Join Will Kemp for an in-depth discussion in this video Facing the fear of sketching outdoors, part of Foundations of Drawing: Sketching the Landscape.
- There comes a time in every artist's development, that you feel the urge that you want to get outside, and actually capture the landscape, drawing directly from life. It can seem quite clear when you want to start the drawing, what you are trying to create, but when you're actually out in the landscape and you've got this vast expanse in front of you, it can seem quite overwhelming to try and transfer this vastness of the sea, onto a relatively small, flat, 2-D sketchbook in front of you.
Not only is it hard to decide on what's going to make a good composition in your drawing, but you've also got to focus on what gives the illusion of perspective, and creates that sense of depth. You've also got to be aware of how to create a compelling focal point into your drawing. It can be overwhelming and really easy to get discouraged. One of the biggest misconceptions about sketching outdoors is that every piece has to be a finished piece of art in its own right. But I treat them more like a quick snapshot, a way of capturing the essence of a scene, or a detail that interests me.
They're not intended as a final piece, but it's a way to getting my eye tuned-in to the subject I'm looking at. I want to show you how using a sketchbook in a landscape is key to developing your observational skills, your confidence, and the atmosphere of the actual environment that you're sketching within. Sketchbooks can be really personal things, and in most exhibitions, we usually only get to see the finished paintings on the gallery wall, and not the thought process behind the final result.
But when we look back at landscape paints in the past, for example, this painting here by John Constable for Salisbury Cathedral, we get to be able to see his sketches behind the painting. So here you can see, he's looked at the view from both the east and the west side of the cathedral, and then taken a wider sketch that looks more of a panorama, so you can see the cathedral within the trees around it. He then makes a smaller oil sketch that looks a colours and mood.
And in the final painting, puts all of these elements together in one piece. In this example, you'll see in his final piece, he's used a much more refined and detailed style. Here we can see some of John Singer Sargent's work, and Singer Sargent was primarily a portrait artist, but he also painted many landscapes, and like lots of artists, he used what's called thumbnail sketches. And a thumbnail sketch, it's a great way of getting an idea or a detail of a scene down onto paper.
It's only a very small sketch, and you often have lots of little drawings all within one page. So you can see how he's used the thumbnail sketch to capture light and shade, and movement, and different details of elements that he's interested in within the landscape. He can then use all of this information to work up the sketches into a more finished painting. And this is what we're going to be looking at throughout the lessons on this course.
- Assembling your materials
- Integrating proportion, scale, and light
- Thinking inside a frame
- Drawing with depth
- Sketching with a painting in mind
- Capturing changing conditions
- Drawing rocks, buildings, trees, and more
- Creating mood and atmosphere
- Putting it all together in the studio