Foundations Friday 2017: Lesson 8 - Balancing Line and Colour

February 24, 2017 | 2 Comments

LizSteel-Palladio-Tempietto-1
It’s hard not to say each week “this is my favourite lesson”, but the subject of balancing line and colour is very dear to my heart. So much so, that I prepared a second course – SketchingNow Edges – to explore the concepts that I could only introduce during Foundations.

The traditional perception of ink and wash is of carefully outlined shapes filled in with neat areas of colour – a colouring-in book type of approach. This has a strong illustrative feel to it – crisp, clean, and very readable. It also takes time, and well, as you all know, I like a quicker looser way of working. With my personal preference for spontaneous sketching, I am particularly interested in the relationship between line and colour. How much does the colour depend on the line to explain the subject and vice versa? A dynamic relationship between line and colour is more what I am after.

LizSteel-Palladio-Tempietto-2
Compare these two versions of Palladio’s Tempietto at Maser. I have to get myself in the right frame of mind to do the more expressive version. It is all too easy just to pick up the pen and draw outlines around every element.

St-James-wonky-lines
This week I am teaching a 2-day Sketching Architecture workshop, and on Wednesday I went to make final confirmations with landowners/ cafe owners for our sketching locations. I decided to do a sketch of St James church that has a ‘tighter relationship’ between line and colour, and also including linework for the brick texture.

LizSteel-wonky-st-james
It is still a loose and free sketch – completely devoid of any attempt at proportion or measuring – but the intention is that there are lines around all the important edges and that the paint is (more or less) within the lines.

LizSteel-Measured-St-james
Here are other versions that I did during my 2016 Sketching Architecture workshop. This one is a neater, more carefully measured sketch using the same general approach of ink and wash – however the colour was applied more loosely and the texture which was applied with watercolour pencil so it was not too strong.

St-James-watercolour-3-minute
And lastly a watercolour pencil sketch done from memory (the day after the above demonstration) which is loose in every respect!

Once again I am just scratching the surface – please check out my Foundations course if you want more details.


This is part of a series Foundations Friday where I am revisiting the lessons of my SketchingNow Foundations online class, and exploring the concepts in a new way. To find out more about the course click here.


And finally, an update on SketchingNow Edges: Enrollment is a month or two away but in the next fortnight I will start sharing some exclusive content via email to everyone who is on the Edges waiting list. So please make sure you sign up for the waiting list.

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