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Why use Coloured Pencil for Landscapes ? Good question !    A lot of landscape work depends on the portraying of  wide open spaces, expanses of water,  and skies. All of these are often better painted using a liquid pigment rather than a dry one in a ‘stick’. That is not to say that we shouldn’t look at subjects with these areas of interest……  there are many ways to get round the linear nature of a pencil line and smooth out the layers of colour.   We have already looked at some of the techniques in the General topic on ‘Backgrounds’  and there are a number of topics in Watercolour Pencils - namely ‘ Why underpainting?’ , ‘Foliage in Watercolour Pencils’ , ‘Step by Step - Coventry Canal’.   You may find it interesting to follow through other step by steps of landscape scenes There are several in the section on TUTORIALS These may encoursge you to give landscapes a try. The use of Watercolour Pencils is a good way of making the working of a landscape picture easier as we can soften the dry pigment with a damp brush and blend the colours. We can use Watercolour Pencils as the foundation and then develop the picture detail with smooth waxy pencils that will provide both detail and depth of colour. The fact that Coloured Wax Pencils introduce some difficulties for working landscapes does not mean we should shun them and revert to Oils, Acrylics Pastels and Watercolour.  Pencils offer a number of advantages for the casual artist and the cleanliness and convenience of using pencils with the benefit of being able to achieve detail easily, mean that the pencils still get taken out for many commissions, particularly where accuracy of building details are required. We will look (below) at a few of the points that need to be considered when approaching a Landscape
A collection of notes in the general area of landscape painting in Coloured Pencil Composition. Just because your reference has elements in particular positions doesn’t mean you have to slavishly duplicate them.  It may help to move things about a little – or even omit them altogether. Bear in mind the principle of having your point of maximum interest – usually the point where lightest light meets darkest dark, or where two strong complementary colours juxtapose – close to a golden section point (approx 2/3 ).  See if you can use elements which overlap to add interest .      For more, see the separate sections on Composition starting here   also information on the Golden Section Trees Keep your branch strokes following the direction of growth. Turn the paper upside down  or sideways if it helps. It can also help to lightly mark the perimeter of the leaf area before you work an individual tree. This ensures that you keep the correct shape – vital for winter trees with no leaf. A tree branch may cut across another area which may offer a contrast of tone.  Work out in advance how you will approach working it.  If the branch is light against dark, you may need to sketch the branch lines in and then work the background as a negative shape. Foliage is best worked with a scribble stroke.  Make sure that you include areas of shadow and also use a variety of colours for foliage – even in summer there will be areas of brown and gold.  Use an eraser to open out areas of sky where you have applied a light base coat. This is also useful in adding ‘bird holes’ in trees after you have worked the foliage.   Using an eraser will offer you the chance to obtain soft edges where the pencil point would have produced a harder line.  This can also be very useful for showing the edge line of trees along a skyline. An eraser can also be used to lift out areas in trees for snow laying on the branches. Rocks and stone A light circular stroke is best to avoid forming any lines.  Always work from ‘inside’ a shape and turn the paper as required to keep edge markings within your shape and worked in the natural curve of the wrist movement. Stone renders best leaving some of the highlights and grain of the paper showing so don’t overwork or burnish unless your stones are wet and/or polished.  Watch out for areas of shadow where rocks and stones overlap each other. Water Moving water can be burnished with white,  still water with light blue.  Keep strokes linear and horizontal unless you are showing reflections on the surface or the image of the bed of a stream or pool which may be stony.  If you are working reflections, look to see what is actually showing, rather than what you think you see.  If in any doubt, turn your reference and your picture surface upside down to ensure you don’t feed your own imagination into the picture. Reflections in still water Make sure that your reflections are accurately shown in direct line with the original object. And that sky colours and shapes are also correctly lined up and shown. Take care over tree lines and position of buildings.  Water reflections are affected by the position of the eye above the surface of the water.  The higher the eye position, the more care you need to apply over what will actually be seen in a reflection    (see notes on reflections over water) Aerial perspective.  See also the section on Perspective Keep in mind the benefit of keeping your strong and warm colours to the foreground and your weaker and cooler colours to the background. This may not be apparent from your reference, but by applying the principle to your picture, you will help the viewer separate the elements and achieve a properly balanced image with parts of the picture in their proper layers ( foreground, middle ground, background) Grass and small foliage Look for opportunities to overlap lights against darks and darks against lights, taking taller grasses in light tones into areas of shadow ( by working the shadow back into the grass area ) and darker grasses against lighter areas (with upward strokes of a sharp pencil ).   Lawns and short grass will have areas of gold and light ochre in summer where the surface of the grass has dried out, and even tall grass will have dry stems which are very light or even show as white.  Plan for your contrasts. Waves Look for different colours as the light shows through wave tops.  Your eraser will lift out foam and spray. Sky Look at an actual blue sky and record the range of blues you see from darker blues above you to light blues at the horizon. Clouds are easier to lift out with an eraser than to ‘draw around’.  Clouds are usually shadowed at the base – away from the sunlight, and may include a host of colours.  Beware of painting the ‘ten ton cloud’, so solid looking it defies gravity !!!  Look at clouds and understand a little of how they appear. You don’t need to be a meteorologist.  Layers become closer as you start to see them more horizontally – nearer the horizon.  Clouds do not always run from left to right across the sky.  They swirl and form patterns in all directions depending on the wind.  About the only colour you will never see in a sky……… is green. See the section on clouds and skies. Sea Keep your colder blues to the horizon and your warmer and more turquoise blues to the foreground – even if your reference does not show this. As the waves lap the sand closer to you, the sea surface becomes more sandy coloured. Light Sources and shadows In rural scenes, your light will come from a single source (usually).  Make sure you are consistent.  In townscapes, your light may come from several directions and needs to be carefully observed – as do shadows. Straight lines If a line relates to a built object ( like a wall or fence etc ) there is no sin in using a ruler if the line needs to be properly shown. Most houses have vertical walls. Most horizons are level.  The viewer expects them to be so and it is only polite to humour him/her
revised February 2019