My new blog

This is the post excerpt.


Hi everyone,  I know I don’t know you all yet but I’m hoping I soon will. I have recently started a Fine Arts degree with The OCA and I want to share my journey with you. 

I have never done a real blog before so I’m unsure what I’m supposed to write yet but I’m starting from the fact that anything is better than nothing right?  I’m already on Instagram as lindseywhittle_artist, so I’ve kind of got the jist about what I need to do. Please join me on my art journey, I need all the friends I can get.

My first assignment with the OCA was to do a temporary drawing so I tried this flower/ firework thing, it went ok though, I kind of ended up liking it 😅

Thanks for watching and any constructive criticism is welcome but please be gentle because I’m new to this. Have a great day and here’s to getting out our comfort zones!  🍻 

360° studies

I live in a busy town, so there aren’t many expansive landscapes in my local area. The best I could manage to find is this farm at the back of the local park. It has big open fields that the horses like to run around in.

I didn’t exactly follow the exercise instruction for this one because I wanted to get as much tone as possible in the short time I had. I thought watercolor would be the quickest way to do this rather than draw every detail with a pen. So rather than spend 15 minutes on each drawing individually, I spent an hour on 4 drawings. This way I could move backwards and forwards as each picture was drying. Although even after doing this I still went overtime slightly because I didn’t plan properly my materials and had to run around finding things as I realised I needed them.

Considering that before I started this course I hated watercolor and was absolutely awful at it, to think that I have chosen to do this is a massive turn around for me. I am quite proud of myself for giving it a go.

If I did this again though I would work harder to make the foreground darker than the background. That’s how it was in real life but because I haven’t had much practice with this medium (because I was so bad at it) I forgot that my colours dry lighter than I put them on as -not like with oils.

Because I was so conscious of time I didn’t look properly at which way the wires were going over the top of my head and the barbed wire on one of the fences was slightly out of kilter.

I am on the whole happy with my images as they are meant to be quick 15 minute sketches- not masterpieces

Sketchbook walk

I struggle to get out of the house without my 3 year old son in toe so I had to do this exercise from photographs. There are points about each of these sketches I do and don’t like.

The first one was from a badly lit photo. It was taken in the bright sunshine but this made a blur on my camera lens and made all the details unreadable. I tried make them up where I thought the lights and shadows would go but looking back I can see that I got some of them wrong. Lesson learned here is to take reference photos when I’m not having to run around after a toddler.

The second sketch I thought went well, although looking at it as a photo I can see that my perspective seems to be bent.

The third one I like although I should have used a smaller brush to do the leaves on the tree because I have put too many in for the time of year.

The last sketch is my favourite although the reflection of the tall trees is too dark in comparison to the rest of the picture. I knew this as I was painting it but because I am using my sketchbook rather than watercolor paper I couldn’t lift it back out and had to settle as it was.

Exercise 1 Cloud formations and tone

I found this exercise relatively straight forward to do. I enjoyed the challenge of exploring the different media and creating different effects.

Not all of my drawings were successful, like the coloured pencil one. I have never really enjoyed using coloured pencils because I struggle getting the values right when layering, it all gets very muddy looking and details get lost.

I did enjoy the graphite pencil though. Once I had done a practice I tried again and I thought it went well. The charcoal ones were good to do as well although I seemed to have lost some highlights after I fixed them.

The oil pastel drawing was ok, I lost a lot of the details in the tones which has made it look flat but to draw them properly would have meant drawing bigger or using oil paint and I was trying to build momentum.

Although they’re not the most impressive to look at my favourite were the pen ones to do. I had a fountain pen on me and wanted to explore what kind of marks I could make with it. I found myself working fast and sketchy and I was able to pick out which details I wanted to keep and which ones didn’t matter so much. If I was doing a study for a painting to be done at a later stage in my studio then I would work like this.

Study of several trees

This exercise was to study a group of trees and in my head I knew what I wanted to do. I already had a photo of some Woods that I had taken earlier in the year with the intention of doing a study from them.

I had decided that I wanted to use ink and watercolor for this as I could create some good effects with the washes. So I sketched out roughly where I wanted the main focal points to be so that I had a better idea of where to place everything.

I had also decided to draw the closest trees with a stick. I thought that it would make the line look more random and natural but because I have never drawn with a stick before I struggled to make a decent tip on it to get a good mark making technique.

The exercise also said to study trees and a over a third of my picture was fallen leaves and a path. So I started again, this time in watercolor only using paintbrushes as I had no idea how to test the tone of the pigment on the end of the stick and had to just guess – clearly it all went wrong.

I am much happier with the final painting, I feel that I have made it clear that some trees are further away than others, I would have liked a bit more definition in the leaves but as I got towards the end I realised I was just fussing with it and not making any real progress so I stopped.

Research point. Landscape artists

Albrecht Durer

Through it’s life Landscape art as a genre has evolved greatly. Albrecht Durer was one of the earliest artists to start recording the world as it was during the Renaissance Period.


House by a Pond. ‘Dürer painted this watercolour soon after his return from Venice, probably in 1496. The site has been identified as a pond which was connected by a small canal to the River Pegnitz, near St John’s Church on the outskirts of Nuremburg. The composition is based around the circular form of the pond, a shape echoed by the carefully-painted boat in the foreground. The dark threatening clouds of the evening sky contrast with the calm water and its reflections.
The watercolour is inscribed, `House by a Pond’. The tall house, set on an island, probably served as a look-out post and a summer retreat in peacetime. Two years later Dürer depicted the same house, in reverse, in the background of his engraving of The Madonna with the Monkey.’ Web Gallery of Art.

I like the painterly style, almost sketchiness of this. Durer hasn’t felt the need to really blend one colour flawlessly into the next. he’s happy to let them just sit next to or on top of each other. I love the atmosphere and it has an oriental appearance to me.


The Willow Mill. This watercolour and gouache painting appeals to me because it has lots of detail. I have painted water before and I know all to well how difficult it is to get right but I would love to be able to see this in real life and really get up close to see all of the brush strokes. I also like the sky. Druer has used different blues simply laid one on top of the other again, he has made a nice graduation towards the horizon to show aerial perspective. I could spend a long time admiring this painting but I won’t bore you with the details.


Castle at Trento. 1497. Pen and ink with watercolour, touched with white. The British Museum have classed this as a drawing whilst the rest have been paintings. I can only think this is because Durer has used a pen in places rather than a paintbrush throughout. I have chosen this because it has a good narrative to it. A lot could be read from this picture depending on your own outlook on life and that makes a great piece of art I think.

Claude Lorrain


Pastoral Landscape 1648. Claude Lorrain.

Lorrain paints in a more picturesque style. He has beautiful well rendered scenes of trees, fields, animals and skies all done with exquisite blending and photorealistic techniques.
I was drawn to this image first of all by the pinks and blues of the sky. They place me at the end of a beautiful summers night when the sun is just going behind the horizon and the earth starts to cool. Then the castle in the distance drew me in closer, even though it is so far away you can still make out the battlements and windows in the walls. Then across the mountains, faded with a beautiful blue to express again aerial perspective to the huge dark and over bearing trees with every branch and shadow done painstakingly perfect. Finally the couple sat at the base of the trees having what seems to be a very good conversation about the view in front of them.


Le Mundo de Manue.


Sea Port at Sunset. both of the above pictures are much in the same style as his first one I chose. I especially like all the details he has put in and used such a good range of tone. I think it has put a lot of depth into the works and gives them an even more realistic style that even my camera can not capture.

Laurence Stephen Lowry


Piccadilly Circus in London. I have chosen this piece because it speaks to me. I have done studies of street scenes before. I have practiced perspective,although maybe not always successfully. So I am attracted to his techniques and want to learn about how he has used aerial perspective to give the impression of distance. Which brings me on to how he has used tone. The big bold monument? That stands in the centre of the piece is very dark and bold. You are immediately drawn to it as it jumps off the paper to you, then you start to explore the rest of the painting. I love his range of colours here. The bright Coca Cola sign and double decker red buses along the black shop signs keep your attention and lead you off into the distance of what was a busy London. I love looking at the people in the forefront, he’s taken a lot of time to give each one a personality, a purpose, there are children running, ladies shopping, an old couple on their way to market, men walking their dogs… I could look at this painting 100 times and still see something new every time.


Landscape with farm buildings. I am attracted to the simplicity of this one. The simple wooden fence leads you to what looks to me like a pond. It is reflecting the same colour of the sky and only the little hills of the ground interrupt it. this leads you up the hill to the focal point of the painting. The farm and all of it’s buildings. There even seem to be the farmer’s family there to, done in his usual stick man style. I am impressed by the shadows in this piece. The darks in the grass really give it dimension and add a lot of interest for me.


A Procession. 1938. This is very much like Piccadilly Circus in London. He has use aerial perspective although the building at the end of the street is still quite visable the viewer is in no doubt that it is in the distance. The people here though are much closer and we have a better understanding of what their about. I think that because this is a local street scene Lowry wanted to be a bit more intimate with the residents so that we have a better understanding of what life is like for them.


Lowry by the Sea. Spittal Sands, Berwick 1960. I think Lowry was on holiday when he painted this. Not only does the caption say that it is a Berwick scence but the whole atmosphere of it is lighter, fresher and more fun. His brush strokes are more bold and done in very light pastel shades. Families are enjoying the sunshine at the beach, sail boats are crusing in the distance and the pier leads us out to the light house at the end. Even tough there isn’t a huge range in this painting I am still very drawn to it because of how it makes me feel.

George Shaw

Shaw is renowned for painting the urban landscapes of his childhood council estate of Coventry. His pallet is quite adark and eerie one, and his brush strokes are very precise and detailed. Maybe this technique comes from the fact that he uses Humbrol enamel paints that are normally only used for painting airfix models.

I have grouped the above 3 images together because they are very similar. I have got sketchbooks full of studies just like these. Where I have been studying a certain corner in the park or the alleyway that goes behind the pub and I have spent hours trying to get just the perfect angle of the fence, practising until I got it to a point that I could sleep that night. I never considered them to be a real piece of art though. I never imagined that someone would see the beauty of them as they are, they were just practices for me to learn how to draw.

I do like the broad range of tone Shaw has used. it gives the work a lot of character and interest. I will concentrate on tone more in my personal work and try some of his techniques when putting attention to detail.

Sarah Woodfine.

Woodfine trained as a sculpter. I think this gives her a greater understanding of space and how to use it when it comes to drawing. She uses a much more imaginative style than what we have been looking at so far. She leaves a lot of wide open space and very minimal tone. Seeing her work like this reminds me of the cardboard theatres that children make to make stories with. Leaves a lot to the imagination I think.

Exercise 2 Larger observational study of an individual tree

Now spend more time really looking at a tree in detail. Spend at least an hour on this drawing. Choose which media will suit the individual characteristics of ‘your’ tree. For example you might decide to use A3 cartridge paper and a fine drawing medium such as a drawing pen, pencil or ballpoint.

Try to work fairly quickly so that you keep a free and flowing hand to follow the fluid lines and forms of the tree. What makes the tree distinctive? It’s solid massive presence (a mature oak, horse chestnut, sycamore or ash) it’s airiness and delicacy (a birch), or it’s bent windblown form (a hawthorn)? You don’t need to draw twigs and branches in detail but try and capture a sense of directionality. Ash twigs curl. Beech twigs grow straighter and are almost on a horizontal plane when in leaf; in winter they reach up. Some scots pine, larch and firs only branch out high up the trunk, making for a very distinctive form. Continually observe your subject and don’t be afraid to keep drawing without looking at your paper.

Notice the light source; see where the deepest shadows are and the strongest light (these are usually next to each other). Hint at texture by fluid use of shading lines.

My Process.

I went for a walk to the local woods. This woodland is a very special place for local wildlife, some of these trees are over 300 years old and still going strong, I hope they last a lot longer to. So It was obvious where I was going to find a tree with character. I took my sketchbook and pencils and set out to draw but it really is the wrong time of year for en plein air work. It started to rain and my drawing got drenched. I decided to take a photo and work at home.




My Conclusion.

I enjoyed working on this drawing. I liked trying different techniques to explore all the contours and shadows. I think this drawing would benefit from having more shadow on the right. I don’t want to go back into it fixing it though because when I start fussing I make things worse. I’d rather just leave it as it is and learn for next time.

Sketching individual trees

Find a tree that interests you in a park, garden or anywhere you feel comfortable sitting or standing. Look out from a ground floor window if that suits you better. You’ll need to be some distance from a big tree.

Do four preliminary drawings – it may help to divide your paper into four landscape or portrait boxes. Use a soft pencil (2B-6B), charcoal or pen and ink. Keep building up on the basis of the previous sketches.

• Draw a simple outline of the tree’s overall shape.

• Draw basic shapes in outline, or shaded areas that describe how the foliage forms in different masses around the tree.

• Draw the outlines of the trunk and the main branches of the tree that you can see.

• Draw with lots of scribbled outlines or shade roughly to try and indicate  something of the texture of the foliage.

These simple studies will help you get to grips with the structure of the tree.

What I did.

I know this first sketch doesn’t exactly follow what the exercise said to do but it I had done an acrylic wash on the inside cover of my sketchbook and was eager to do something with it. I saw these four trees whilst walking my dog and I really wanted to draw them. I tried putting tippex on the bottom (it was the only white medium I had in my pencilcase at the time) to make it look like snow but it was too bright compared to the rest of the image and just looks wrong. It was a good practice though and I think I could make a decent painting from it.

In the above image my hands were going numb from the cold weather and I couldn’t put any shadows in to add depth. I didn’t want to put gloves on because I was working with a 2B charcoal pencil and it would have just smudged everywhere.

This tree was a lot easier. There wasn’t much foliage, because it’s December. I enjoyed it so much that I started to put in the house behind and the car in front.


This is such an interesting tree, it is outside my son’s nursery school. I took my pencils and let him play on the park whilst I drew. I couldn’t really concentrate whilst he was with me, obviously I was supposed to be being his mum but I did the best I could. Looking back at it, the shadows on the palms don’t make a lot of sense although at the time I thought I’d done a good job. This is why I only work when he has gone to bed.


I wanted to explore drawing a tree with foliage for this last one but because it’s winter there aren’t many trees with foliage, apart from conifers and there isn’t much detail to draw on those, especially from a distance. I have spent a while this past year looking at nature so I have a lot of reference photos on my phone of trees so I found one that I took whilst on holiday in August. I did enjoy having the time to really look at the details and put in the lights and darks as well as the branches between, I think it looks really believable.