For Assignment 3, I plan to have a more fresh and daring approach than I have had to the exercises . This has definitely been the most challenging chapter of the course for me so far. It feels like I have learned a lot, especially about perspective, but I have continuously felt stuck by trying to get things “right”. It felt like I started to explore and experiment at the end of last chapter, and had so many ideas to continue developing, but that all got lost somewhere while doing the exercises of this chapter. This is very much in line with my life as a whole right now- being back in Europe for a longer time after a decade in Asia and doing my best to “fit in” and do things “right”
I chose to go to a modern, concrete part of the city to explore sharp modern shapes, concrete and graffitti in a skateboard park that I discovered in the Parque das Nações – aiming for a fresh start in a new environment with a different vibe. This whole area underwent a total transformation in the 1990’s from an industrial area to residential with an extended park and exhibition halls, to prepare for the World Exhibition that was held here in 1998.
I find natural objects here- trees and shrubs and lots of weeds growing out of the concrete – as well as the river Tejo flowing along the park.
I find unusually shaped concrete objects with lots of graffiti, but also straight lined objects, like fences and benches.
A first approach with small thumbnail sketches on A4. It is early morning just after sunrise, with a crisp bright light and long shadows, with many colors reflecting in the concrete.
A second approach to these shapes- this time it was an afternoon, with no sun, so the concrete is a duller grey and very soft shadows.
In the bright morning sunlight, the shapes and shadows were the focus, whereas in the afternoon, the graffiti took on another importance.
I really like the “unconventional ” shapes here, and the patterns they form. I found a lot of the compositions here attractive and the idea of drawing a series creeps up. I think this subject could work really well in series.
I am not sure it would fulfill the assignment criteria of A2 of I create a series of smaller drawings on A2? I will start with developing one A2 drawing first.
some more play with shapes:
And two of my favorite compositions in colour dry pastels, A4
I like both compositions here, with their fluid lines and then the very square bench. I really do not like the yellowish colours though, and believe it will look better on newspaper or black paper.
First trials on newspaper. I am still exploring some other compositions as well.
This is not yet the right effect, and the colors still look too cartoon like. How would it look in monochrome?
This could work better, I could try to cover newspaper with a thin black coat and then use mostly a limited palette and colours sparingly. But I don’t feel this is the style for the newspaper version- I will try something different for that if I have time.
Here I decide to try black paper instead and jump to A3 to get a feel for how this works in a bigger size.
I like the effect of the pastels on the black paper, but will try out the first composition with the square bench instead, again A3:
I really like the effect and the colours of the dry pastels better on the black paper. I still haven’t added the shrubs and weeds here.
I will turn the composition slightly to center the concrete bubble in the back and move my viewpoint a little lower, then draw on A2.
This is how far I got with the A2 …
when my partner walked in, saw all the sketches and trials spread out , and said : “What IS that?”. And he already came with me once to this skatepark.. so I realize how unclear this drawing is. After considering giving the whole idea up, I decided to focus much more on keeping it real instead. I started over, focusing on perspective and this is how the drawing developed:
The last version, A2, complete with graffiti and bushes:
I am happy with this drawing. It is very different from everything I have been doing these past months for the exercises- which is what I wanted. But it is still a drawing that let me practice perspective . I think keeping it less “cartoon like” and more real made it better and easier to read. But then I have been staring at this for so long, I can’t really judge if anyone new to the drawing can see what it is at all.
I feel that the effect of the light on the concrete could be clearer on a more glossy surface, so I will try out how I can use graphite instead of pastels for the concrete.
Also I can’t really let go of the idea how good this would be as a series.
So here I am experimenting a little with colours and shapes for a series, first in thumbnails:
I feel this could work. The yellow of the sky in the two first drawings can be picked up by yellow glare on the bench for the last drawing that doesn’t have a visible sky. Also the diagonal of the shadow in the first, mirrors the opposite diagonal in the third for a harmonius whole.
Here on black A4:
And a trial on white paper A4 with the same drawings:
Now I am experimenting with covering graphite with gesso mixed with yellow acrylic for the glare of the sun.
This is Amsterdam transparent gesso mixed with Rembrandt Azo lemon on the right and Jaune Azo Moyen on the left. Top and bottom are mixed graphite sticks and the middle Artgraph watercolor graphite:
In this case I would choose the graphite sticks that give a better feel of concrete , and I am really happy with this effect. On black paper, this does not work as well though, not even after two rounds:
I really want to use this, so I have now decided to skip the series, draw the first motive that has the most colour on white paper separately and then draw the last of the three on black as a couple with the middle drawing that is already completed.
I first outlined the shapes in various grades of graphite sticks, then smudged some parts with a tissue and then covered the whole with transparent gesso mixed with the Jaune Azo Moyen acrylic.
That allowed me to draw over it again with dry pastels:
This is the final version, A2, graphite and dry pastels:
I think the shapes in the background worked out well, and in essence this is what I was aiming for, but I just like it less than above drawing on black.
So now I develop the last motive on black paper, with the same media :
And this is the final version, A2, graphite, gesso with acrylics and dry pastels:
This is how the two black drawings look together:
These two drawings definitely give a much better feel for the atmosphere of the park.
I am happy with these drawings because they allowed me to experiment with something new. They are technically messy and I chose a too thin paper for the black ones, but I am happy with the process and like the look of the final two.
This weekend we went back to Evora and visited the small village of Montevora nearby. This place is famous for its medieval castle placed on a hilltop overlooking the whole region. I was not so attracted to the castle itself, but walking around the hill offered a spectacular view over this small church and the surrounding hilly landscape.
I decided to use this view with it’s perfect aerial perspective , the church tower with straight lines, and lots and lots of trees and bushes to develop another “Expanse” drawing. It was a rather grey day with dull light but the white of the buildings stood out clearly against the dark cork and olive trees surrounding them.
I decided immediately to draw with a limited palette with Conte sticks. I enjoyed that exercise a lot and wanted to draw more like that.
This is the final drawing. It is on A3 ( for logistical reasons) :
I am happy with this drawing. I think it really captured the perspective, and the mood of the view. I am also happy because this is something I would never have thought of drawing before this chapter, and I found great pleasure in drawing it!
Every time when walking to the above skatepark in the Parque das Nações, I passed by this modern building, with a sculpture of men before it, and every time it screamed to me- perfect for Assignment 3! I tried to look away, because angular perspective and stairs plus sculpture just seemed terrifying, but I finally decided to try this out.
I will change the view slightly, so that the angle of the wall will be more centered, remove the buildings in the back and move the tree in a little, so I still see it if I crop the right side.
This is a first sketch of the composition I have in mind:
I want to keep this very minimalistic, very modern and rough, focusing on the basic shapes and perspective more than the real objects.
This is an A4 drawing in grey and black dry pastels:
I want to try something different than the pastels, so go for a version with graphite sticks:
I tried to colour the tree red, inspired by the red trees I saw on my trip to Germany that I drew earlier this chapter. By why red trees? Because it is a strong visual accent. Because I just came back from the COP22 , the Climate Conference in Morocco and red could be seen as an alarm signal – the last sliver of nature fighting for space in this concrete surroundings. I am not sure about the red yet- I will have to see how it fits in with the final drawing.
I am always attracted to rough scribbled drawings, so I decided to try this out here. First I tried some different pens annd checked how they bleed with water:
So here is my motive in scribbled fashion:
The top one is with more straight scribbles and outlines, the lower one with curly scribbles and no outlines. I prefer the straighter scribbles and outlines for this very “straight” motive. This is how it looks when washed with water so the pens bleed lightly:
I also tried out how this could work in ink:
Possibly colored ink:
How does it look on newspaper?
It all becomes too unclear, so I decide to cover the newspaper with white gesso first:
Now you see too little of the newspaper! I will try to mix transparent and white gesso for a very light cover. I will also try to add a cold blue hue:
The bottom part is with white and transparent gesso, right Rembrandt Outremer and left bleu brillant.
Both outremer and white work well.
My idea is now to create a collage with newspapers in various languages as a background. These buildings are located in the area created for the World Exposition, so what could be more fitting than a variety of countries and languages represented by their newspapers.
I have been drawing this with a frame the whole time and I will keep that for the final drawing- creating a collage in different languages, then cover the center with coloured gesso to draw on, but leave the frame around clearly visible in clear gesso.
A trial on a quick A4 collage:
I decide to stick to the transparent/white background and possibly add red trees as the only colour.
This is the background collage in A2. I have avoided images to focus on the languages and the coming drawing.
Now I cover the center with transparent/white gesso as a background for the drawing:
There is a small detail of the Assignment saying “spend UP to two hours on this drawing”. So preparing the background does not count 🙂 And surely you get bonus time if you include stairs in your drawing?
I had been drawing this motive roughly now for so many times and it flowed easily. Also I already knew exactly how I wanted the composition- so I was a little surprised at how stuck I got here. Now this had to be “precise” and “correct” and I cramped up terribly, spending the precious two hours on the stairs alone.
So I then took a clean start- gessoed everything over again- so now the background is whiter and does not let the newspaper shine through as well- and then drew freehand, no worries , and may that perspective be crooked. I then scribbled fine straight scribbles with the Uniball pen.
Finally I went over parts with a wet brush to bleed the pen and decided to go for the red trees as bright color accents. This is the final version in A2 , on collage:
I am very happy that I used newspapers and that I used scribbles- I have been wanting to explore both for a while and not found the correct place for it. I think this is a creative solution and I greatly enjoyed every step of the process.
Unfortunately I am not so happy with the final result. I think my anguish at perspective shines through- the whole drawing is stiff and cramped instead of roughly happily scribbled. It is not free enough for this style. Also my mistakes in perspective are painfully obvious.
Here I will insert an update- I started having nightmares about how bad this last drawing worked out, so I decided to redraw it again , very simply, as clean and as correct as I can on a white paper- A2 with dry pastels in grey and black only.
Here is the path- this time with ruler and vanishing points:
I experimented some more with the trees and had a final look at red trees, but decided to leave the whole image monochromatic with grey trees too.
This is the final version, A2, dry pastels:
Finally, I feel that I can put this motive at rest 🙂
I am happy to have drawn motives I would never have considered before. I have learned a lot about perspective, but also how much there is still to learn and practice- this is definitely a challenge for me.
I have also learned how to work more methodically with thumbnails and then small sketches, and try out different versions before launching into a drawing.
I am happy that I found a way to experiment more with these final drawings of the chapter.