exercise three: 360° studies
I have become completely weather obsessed since starting this part of the course. The day might creep up to 3° if we’re lucky but add the wind chill to that and we don’t get out of negative numbers.
Today was my chance to venture out for the 360° studies – it was like the apocalypse – no one goes outside in these temperatures.
Across the space of 45 minutes I did a slow-motion three-point turn in my car on a single-track lane to take in the landscape. The wind was rocking the car and my hands were fast going numb. I kept trying to channel Cézanne out in the winds on the Saint Victoire with his great flapping coat but then I remembered that actually he collapsed and died of pneumonia.
I ended up with three studies – and worked a little more on the last one from a photo once I got inside.
I did more work on this once I’d got inside. This mountain (more of a big hill, actually) is close and the sun was rising up to the left. Often the mountain is just a large dark shape, but when the sun is low it is thrown in to relief and its deep folds are accentuated.
What I learned:
- to fit everything in takes planning – I had to draw much smaller than I naturally want to in order to get the width of the landscape on the page.
- there are a surprising number of clear horizontals in these landscapes – essentially made by roads and the trees, hedges and scrub that grows up alongside them.
- the mountain looks like fabric with folds – a contrast of dark shadow with just the ridge highlighted by the sun
- clumps of dense trees have quite rounded shadows, with small crescents of light thrown on to one side – particularly the umbrella pines
- taller trees tend to have a fuzzier pale light at the top
- hedges and cypress – the densest of all become the darkest silhouettes
- houses are hugely simplified in the distance. here they are built with their backs to the north, sometimes one or two tiny windows show like mean and beady eyes across the landscape. A chimney a single lego brick of white.
- I didn’t have much patience for developing the sketch. I felt I knew what needed to be done but couldn’t really be bothered. This is an awful thing to admit. I think it’s symptomatic of always being short of time and some part of my brain subconsciously deciding whether an exercise has value or whether I should be moving on.