Thursday, 30 October 2008

Where on earth does this one vanish to?

A month ago, when I went to the seaside one afternoon, the very first thing I did was getting to the seashore - the tide was far out, I was crossing some streams and puddles, but then I was there: a fairly calm and friendly waterline, small waves rolling frequently, the sun was shining ocassionally, and after watching all of this for a wee while I begun to sketch. I had just taken an A4 sketchbook and an ink pen with me.

Troon shoreline
Troon shoreline,
Pen and ink, 21x29cm

Troon shoreline
Troon shoreline,
Pen and ink, 29x21cm

Troon shoreline
Troon shoreline,
Pen and ink, 21x29cm

I ended up with a series of a dozen or so quick sketches: trying to capture the rhythms of the water as the tide was advancing, observing puddles to fill up quickly, shorelines to alter within a couple of minutes and all the time trying to figure it all out: the coming and going of the waves, when would break, intermingle, flow back, be quiet - I'm sure there's lots of words for all this... but here's some of those sketches.

They don't make much sense, do they?! They don't have to, though. It's about marks, little reminders of patterns, the moving shoreline. And funnily enough, looking at them, they give me plenty of those reminders, in particular about the shoreline itself where water meets sand but also about the patternings of the advancing tide.

The one I have been circling around [as in this misshapen oil sketch here] is a view right along the waterline, sand on left, water on right and a bit of horizon line. If I go through my photo folders, I will find dozens of these photos, they frequently make it onto the background of my computer. The line where it all happens.

Depending on where I stand, it can have a low or a high view point, no horizon lines, but in any case there is usually plenty of skewing of the viewing plane the lower my view point is. And this is what I was struggling with in the previous sketches (in ink, oil pastels, oil) with this view.

So, I've been doing some more sketches, altering the view point, reading up on vanishing points (one, two or three), digging around various books on drawing (again, Bert Dodson's Keys to Drawing is coming out tops for this [see Katherine Tyrrell's review on the book here]), only to discover two things:

1. no, my problem has nothing to do with a three point perspective and various vanishing points: it's a flat plain I'm trying to depict, and it is about distortions on the shoreline, not about vanishing points... duhuh... sometimes it's not the answer that is wrong but the question ;)

Waterline, Troon beach,
Pencil in Moleskine, 24x21cm

Waterline, Troon beach,
Pencil in Moleskine, 24x21cm

2. I could spend endless time with yet more sketches; treating it as a geometrical probem (and feel like I was back in secondary school with some architectural drawings to do, see here). I don't think that that's time well spent. This is primarily an EMPIRICAL problem: I need to go to the beach again and watch, observe: what does the shoreline look like. I'm sure that will sort it.
So, while I have plenty of good sketches on wave patterns, my sketches miss the detail of different view points, distortions resulting from that, and possibly much more.

To the beach, then...


Anonymous said...

a beach,
somewhere where things wash up,
waves can be drawn
like eyes
along a wake
tears upon the rocks.

my croft said...

have you tried working at this using torn paper?

Gesa said...

Oh - thank you!
This made my morning after reading.

I did write something too, that day on the beach. It's a lot more whimsical:

Autumn day one
on the beach
at low tide

Glistering sun
as it dances
on the breaking waves

Small ones, friendly ones

They laugh alongside
the two girls
who go swimming
in 15C
on the beach
in Central Scotland.

Thank you!

Melanie: yes, I had been thinking about collage: in fact, I saw a piece of a sandy shoreline which used torn pieces of paper; it didn't work that well, but it's a good idea. I am still trying to figure out what kind of marks to make; what medium, really, too. So I did take some papers with me this morning - didn't use them, though, but, yes, definitely.