Saturday, June 18, 2011

Finding your way around the Landscape

Hello all, Jill K. Berry here. My subject today is finding your way around a large landscape.

My family and I are in the Rocky Mountains, in a cabin overlooking a grand vista of forest and monumental snow-covered peaks. My sister, Linden, and my mother, Jo, asked me to teach them some journaling techniques, and I knew that taking on drawing this entire view would be overwhelming. Even for a veteran journaler, a big view is daunting to record in a small journal.

We sat on the wooden deck in the early afternoon while the sun was bright and the blue sky was cloudless. I had them grid out a journal page in in small rectangles. In each rectangle, they made snapshot drawings of what was around us. Instead of taking on the big picture, we found small details that when put together represented the entire view from our deck.

When drawing a scene like this, where there are layers of scenery on top of each other, there are some hints to add depth and distance.

The foreground, what is closest to you, is:
-brighter in color
-higher in contrast
-an area to use a heavier drawing line.

The background is:
-softer in color and has blue undertones
-lower in detail and contrast
-and area to use thinner drawing lines.
The greater the distance, the more these rules apply.

While we were drawing, a broad tailed hummingbird came down and touched my mother's red slipper. She drew her slipper and I drew the tiny bird.

It was a good day.


  1. Your drawings are so elegant.
    I love your color scheme.

    The hummingbird in your mom's slipper is adorable.

  2. What a great thing to offer your family. The view - the whole environment - sounds enchanting! Thanks for the tips on representing space.

  3. Wow this is so helpful! I always love other people's sketches from when they travel but it all seems so "big" when I try to do it myself. I think this grid approach is an excellent idea!

  4. I love this post. It gives me a wonderful idea about how to sketch the "landscape" when I'm viewing large vistas (like Wyoming or New York City). I love the idea of mixing close with far without the need to include it all. Thanks!

  5. Excellent, Jill! I'm off Down Under for 2 weeks and will break up my landscapes as you suggest. Your tips make it all seem much more approachable. Thanks!

  6. Love the idea of the grid. Thanks for sharing:)

  7. Not having an available relative to share my art hobbies with I borrow books from the local library and the one I currently have is "How to Draw Anything" by Angela Gair. It's lovely to see the snapshot drawings here after reading about how to do a similar thing (thumbnail sketches) in the book last night.

  8. Thank you, Jill! This is an excellent way to tackle a large area. I love the contrasts between the drawings. It is visually inspiring. The tips about how to add depth to distance is very helpful.

  9. The grid is a helpful idea, and works well to keep those memories.

  10. This is a great idea. Maybe today I can do this one I was stuck on an idea. Thanks for the inspiration. A great page.

  11. I wish I could reply to each of you, could not figure out how to do that. Thank you for the comments and and I am so glad you found some helpful hints. I do this all the time.

    Please post your pages, I would love to see what you do with this. Am posting my mom's and my sister's today, which is my birthday.

    Let's all have an arty day!

  12. Lovely post. Great tips for breaking it down to something managable. Thanks for sharing.


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