Friday, September 07, 2007

More sketching at Sissinghurst and a salutary tale

The Moat Walk, Sissinghurst
11" x 16", pencil and coloured pencil in Daler Rowney sketchbook

copyright Katherine Tyrrell

I'm transferring all previous posts about Sissinghurst to this blog. This particular post is about a sketching trip to Sissinghurst two years ago. It starts with a full-on whinge by me!

I have to tell you I had the most frustrating afternoon. First, dear partner decides to navigate to where we're going in the Weald of Kent via the county town. I am not impressed, my idea of holidays is not sitting in traffic trying to find the sign at junction after traffic light after junction etc etc. However I've only got myself to blame as I'm the geographer not him!

Then when we get to where we're going - a very beautiful garden called Sissinghurst (do take a look at the photos but they are about half as good as IRL) in Kent, I find that I'm unable to try out my new tripod as they cannot be used in the garden while it's open to the public (My birthday arrived six weeks early on Monday - after I carefully led dearly beloved into the camera shop!)

And then the batteries in my camera give up more or less straight away. But, I think, "I'm a clever clogs and brought a spare set and all we need to do is change them" and then I found out that they're flat too. At this point remarks which need a great deal of asterisks when written down are emanating from my lips.

When I get home I find that somehow or other the switch which says "charge only 2" batteries is on (rather than the 4 which my camera takes) hence the problem with both sets.

Anyway, since I had no opportunity whatsoever to take photos I did a sketch instead. For this one I had about an hour or so. The intention was that I could sketch while partner sat next to me doing something he likes doing - reading in the sunshine. Unfortunately, our seat wasn't in direct sun and he wasn't enamoured with the comfort of the I had to work quite quickly.

I had a very nice little German girl watching me for almost the entire time I was doing it and had great comments from observers - the best was "It takes those with an eye..........great colours" and "Sehr schön"

My approach to proportion and perspective

This sketch was a bit of a challenge in terms of placement and perspective, although, to be honest the only perspective I was interested in was whether the trees forms had recession - despite being different in type, shape and colour!

My usual practice when sketching is not measure anything accurately since I consider these to be essentially colour roughs. I can do more careful measuring and perspective later but I won't be able to reproduce the colour which is changing in front of me as the sun swings round. So I usually devote most of my time to capturing light in terms of value and colour.

I basically "eyeball" a subject and measure very much as I would do if I was drawing a person - that is to say I find one thing to act as a measure and then mentally measure everything off against that in broad terms. Plus I pay attention to angles.

What I did with this one is work out where my eyeline was and I noted that the top of the 'box of box hedge' was dead level. I then worked out a horizon line and decide where that should be placed on the page - in this case it was the top of the distant hedge beyond the moat. I then very roughly worked out the angle of the lawn walk and decided I wasn't going to be fussed about whether or not it was dead accurate. I think I adjusted it slightly as I worked my way down the border lightly drawing in the outlines of shapes and forms. I then roughed in the perspective on the old walls either side of the steps down to the lawn. Again I was more interested in the colours of very old brick and the impact of shadows then whether the perspective was correct.

Finally if anybody was ever wondering what a box hedge looks like wonder no longer - see big square shape on the left of the sketch - how big would like your box........?

Note: I now have a battery charger at home and in the car and take the batteries out of my camera and recharge on the drive home!

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