In my last post I talked about the challenges of sketching broad landscapes and the need to crop and plan. Today I will show you two different approaches to actually sketching them. They are certainly not the only two, but they fit with what I often do. These were done as if I was sitting in a field just trying to capture the moment which is different than creating a piece of fine art. (Practical hint: when sitting on farm fields tuck your pant leg into your socks,it keeps bugs out.)
Here is the reference photo from my last blog. If you have not read that blog I recommend reading it first. Put that pen down! You’re not ready to sketch yet.
I will do it with the watercolor paint first then add the ink.
The first thing I did was to pencil in the horizon line, that is the only pencil work I would usually do, it gives a reference point. Then I painted in the hay first as they are the focal point. Do not worry about the detail, just general shapes and colors at this stage.
Next I loosely painted in the masses of shapes and colors. We will use ink for texture and detail later so don’t worry about that here. I did make a bit of an effort to have the dark green outline the hay bales as I wanted the contrast to make them stand out.
Then lastly I used a Micron 02 pen to add some shape, details, and texture, the key is to keep it loose. I often use an 03, in this case the 02 was just within reach. I did go back and darken the paint around the bales just a bit. Most of the time I sketch with a fountain pen, however a Micron works better when going over paint.
One advantage of doing the paint first in this situation is that it keeps you from obsessing about details, just capturing the shapes and the moment. In reality, I usually do the ink first, here is how I approached that.
When doing a loose sketch it helps to grasp the pen further back, much like one would do with a pencil when sketching; just because a pen is also used for writing does not mean we must grasp it the same way. This is a Duke Ruby Fude.
The goal here was a loose depiction of the major shapes, not a detailed rendering, I enjoy both, but this was as if I was standing in the field surrounded by flies and the sun, so quick makes a lot of sense.
As in the first example I penciled in the horizon line.
When adding the watercolor it is still important to keep it loose. With the ink in first it is easier for me to see where a bit of shadow goes which of course adds shape. Just a reminder to be sure the ink is dry before adding watercolor.
Though I love walking in the fields around where we live in rural France, these are not my favorite scenes to sketch. I much prefer a tree, or fence post, an old building, or a flower. Yet with a bit of work you can capture a reasonable rendition of most anything.
Keep on traveling and sketching.