Ditch in Midwinter Light

On my way to the train I pass this ditch. I am intrigued by the shape of the drum and its reflections and wanted to draw it for some time. The other day the light was wonderful with its strong yellows that made the surrounding landscape almost colourless.


In my drawing I wanted to get out the contrast between the yellow light and the black and white landscape with the graphic shape of the drum as a focal point. I decided to leave out the fence and to simplify the trees in the distance. I made some thumbnails and then an A4 sketch.

The sketch is made with ink brush pens in black and two shades of grey and yellow and orange coloured pencils. I like the contrasts and the disposition (apart from the sky which needs more room), but it turned out very flat. I tried to remedy that in the drawing:

9B-4H graphite pencils, coloured pencils, A3

As there are no buildings or roads to show perspective to achieve depth I tried to exaggerate the tonal difference between fore- and background and to show difference in size in the diagonal grassline as the only feature present in both middle- and background. I also changed the right shoreline to help with perspective and the treeline to amplify the zigzag line leading the eye into the picture. I think I succeded with that.

My 9B – on its last legs, only about 2cm left of it – broke its tip at the first mark. I used the broken tip instead which made very nice marks. I could use it on its side for broad marks and on its tip for fine ones. In both cases control was limited which I think worked very well for the trees and grass.

I like the depth, the mark making and the effect of colour in an otherwise grey picture.

The contrasts could be made stronger, especially in the horizon. The line of trees there is too weak.

I tried a version in coal and coloured pencil and one in ink. Both are drawn mainly from memory with some reminders from the pencil drawing.

The ink did not work at all – wrong paper and patience ran out. The coal is better.

Yellow and black ink, neat and diluted, applied with brush and bamboo pen

Cartridge paper sucks up the ink and does not allow it to spread, flow and merge together as it would on watercolour paper. I became aware of this right at the beginning with the yellow and I gave up on the picture.I did finish it, however, to see how other marks would work.

The contrast between fore- and background came out fine. I also like the marks in the grasses very much.

The water/ice does not work like this.

Neither does the yellow – it is too orange and too strong.

I lifted the drum somewhat compared to the graphite image. I think it makes a better focal point here.


The coal version:

Nitram stick (HB, B), pressed coal very dark, yellow and red coloured pencils, putty eraser

I like the contrasts and the mark making very much in this. The HB Nitram coal stick works very well for the background as it is very light and makes an even colour. It did not like to mark on top of coloured pencil, I had to go over it often with quite a lot of pressure. However, this made it blend nicely with the colour underneath:


I don’t like the grasses in the middle ground, they are too even and don’t look natural. Also the whole middleground seems to tilt to the right. I think it is the narrow line of soil visible in the water at the foot of the drum that is not horizontal and the diagonal grassline that rises too much to the left and is too straight.


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