3.3.3 Exercise: Preparatory sketches

Find a location that interests you and make a series of quick small studies (at least four) in your sketchbook.  Establish the major colour and tonal relationships as they affect the composition.  Select the best composition, this will be your starting point.

Now , take your A4 sketchbook and make two separate studies of the scene you have chosen: a line-based study and a colour study.  Make your studies as informative as possible.  Use written notes if this helps later with colour etc.

Finally, make a watercolour study of the same view.  Keep working until you have something that you think you can use for reference later.

Watch out for reserved shapes and take them into account. If you want to make some particularly sharp effects you can use masking fluid; or you may like to try painting around your shapes on the spot and to make a note to try masking fluid in the final picture.

Off to St Margaret’s church for a couple of hours or so accompanied by my wife and Cocoa.  Along with various pads , paints, water I took my folding chair.  I started off by walking around the church and surrounds.  The church yard side was in shadow so the lighting was quite flat.  I then moved to the other side of the church to a field which has a couple of bridleways through it.  I was then able to walk around and select my viewpoint.

Once I was set up I started sketching the church and surrounds.  On this side the view of the church is partially obscured by foliage which shade large sections of what is revealed of the lower sections.  The day was bright without much cloudy and what cloud that was around was of the white cotton-wool wispy kind.

3-3-3 D5 3-3-3 D4 3-3-3 D1

All the sketches were done from the same viewpoint though I altered my visual cropping of the scene.  In some I include fields and surrounds and others are cropped tight on the church itself.  After doing some quick sketches of the view I then did a line drawing followed by a couple tonal sketches of the scene.

Once these line and tonal views were completed I moved onto a doing a couple of colour studies of the scene.  In one I incorporated pen to give a different feel to the painting as well as to provide other visual info for later works.


The drawings are done on A4 sized paper using a graphite pencil for some and later progressing on to a gel pen for some of the drawings.

The line drawing is done on a buff coloured sheet using a gel pen.  The tonal drawing is done using a mixed grey watercolour and applying with a brush.

I also used a gel pen to line drawing which was then hatched etc. to develop it into a tonal drawing.

Later I did two views from the other side in tightly cropped views of the church.  These were done essentially as line and wash paintings / drawings.

3-3-3 D3

3-3-3 D6

3-3-3 L1
above line drawing of scene         below, tonal sketch of scene

3-3-3 D2

3-3-3 Col 1


below, Watercolour sketches of scene

3-3-3 Col 2

3-3-3 Col 3

3-3-3 Col 5 3-3-3 Col 4

Line and wash views of other sections of the church