Tuesday, 20 January 2009

Sketching as shorthand - the Dorset coast

For my first post on Watermarks I thought it serendipitous that I've just been on my latest cycle journey for my English Coast project. So last week I cycled part of the Dorset coast, from Poole to Swanage to Lulworth Cove to Weymouth and finally a whole day on Portland Isle. (Which I admit I didn't cycle, I walked the circular coast path around the island. Shh! Don't tell.)

I've posted some landscape-ish sketches on my my regular blog here but thought I would share the water based sketches here. Now the sketches I do are in a small passport-sized sketchbook (rather like a moleskine but much cheaper from Muji) and are very very quick unless it's summer. Heck, even then it can be too cold to sketch for long! Since I take a zillion photographs the sketches aren't to capture exact images but more as a visual shorthand so I can remember which elements of the view I would like to capture or emphasise in a painting. Often it's strong light and shadow, or combinations of horizontal lines.

First is my idea from Portland Island - the combined horzontals of the layers of Portland Stone in the cliff, the stretch of Chesil Beach (that strip of land you see on the water - it connects between Weymouth and Portland), and then haze of the mainland in the distance. I want to simplify all those lines into a flat composition.

Next is Poole Harbour. This is a funny one because I've been to Poole before and it was covered in haze. Wouldn't you know, it was again! But this time it was also low tide so I had a great view of the huge stretches of mud. My sketches were to quickly catch the texture and the different shades of haze at the horizon just in case the photos didn't quite get what my eyes saw.

And finally the rough seas at Portland Bill. I loved this and have been waiting for crashing windy waves like this for my whole project! Right out on the edge of the rocks at the lighthouse I took another zillion photos of the waves (never quite getting the full effect you see, of course a photo never will). There was an amazing hour of light with the sun beaming through but I knew the photos would get that. But what I pondered as I sketch in the pub was how to get that force and power? How to express the rising of those masses of water? So these couple of sketches aren't even shorthand but more experiments in hard movement, looming shadow, trying to get a sense of looming. These are as close as I get to purely abstract instinctive drawing. Just going for a feeling.

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Anonymous said...

Very Inspiring!!

muddy red shoes said...

thats great, I like the idea of looming waves. Isnt it interesting that visual shorthand

vivien said...

so important these visual shorthand sketches and great to see inside your sketchbooks too

Rough seas? I keep telling you - get thee down to Cornwall! ;>)

Lindsay said...

It's fun to see the sketch posted with the photo. Looking forward to seeing your paintings from this trip

Jeanette said...

You've collected lots of information and inspiration on your trip. The quick notes to self are so useful back in the studio.

Chesil Beach.....I remember it well. Its rather like a lot of the beaches here actually.

Gesa said...

Yes, these are very inspiring. I enjoyed the inclusion of your sketches, Tina: they give a good sense of your inspiration and how you move towards abstraction from close observation.