Virtual San Domingo (9)

August 6, 2012

Graphite pencils, half an A4 sheet.

Step 3 (Architectural Detail), following consideration of Composition and Tonal Values.

This is the ultimate in armchair urban sketching because there’s no way I could have done this on location with the heat and humidity. I’ve been checking out illustrationist Paul Hogarth with his ‘wobbly’ self-consciously hand-drawn line; his distorted perspective blurs the difference between natural perspective and the photograph: we as viewers are now so used to seeing photographic distortion that seeing it in ‘non-photos’ annoys us less than it might in the past.

The ‘greys’ inherent in pencil drawing make it less dramatic compared to pen. I resisted going over the pencil lines today in pen, “tidying it up”. I started from left to right, with subsequent lack of quality but at least I ‘knocked back’ the shop at far right to reinforce the idea of focus (wispier line and vaguer colour towards the outer edges), compared to the tree at far left.

Probably my biggest weakness today is a lack of figures – to suggest scale and to introduce the ‘human’ touch. But these old churches, subject to the elements and natural destruction (many rebuilt several times after hurricanes and earthquakes) are stark and bare and stoic.

Tomorrow, the final Step, colour. To introduce the lovely strip of blue sky in the top window openings of the belltower, I know I need to make tomorrow’s sketch no smaller than today – that’s at least a landscape A5-size.

Following on from Gore Vidal, the passing today of Robert Hughes, whose Fatal Shore is what I recommend to New Australian colleagues to read in order to understand Australia. Today’s personal soundtrack is the haunting voice of countertenor Damien Guillon (Bach Cantatas and Matthew Passion, plus Pergolesi) and his group, Le Banquet Celeste, on Youtube.

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