Sketch 3 Cole's Oxbow

Project Description

What type of piece is this? Drawing Share a little about the materials, processes and techniques used to create this piece. 2B pencil, 9 x 12 Field Sketchbook, print of Robert Coles Oxbow (found in my local library) What advice would you give someone starting this project? I really enjoyed sketching the tree in the forefront and the oxbow lake. I had great difficulty seeing the balance of the forefront. I could not figure out what the center front was portraying. Was it roots, boulders or knees? The rough looking tree in the low center perplexed me also. Where was it located in depth? I was frustrated and sketched my own idea just to finish the drawing.

What you will need

  • Graphite

Q&A with Lisafaye37

Patrick Connors asked:
Hello Lisaper, Congratulations on the drawing, you have made some good progress, especially in the tonal appreciation of the foreground. This gives the viewer an idea of your intent or interest: the damaged trees. Also, another important point is that you used an artwork, a painting, for your reference image. It is one of Thomas Coles [1801 1848] most famous works: The View from Mount Holyoke, Northampton, Massachusetts, after a Thunderstorm [1836]. As you noted, it is more commonly known as The Oxbow. This is a large painting, about 4 x 6 feet, so some of the detail in the painting is not apparent in the reproduction. For example, you asked about the foreground. One of details that may be obscured in the print appears on the rocks towards the right in the painting. It is a self-portrait sitting on the rocks with an easel. Maybe you can see the folded umbrella above him. Lets look at the foreground of your drawing. The viewer is immediately drawn to the trees. This is good, but you have flatten much of your modeling or shading on the trees that gives them their illusionistic volume and their spatial placement [you outlined the rocks as well!]. Be very careful about outlining features of your landscape. You may find skipping to or reviewing Lesson 3: Topic 3 useful. Also, look again how Cole has modeled those trees [and rocks], there are no lines, only tones that give the illusion of a break with the background. Notice where the darkest part of the shadow is: Not on the edge of the tree but within the tree. For centuries artists copied masterworks not only in the hope of improvement but to understand how that artist thought. And the way an artist thinks is revealed in the chiaroscuro, the way we use light, midtone, and shadow masses to give the illusion of form and space. One thing that may be of use for you is to continue to work from this painting. Start with the trees, using your erasing shield to erase the trees outlines. See if you can do them with little to no line only tone. Also, push this drawing a little further, can you do some more tonal expression, a general shading in the sky or in the line mass? NB- The river is not part of the ground plane: it is running up. Sinuous lines like those that represent the river are very difficult to get right. It will take some practice. You chose an ambitious artwork to copy so there may be some frustration as you work on this more; but, you have a very good start. Working through the frustrating moments will reward you with an understanding of pictorial structure.
Lisafaye37 answered:
Thank you for your feedback. I appreciate the detail in your critiques along with encouragement. I know working with you will help me become a better artist. In one of your previous comments you asked me to use a painting to sketch from. Im glad you clarified the idea in this note. Your explanation as to why artists copy masterworks was a revelation to me; to try to understand what was in a great painters head, how they used light, tone and shadow to help depict space. I reviewed Lesson 3, Topic 3 and will continue to work on this drawing. I posted it in frustration after I kept outlining the trees and boulders, but not moving on. I simply could not perceive the balance of the foreground and felt there was no purpose in continuing to sketch. Your comment as to the actual size of the painting made my difficulty much easier to grasp.

Skill Level