Sunday, 7 February 2010

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

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