Sketch As Compositional Development

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Duration: 10:14

How are sketches used for compositional development? Artist Stuart Loughridge explains how he takes his sketch kit to his outdoor locations and develops his sketches. He shows two sketches done at the same spot at different times with watercolors. He then developed two small thumbnail sketches, again of the same scene- one with three values, another with more value development. Afterward he did an outline pencil thumbnail drawing, exploring a different cropping.

Settling on a composition, he does another watercolor sketch with opaque white highlights. Then he developed a large pencil drawing on toned paper with white highlights. Using all of these sketches he can find variations while staying in line with his original idea on a large format oil painting. Sketches are seeds for larger compositions.

Stuart works in all sorts of mediums—oil paint, watercolor, and prints—as he creates primarily landscapes. He carries around sketch kits on his walks as he develops the characters for his paintings. Stuart shows us a final plate of an etching of a landscape and then walks us through the process of planning and sketches to get to the final piece.

The initial pencil drawing is a small thumbnail done from a small oil color sketch done on location. The pencil drawing is on toned paper with shading and white highlights. After that he created a pen and ink drawing because it imitates the etching process by playing with line and hatching. He is also playing with the composition a little bit and exploring different ideas.

Next, he worked on the pencil outline sketch working on the topography and the gestures of the landscape. He thought about the forms and planes and the growth of the trees in this sketch. Afterward he started thinking about the background and developing interest in it without creating generality. The next pencil sketch is the essence of the darks- studying the light direction and shadows. After that he did another pen and ink drawing that was more elaborate. Then he did an initial copper plate etching. He started to really develop the rhythms of the background.

He then did the second state of the etching on the same plate, developing more of the hatching and line work. In the third state on the plate he is doing a triple hatch stage that really starts to develop the darks. In the fourth state he can develop the sky, background, and layers. Accenting outlines is a great way to create depth. He then develops a fifth and sixth state as he really enhances the rhythms, shadows, and lights.

All of these show how sketches are the seeds for all of the work he does in the studio.

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3 Responses to “Sketch As Compositional Development”

  1. Janet Smith

    At first I thought this was gonna be boring. But I had patience. You explained my question I had in my mind. You took your time. You developed a masterpiece by taking your time and not rushing. My problem is patience. Thank you! Your content motivates me.

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