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Looking at the landscape.

17 Jun

Drawing is a complicated thing that many artists will struggle years to master… and even then it takes diligent daily practice.  But drawing skills and tools are on a spectrum which means that at the most basic level, they can be achieved by anyone willing to give it a shot.

Learning to draw is really about learning to see more clearly exactly what is in front of you and relaying that information to the page as clearly as you can to communicate it.  Let’s apply this to a quick lesson on how to make a sketch of a landscape.

Here is a gorgeous photograph of the Great Smoky Mountains in Tennessee. First, let’s take a closer look at the image:

Courtesy of Richard Weisser and SmokyPhotos.com

Notice how there is a distinct foreground, then a middle ground with a number of mountains and finally the most distant mountains further off in the background (and let’s not forget that pink sky!)  This is all easier to distinguish if you squint a bit at the photograph.  Now notice how each of these three distinct areas have a different value (or lightness vs. darkness) in the image.  For a simple sketch, which we’ll do here with pen and paper, taking note of these facts is all you need.

First, draw the simple shapes that delineate the front, middle and rear of the picture place:

Next use marks, sometimes called cross-hatching, to create darker and lighter areas.  If you have a small paintbrush, you can use water to run the line of your pen which creates a nice gray:

You can stop here or, add a little color for that sky…

This simple sketch only took a few minutes and I could probably work on it longer to add details such as some more of the middle ground mountains.

Looking at a mountain landscape and simplifying it to get a better understanding of how to approach a drawing of it is a wonderful metaphor for our work lives (if not beyond!)  Noticing that there are distinct differences in what lies just ahead, and a bit farther off, and then on into the distance is crucial to keeping your goals and priorities in order.

Making a simple drawing in your sketchbook of a favorite place of yours, or an imagined business landscape perhaps, is a great way to take a few minutes and assess the path ahead and decide how to proceed.

Send us what you come up with.  We’d love to see it… and share it if you don’t mind!

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