Conté pierre noire pencil on Cartiera Magnani Velata paper (cream tone, 3″ x 4″, 3″ x 5″, and 6″ x 3″), August 2008.
I won't be doing crits, except by request, and then gladly. Brian McGurgan, of Brian McGurgan's Drawings and Paintings, has asked for one as he follows along with my Abandoned Barn Workshop. What I do hope to do with this series is to post about the Abandoned Barn Project every week at least once a week. Since Friday is Tips, I'll choose another day of the week.
We'll be doing color sketches after the B&W thumbnails, and eventually I'll post my artist's demo as we finish this work in my studio. I started the painting on site, with all of the flavor of plein air work, but I'll be completing it in the studio for ease of teaching from a blog. This whole thing is an experiment for me in teaching, blogging and demonstrating a Work in Progress (WIP).
There is no doubt you get the feel of the site, with its lonely and abandoned barn. Maybe you'll have to get me doing some NYC buildings, next, from photos and while I'm in my western studio. I hope to show some of these to the farmers who own the property some time. They'll be thrilled, I know. That distant mountain shows up in many of my own artworks, and I like to tell people it is "almost in Canada" .
You have a great understanding of your aspects, and how they effect the outcomes. I would do several sketches of each (or one) aspect, because the one-each system is too confusing.
I'm glad you're thinking in color at this stage, already. A true sign of a painter! Be willing to change your color ideas as you ruminate on the image over time. I like the brown and neutral idea, but it will dictate certain things down the road, and we'll need to figure that out along the way.
The lower left image makes the barn the star of the show, but the negative space remaining is ambiguous - there is too much of it. And, be careful about getting the barn in the center of the drawing.
The upper left one is an interesting study of what happens when looking at photos (you don't get my advantage of being here to see it in reality). The photo (I call them "evil") flattens perspectives. I have to constantly be aware of this, and stretch the vertical view on my paper to counter this. So, when you lower the horizon line intentionally to include some sky, you fall into the photo-become-drawing trap of flattening the view too much. I have addressed the same issues in my Charcoal Thumbs, but I have kept the hill mass above the barn "fat" to avoid the evil camera perspective effect.
Also, my sky inclusions are for pictorial (linear) purposes, and not for color purposes. I am keeping these two aspects in compartments: first the linear composition, then the color composition. Don't let the color needs screw up the linear composition or failure lurks near.
On the subject of drawings from photo reference, see my post here.
The vertical format is nice because it keeps the loneliness of the barn intact, and yet crowds nothing. A bunch of issues develop here, though. Remember our friend, Wolf Kahn? He is all about Hans Hoffman's "Push-Pull" theories, and Kahn's drawings are a virtuoso performance in allowing lines to push the sky down (or up!) as the composition needs. Same story with his foregrounds.
So, in looking at your third drawing, I wonder which element will dominate. The sky, mid and foregrounds share thirds equally. My eye needs to be told which element to favor. In fact, you risk having four elements equally weighted, if I think of foreground, barn, mid ground and sky. I do like the "fat" field mass above the barn, though. I think #3 is my favorite over all (vertical).
Finally, I want to get into your drawing a bit. The barn drawing works great for it's value scale, and has perfect "weight" and is anchored well to the ground. It's a great drawing! I want you to analyze the perspective as a 3 point perspective, though. It looks like you have a 2 point perspective going, with almost a slight third point (the vanishing point below the dirt would wish for the vertical wall lines to be more acute). Does that make sense? My thumb#3 illustrates a 3 point perspective of this barn, where the viewer is slightly above and looking down on it. The vanishing point for the vertical lines is below the ground level.
Anyone else willing to follow along? I'll be out-of-pocket through Monday, and then we'll be resolving my compositions and moving on to the demo.