This exercise is about tonal gradation. Make several tonal studies that analyse receding features of a landscape from foreground to mid and far distance. Use a variety of drawing media.
On reaching this part of the course the weather has conspired against me getting out into the landscape to do some studies. It has rained for weeks on end!! I have resorted to a landscape photo of a loch somewhere on the Island of Mull. I chose this view as it had mountains in the background, a grassy island in the loch in the mid ground and part of imposing Scots Pine in the foreground. The photo was taken on a very grey day, there was not much shadow about.
Firstly I did a monochrome graphite study on pastel paper using 6B, 4B, 2B and HB graphite sticks.
By varying the pressure I was able to depict the distance views as paler and softer than the immediate foreground. The harder grades of graphite stick produces paler marks too which I could use to create aerial perspective, however the 2B was good at adding bark texture to the tree in the foreground.
Next I used different shades of blue soft pastel to look at the effect of producing aerial perspective with more muted colours in the distance. I chose a bright blue for the foreground, a paler, lighter blue for the mid ground and then a grey-blue for the distance. I drew onto a coloured pastel paper – a light blue tone similar in tonal value to the mid distance blue pastel
I think this definitely shows that bright colours stand out nearer the front and cooler, muted colours recede. I didn’t get the mid ground colour quite right – it should have been a bit darker and more of a contrast to the ground in the foreground. I also think that the scale of this sketch was wrong for the materials I was using. The image was approximately A4 in size. it was hard to get more details marks in pastel (in my hands anyway) for the foreground at this scale. As such the colour choice makes the tree stand out rather than more detail. I chose blue as my colour of choice here as distant objects tend to become cooler. I wanted to see what happened if you kept the blue tone in the foreground by made it really bright. An unintended consequence of this colour choice is that the overall effect is of a moon-lit scene. If i had not put in the white clouds, this effect would have been enhanced.
For my third sketch I used a dip pen and brown acrylic ink on cartridge paper. I diluted the ink in varying amounts to create aerial perspective.
I am quite pleased with this sketch. I found that I had to add a little bit of mid tone to the far hills so that they didn’t appear too flat on the page. The Scots pine looks a little bare. The dense bundles of needles were hard to depict with the fine nib that I had, however the detail stands out in the darker ink. I managed to make some representation of the clouds too, realising that some of the clouds needed to be nearer than others, and hence in a darker ink. I haven’t got the gradation quite right in the clouds, a smooth transition between mid-brown and light brown would have been better but I have managed to convey clouds nearer the view and clouds in the distance.
For m y final study I changed size of paper I was working on. I don’t particularly like working small and the above were all around A4 in size. This particularly caused problems for the pastels. I wanted to use colour again, this time in the form of coloured graphite and charcoal blocks which are very chunk. I used a piece of lining paper approximately 60cm x 45 cm.
I am particularly pleased with the background here. The blue mountains, with scare detail really appear to be in the distance. In addition they also recede to the right of the image, which they did in reality. In my previous attempts I didn’t really manage this. I have warmed the colours up as I have worked towards the viewer, with more detail in the mid ground. The Scots pine was less of a success. I again found it had to put in more detail with finer marks with such broad tools. The result was that the tree became quite muddy and smudged. The graphite and charcoal do not lift off of the lining paper well so it was hard to rectify mistakes. I changed the composition a little for this sketch, making the mid ground island a little more prominent. I hope that the strong diagonal of the branches of the tree compliment the diagonal lines of the island and the mountains to the left and keep your eye on the page.