Drawing 1, Part 3: Exercise 5

Foreground, Middle Ground, Background

I actually attempted this exercise several times.

The first attempt was a pencil drawing of a landscape scene from a photo I found online, the second attempt was a forest scene from a photograph I found on Pixabay, a free photo website. That attempt was created in charcoal and paint, but didn’t work out. I then made a drawing in just charcoal. This was the drawing:

charcoal forest scene

I used charcoal for the above drawing, and worked from the background to the foreground. I started by creating a layer of ‘trees’ at the top of the page which I blended with my finger. These were the background, the trees further in the distance. I built up several layers of trees for the background with increasing clarity. I worked on the middle ground and foreground, blending and smudging, creating shadows and using an eraser for highlights. I then used more pressure to create darker trees in the foreground. When I was happy with the shadows and composition, I added some highlights in white chalk, which I then blended in.

I am happy with the outcome of the composition, it has drama and presence, and creates an atmosphere of being deep in the forest. It also shows separation between foreground, middle ground and background.


when I read back the briefing of the exercise, I realised that I had misinterpreted, and was supposed to use one of my own photos, sketches, or to sketch on location.

The only decent photograph was one I had taken in the garden of the local museum.

North Lincolnshire Museum

I decided to use this image as a reference for the drawing for this exercise.

I first mapped the image into my A3 sketchbook using a grid. This is something I never usually do and was very time consuming. I also found it difficult to keep track of where I was placing things.

I then built up the image using watercolour pencils, once i had mapped it out in a 2H pencil. I prefer watercolour pencils to coloured ones, as they are more versatile, plus I love working in watercolour. Some areas I sketched fairly accurately, like the wall, but I took into consideration the properties of the watercolour pencils for the other areas, such as the grass, foliage and walls.

This was the finished drawing…

The finished sketch

I like the finished sketch, and it is what the exercise was requiring; but to me it lacks the character and atmosphere of the dramatic, charcoal, forest sketch. The grass took some working on to get that finished effect. There is little distinction between the three sections. There was little distinction on the photograph either. I think the perspective looks convincing, though. Perhaps I could have added some features in the background just to show some separation. I like the effect of the watercolour pencil on the walls. It gives them some interest and dimension. The stump in the centre is an old, carved tree stump, by a local artist.

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