Category Archives: 1 Fractured and dramatic marks

Wind farm reference photos

I am researching wind farms and wind turbines to inform idea development for a collection of drawings based on inspiration from Project 1.1 of my course. I have also been researching pylons and wrote about this in my Viewpoints post. As I can’t physically get near these wind farms this is my collection of photos I have researched so far:


How to create intimidating viewpoints

I’m researching different viewpoints for an idea that emerged from an exercise in Project 1.1. During the mark making exercise, electricity pylons emerged. I wonder if this is a subconscious response to some pylons near where I live, so I am developing a concept around pylons and power in my sketchbook.


I’d like the pylons in my final drawing to look as intimidating as possible, looming large over the landscape. Amateur Photographer suggests:

“By looking up at your subject from a lower angle you make your portrait subject look more powerful and important. Combined with the right expression it can also help to make a subject look intimidating….[for] landscapes… a low angle will emphasise an object right in front of the camera”

The New York Film academy suggests photographing below, sometimes referred to as “worm’s eye view”:

“…as if you were a worm looking up at the world around you…this makes all subjects look very large, even if they are very small in reality…subjects presented in this way look as though they hold power over the viewer, and can seem very intimidating…you automatically make the viewer feel vulnerable, even if the subject itself isn’t frightening.”

I googled pylons and worm’s eye view and found some great source photos to work from. As I can’t get that close to pylons in person this is useful reference material from which I can develop a number of sketches:

For rows of pylons I found these:

I’ll add to this iteratively as I find more interesting images.

Artist research: Paul Cesar Helleu

My style of using pastels and pencils is to blend. As part one of the course is focused on different types of mark making, I researched pastel artists to see if I could find any art work where the pastel-work is primarily lines. Paul Cesar Helleu (1859-1927) is mentioned in the course materials and I was delighted to find many examples of expressive use of line without much blending in his work.

I copied Helleu’s Elegant woman at the rail pastel drawing to see what I could learn. I chose black, white and brown conte chalks. I couldn’t replicate the fine line of his marks as my paper was too grainy however I still learned a huge amount from the exercise. My work-based art tutor confirmed I needed to use smoother paper, perhaps hot pressed or not paper. He also suggested using a pencil holder which helps you to draw straight lines as it reduces the impact of the curvature in lines caused by the natural movement of the wrist and arm.


As I normally draw portraits it was challenging to move onto full figures. I was surprised how long it took to get the curvature of back and waist right and it is difficult to rub out conte chalk so this was quite an unforgiving exercise. I misjudged the length of her left arm but I was pleased with the shape of her skirts. I was also surprised how much you can convey with relatively little tonal shading and detail. I am definitely enjoying this looser style of drawing. I feel more encouraged to sketch knowing I can get still a convincing sense of form and likeness in this way.

I really like Helleu’s use of line. The background lines reinforce the path of the woman’s gaze which I particularly enjoyed. The direction of the rail reinforces this. I have not thought about background lines in this way before.  My work-based art club tutor said that diagonal lines are often used in drawings of women as they are gentler and less masculine than vertical lines and confirmed.

I enjoyed the way the use of tone in this piece moves the eye gradually around the drawing. The large chunk of shadow between the woman and the rail draws the eye first so your eye naturally focused on the elegance of her waist line. The contrasting white of the arm then leads the eye up to the most delicate detail which is on the face. The darkest darks are the the collar and hat which frames the detail on the face. The black lines down her spine draw the eye down waistline, which the eye is drawn into by the curved darks on it. The eye is then drawn down by the vertical lines of the skirts. I am fascinated by how well this use of tone and line works as a composition device. I have ordered, on recommendation of my work-based art tutor, The Painter’s Secret Geometry: A Study of Composition in Art so I can learn more about effective composition and inform the progression of some of my sketch book ideas.


Project 1.1. Fractured and dramatic marks

Drawing 1

I was feeling more confident with approaching these exercises now so jumped in with curiosity. I found I had created hard, dramatic intersecting lines. The marks were energetic and made me think about electricity pylons. As drawing from the shoulder was new to me from previous exercises, I chose to use my shoulder to push the charcoal across the page. I was really delighted and surprised to see interesting, almost recognisable shapes emerging from this exercise. I certainly feels like I am being liberated from slavishly drawing realistic portraits based on photos!

Drawing 2

I decided to approach this exercise more slowly and gently to contrast with the energy of my first drawing. I let the charcoal jump across the page and this time chose to use my wrist instead of my shoulder. This resulted in small, wavy lines. To begin with this resembled the sea then after adding contrast by laying charcoal in smooth intersecting lines a tree on a windy day began to emerge.

Drawing 3

By way of change, I focused on straight, continuous lines. An almost forest like scene began to emerge, perhaps a subconscious response to the green ground I used. I employed a light touch.

Drawing 4

I framed straight lines with diagonals, this time working at a medium speed. By the end a house in a forest seemed to be emerging so I went with it and added some smudged lines which gave the emerging picture some depth.

Drawing 5

I never draw with pen so this is a first. I wasn’t sure what to do so just began flicking light lines across the page. Fields of crops began to emerge and I decided to leave some white space to balance the volume of black lines.

I really liked the way the brush echoed the line and softened it to provide depth.This seemed to work more effectively when I was picking out individual lines.

Drawing 6

I drew from the elbow and used gentle, light movement to get nice curves. I went over the top with putty rubber to create straight lines. A bonfire seems to have appeared.

Drawing 7

I was determined to try something different again in this exercise so I flicked pencil cross hatches and then used a rubber to sweep across creating thicker, soft lines. By the end of the exercise a fence or piece of gauze floating in the wind had emerged. I really liked this drawing aesthetically due to the delicacy of the gauzey lines juxtaposed with the expressive thicker lines.