|4/26/22 Northgate neighborhood|
In addition to experimenting with color temperature, I’m also thinking hard about composition lately. It’s all Ian Roberts’ fault – viewing his videos has really blasted my head open! Although he presents some ideas in ways that seem new, most of what he is saying is not revolutionary; his concepts are based on long-established principles of representational art. I’ve heard most of what he is saying before, but like a dried-up sponge with some water sprinkled on, it is as if my brain has finally become absorbent enough to take more water in. It is finally beginning to make sense.
Above is a typical street scene of the kind that I enjoy sketching – cars, houses, trees and their shadows (oh yes, and a trash can, which I’m sure Ian would tell me to remove as a distraction, but he’s not an urban sketcher 😉). I started out in my usual not-much-thinking way, but then I heard Ian’s voice in my head urging me to consider the composition – especially the direction in which the eye is led into the drawing and the path it takes around it. (Please take a look at it and think about where your eye goes, then read on for my intention.)
The large tree and house near the center of the composition are in the area where I’d like the viewer’s eye to be attracted. The foreground street shadows are intended to lead the eye to that point by way of the trash can and pickup truck (low contrast for a minor-interest stop). After the large tree and house, the reddish bush should bring your eye back down toward the pavement shadows, which would lead you back around again. And according to his No. 1 composition rule that must never be broken, the eye should find enough of interest in those stops along the path that it doesn’t drift out and away from the picture.
I didn’t add to or move anything I saw (you know me – I’m still “truthful to the scenes I witness,” according to the Urban Sketchers manifesto), but I tried to use contrasts and color intensity to take your eye in the direction I wanted it to go. Was I successful?
One thing I noticed about his landscapes is that the horizon line is often high in the composition – lots of ground and very little sky. I like putting a lot of sky in the composition because I want to fill it with wires. But as a test, I cropped the sky as Ian probably would (below). Hmmm. I admit, it’s a better composition. Fortunately for me, I still have room for power lines.
(No, I wasn’t consciously thinking about color temperature in this sketch. My pea brain can manage only one concept at a time.)