part three: expanse project two: landscape

exercise two: sketchbook walk

Another freezing day, temperatures just getting up to 1C and the howling mistral wind flying in from the north. Two quick sketches outside and I had to retreat inside to sketch from the windows.

sketches done outside (above) and worked on inside (below)



When I started sketching the sky was thick and heavy. No shadows, a very flat light. But the wind was whipping up which meant a few hours later the clouds were being pushed over the mountain and we had shadow – at this point I came back to this viewpoint and saw the dramatic shadows cast by the gates.

Dark cypress trees punctuate this landscape. They often appear almost black. Cypress hedges are also used to protect gardens and crops from the wind. Looking out of these gates is a perfectly rectangular cypress hedge with a large conifer – out of place among the olives and green oaks.

The Luberon mountain is  a constant presence. Dark blue-green or dark blue-grey at this time of year, white scars where bare rock is exposed. The tree line is dark with pine but there are patches of deciduous trees with their last leaves – they look fuzzy, purple-pink – in some places thin white trunks can just be seen.


I quite like this long tall format. It’s tempting to crop the sky out but it feels like a big part of the picture to me. It’s a thick white sky, dense and frozen. Usually when the skies are clear the mountain dominates, looming large and dark but on days when the skies are heavy it loses its dominance and seems to be crouching low.


This isn’t really working as it is. But I still like the idea of it. The telegraph pole and the cypress tree standing up to each other. The pole with its chaotic tangle of wires that is so typical of this region – often blown about, sagging low. They create a kind of counter rhythm with the outline of the mountain behind. It might suit a more abstract treatment?


I quite like this feeling of just peering over the roof, but as with many of these compositions, the roof is dominant and the thought of drawing a tiled rooftop fills me with dread.

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