers. He pioneered the vertical composition using striking view points, bold colour and his documentation of famous Japanese landmarks, of which the tourists loved. The Ashmolean Museum, Oxford has some of his original wood block prints, which I went to see in September.


(Postcards from The Ashmolean Museum, Oxford Sept 2018)

L.S Lowry (1887-1976) English artist know for his drawings and paintings of North West England, including Pendlebury and Salford. Lowry is famous for painting industrial landscapes of where he lived and worked. His urban landscapes included ‘matchstick men’ and he painted open moody landscapes too. His work is often referred to as ‘naive art’ because it’s so stylised. Many of his canvases are large works, that express a working knowledge of perspective in buildings. His early works are rather dark and somber, but after the war he seemed to add more colour and light. He was a prolific artist and many of his works are in collections and museums. And there is now a museum dedicated to him in Manchester https://www.thelowry.com/events/ls-lowry/the-art/landscapes.

Landscape in Wigan

Landscape in Wigan, 1925, oil on canvas, 34.3 x 34.3 cm. (from The Paintings of LS Lowry, oils and watercolours by Mervyn Levy, Jupiter Books 1975, plate 23)

George Shaw (b.1966) an English artist who grew up in Coventry. Short listed for the Turner Prize 2011. He paints naturalistic English urban landscapes in Humbrol enamel paints on hard surfaces such as MDF. Titles of his work are important as he takes them from famous writings, the bible and books, ones he does not often read. His painting is landscape with references to the history of art. His landscapes of where he grew up are quite stark and disturbing. After a recent residency at The National Gallery he has been painting more woodlands and trees, but they too have a modern twist with some very ‘dark’ themes.

Scenes from the Passion: Late 2002 by George Shaw born 1966

Scences from the Passion , late 2002 by George Shaw. (from https://www.tate.org.uk/art/artists/george-shaw-5253)


The study of landscape painting is a big subject. But I love it. I have only chosen a few artists that see their landscapes in different ways. Durer, who surprisingly work with watercolours and made sketches as he travelled, documenting the land as it was in his time. Seeing that the printing press would change the world, offering endless ways of reproducing pictures for all to see. Claude Lorrain who offered ‘leisure’ feelings through his art, using his imagination to paint large atmospheric paintings. Paintings that may be described as ‘chocolate box’ pictures. Lorrain influenced J M W Turner who explored painting the landscape as an ‘abstract’ concept. Hiroshige, who was a prolific woodblock printer, depicting Japanese life from it’s people to the landscape, with intimate views and unusual compositions of the land and sea. Lowry offered a gritty and muddy view of his native Manchester, even the surface of his paintings were very textured and marked. Finally George Shaw who uses a modern medium, Humbrol enamel paints, normally used for model making. His art may not be seen as landscape, but it is. He has painted, in detail his homeland, making it a viable landscape scene, whether we like it or not.

The artists I have chosen have either made landscape look beautiful or ugly, or for leisure and documentation. And artists like Durer and Hiroshige have seen the value of printing and reproducing art, that the world can buy.








Intimacy. Part 2. Project 4. At Home. Exercise 2; Composition -an interior. Exercise 3; Material Differences. Reflection.

Exercise 2 -Composition- an interior

Look carefully at the angles and areas of your chosen interior view and note where objects are placed. Keep shifting your viewpoint until you find one that pleases you. look for strong tonal contrasts, textures, linear qualities and string positive and negative shapes.

Establish your observational position- standing, sitting on a chair or the floor. Making sure you are comfortable. Make four quick sketches to outline the basic shapes and map out the tonal areas using a soft pencil.

Format. Do studies both portrait and landscape format. You may find portrait dynamic and landscape more intimate. Play with these ideas. Look for objects and forms. Don’t be afraid to cut off part of your subject, as it happens in photography. Consider how this will add dynamism and interest to your composition.

Chose your view. Compare preliminary sketches to help decide on a composition. Look at tonal values, basic structure, and linear arrangements. Keep looking, evaluating an experimenting.

I have drawn two A 3 size pictures in dark tonal values and left out details and textures.

The one below is a portrait composition and cropped. it shows the upstairs landing which has varying light quality that bounces around the doors and chairs.

Top landing in pastel tones

The next one is a view of the stairs looking down into the hall space in landscape composition. There, the light comes from the side rooms and the hall is mostly in shadow, as are the stairs. I drew this with pastel making tonal values by smudging the surface.

Looking downstairs in pastel tones

Four tonal sketches in ink and cropped to make the drawings interesting. Cropping gives the views a sense of drama and mystery. I love the tonal values I created with inky washes. I am deciding which view to draw for the next exercise.

Exercise 3- Material Differences. By now you should have a clear idea of the basic elements for your drawing. For this exercise work on a large scale (A1 or A2)

Use light marks to map out the composition. Use all the picture space. Look at the way the light falls. Think back to project 4 using different materials, select an appropriate material for this drawing. Keep looking from your subject to your drawing, squinting to check tonal values.

For this exercise I decided to draw with 6 B pencil and graphite stick on white cartridge paper A 2 size. My view is looking down the stairs into the hall way. I chose this as I really wanted to express the light and dark areas that were bouncing around the floor and doors.

Looking down stairs drawn with pencil and graphite.


Firstly I really enjoyed both of these exercises and that’s because it was a change from drawing still life subjects. Secondly, I tried drawing with pastels in monotones which suited the dark and light areas of the hall way views, and I enjoy the way pastels blend and crumble onto the pastel paper surface, making it easy to move around to make soft marks.

Making lots of sketches and inky drawings helped to develop the drawing in Exercise 3 too. Trying different views, cropping and changing the composition plane made me think and look in a different way at the subject.  To develop my drawing, I still need to look at my mark making process, as I felt the wall on the right needed different marks, mine looks very organic and lively. I thought the shading on the floor worked well, and I used a soft rubber to lift out all the light areas. The perspective needs a bit of tightening up, but I think that will come with practise. The door into the toilet is a bit big, but the light is good.

It looks very much like my hall way, which is quite spacious. I thought I captured the light, which was one of my aims. I wanted to created a moody drawing with less detail but lots of shading with a different view point.