|2/13/17 ink, brush pen, graphite, Field Notes notebook|
The sun came out today, and I was eager to try one of the exercises we did in Gabi’s “Pocket Urban Sketching” workshop to firmly cement the concept in my brain. I took a 3 ½-by-5 ½-inch Field Notes notebook (same size as the Stillman & Birn we used in class) and hit the streets.
When I sketch a neighborhood street scene from my car, I usually choose an intersection and include a parked car and some trees – and that’s typically the horizontal scope of my view (using a 6-by-9-inch page). I found such an intersection today in the Bryant neighborhood, but instead of focusing on the usual view, I looked as far to the right and left as I could see easily through my windshield. Holding up my pen against the height of the house on the right plus the tall tree behind it to determine my measuring unit, I roughly measured out all the other elements that I intended to include in the composition – the other trees in the background and foreground, the parked vehicles, the utility poles and the house on the left. Imagine that – they all fit!
Mind you, that concept is not new to me; in fact, I use it all the time to gauge the relative size of one side of a building compared to its height, the size of a car compared to the tree next to it, or the length of a guy’s arm compared to his torso. But I never really pushed myself to use the same technique to make any scene fit onto any paper space – it just seemed easier to choose a narrower scope. Now I realize it’s not difficult at all!
While I don’t always want to squeeze this large a view into such a small page, it’s nice to know how to do it when I want to. Sometimes I want to include more detail, so a smaller scope is appropriate. But there are many times when I do want to capture a fuller sense of the type of neighborhood or general area by showing more context. It happens frequently when I’m traveling. Being able to do this easily and quickly will be a helpful sketching tool.