The Great Outdoors

For April my master class assignment is landscape. We were encouraged to explore the possibilities in the ordinary but I, like many of my classmates, relied on vacation photos for inspiration.

My four (I recycled an earlier sketch) drawings received a somewhat measured response from the teacher, but I now have some pointers for improving them. I will say that many of us seem to have struggled with the abstracting part of this assignment. We were to reduce the landscape to five or six large shapes and talk about what we eliminated and rearranged. I understand the reasons for doing this, but I know my sketches will need to be revised at least two more times to achieve that.

My first sketch and its inspiration – Cape Kiwanda, Oregon:

APRIL JMM sketch 1 source Cape_Kiwanda_Oregon APRIL JMM sketch 1 resized
this is a difficult one….you’ve got, basically, a big black hole in the middle of the page – there are a couple of dark bits but they’re not really connected to the rock..I think it’s a really difficult subject to make an interesting landscape from.    Take a little time to surf the ‘net and see if there are any solutions to this kind of image that really work.
Now the sea itself is very nice…lots going on, lovely horizontal composition, good ranges of values…I’d be careful with the edge where the wave turns, it looks a bit strange and, of course, you wouldn’t want the shadow of the rock….but working just with the waves might the the way to go on this one…or you might find some solution on www that you could “steal”!!

I decided to try making the big rock a much lighter golden color and see if that eliminates the hole problem. I think the ocean just by itself would be boring.

Sketch 2 is of salt marshes near Annapolis Royal, Nova Scotia. Since it’s a composite of several photos I won’t show any here.

APRIL JMM Sketch 2a resized

You’ve got some  good horizontal movement in this image…and a clear basic structure…be careful with the perspective of the river so that it definitely looks flat – water is always flat! –  but otherwise I think it will work well.

I will be using this subject, but am changing it to be much more abstract. I’ll report progress in upcoming posts.

Sketch 3 is from a cell phone photo of my downtown.

APRIL JMM sketch 3 source Market and HighJMM APRIL Sketch 3 resized

Looking below to the sketch I can see that you’ve cropped the edges of the photo which is good because there’s a lot in it.   Decide what is most important to it that light right in the center?

If so, I’d almost push even more into abstract…the two lights curving up – just make it a circle, by the way, and the buildings just indicated by the skyline.

But if it’s the buildings that are of most interest, then I think I’d remove the light for it is very strong and dominating.  Reading your description, it looks like the buildings are of less interest…so consider taking them to just rectangles and parallellograms  really emphasising those lights…bring the bottom ones up and make them a little more varied…crop a little more off the right…and perhaps even alter the ration of width to height!!  it would all be fun to do!

Sketch 4, recycled from the values assignment, is from Cape Breton.

APRIL JMM sketch 4 source Cape Breton APRIL JMM Sketch 4 resized

it’s a very symmetrical image ….you’ve drawn it out really well…and those greens in the photo are gorgeous.  I like the way you’ve kept the shadows…and I think you could exaggerate them even more.
But the symmetry makes the idea very static…decide which aspects of the landscape are most important to you, ignore all others (good move to remove the rocks and the stop sign!), and arrange the items in a more interesting way.  Once you’ve abstracted the “good stuff”, ignore the photo.
also I’d be careful with the dark shadow around the house which is about the same shape as the house…(even though it is like that in the photo) – I’d make it more continuous across the back, less lumpy, more landscapey.
It might also be fun to extract the colors using PSE, or simply taking the photo to the hardware store and matching to paint chips!! the colors are so lovely.

I think these are all good ideas for this scene, but who knows when I’ll get to it. Let’s see, if I create three sketches each month for 12 months and I decide I want to make up half of them, that gives me 16 quilt ideas. Oh dear.


Filed under Art quilts, In Process, Project Ideas

10 responses to “The Great Outdoors

  1. When I read the comments from Elizabeth, I understand her thinking and appreciate her insights. One theme that seems common is that it’s good to take things out of the inspiration, and to strip it to *essentials.* Obviously only the artist can decide what is actually essential, what is the true inspiration. So yes, I would feel free, as the artist, to ignore her advice at times.

    My personal favorite here is the street scene and if it were ME as the artist, I would not remove the street lights. They provide interest with the curved poles, and the light is what allows any shadowing or depth. I’ll be interested to see what you do with these sketches.

    • Yes, she does indeed urge all of us to eliminate the extraneous and focus on the meat that will get our message across. I guess she’s the visual equivalent of an editor. As to the street scene, I don’t think she suggested I eliminate the poles, but rather combine the lights into one circle. The photo shows more of a star burst of light than a circle. I hope to work with this idea eventually, but I don’t have the time to rework and simplify it right now. And I do indeed disagree with some of her advice.

  2. This looks like quite a challenge. I like all of your ideas, though.

  3. I had been thinking of taking this class too, but after reading your posts on it, I am glad I didn’t. The comments are helpful in a way but I think they would put my back up. I would be looking for clarification to help me make my work more “me,” and it seems like her comments are about making the work more like her own style than about bringing out more of the student’s style.

    • I can see where Elizabeth isn’t everybody’s cuppa. I think if you could see the finished pieces of my classmates you’d see lots of very individual styles that aren’t similar to her work. Sorry I can share only my stuff. Elizabeth’s personal approach comes out especially with landscapes as many of her works are that. If you asked her, I suspect she’d say she was trying to pass along a design approach she believes to be effective. I feel free to ignore her advice if I want to do something else. However, I want input on my designs that goes beyond “I like it” and I believe the “me” shows in my choice of subject, materials, and construction techniques. Elizabeth has definite opinions, but I think she’s actually pulled her punches with the work of some students in recognition of the stage they’re at in developing their own style.

  4. Ann

    Looks like an on going project. I appreciate you sharing the teaches reaction/input to your sketches (which are great IMO). I think you have fun ahead and I’ll bet as you work on them each will bring back nice vacation trip memories. And then there’s that whole finding the perfect fabrics…

    • Thanks for the kind words about the sketches. It’s been decades since I did any drawing and I realize I missed it. As far as fabrics, I suspect I’ll be dyeing/painting solids or buying solid-ish fabrics for the landscapes as most prints I fear will destroy the illusion of the scene.

  5. Lesley

    Better get cracking’ then!

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