Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Downs Prep Sketch

oil on card 33x16.5cm

This little exercise is about solving a problem in preparation for a larger painting. Three landscapes have been cobbled together here quite passably, but I was totally unconvinced by the extreme foreground. For reasons which (hopefully) will become apparent in due course, I needed to know how I would describe the ground about 3ft away fairly clearly, and then take the eye back down the path, through the valley, and into the wider landscape and beyond.

Being just a little work-out sketch, I haven’t gone to town on the paint surface/layers thing, so it’s mostly fairly raw. I shifted a few of the bushes in the valley around to describe the form of the rising path more easily, but that was pretty straightforward.

The extreme foreground was the persistent nagging problem. What I needed was a close-up source photo looking 50 metres straight down a chalk downland path between gently rising sides of lush green grass. Getting nowhere, I gave up combing the Interweb, and as a last resort, stomped off up Blackford Hill yesterday with my camera. Which was a good idea, as I got some reference photos which, happily, have provided enough detail to construct what I wanted. So, I’ve just finished this little sketch after lunch today, relieved to have solved my original problem, and confident that when I do start the Big One – with sky and stuff – my sources are strong enough.

No doubt a botanist might notice the discrepancy in the flora, but frankly I’m not that good a painter. Anyway, that certainly wasn’t my primary concern while lining up my shots of paths and grasses - lying prone on a damp bit of Edinburgh, half-under a gorse bush, trying to avoid the rabbit pellets and the scent of fox wee…

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