You will need:
Brown or white paper
Small sheets of paper to make viewfinders
Fixative (such as hairspray)
Masonite boards (or other boards for pressing on)
Go outside, or to a good window, and choose a view. The view should capture your interest for a particular reason – perhaps it includes a close-up of a tree with a textured trunk, or a patch of long grasses with interesting lines, or a group of boldly-shaped buildings, for example. Make sure that your scene includes some close-up objects as well as something in the middle ground and something in the distance.
To the Teacher
This activity should ideally happen in a place where there is at least partially a natural (i.e. not only built) environment, such as in a garden, a park, field, veld, or open countryside.
In this activity, you will draw the landscape. There are three related things that you need to think about and explore as you do this task:
Observation: Look very carefully at what you are drawing. Try to convey what you see by translating it into lines, textures and tones.
Awareness of how to create a sense of space: Try to create the illusion of space as you see it in front of you, using some of the spatial devices we discussed earlier.
Exploration of charcoal as a medium: Throughout this exercise, experiment with and explore the unique qualities of charcoal in order to find various ways to express on paper what you see in front of you.
Decide which way to position your paper. If the view is wide, place the paper so that the long side is horizontal. This is known as “landscape format”. You may find a view that works better vertically. A vertically-oriented page is called “portrait format”, because a portrait generally fits well onto the page when it is positioned that way.
Sharpening your observation skills
In this drawing activity you will develop your observation skills. Spend a few minutes looking carefully at what you have chosen to draw. Use the following questions to guide your looking:
Imagine that you could touch the surface of things in your view. What would the texture of the clouds or grass, for example, feel like?
Look carefully at one particular thing in your view – a wall for instance. Is it textured in exactly the same way all over? Look to see if parts of it are weathered differently, or perhaps the light falls across it in varied ways?
Look at the various kinds of forms. (Note the variety in the leaf shapes, for example. Pick one of each and look closely. Notice the structure inside the plant – the structure of the tree trunk or stalks, the kind of outlines these produce.)
What things are closest to you? What things are further away?
Are there objects that get smaller as they get further away, such as telephone poles or trees?
Are there any things that overlap? Are there any things that are off the edge of your view, and will be cut off?
Do you have any converging lines in your view, for example, a road or a wall?
Beginning to draw
Use the whole page for your drawing.
Start sketching in the main elements, placing them on the page to create your composition.
Gradually add more and more detail, looking up frequently at the landscape you are drawing.
Be aware of dark and light areas. Remember to explore different tones and shades. You can use your erasers to create the highlights or lightest areas in your landscapes, and then intensify the charcoal in the darker areas. You can use your fingers or a cloth in just a few selected places (not too often), to blend and smooth the charcoal.
Give yourself plenty of time to complete this drawing.
Then, spray the finished work lightly with a fixative. Put it up on the wall and spend some time alone reflecting on your work.
Looking at your landscape drawings
In this activity, you have developed and used your ability to observe. When you look at all your group’s drawings, can you see some examples that you think show careful, detailed observation? Motivate your choice by referring to particular details in the drawing: in particular, lines, textures and tones.
In this chapter you have learnt about different ways of creating the illusion of space on a flat surface. Can you select some examples that you think successfully achieve this? Explain your choice by referring to examples in the drawing.
Many of you may have used charcoal for the first time. Can you select a few examples that you think really explore and use this medium effectively? Again, refer to particular details in
Is there a drawing on display that you admire or like for some other reason? Explain why.
You have all drawn views of the landscape. Do you think you have each expressed different perceptions of the place around you? Explain how and why.