Trip Prep: Getting in the mood for some landscapes

May 18, 2016 | 2 Comments

I was scheduled to do the next in my Exploring Edges series today and to look at hard and soft edges creating a sense of depth in a landscape scene. But… someone was a little ambitious to attempt two such series at the one time! So until Foundations Friday has finished I am putting Exploring Edges on hold.

However, I will share with you a landscape sketch that I did on Saturday night. At the time I wrote:

Thinking about Scotland tonight – nearly every Sat evening I Skype my sis who lives in Scotland so Scottish thoughts are a regular feature in my weekends. But today I wanted to do a landscape sketch. I am so out of practice (been too city bound lately) so it was fun to move the paint around and start thinking about a completely different subject matter. I sketched this exact view (from The isle of Skye) 6 years ago. Overdue for a return visit.

The view is the majestic hills of Blaven, from Torrin on the way to Elgol and I sketched from my car during my visit to Skye in 2010. Here is a photo on that sketch.

My sketching craft has developed over the years, but there are still a lot of things I love about the original sketch. One is the flow and ease with which it was done (this was a sketch that only took a few minutes), and the other, much more importantly is the memory I have of doing it and how happy I was at the time.

And here is a scan of last’s week version.

A few thoughts about this sketch:

  • I don’t do a lot of landscapes so felt very rusty.
  • I decided to do some lines with watercolour pencils first and then a few loose washes over. I enjoyed working this way.
  • How would I use this technique if I had a few little white houses to include? (in fact I ignored a house in this version)
  • The lighting was rather patchy in the photo so I needed to make a few decisions about value and hue.
  • Need to think about techniques for grey flat lighting as well.

After last week’s post about thumbnails I couldn’t help feeling the irony that one of my thoughts while I was doing this sketch was:

Hmm, landscapes are all about manipulating the colour temperature, value and edges to create depth and there are always a number of different interpretations one could make. Thumbnails would be perfect for exploring these values option.”

So, anyway, after Monday’s notice that I will be going overseas soon, I will further reveal today that I am planning to visit my sister (in Scotland!) before the symposium in Manchester. Yay! I am very excited about that. (Oops! there is that ‘excited’ word again!)

And so, as I think about revisiting Scotland I am thinking about the sketching subjects there and challenges that I will be faced with. I remember some sketches that I really struggled with in 2009 and 2010 when I was last in the Highlands so I want to do a little Trip Prep to get me in the mood, to explore a few techniques and to test out a few colour mixes. Did you notice this page on Monday’s post?

Last year I was so busy leading up to Singapore and Cambodia that I didn’t get a chance to really think about the temples of Angkor Wat, what challenges they would pose and how I would need an extra supply of Van Dyke Brown – I ran out!.

So over the next few weeks, I am going to re-visit a few old sketches, do some more colour tests, start my usual last minute sewing and just generally try to get my brain into gear. I have a long trip with a number of projects to work on, as well as some down-time with family and friends… and some solo time for working on my own sketching.

Final note: I much prefer to sketch on location but there are times when using photos for homework has a lot of benefit. This is especially the case when you re-visit scenes that you have sketched before and struggled with! But in general, sketching out on location is the best!


  • Sandra James-Talbot says:

    I would be very interested to read your thoughts on how to paint dull flat lighting and grey skies, as the UK is like this so often. Except for one nice sunny day we get in May most years 😉 Very envious of a long sketching trip and excited to see what you produce. Don’t suppose you are planning on giving any other workshops in the UK while you’re here (I couldn’t make it to the Symposium)?! I’m forever hopeful.

  • How great that you will be able to visit your sister in Scotland and sketch some landscapes too!!!

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