The cross-over between Urban Sketching and Landscape Painting

December 4, 2012

Very inspired by the plein air painting/urban sketching done on-site with watercolour at last weekend’s Urban Sketching Australia event. There was some discussion over lunch afterwards about what constituted “Urban Sketching” as opposed to going out with paints and large support boards which I’d dub “Painting”. Must Urban Sketching be limited to sketchbooks? To dry media? to pen-and-ink? to mixed media? I need to question my own criteria a bit more and be less timid!

In house tidying today, I came across these three 19x24cm prepared panels, I did ages ago in acrylics (Derivan, Matisse Structure, Australian colours). I like the loose painterly style of the original (a small 1930s painting I own) though it’s completely at odd with my ‘standard’ pencil sketching style. I like the veracity associated with Urban Sketching (“I’m sketching this street scene or this building on location at this time”) but I reckon if I lived in rural Australia I’d probably lean more to Landscape Painting plein air. Part of the mix is the videoclips and photos arising from the Rendezvous des Carnets de Voyage just concluded in my beloved Clermont-Ferrand, France: basically a cross-0ver between urban sketching/war reportage/botanical drawing/animal drawing and travelling in often exotic locales like Morocco and Mongolia.

Perhaps if I went out urban sketching every now and again with no pencils, pens or sketchbook and only with fast-drying acrylic paints and brushes and a bunch of small panels.

None of the three is better than the others: each has good points which are lacking in the other two. I certainly don’t believe in just doing “one” of any scene, sketched or painted.

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And I include the preliminary tonal analysis in pencil because I thought it was no good painting without first understanding the compositional and tonal structure of the painting.

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