Elizabeth’s Garden

Elizabeth sent me an e-mail the day before her art lesson.

“I finished my Charcoal Landscape. I am so excited about it!”

But the tease! She didn’t send me a picture of it. She made me wait until the next day when she turned up for her next lesson.

Indeed, she had done a fine job.  For a neophyte at drawing she has remarkable skill and she understands the concepts – this time on texture and pattern.


To understand just how remarkable this is, you need to understand that this is her first sustained drawing. She has brought together her lessons on composition, shape, and texture quite wonderfully.

With regard to the texture, you can notice that the grass is different from the plants; she has used pattern repetition in the plants themselves, the texture of the debris in the wheelbarrow is again different; and she has a number of smooth areas, both light and dark.

Having said that, the image you see above is cropped just slightly.

Here’s the full image:


The few problems that she has with it are solvable without doing anything further to the image simply by matting the drawing that crops off the edges or by cutting them off.  Doing so, however, will take away some of the rhythm of the painting and alter the composition.

And what’s the matter with it, you may ask?

These are picky things – but the kind of things that elevate a drawing from good to excellent.

First, on both the left hand side and the right hand side, the drawing trails off in a couple of spots.

It’s important to carry the drawing to edge of where you are working. Just a few more strokes, just a tiny bit of finishing and that bit of unfinished work can be brought up to the same standard as the rest of the painting.

I’ve cropped out the right side of the image to help you focus on the left hand edge, the unfinished spot down by the rocks and really, all along that edge:


The problem with matting that part out is that she loses the lovely climbing roses along the  same edge. Ditto for the shadows from the pots.

Elizabeth discovered in doing this drawing that her sleeve was dragging on the paper and much of the charcoal lifted. She had to start all over in a number of areas. As you can see, she managed to reconstruct so that we don’t even notice.


Midway above the left-most fence panel, there is a smudge mark, darker than the rest of the sky area. It’s an unfortunate mark probably as a result of either a thumb holding onto the paper there as the drawing was being put into its folder. Our fingers have a very fine oil on the surface. If you use your fingers on the paper, the oil sticks to the paper and holds onto more charcoal there than elsewhere.  If you rub it out, the eraser also can leave a fine trace of oil or something and then when you go over it again with charcoal, trying to fix it, it only gets worse.

What’s the solution?  This is such a fine first sustained drawing. That smudge looks even darker on the original (as compared to this photo).  So solution one – crop it out – is a valid response, if it doesn’t compromise the composition.  The other possibility is to extend the foliage to encompass this smudge. Since the foliage is darker, it will essentially disappear – will no longer be noticeable.

In this drawing, the fence exerts a strong horizontal influence. Extending past the fence with the foliage may help to stop the eye from travelling westwards right out of the image.

On the other hand, if the sky is cropped out, then a similar effect happens. With a negligible amount of sky at the top, the fence posts act as verticals to  stop the eye from travelling westwards.

Either solution is acceptable.

Kudos to Elizabeth, don’t you think?


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One Response to “Elizabeth’s Garden”

  1. forestrat Says:

    Good work, Elizabeth. It has a mix of sophistication and primative folk art-ness that is pretty cool.


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