Sunday, 28 February 2010

Sketching Cezanne's landscapes

On Friday I met up with the group I go sketching London with at St Martins in the Fields. As it was very cold I decided that I needed to do a spot of landscape sketching - in the warmth and comfort of the National Gallery!

Part of my Art of the Landscape Project is about learning more about how past masters constructed their landscape paintings. I've found that a good way of doing that is to actually sketch them - because in looking at them intently to sketch you learn about the composition, their predisposition to work with mass or line and how they worked with colour - and anything else which mattered to each individual as an artist.

It's not about reproducing their work exactly so much as getting a better sense and understanding of it.

On Friday I sketched two works by Cezanne and started on Het Steen by Rubens - but the latter is a BIG painting and I need to go back to that one.

After Cezanne - Avenue at Chantilly
(L’Allee a Chantilly), 1888

National Gallery, London
8" x 6", coloured pencils in Winsor & Newton Sketchbook
copyright Katherine Tyrrell

One of the things I've learned about Cezanne in constructing this post is that once he found a motif he liked he had no hesitation about painting it repeatedly. I knew about Mont St Victoire but wasn't aware that the Alley at Chantilly was another favoured motif. Here's another couple of paintings of the same subject - each treated slightly differently
It's interesting that we can think sometimes that somehow if we've painted a subject once we've said all we have to say about it and we now ought to move on to aother subject. However, I'm more and more convinced that artists that keep painting the same subject learn more and more about their subject, themselves and their art.

I sat on the bench in the middle of the room to sketch this and didn't take a close look at how he had put down the paint until I'd finished. One of the things I've found is that I very much identify with the way Cezanne lays paint down in hatching strokes of the brush - while I hatch with the pencil.

I found an interesting quotation from Lawrence Gowing on the Tate website

Cézanne’s method, as he once said, was ‘hatred of the imaginative’, and we can feel that the hatred extended to all that was implied in the derived, fictitious contour of the early works.

His task was to hold in equilibrium the two conceptions which were vital to him, the conception of reality and of the picture.

This second sketch is of a painting which isn't in the National Gallery's listings which I assume means it comes from whoever has currently got Les Grands Baigneuses as that's out on loan.

? (not sure and forgot to note it down!)
National Gallery, London

8" x 6", coloured pencils in Winsor & Newton Sketchbook
copyright Katherine Tyrrell

I've also discovered that there is a book which reviews how he constructed his paintings - Cézannes Composition: Analysis of His Form with Diagrams and Photographs of His Motifs - which I might try and get hold of.

More about Cezanne

Tuesday, 23 February 2010

Art Instruction: Drawing and Painting Landscapes in Watercolour

The Practice of Drawing and Painting Landscape from Nature in Water Colours was written by Francis Nicholson in the early nineteenth century.

Its title page is very precise as to its aim and the potential benefits for the reader:
  • exemplified in a series of instructions
  • calculated to faciliate the progress of the learner
  • including the elements of perspective, their application in drawing from nature and the explanation of the various processes of colouring, for producing from the sketch the finished picture
  • with observations on the study of nature
  • and various other matters relative from the arts
The first edition sold out.

This second edition was published by Thomas Davison, Whitefriars in London in 1823 - and subsequently found its way into the New York Public Library system

The language is obviously somewhat stilted to that which we are used to today. However for those who are prepared to put in the effort to reading this book you'll find it long on explanation and that it includes images to help explain the instruction. All in all quite a contrast to the art instruction book of today. This is one for those who prefer their art instruction books to not be dumbed down!

Read this book for FREE

This book has been digitized by Google and is now available to download as PDF or EPUB files - for FREE! Alternatively you can read it online.

The contents page is displayed on the right. I like the titles of some of his chapters such as "Accidents in Painting" and "Licences in Drawing". I've only dipped into it so far but it looks very interesting. It includes for example a detailed explanation of how of how to use a Claude mirror ('the blackened convex mirror') on page 21 and 22.

The contents page in Google Books includes hyperlinks to the different sections.

I also found it interesting how many references are included to landscape painters from the past. It gives you an insight into the thinking behind landscape drawing and painting at the time as well as useful tips on 'how to'. His language (starting on page 33) when he doubts the advice of Sir Joshua Reynolds on drawing vs painting and quotes Michael Angelo (sic) in support of his view had me grinning from ear to ear!

Reviews: If you write a review of this book on your blog do let me know and I'll highlight your review on this blog.

Sir Francis Nicholson

I tried to find out a little bit about the author Francis Nicholson and concluded that he was in all probability Sir Francis Nicholson (14 November 1753 – 6 March 1844) who was a Yorkshire born landscape painter who worked in both watercolours and oils but grew to focus on landscapes in watercolour.

He was also a founding member of the Society of Painters in Water Colours now known as the Royal Watercolour Society. It's not every day that you get to read a book by a leading member of such an august body!

Sunday, 21 February 2010

Art Instruction: Landscape Painting in Pastels

Deborah Secor is publishing a book online via a blog called Landscape Painting in Pastels.

Deborah is well known to many in the pastel world. Besides being a practising pastel artist, she's also a pastel art tutor, writes for the Pastel Journal and was for some time a very popular Moderator of the Pastels Forum on Wet Canvas.

Her art instruction book is not available in traditional print format and Deborah has, very generously, decided to make it available for free. Part of it is based on articles she has written for and published in the Pastel Journal.
I contemplated selling this book, but in the final analysis I decided that it was better to give. Jesus tells us, "Freely you have received, freely give." So I will. I hope you enjoy and benefit from it.
Note that information contained in the blog may be downloaded for personal use only. Readers are forbidden to reproduce, republish, redistribute, or resell any materials from this weblog in either machine-readable form or any other form without specific written permission of the author. For permissions and other copyright-related questions, please email your question to:

So if you want to read her book you need to follow her blog - and I recommend a subscription. Needless to say this blog has been instantly added to my Google Reader and the tutor section of the blogroll in the ruight hand column of this blog! :)

Book content

Deborah's book will cover the following topics. One chapter per week will be posted. Those chapters shown in blue are already live.
Landscapes in Pastels

Section 1 Materials

Chapter 1 Pastels and Other Materials
Chapter 2 Surfaces and Effects
Chapter 3 Getting Started
Chapter 4 Letting Value Lead

Section 2 Landscape Subjects

Chapter 5 Aerial Perspective
Chapter 6 Mountains
Chapter 7 Sky
Chapter 8 Clouds
Chapter 9 Night
Chapter 10 Sunrise, Sunset
Chapter 11 Trees
Chapter 12 Foliage
Chapter 13 Foregrounds
Chapter 14 Rocks
Chapter 15 Shadows
Chapter 16 Water and Reflections
Chapter 17 Gardens
Chapter 18 Snow

Section 3 Color

Chapter 19 Color Theory
Chapter 20 Color Experiments
Chapter 21 The Green Problem
Chapter 22 White Done Right
Chapter 23 The Photograph Problem

Section 4 Experiments

Chapter 24 Free Yourself of the Photo
Chapter 25 Value and Color
Chapter 26 Make a Puzzle Painting
Chapter 27 Value/Color Chart
Chapter 28 Imagine a Painting
Chapter 29 Colored Grounds
Chapter 30 Limit your Palette
Chapter 31 Limit Time and Palette
Chapter 32 20-Stroke Painting
Chapter 33 Temperature

Section 5 Moving On

Chapter 34 From Studio to Plein Air
Chapter 35 Criticize Your Work

If you appreciate what Deborah is doing with this blog can I suggest you leave a comment on her blog and let her know.

Note: Deborah Secor's paintings have been selected for inclusion in several books devoted to the pastel medium: The Pastel Painter’s Solution Book; Pure Color: The Best of Pastel; Painting With Pastels, by Maggie Price. She aso has two video workshops available on DVD or streaming at Artists Network TV: Get Started in Pastels: Deborah Secor Paints the Landscape and Painting Outdoor Shadows in Pastel with Deborah Secor.

Friday, 19 February 2010

Spanish Landscapes - and Picasso

Casey Klahn (The Colorist) sent me the link to a blog post by Mary Adam (Drawing Etc) which highlights landscapes painted by Pablo Picasso. I never really thought of Picasso as a painter of landscapes but evidently he did very early in his career late in his career as artist. See Picasso's landscapes.
Buy at
Mediterranean Landscape
Pablo Picasso
Buy From

I dug around a bit and also found the Guggenheim website suggesting that landscape painting is rare in Spanish art.

Landscape painting is rare in Spanish art. This scarcity can be tied to Spanish history. The Spanish Counter-Reformation of the sixteenth century was staunchly against both classicism and humanism. Strictly interpreted Catholic doctrine viewed the subject of human nature and nature in general as corrupt and indulgent. To contemplate the beauty of nature was to indulge in a hedonistic, pagan, and heretical act.

As a result, a variation on landscape painting emerged. During the second half of the sixteenth century, when El Greco came to live in Spain, a mystical and poetic current swept the nation. Instead of picturing the land as lush and inviting, artists used landscape as the setting for sacred events. In El Greco’s landscapes, we can see this “fire” or passion. His nervous, tormented, mystical, and visionary approach to painting not only expressed the intellectual climate of his age, but centuries later it would also become a model for the next generation of Spanish painters, including Francisco de Goya, Ignacio Zuloaga, Pablo Picasso, Salvador Dalí, and Joan Miró.

You can find out more about Picasson on my information site - Pablo Picasso - Resources for Art Lovers

There is also a major new exhibition opening soon in New York, I wonder if it will include Picasso's landscapes - the website suggests it's going to have an heavy emphasis on the figure. Reports please from anybody who gets to see it.
Picasso in The Metropolitan Museum of Art | Upcoming Exhibitions | The Metropolitan Museum of Art
April 27, 2010-August 1, 2010
Special Exhibition Galleries, 2nd floor

This landmark exhibition is the first to focus exclusively on works by Pablo Picasso (Spanish, 1881-1973) in the Museum's collection. It features 150 works, including the Museum's complete holdings of paintings, drawings, sculptures, and ceramics by Picasso-never before seen in their entirety-as well as a selection of the artist's prints. The Museum's collection reflects the full breadth of the artist's multifaceted genius as it asserted itself over the course of his long and influential career.

Wednesday, 17 February 2010

Turner's Sketchbooks: 1790s

JMW Turner seems to have been a bit of a hoarder and kept an awful lot of his artwork and preparatory work. Fortunately for us, the Turner Bequest gave all this work to the country and this bequest included all his surviving sketchbooks which were mainly used for plein air landscape sketching on his travels.

They have been digitized and very systematically put online in a very detailed way (eg each page with a drawing has a web page) and you can find all the Turner Sketchbooks online on the Tate Britain website.

The sketchbooks are accessible in a considered structure and academic way. They are not small and many run to over a hundred pages. If you want to study I recommend setting aside some time to have a realy good look.

If you click one of these links below it presents you with the sketchbook. You can then navigate through the sketchbook using the arrow keys. If you click on an image it will appear larger and you can then see details of what it is thought to be and its size and what media were used to produce it. If you then click the image again it will appear at an even larger size. You also have the option to view a digitally enhanced image.

You will then see how 'sketchy' his landscape sketches are. Given there were no cameras at the time, bear in mind that these sketches and any watercolours done on the spot were the only reference material he had for producing much larger landscape paintings

These are links to his Turner's Sketchbooks from the 1790s. They include:
  • sketchbooks devoted to specific places - almost all in the UK in this decade
  • sketchbooks dedicated to specific animals (eg cows, swans)
  • deliberate studies for paintings
  • work done for Dr Munro's Academy which is where Turner worked with other young watercolour artists of his day.
The sketchbooks in order of age are:
Note the extent of his travels in this decade - mainly around the UK including a number of trips to the north of Britain and Wales.

Sometimes the descriptions are very specific, often they just state things like 'Part of a Castle with Sea and Hills Beyond'

How do the archivists know what he's sketched? In some of the sketchbooks he makes a list at the beginning of what's included in the sketchbook. Those of who work from sketches will know how useful it is to be able to pick up a sketchbook and look at a label or list of contents which saves so much time when you are looking for a particular sketch! For archivists this and Turner's very clear handwriting must have been a huge asset to the classification of his sketchbooks.

Besides inscriptions Tuner also used either end of his sketchbook to practice colour weashes. How many of us do the same?

Find out more about Turner by consulting my Turner resource site which provides links to further information about the man, his work and where you can see it and read about it - see JMW Turner - Resources for Art Lovers.

Find out more about Dr Munro and how important he was to the development of watercolour landscape painting in the UK on the handprint website.

Find out more about where Turner sketched in the British Isles by consulting the map on the website. Click a county or area to find an annotated list of sketches plus the images.

Tuesday, 16 February 2010

Defining Landscape #1: Landschaft and landschap

When considering landscape art, it's useful to identify the definition and concept of the word landscape. SY9FVEQCX2B3

This is the first in a short series of posts which aim to do that. This post looks at the origins of the word and includes woodcuts of fifteenth century landscapes .

The word landscape originally had its roots the Old Higher German used in the twelth century. Landschaft related to a term used for country estates in an area.

The term then acquired its geographical meaning in the late Middle Ages and was susbequently incorporated into a term used for the feudal assembly of a country or area (see Landschaftsverband). Essentially this was a civic classification of territory - a geographical area defined by political boundaries. It is still employed in modern times in the terms used for municipal associations in Lower Saxony and North Rhine-Westphalia.

In Landscape and Western Art (Oxford History of Art), Professor Malcolm Andrews indicates that the land around a town was referred to as a landscape in the late fifteenth century. The woodcuts below provide an illustration of this.

The Nuremberg Chronicles is an illustrated world history from creation to its publication in 1493. Written in Latin by Hartman Schedel, it includes the histories of a number of important Western cities and contains woodcuts of these cities shown in the context of the land round about. They were the first ever illustrations of many cities and countries.

The notion is that adjacent rural territory (ie not of the town) could be designated the city's Landschaft or landscape. You can see more of the pages from the book - and much larger images - on this Wikimedia page.

I'm absolutely amazed at the way somebody has already worked out a technique for defining a high level perspective looking down on the towns. The drawings are not to scale but the bits I know appear very accurate as to visual appearance.

Roma (Rome)
Schedelsche Weltchronik (1493) by Hartmann Schedel

source: Wikipedia

Schedelsche Weltchronik (1493) by Hartmann Schedel
source: Wikipedia

Landschap is the Dutch term from which it is believed that the English word 'landscape' was derived. Henry Peacham (1546-1634), author of Graphice (1612) provides a definition.
Landskip is a Dutch word and it as much as should say in English landship, or expressing of the land by hilles, woods, Castles, seas, vallies, ruines, hanging rocks, Cities, Townes &c. As farre as may be shwed within out Horizon. If it be not drawne by itselfe, or for its own sake, but in respect and for the sake of something else: it falleth out among those things we we call perarga, which are additions or adjuncts rather or ornament then otherwise necessarie
Graphice, or, The most avncient and excellent art of drawing and limming (1612) By Henry Peacham
The next post will consider the notion of landscape in relation to the concept of parergon or parerga.


Saturday, 13 February 2010

Framing the West

Framing the West: The Survey Photographs of Timothy H. O'Sullivan is an exhibition which opened yesterday at the Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington DC.
Timothy H. O'Sullivan (1840–1882) was a photographer for two of the most ambitious geographical surveys of the nineteenth century. He traversed the mountain and desert regions of the western United States under the command of Clarence King and Lt. George M. Wheeler for six seasons between 1867 and 1874. O'Sullivan developed a forthright and rigorous style in response to the landscapes of the American West, and returned to Washington, D.C. with hundreds of photographs that revealed an artist whose reach far surpassed the demands of practical documentation. He created a body of work that was without precedent in its visual and emotional complexity, while simultaneously meeting the needs of scientific investigation and western expansion.
This is O'Sullivan's biography on the Smithsonian website. He became an official civil war photographer at the age of 21. Subsequently he joined Clarence King's geological survey of the fortieth parallel—the first federal expedition in the West after the Civil War.

Interestingly King was very interested in the arts and I speculate that it well be this influence which helped O'Sullivan create photographs which were artistic as well as scientifically useful.

Ancient Ruins in the Cañon de Chelle, N.M.
(No. 11, Geographical Explorations and Surveys West of the 100th Meridian)

Timothy H. O'Sullivan(1840- 1882 )
albumen print on paper mounted on paperboardimage and sheet: 10 3/4 x 7 7/8 in. (27.3 x 20.0 cm.)
Smithsonian American Art Museum

I'm very much minded to let this blog cover landscape photography as well as drawing and painting - in part to highlight what photography does well - as well as what drawing and painting do well.

Friday, 12 February 2010

TIP: Foliage and Sky Holes

Richard McKinley (Pastel Pointers) writes about When the Light Comes Through the Trees on The Pastel Pointers Blog and references John F. Carlson's theory of how to tackle values in the landscape (see Carlson's Guide to Landscape Painting)

pastel painting by Richard McKinley
(see more on his website)
Having dark, upright trees against a light sky produces one of the most beautiful and difficult to handle situations in the landscape: sky holes. The amount of visible sky holes depends on the density of the foliage, but as an artist friend often said, “You have to give the birds a place to fly in and out.”
When the Light Comes Through the Trees
Richard goes on to provide some very useful commments about the issue of the colour and tonal values of the birdie holes and the foliage surrounding them. This is a recommended read.

Thanks to Richard also for his lovely pastel painting of trees - and sky holes for the birdies!

Thursday, 11 February 2010

Marine Art - Resources for Artists

Marine Art - Resources for Artists is an information website I developed a little while ago which might be of interest to those interested in the marine aspects of landscape art i.e. art that involves the sea, coast and ships.

Tanah Lot, Bali
19.5" x 25.5", pastel on Rembrandt card
copyright Katherine Tyrrell

It's updated on a periodic basis as I find new and interesting links to good information.
Marine Art - Resources for Artists

An Introduction to Marine Art: This lens provides information and advice from various websites for artists wanting to understand and draw and paint marine subjects, seascapes and waterscapes.

Topics covered include:
- definitions and categories of 'marine art';
- links to museums, art galleries and exhibitions of marine paintings;
- links to marine art societies
- books about the history of marine art and how to paint marine art;
- links to tips and techniques for drawing and painting marine subjects and
- leading marine artists - past and present
The image is of one of my pastel paintings of 'Tanah Lot' which is a temple located right on the coastline of Bali. It's cut off from the coast when the tide comes in. We were told that it's best to visit in the afternoon and then wait for the sunset. The tide was out when we got there and came in slowly during the afternoon. Unfortunately dusk brought clouds before the sunset so in the end the sunset was not as spectacular as it can be.
Tanah Lot means "Land in the Middle of the sea" in Balinese language. Tanah Lot is said to be the work of the 15th century priest Nirartha. The story goes that during his travels along the south coast he saw the rock-island's beautiful setting and rested there. Some fishermen saw him, and bought him gifts. Nirartha then spent the night on the little island. Later he spoke to the fishermen and told them to build a shrine on the rock for he felt it to be a holy place to worship the Balinese sea gods.
Tanah Lot - official website

Wednesday, 10 February 2010

Extreme Plein Air - painting the Antarctic!

This will be of interest to all confirmed plein air painters. Rowan Huntly is currently painting plein air in Antarctica on HMS Scott!

You can follow her current expedition to Antarctica on her Antarctica Blog. The last post was on 4th February.
This unique opportunity was awarded to me by the Friends of Scott Polar Research Institute (SPRI) and the Royal Navy after a selection process.
Rowan Huntley paints the Antactic

Prior to this she has painted rather a lot of frozen land and sea, including:
This is a link to an interview that the South Wales Echo did with her prior to her trip to Antarctica - CONFESSIONS of an Antarctic artist. It includes tips in the final paragraph for extreme cold weather painting.

I'm very impressed by the amount of sponsorship she's attracted for her painting trips but I guess that's pretty much essential for trips like these!

Her website also includes some links I've never seen before for nordic specialists!

I'd love to see some of her paintings exhibited in London.


Tuesday, 9 February 2010

The Sight-Size Method en Plein Air

American Artist had an article by Marc Delassio (Marc Delassio) in its December edition - which is available to download for free - click Marc Delassio - Painting Landscapes in Exact Scale
The Sight-Size Method en Plein Air
The sight-size method is incredibly useful for landscape painting as it allows the artist to focus on colors, values, and edges; the shapes one paints seem to take care of themselves.
Marc Delassio - Painting Landscapes in Exact Scale
Can I suggest reading it enlarged on screen as it prints out at half the size of the magazine and unless you have laser like eyes you'll have difficulty reading it!

Marc has also announced a Plein Air Workshop in June, 2010: a 10 day course on using sight-size in plein air painting near Trevi, Umbria.


Monday, 8 February 2010

Visiting Constable Country

In 2006 there was an exhibition of Constable - The Great Landscapes at Tate Britain which featured the "six footer" canvases that John Constable produced of the views around and about the River Stour and other places in the UK.

The Tate Britain exhibition briefing indicates that his move to larger canvases was part of a strategy to become noticed by the Royal Academy of Arts and to paint on a scale equivalent to the classical landscape artists.

The exhibition was particularly interesting as it showed how his paintings were produced and we saw the different stages from tiny sketchbooks to full-scale preliminary oil sketches for some of them. The Tate site says
These large sketches, with their free and vigorous brushwork were unprecedented at the time and they continue to fascinate artists, scholars and the general public. It has been said that it is this practice more than any other aspect of Constable's work which establishes him as an avant-garde painter, resolved to re-think the demands of his art and to address them in an entirely new way. The exhibition re-unites the full-scale sketches with their corresponding finished pictures in order to explore their role in Constable's working practice
You can see more of Constable's paintings on the Art Renewal website - John Constable

It's well worth visiting Constable Country and especially Flatford and the River Stour as much of it is very recognisable from Constable's paintings.

The last time I visited the National Trust's Bridge Cottage museum at Flatford Mill had an exhibition of reproductions of the six foot canvases of working life on the River Stour that his finished paintings were produced from in his studio.

That exhibition also shows where each painting was done and also displayed reproductions of some of the small sketches that he did for each painting.

Below you can see some of my photographs of the painting of the boatyard "Boat-Building" and what it looks like today

(Left) A reproduction of Boat-building near Flatford Mill (1815) by John Constable (1776-1837); Oil on canvas, 50.8 x 61.6 cm
(Right: Dry Dock photographed by me 2nd October 2005
all photos copyright Katherine Tyrrell
This portrays the construction of a barge at a dry-dock owned by Constable's father. It is based on a tiny pencil drawing in a sketchbook at the V&A. Constable painted the landscape entirely in the open air. His biographer praised its 'atmospheric truth', such that 'the tremulous vibration of the heated air near the ground seems visible'.
Narrative by Victoria and Albert Museum
This is the mill pond next to Willy Lott's cottage made famous in The Hay Wain (for further details see here)

all photos copyright Katherine Tyrrell

Walking and Cycling in Constable Country

To my mind you can' beat visiting the places where great landscape art was produced to really get a full appreciation of the landscape that the artist was painting - and how well they captured the sense of place in their work.

The National Trust has created a Constable Country walk

One of the best ways to experience the countryside that John Constable knew and loved is to walk around the picturesque Stour Valley.

By following in the footsteps of Constable you’ll have a better appreciation of the trees, rivers, sounds and light captured on canvass by one of the greatest British painters of all time.

To help guide you, we’ve added a special downloadable Constable Walk on the website, featuring a walk from Manningtree Station to Flatford. Manningtree Station is on the London Liverpool Street – Ipswich/Norwich line.

The 60-mile Painters Trail cycle route is another great way to experience the areas of Suffolk and Essex made famous by painters such as Constable. There are also bus routes across the county to the Stour Valley.

National Trust - Constable Country Walk

While Suffolk County Council has set up the Suffolk Painters Trail Cycle Route

Painter's Trail

If you enjoy painting, you may be interested in the Painter's Trail, which is a 69 mile long cycle route through the picturesque and historic Dedham Vale, an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. The Trail pack at £3.50 includes a map of the route and essential information on places to see, where to stay, and a painter's fact file.

To obtain a pack, contact the Dedham Vale AONB and Stour Valley Project, telephone: 01473 264263.
Suffolk County Council Cycle Routes
Have you visited the places where great landscape art was produced?

Have you made a point of visiting the places frequented by great landscape artists? If so, who's the artist and where did you go?

If you produce a blog post about your visit, let me know and I'll reference it on this blog.

Sunday, 7 February 2010

New 'tab' pages for The Art of the Landscape Blog

I'm using the new Blogger functionality to create pages about the Art of the Landscape project. I'll be using these pages as the index to access information on this blog.
I've organised them as follows
  • About This Project - provides access to the main resource sites I'm creating as a result of this project
  • Timeline - enables access to the main art movements and identified changes in landscape art across different continents
  • Famous Artists - lists links to resource sites about famous landscape artists, blog posts and/or (ning) forum threads. This index will be updated as the project progresses
  • Geographic: The next four tabs are area based and all do the same thing - they organise information on a geographical basis and include resource sites about famous landscape artists associated with that area and a timeline for the development of landscape art in: Britain, Europe, North America and Asia (Australasia will also be included when 'somebody' does some research!)
  • Improve your landscapes - provides an outline of the planned topics for future posts and links to existing resources provided by artists involved with this project. You can write a post on your own blog and have it highlighted in this index if featured on this blog. Do please make suggestions for good links which could be included here.
  • Books - lists the resource sites and blog posts about landscape art books
If you want to know more about how to create pages/tabs on your Blogger blog you need to review this Blogger help page - What are Pages?

Thoughts on how to design a formal 'Japanese' landscape drawing

Here are some of the lessons I learned from my attempt to translate my learning about Japanese landscape art into first creating a sketch and then creating a formal drawing.  The following is an extract from Japanese Art - drawing the Chokushi Mon in Kew Gardens #1.  It's my thoughts on how to create a formal Japanese landscape drawing from my subject matter - the Chokusi Mon Temple in Kew Gardens.

In this extract I've highlighted key design words
Here are some of the things which I've extracted from my mental 'to do' list as I sat down to write this post.
  • I think the portrait format might offer more scope for a good design and I need to try this out
  • I want to try and work with conventional Japanese paper formats and will be designing within their dimensions - probably around 15" x 10".
  • I'm wondering whether I can get a scroll format out of this (I need to find out what the word is for that!)
  • images are often asymmetrical eg large empty spaces balance small areas of concentrated details
  • truncated objects are often more important than those which are wholly visible (the eye wants to work out what is 'hidden' from view
Principles of design and composition and ukiyo-e
  • I need to work out where the empty space is going to be in the design - and how this might work with an asymmetrical angle to balancing different aspects of the design. I've noticed that the more emphatic the empty space is, the more you focus on the subject of the piece. I think the way forward is to adopt the portrait format and remove the green blur behind the conifer trunk (as I've done in the sketch).
  • Some of the shapes and forms need to be simplified and exaggerated. I need to make sure that the drawing works in monochrome before adding colour
  • I also need to focus more on the graphical line elements and symbolic patterns within the design in order to compensate for the lack of shading in a more formal 'Japanese' drawing.
    • I started to do this through emphasising the markings on the bark of the conifer. Lots of scope to do more here.
    • I still need to work out ways of drawing the conifer needles and the cherry blossom so that they read well and add visual interest. I'm wondering with both whether there is scope to draw with pen and ink to get simple lines and then overlay with colour and then draw into the colour with an eraser to get yet more lines.........we shall see!
  • A simple, clear colour palette needs to be worked out. I also need to think about unity and the scope for using analogous colours! I'm wondering how many colours I can use - and how I can get those colours to be ones I like working with. Simple, bold and harmonious are the words I need to keep at the front of my brain!
  • I'm wondering whether an initial drawing in pen and ink with coloured pencils to provide flat colour might be a possible way forward. It fits well with what I like doing when sketching.
I need to emphasise that I'm not trying to copy in a literal sense what is found in a Japanese woodblock print so much as trying to find a way in which the key elements and principles of their way of designing might work with my natural style.

Below are links to my resource sites about Japanese Art and Artists(which I created following my blog project about Japanese Art) if you're interested in finding out more

Saturday, 6 February 2010

Virtual Paint Out (February 2010) - San Francisco

For those who are minded to join the crowd who are following the Virtual Paint-out blog, the location for February 2010 is San Francisco

I'm going to have a go this month. I got as far as trying to work out how to navigate Corsica last month!

Open for participation from
February 1st till February 28th

View Larger Map

Friday, 5 February 2010

Used Books about Landscape Art

Yesterday, I had a field day!

After putting up the new artist bio labels on foamcore at our Drawing London Exhibition at the Barbican Library (see Alleyways and Waterways of London) I joined the Library after discovering (1) I could and (2) they have an excellent section on art books! In fact it's the best section about landscape art I have ever seen anywhere - including bookshops. (Have I told you how I'm constantly amazed by how there are never any landscape painting sections in bookshops stocking a good selection of art books)

I came away with eight books - seven of which were about landscapes in one form or another.

This morning I've ordered three of them plus one more by one of the authors from second hand booksellers. I am now convinced that one of the major sources of good books about landscape art are
  • very good libraries (which still stock old books) and
  • the second hand bookseller
For information the books - which are all about british landscape art of one form or another - are:

Art History - British Landscape Painting
  • British Landscape Painters: A History and Gazetteer (see right) by Charles Hemming - This is a really excellent book which I recommend very highly to those interested in the development of British landscape art. Now on order!
  • British Painters of the Coast and Sea: A History and Gazetteer by Charles Hemming (not seen but if it's as good as the one about landscape painterst then it should be excellent - now also on order.
  • Turner Sketches, 1789-1820 by: Gerald Wilkinson. A lovely little block chock full of reproductions of Turner's sketches from his travels in the UK and Europe. Theer's a narrative for each sketchbook. I ordered this one!
  • Unquiet Landscape - Places and Ideas in 20th century landscape painting by Christoper Neve. This book is descrived as a journey into the imagination through the English Landscape. He focuses on the motives, emotions, uncosnocious forces and contradictions involved in creating landscape art. Altogether he considers the work of about about 30 painters including Paul Nash, Eric Ravilious, Stanley Spencer, Ivor Hitches, Edwin Burra, Ben Nicholson, Joan Eardly and David Bomberg
Art Instruction
  • The Challenge of Landscape Painting by Ian Simpson. So nice to read a book by an artist who has been a professional educator. He used to be the head of Central St Martins Art College in London. It includes interviews with interviews Roger de Grey, Lawrence Gowing, John Piper, Keith Grant, Derek Hyatt, Olwyn Bowey and Norman Adams. Great images and very interesting interviews. Recommended and I've now got this on order
"If you are a painter this book aims first and foremost to improve your painting. If you are interested in landscape painting but not a painter yourself, it aims to increase your knowledge of how artists work and your appreciatian of landscape painting."
  • Landscape Drawing and Painting (A Studio book) by: John O'Connor. A little bit idiosyncratic and a tad old fashioned from a time when talking about drawing used to involve rather more words than is the current trend pushed by the publishers!
A couple of others which I haven't looked at much yet
  • The Inspiration of Landscape - Artists in National Parks - by Brian Redhead
  • Townscape painting and drawing by JG Links
In conclusion, I'm now quite certain see I'm going to become a major buyer of used books while researching my landscape art project.

Long live recycling!

(PS Apologies for the unannounced break from posting - I was much preoccupied with getting ready for the exhibition and getting my tax return filed on time. After which I developed what I referred to as my 'tax tick' in my left eye - and so I needed to take much longer breaks from the computer screen)