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.
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 ;)
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...