Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Hudson Fellowship Day 1 - sketches

Drawing in the the Catskills

You are forgiven if you can't tell what the above sketch is meant to represent.... it has elements of a boulder and moss, but I got lost in the details and everything just became this amorphous organic mass. Anyway, before I could pull it back together thunder began to roll and I and my 25 fellow Fellows began a rain-soaked dash down a slippery mountainside.

The afternoon was salvaged when the sun came out and I was able to spend a couple hours sketching on the banks of a flat, wide creek with miniature waterfalls stretching across it.

So to catch up anyone who doesn't know what I am doing: I'm participating in a 1-month landscape workshop with the Hudson River Fellowship which began yesterday in upstate NY. The Fellowship is following the study of landscape using pre-Impressionist techniques, the same method we use for studying the figure: Breaking down the elements of form, value, color and composition into individual steps before attempting a painting that incorporates all of them.

So we are beginning with studies and thumbnails, and we are using the terminology that the European-trained American landscape painters used in the 19th century:

croquise: thumbnail composition, as little as 5 fast lines
etude: study of a detailed element, contour only or value drawing
equisse: compositional study, fleshed-out thumbnail
grisaille: monochromatic "wipe-out" painting done with burnt umber
pochard: a color study done outdoors - not concerned with drawing, just color notations

With all these elements the goal is to bring them home to the indoor studio and assemble a complete landscape painting.

More about the 19th Century American painters of the Hudson River School

Excerpt of Asher B Durand's Letter on Landscape Painting
(I've heard these exist somewhere in audio format but I can't find them, if anyone knows where they can be found please let me know, it would be great to listen to while painting!)