Drawing Upon Landscapes (Van Gogh)

misc 10Some years ago, when I was working on the design of an urban park in Korea, I needed to develop a number of quick vignette sketches for various proposed design concepts. More to the point I needed to develop a ‘representational method’ that could be utilized to generate such vignettes for the duration of the project. Unfortunately, I had never been particularly skilled at freehand drawing. Furthermore I was managing a fairly large team  and I barely had time to develop the overall project design let alone the time to develop the necessary concept sketches.

As you might imagine this presented a bit of a conundrum. Fortunately, around the same time, I happened upon an exhibition of Van Gogh’s landscape drawings at the Met. As I made my way through the exhibition I was struck by how these seemingly complex compositions were actually composed of the simplest variety of ‘marks’. It occurred to me that it might be possible to trace over various views of the project computer model while utilizing this mark-making technique to explore proposed planting designs.

The Only Remaining Sketches From My Little Experiment

After determining that my teammates were equally lacking in their sketching skills I decided to try a little experiment. Without revealing my own technical shortcomings, I endeavored to tutor my team in the mark-making magic of Van Gogh’s drawing technique. After copying just a few compositions–ten or more times–they were able to transfer this method to views of our park project. All in all, the experiment was a major success and my teammates continued to gain genuine confidence in their sketching skills as the project progressed. Needless to say, while I was pleased and proud of this feat on the part of my teammates, I was disappointed with the fact that my own sketching skills continued to flounder. Thus for many years now I’ve vowed to undertake my own experiment but have struggled to find the time and, most importantly, the focus. Suffice it to say I’ve finally found the time. Now all I need is the focus.

misc 02Composition #1

VG 02 kw_01Step one is what I call the ‘cold copy’: a quick attempt at recreating the image–pretty sloppy I admit. But it’s important for getting started.

VG 01 Trace 14 02-19The next step is to do an actual tracing over the original. Admittedly much improved but still lacking in the range of contrast of the original. Nonetheless…I’ll keep trying!

KW_scan 3While I think I prefer my tracing above, this is a perfectly acceptable attempt. On to the next composition…

misc 04

Composition #2

KW_scan 4Allow me to say that this composition kicked my ass!!! Were I not such a glutton for pain I would immediately find a replacement. OMG–‘mark-making magic’ has turned into ‘mark-making madness’. No wonder why the guy went bonkers!!! Stay tuned…


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