This isn’t about making pretty pics but about reducing the landscape into a manageable form and language ready to take to the sewing machine. I work in pen for these- it gives an even line, more like a sewn line than pencil does.
And just for fun I’ll put the process in reverse.
Spot the differences. OK some are sloppy draughtsmanship, but others are intentional modifications. The foreground hedge is sharper to give more umph to the composition, the spaces between the horizontal hedges are greater – I’ve given the Vale of York a new hill! but I want these hedges to be seen separately so something had to give. The heavy dark of the foreground is reduced – it shifts focus to the middle ground. The foreground shadows are omitted as clutter but some may make come back as colour. Some areas I don’t like (trees to the left) so they will be edited further when stitching. Doing the sketch highlights problem areas, lets me work out, or at least work towards, solutions. Beats taking photos.
Five minutes earlier –
All the main areas are there but the image is unbalanced. The background is more solid and clearer than it should be, where the hatching is lighter, has fewer directional changes, it is more successful. Will add lines last to give definition and emphasis where needed.
5 minutes before
Established the middle ground. Using smaller marks to help sense of distance – just the major lines at the present, no outlines (they would fix the shapes too soon) Mixing areas of diagonal hatching with the vertical to create shadings of tone and texture.
After the first 5 minutes.
I like strong bone structure for my landscapes – single point perspectives, bold masses and spaces contrasting with lines. Tiny detail will get lost in stitch, so I don’t bother. Let areas fade in and out, it isn’t a tracing. The mark making is important, it is experimenting with creating the different textures and tone. Most are variations of cross hatching, tight, scribbly short blocks on the tree in the foreground, looser and smoother in the middle distance or directional hatching, such as the vertical lines starting to describe the front face of the hedge. These first layers set the shape and form of the image so I leave them incomplete. As the image builds more density and definition can be added. This is how the sewing will start, working onto a very loose frame and working lightly until the whole is established and then getting more intensive. I have already filtered out fussy bits or annoying things. I don’t want the image to get congested, as the image is built I will see where to simplify.
Preparation. – Clear the head. You can not go out worrying about the washing. This can be helped by the acquisition of jelly babies or fruit pastilles. I also like to walk or cycle even a little way, I guess it is part of that separation process. Take time to stand and stare, we are not cameras, it takes a time to absorb detail, understand relationships, to get beyond mere recognition. ‘Ooo it’s a tree’ just won’t do. Move about, see how slight shifts in angle or eye level give different emphasis. You have control, exaggerate or edit at will.
And yes, it did take 20 minutes. Didn’t even have time to open the pastilles.
The textile piece will happen next week. Will be interesting to see how alike they end up. Usually the same reduction and simplification process will happen again during stitching, especially in the distance, but the basic ideas will remain true. Wonder how many trees will magically disappear?