Sketching, Drawing and Coloring Landscapes

Drawing landscapes large and small can be both interesting and enjoyable. The process  can expand your artistic skills at many levels. As with any special emphasis you place on your art, you will improve as you do more of it. It’s a good idea to carry a special sketch book with you and do a few drawings each day. Even some can be the briefest of sketches to which you can return later and expand in some detail.

When you do larger scenes in which there is some expanded depth, you can add many foreground details and also expand the perspective by drawing in distant objects even while they are smaller, stand out less brightly and may be fuzzy and lack detail. You can practice bringing them into clear perspective and proportion. Foreground rocks, fences, trees, flowering plants, flowing rivers or lakes and the beginnings of roads disappearing into the distance, may all be more clearly defined and detailed by comparison.

You can draw from observation snow covered woods, or summer scenes with brightly lit rocky brooks with water from spring rains churning. These and many features are waiting to be captured in your sketch book.

You can also concentrate on smaller sub-parts of the scene such as a decaying farm fence, half-broken and surrounded by jagged and irregular field grass. Capture them as more than a sketch, but in a pencil drawing rich in detail. Such smaller and more narrowly defined scenes can be roughly sketched and then filled in with ever increasing detail both as direct sketches and as negative sketches. In the latter case a lightly colored foreground major lines can be drawn in outline and then the darker background shaded in to highlight the lighter parts of the drawing.These are sometimes referred to as negative drawings.

The pencil sketch above can be done as a negative drawing by sketching the outline of the fence and drawing the tall and broader blades of grass in the same way, but then shading in everywhere but not within the fence or within but around the the larger blades of grass. Initially, neither the fence nor the blades of grass are shaded, but a few details may be added after the background shading is reasonably complete.

Drawing birds or other animals captured while in the water in front of a collection of reeds, for example, can be outlined in sketches and then surrounded by dark shading, but more dark in some locations than in others. Forward shadows or reflections of the bird in the water may be lighter than the surrounding water. You have many options, but it should always be clear to the observer from where the sunlight or moonlight is coming.

In these drawings whether they include large landscapes or focus on small sectors, you should try for significant detail in the foreground. You can either work slowly and steadily on detail or in rapid strokes letting the drawing pencil get far out in front of whatever plan you may have coming out of your mind.

I think it is important to do many pencil sketches and detailed drawings of natural scenes. Practice drawing rocks, birds, trees, leaves, close up and at a distance. Some drawings you can repeat either from memory or by making the same observation again, but then doing a drawing in colored pencil, water color or in oil.

Many natural objects such as flowers, and other specific botanical structures, seem to require color. Some are nicely done in colored pencil while others may may have better representation in water colorings or in oils.

It’s hard to do too many kinds of art all at the same time. Usually a sketch or even a detailed pencil drawing will give you the impression that the subject will look particularly good as a colored pencil drawing. Try it. You don’t have to do it in water color or in oil just because you think the drawing might be well rendered in colored pencil.


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