I can’t believe we’re already at the final in-depth post. It seems like just yesterday that I started working on the in-depth contract and now we’re approaching the final 1.5 months of this project.

Since my last blog post, I have been making what, I believe, to be good progress in spite of the business that comes with these last three months of TALONS. As I mentioned in my previous blog post, my mentor and I had decided on doing one large final drawing instead of multiple small ones, especially as time becomes sparse.

After doing a lot of browsing online of different landscape drawings, I found myself drawn to this drawing by Jonas de Ro as I enjoyed the ocean and island vibe of it as well as this drawing I found on Wallacoo as I liked the way the drawing uses values to create layers and dimension. Inspired by these two drawings, I started sketching out different ideas until I ended up with one I liked: looking out of a cave onto a body of water with cliffs and mountains as the background.

The concept of mood

Following this, I met with my mentor again to discuss something she mentioned was very important during our last meeting: mood. Mary says that capturing the overall mood is the most important part of any landscape drawing as everything you draw (or don’t draw) adds or detracts from the mood and you want it to be consistent throughout.

With regards to mood, Mary mentioned three practical ideas: setting, colour, and lighting. Setting is the place where the landscape drawing is set. This affects the mood of the drawing as a dark and desolate building has a much different feeling from a sunny tropical beach. Another element to consider is the colours of the image. Colours can invoke different feelings. For example, yellow creates a happy feeling while blue creates a feeling of serenity. Finally, the last factor Mary mentioned was lighting. Lighting can be warm or cool. It can be hard or soft. It can be from a variety of directions or even multiple directions. There are so many ways that lighting can be modified in a drawing and each of them have different ways of affecting them. The warmer and softer the lighting is, the drawing, in general, feels happier and more welcoming whilst the opposite is true for colder and harsher lighting.

Starting the Drawing

With this knowledge, I then started to work on colouring in my actual drawing. Initially, I wanted to give the drawing a more mysterious vibe. To make sure I was able to capture this mood correctly, I came up with this list of the things I should pay attention to while drawing that I saw pop up in drawings with a similar feeling.

  • Very desaturated (often just black and white)
  • Great contrast (white whites and black blacks)
  • Usually relatively empty (no animals/humans in great detail)
  • Often very foggy
  • Usually harsh, bright white backlighting

With these points in mind, I started working on my drawing idea by first sketching it out and then adding colouring.

Alternative Moods

As I started colouring in the drawing, though, I found myself wanting to change the focus mood of the painting as, in a time of so much stress, I wanted to do a mood that wasn’t so negative.

To deal with this, I turned to my mentor and we discussed different alternatives for moods that I could change to. Together, we brainstormed a list of other feelings we could try to evoke through my drawing without having to change the sketch I had already created. We then narrowed the list down to two final feelings: calm (Mary explained that there are a lot of similar elements between mysterious and calm so I wouldn’t have to change as much) and content (this would require a huge change as I would be dealing with saturated colours instead of desaturated but it fits what I wanted more). Although ‘content’ would definitely have done away with any negative conotation, I felt like I had put in too much work already to recolour everything, so I ended up switching my principal mood to calm. Before I started working on the drawing again, though, I first came up with another list of elements to making a drawing feel serene:

  • Desaturated colours or “pure” colours
  • No sharp edges (smooth lines) and very blended (almost overly so)
  • Strong sense of unity (often through balance or colour)
  • Lack of movement (no focal points usually)
  • Often has a large depth of field and horizon is very far away (and usually visible)
  • Simple (not overly crowded and with a lot of space between items)

An alternative another mentor might have offered me, though, was an alternative perspective on the problem. Perhaps the problem didn’t lie in the mood I chose but rather how I approached it and I could have used the negative connotation behind mysterious as a way of letting my stressed and other negative feelings out.

Both ways of offering alternatives are both appropriate and effective and, without having tried the other way, I can’t say which is better. However looking back on it, I wish my mentor had suggested the latter option as there will be times where I can’t just change what I’m doing and I’ll have to take an alternative perspective instead and it would have been nice to try that out.

Challenges and Changes

Cave Final Drawing
My work-in-progress drawing

Now, for what this entire post has been building up to: the drawing I’ve been working on so far, which can be found to the right. Of course there’s still much to change, which I’ll be discussing in a moment, but overall I’m very happy with how this drawing looks so far; it has definitely exceeded my expectations of what I thought I could draw.

Despite this, drawing it came with its fair share of problems, though.

From the beginning, I found the size of the document to be a struggle. Because I wanted to print it, the document size needed to be really big, especially if I wanted it to be dominant on my display board. My mentor suggested last time that I work with 300 dpi (dots per inch) if I plan on printing and since I wanted the drawing to be 18″ x 24″, the drawing ended up being 5400 by 7200 pixels. This made it a struggle to colour in large areas of the drawing, such as the base colour of the rocks, as the brush would move very slowly compared to how fast my pen was moving. However, once I moved to smaller areas, such as the shading, the problem wasn’t a deterrent anymore, so I have decided to move on from this problem. This will be something I will have to keep in mind for future art pieces, though.

Another thing I struggled with, again, while drawing, was getting the correct amount of blending done. For example, the sky clearly needs to be blended more so the gradient becomes more smooth while the rocks are overly smooth and should have a more prominent texture to them.

Looking at the drawing, though, there are many other things that I would like to change before I finally present it on in-depth night.

One of these things is I want to finish drawing in everything I had in the sketch. These include the bush on the rocks, the moss and vines along the ceiling, the trees on the mountains, the shadows on the ocean and the foam on the ocean. These are all just small details, though, and something I can easily add in an hour but they would, in my opinion, tie the drawing together much better.

Something else I want to do is redraw the cave opening (especially the left side) as I have been looking at caves for reference and my version of it is constructed a little strange and likely not something that will happen in nature.

Another thing I want to change in the drawing is the background mountains. As I mentioned above, one of the factors to creating a calm environment is simplicity and, as I look over the drawing, I think the fact that there are three mountains/cliffs in the background are making it too crowded and detracting from the overall feeling.

Despite all the changes I want to make to the drawing, I am confident and optimistic in my ability to get this finished in time for in-depth night despite all the trips and AprilMayJune craziness coming up, though nothing is guaranteed. (I’ll definitely try my hardest to get it done, though, and it looks really promising so far!)

“Don’t think about making art, just get it done.  Let everyone else decide if it’s good or bad, whether they love it or hate it.  While they are deciding, make even more art.” – Andy Warhol