Part 3 – Project 3 – Composition – Exercise 1


I decided that the composition was strong enough to use the preparatory work  I had done on the 3 trees theme earlier in the course.

My aim was to build on the experimentation I had done with the different methods of depicting the trees and the environment.  As the original sketches were done outdoors in October and it is now December I decided to work from the sketches and photographs which I had taken.   The day I was working was something of an Indian Summer in October, the light and shadows were strong and the light piercing through from the sea.

This is the now remnant forest Goring Greensward which I often visit.

So I started with 350gm A3 watercolour paper and had a photograph and grid to scale up the work.

Started with the oil bars technique but this time using a number of colours of oil bar to lay down the main elements of the composition.   Using turpentine I blended in some of this paint and then using conte black worked up the trees and their branches.   Worked back in with oil pastels. Various stages of scraping with old credit card and craft knife.   Continuing used coloured ink washes in various parts.   When this dried used white goauche to pick up the highlights of the light coming through the trees.   Finally using black indian ink and the side of the credit card built up the branches in the trees.  Scrapped back again and added touches with 6B pencil to bring back the definition in the drawing.


What I like:-

  • I still like the composition a great deal and can conceive that I will work on it again and again. Could imagine different seasons and lights and yet more techniques.
  • I think that the heavy watercolour paper works for me and in some ways I would like to keep working on this pushing it out and pulling it in again.
  • The variety of materials is good although I don’t think I am bringing enough finesse to their application in all cases – it is getting better.
  • The drama and strength of the shapes appeals strongly – I have struggled with less explicit compositions.

What I don’t like:-

  • If it had been bigger I think I would have worked in a more dynamic way – in some ways this size does not develop the theme much beyond the studies which I had previously prepared.
  • Because the light was so intense I think that using the white gouache is too clumsy and will probably drop this down again.
  • Working from the photograph there is not a lot of details of the trunks of the trees which is one of the most interesting part about them.
  • I had thought about bringing another element into the composition but because I was not working live I thought I had better keep it simple.


  • Go with the gut feeling – if it felt it should be bigger go bigger – unfortunately I didn’t have bigger 350 gm paper.
  • Keep working on a piece go back to it when it feels right.
  • Do more sketches in different conditions
  • Bring in multi-directional viewpoints?




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