For this study, I went to The Ornamental Drive in the New Forest, which is lined with gargantuan trees. This is a place we go to often as there is a parking area with picnic tables, so we go very early and make breakfast whilst the only sound is birdsong, before the tourists all arrive. I took charcoal pencils and soft pastels with me and set up my new field easel, thinking myself quite the artist whilst my husband cooked the bacon and brewed the coffee! Unfortunately, my charcoal pencils appear to be shattered inside, and that set of soft pastels contains exactly one shade of (distinctly unnatural) green. So I gave up on the sketch and contented myself with looking around through my viewfinder, thinking about composition, and took lots of photos to work from. I stuck with my original composition because of the bright August morning sunlight streaming through the gloom and evaporating dew of the thick woods.
I came across Unison pastels in my local independent art shop just as I started this degree, and had been thinking about them ever since. During the gallery visits I made in Hampshire Open Studios week, four different artists recommended them so I treated myself to the smallest ‘landscape’ set of half pastels before attempting to complete this piece. The pastels arrived, I adore them! They are extremely messy and my studio was covered in green paw prints, but the richness of colour is amazing and they blend beautifully. I’ll be getting more. After my attempts at clean negative space in the previous section of this course were hampered by dirty fingers, I researched and bought masking fluid, which I used here to protect the areas of pale light.
I found this piece highly enjoyable to work on. The composition and tones are very calming, probably because I can still remember how still the Forest was at the time, but hopefully this is captured by my drawing. I’ve simplified elements such as the leaf litter in the foreground and the foliage in the canopy in order to achieve greater focus on the bright sunlight. I like the way that a fast sweep of pastel across the foreground creates the right texture on this toothy paper.
Upon reflection I realise that I was concentrating on where the bright light falls and treating those blocks of yellow as almost tangible objects. This is the opposite of the way I have worked so far where shadows need to be focused on and carefully captured. I believe that because the edges of the scene are in shadow, the observer’s viewpoint changes. In perceiving the light this way, the shadows should just ‘look after themselves’ but I can see that, in trying to simplify, I’ve misaligned the resulting shadows in the foreground. So I need to look from both viewpoints in future.