Angela and Jane drawing in the Walled Garden
You never know when it’s the last outdoor drawing Tuesday of the summer. So we got out while we could, into the Walled Garden in Calderstones Park. It is rich with visual stimulation – almost too rich for anyone trying to home in on a single subject for a picture.
Within the Walled Garden there’s an inner sanctum: a Japanese Garden. That’s even more visually stimulating.
In fact, what came out of the afternoon was not a series of pictures at all, but quite a lot of technical experimentation by everybody – along with a sense of the sheer pleasure of drawing in such a place on such a day.
Angela came nearest to composing a picture (below) but it certainly needs another visit to consolidate. The main work on the sundial required some careful consideration of perspective. Now it is ready for the freer drawing of the vegetation, which should enhance the picture a lot. Let’s hope there’s another warm Tuesday. If not, I think you have photos you can work from?
Sundial by Angela
In contrast, George concentrated on ways of rendering foliage. Last week he was drawing vines; this week, bamboo.
It’s an unspectacular but valuable activity, to hone your pencil technique like this. Foliage looks chaotic, but the harder you look at it, the more you can see how it’s made up of repeated shapes and shadows arranged on an underlying scaffold of stems and branches.
There are ways of glossing over areas of foliage, and sometimes that is what is what is needed. At other times it pays to focus on the visual character of particular bushes or clumps and ask what makes them distinctive, and how that can be turned into pencil marks.
Jane (below) had every intention of composing a picture, and she is usually quite quick to decide on subject matter. She selected this sculpted tree, the rocks and pond at its foot, a couple of bushes and some vertical bamboo shoots in the foreground.
She also wanted to try using Indian Ink for the first time. It’s a dominating medium and, combined with watercolour washes, it can be very distinctive. But I think it led her to feel out of control of the picture. Well, this almost always happens when you try new techniques.
The result is more graphic, less painterly, than your normal style, but very striking. I like the different ways you have applied the ink (brush, stick), and I think the limited palette of watercolour (too limited, you felt: no green for example) actually works very well – once you accept it doesn’t much reflect the reality. I hope you can go on with this at home.
Marta drawing in the Japanese Garden
Marta responded to the rich subject matter by using a thick pastel stick to do a series of fast impressions. Here’s just two of many:
This second one is not a nuclear explosion. in fact it is the same sculpted tree that Jane drew.
Marta then settled on just one shapely treetrunk and worked at subtle ways of combining charcoal with white pastel (or chalk?) on a brown ground. I think the resulting nuances of texture and luminosity are beautiful.
I framed it up for you, to see how it looks when it is displayed as a picture rather than a study: