Week Seven of the Autumn Plein Air Challenge is now complete. A number of things kept me from getting outside to draw most of the week, chief among them a decided cold snap!
But I did find a comfortable chair in sunny spot one afternoon and had access to an aging wood fence as a subject. Rather than draw a section of fence, I chose the top of one post as the subject for a detailed study.
The Method I Used
I drew this as a straight-forward sketch, beginning with Faber-Castell Art Grip Aquarelle light phthalo green. I roughed in the overall shape of the post, added larger details such as the knot at the top and the larger cracks, then darkened values in some of the cracks, and in the cast shadow to the left.
Next I went over the drawing with Van Dyke Brown. In addition to darkening values, I added more detail and lighter values.
In the cast shadow, I then layered helioblue-reddish and a small area of light blue at the top of the shadow for reflected light.
I also glazed light flesh over part of the post in an attempt to get a warmer gray, but didn’t like that and didn’t glaze the entire post.
Later in the week, I did a little more work on the study. I added texture with short, open, diagonal strokes with Van Dyke brown along the vertical grain. I also glazed light phthalo green, light blue, and Van Dyke brown over the side of the post.
Finally, I used black to darken some of the accents.
Time Spent Drawing
I didn’t measure the time for this drawing, since I was more interested in rendering a detailed study of my subject. I was outside a little over an hour, but part of that time centered around a lap full of kittens. Drawing and kittens are usually mutually exclusive!
I’m guessing about 45 minutes total.
What I Learned
Dress for the weather. Yes, I sat in the sun and out of the wind. Yes, I was dressed appropriately. But dressing for outdoor activity and outdoor leisure are not always equal. Once I’d sat there for a while, I had to shed my over shirt because the sun was just too warm. Dressing in layers is definitely a wise decision when drawing outside.
Sketch with light colors. Do initial sketches with light colors and or light pressure. Rough in your subject first this way, then either go over it again with the same color and heavier pressure or with a darker color to establish the most accurate lines. I tend to layer colors with very light pressure, but draw with a heavier hand. Using a light touch was definitely to my advantage.
Sketch with complementary colors. I chose green for the beginning sketch because I wanted to do something different. Using a color other than the color of the subject is a good way to see it with a fresh eye.
But you can also begin with a complementary color to add depth and richness to the final colors of your subject.
Get the most out of your pencil strokes. Match the darkness, thickness and openness of your pencil strokes to the subject you’re drawing. The top of this post is rough, so I used short, vertical, zig-zag strokes to draw that area. I used the stroke shown below to draw the top of the post.
Mead Academie Sketch Book, 9 inches by 6 inches, Heavyweight white paper
Faber-Castell Art Grip Aquarelle
- Light Phthalo Green
- Van Dyke Brown
- Light Blue
- Light Flesh