Landscape Sketching in Ireland | Siobhan Twomey | Skillshare

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

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Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

8 Lessons (35m)
    • 1. Landscape Sketching in Ireland

    • 2. Your Landscape Drawing

    • 3. The Tools and the Approach for this Drawing

    • 4. The Journey to Your Drawing

    • 5. The Destination - Choosing Your Spot to Draw

    • 6. The Process of a Landscape Drawing

    • 7. The Key to Landscape Drawing

    • 8. Final Thoughts

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About This Class

Landscape sketching, and drawing in nature, is one of the best ways to experience a place, and it is also one of the best ways to restore and support yourself on a very deep level. In this class whether you are a landscape sketching beginner, or advanced artist, you'll learn new approaches and techniques for drawing with pencil, with pen and ink, or charcoal step by step.

Sketching the view that you encounter, when you are out in nature, can be transformative, because the process allows you to drop into a very creative, noticing and appreciative state. It's a surprisingly simple process, but it's very effective. By the end of even a very short drawing session, you'll have a drawing that is a powerful expression of your own experience, and along the way, you will have spent time engaging with nature in a way that you might not normally have the chance to do.

So, in this class I invite you to accompany me to a beautiful site in the west of Ireland! Come hike with me through a magical forest, and climb to the top of Knocknarea where, together we'll visit the incredible, ancient burial tomb of Queen Maeve! This site is older than the Pyramids, and contains the deepest mysteries of ancient Ireland. It's a place that connects us to the past along lines made by the equinoxes, the solstices, and through rituals of renewal and hope! A great energy to take into 2023!

This short and focused class will teach you the best approach to use for a dynamic and responsive drawing. I'll share my favorite drawing tools and supplies, and give you advice on what to take with you when you go out to draw your own chosen landscape.

You'll also learn what I believe is the key to drawing landscapes. This one, vital element in your work will ensure your drawing is a strong, vibrant finished piece of art - a drawing that will bring your interpretation of it to life. I'll explain what this key element is and how to incorporate it into any drawing that you make.

Meet Your Teacher

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Siobhan Twomey

Artist, Illustrator, Instructor

Top Teacher

Hello, I'm Siobhan :)

My background spans the disciplines of drawing, painting, filmmaking and animation. To say the least, my journey has been varied, scenic and multi-faceted!!

Starting out, I studied Film in Dublin and I also spent a semester on a scholarship at the Tisch School of the Arts, at NYU in New York. Later, I studied Drawing and Animation. Since 2005, I've worked in studios in Vancouver and Dublin: I've worked as a professional Background and Environment Artist; I've worked as a Storyboard Artist, Concept Artist; I've also directed a number of short animated films. Today, I work out of my own studio, and my art practice revolves around portrait painting and figure drawing, for commission and gallery exhibitions.

All in all, I've wor... See full profile

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1. Landscape Sketching in Ireland: Hi, there. Welcome to this short and focused class on landscape sketching. My name is Siobhan . I'm an artist and instructor and I'm a top teacher here on Skillshare. Today, I want to invite you to join me not only to do a little bit of landscape sketching, but to accompany me to the west of Ireland to a spot of incredible beauty and mystery and ancient legend. I'm excited to take you on a hike with me up Knocknarae in County Sligo to the mysterious tomb of Queen Maeve. Where together, we'll take in the breathtaking surroundings and spend some time making a drawing of this unique and magical place. This class will not only be an armchair journey to one of the most spectacular sights in Ireland, but I'll also be teaching you how to approach landscape drawing in general, in a very simple, direct, and intuitive way. First of all, you will learn what tools work best for this type of drawing. I'll explain what to take with you and how to prepare for your drawing session. Then you'll learn how to approach your chosen outdoor spots. I'm going to share with you my process for arriving at the drawing spot in a drawing state of mind, fully prepared to connect with the landscape on a deep personal level. After that, I'm going to dial into the details about what techniques will work for you to begin your drawing and to progress through it. Finally, I'm going to explain the one key element that makes a landscape drawing successful, no matter what the level of detail. This is going to help you so much to connect more deeply with your work and with what you observe and will ensure that you can make a fully finished artwork. This class is your starting point for seeking out your own special location in nature where you can connect and restore on a very deep level, and take time to draw. It's true drawing that you'll find that your experience of whatever landscape you're in will be that much richer than simply taking photos. This practice can be quite transformative and supportive and it's a deceptively simple process. I hope you're ready to journey with me to Queen Maeve's grave to take in these incredible views of Sligo bay, and to learn the techniques that will support you in drawing any landscape. Whether it's the park down the road from you, your back garden, or simply the view outside your window. My goal in this class is that whatever you choose to draw, this will become as significant to you as this site is to me. Let's get started. 2. Your Landscape Drawing: In this lesson, I'll explain the structure of this class and your class project. So this is a simple, short, and focused class on sketching a landscape. You will learn techniques and approaches that will make the process of drawing any landscape that you choose easy and enjoyable. For your class project, I would love if you could share a drawing of your own chosen landscape. It could be somewhere as simple as the park down the street from you. It could even be your back garden or the view outside your window. It doesn't have to be a magical and windswept area of staggering scenic beauty, like the place I chose. Any landscape at all will do for this class, and I can guarantee you that any landscape will serve as a rich treasure trove for your artistic eye, and I'd love to see your drawing and your interpretation of that place. If you can't get outside to draw today, then consider drawing from a photograph. It won't be the exact same experience, but you'll still be able to put to use all of the techniques that I talk about in this class and you'll still make a wonderful drawing of it. When you're done, head over to the Projects & Resources tab on your desktop and share your drawing there. I'll give you feedback and encouragement, and I know that the other students in the class will be inspired to see your work. You can also post your work in progress if you want to share the drawing in stages, that's great too. If you've got any questions at all, be sure to send me a message via the Discussion tab. 3. The Tools and the Approach for this Drawing: In this lesson, I'm going to explain an approach to drawing outside that I find very useful. It's something that I learned the hard way. The simple rule of thumb is to bring a very minimalist and pair back drawing kit. I brought just one small sketchbook and one pencil. Now you could give yourself the option of bringing more, but the fact is that you'll likely only need one drawing tool and certainly one sketchbook. I love drawing outside because unlike painting, you can be direct. You can get marks onto the page almost as immediately as you look, and that in itself is the thing that makes outdoor landscape drawing come alive. Those marks might seem like mistakes or random or incorrect marks, but in the end they are the marks that will make your drawing feel so dynamic. You don't have to have paints with you when you use this approach. I personally have found that painting outdoors requires a lot of organization, a lot of planning, and a very different approach. One that's more considered and careful. You have to be mindful of the end results that you want to achieve when you're painting, and you have to work very progressively from the start. On the other hand, sketching a landscape offers you the opportunity to draw as you look and to explore the landscape through your marks as if you were walking through it and feeling it out with your own hands. You can be very intuitive. You can be experimental with your composition, and you don't have to stick to a plan or an imagined outcome. At first this will seem like a very rough and loose way to make a drawing. But when you're able to drop into the zone during this process, you'll find that you can actually make a drawing that is powerfully truthful in terms of your experience of the landscape. Direct marks mean marks that correspond to what you see without any intermediate changes. Throughout this class, I'm going to be encouraging you to trust the way you see and to practice linking how you look at something with the marks that you make. The best materials to use for this approach are going to be pencils such as 4B or even 6B. I will say that I personally don't draw with graphite pencils, I tend to favor charcoal pencils, or a pencil known as Conte, which is a mix of charcoal and crayon. You could by all means use a very expressive medium such as charcoal, but just remember that you'll be working in your sketchbook. That means that your drawing might get smudged and also being outdoors, it might get windy or even a bit rainy. So I like to keep my drawing tools simple and I find that Conte pencils come close to that simple setup while still giving some strong dark marks for expression and dynamic drawing. Another thing to consider is bringing water and some snacks, very important, especially if you are hiking or walking to your chosen splash. In the next lesson, I'll talk about the importance of treating the whole journey as part of your drawing process, and I'll give you some advice on how to drop into a meditative, noticing stage in mind, that will be perfect for drawing. So I'll see you in the next lesson. 4. The Journey to Your Drawing: My outdoor sketch involved quite a bit of a hike in order to get to the place where I knew I wanted to set up for drawing. However, I discovered that the drawing process started on that hike in. This is what I want to share with you in this lesson and give you some tips and advice on how the journey in can be a vital, supportive, and an important preparation for the actual drawing session that you intend to have at your arrival or at your destination. I always remember being told by a painter friend of mine that when he prepares to go out painting in a landscape, he makes sure that he prepares his materials and his painting bag and his kit the night before. That way he knows before he goes to sleep that the journey has already started. He's already on his way to his painting spot. He says that this preparation and this mindset really has a huge benefit on his process. It supports him through the whole process. It saves him from backing out in the morning if he does wake up and he has second thoughts. I'm sharing this story with you because it's something that was clearly in my mind as I headed out to draw. I knew that there was going to be a long hike in and before I got to my drawing spot, I wanted to make sure that I was starting to think about drawing and think in a drawing way. As I walked up through this beautiful forest, this all started to become part of the drawing. Because even though where I ended up sitting down to draw with nothing like this forest area, just by noticing with my eyes small details around me and by allowing my senses to take in the surroundings, I was actually dropping into a drawing state of mind. As you walk towards that drawing spot, start the process of noticing things around you with a drawing mind. Notice the small details. Think about texture and shape, the colors that you see. Really take in the landscape around you and bring out those details that you're seeing. Especially start to use all of your senses. Notice the smells. Use your sense of touch to feel things out as you're walking through the landscape. I'm going to talk a lot more later on about the importance of being able to draw texture. Even at this early stage, that idea of using your sense of touch to understand the landscape around you is so important and it will really feed into your drawing. What I want to encourage you most is that as you walk towards your drawing spot in the landscape, make it all part of the process. Begin to draw with your eyes way before you sit down and start to draw with your pencil. 5. The Destination - Choosing Your Spot to Draw: In this lesson, I'm going to take a bit of time to explain something about this amazing sites where I chose to do some outdoor sketching. I want to use this as an opportunity to invite you with me to this place in the west of Ireland. I want to explain a little bit about it. This really is worth talking about and sharing with you because it's incredible as well as it is beautiful. After hiking through the forest at the top of this small mountain, you come out onto a wide flat summit and this is where you see for the first time this monument of stone that stands in the very center. Locally, this is known as Queen Maeve's Grave and the anecdotal or legendary story attached to it is that Queen Maeve, an ancient Irish warrior queen is buried here standing upright in full battle regalia facing her enemies to the north. That's the story. However, the truth is that this monument actually predates the historical figure of Queen Maeve by a couple of centuries at least. This monument was constructed some 5,000 years ago, making it older than the pyramids. It stands at 10 meters high, 60 meters wide, and is made up of 30,000 tons of stones. In itself this is a fascinating monument and it's such an imposing marker on the surrounding landscape. You can see it from miles and miles. If that's all that was, that in itself would be amazing. But the mystery around this place actually deepens and gets much more interesting when you consider that this monument was not built in isolation. In fact, the surrounding area of this part of Sligo, there are dozens of sites like this, not as big as this, but certainly many, many sites that were built around the same moment in history. By and large, they're all burial sites or sites that were built to mark the equinoxes or the solstices. Given the surrounding sites in this part of Ireland, it's likely that underneath all of these stones is a megalithic chamber or passage graves. All of that incredible and fascinating history aside, there also happens to be stunning landscape views to take in at the top of this mountain. That brings me to advise on choosing a place to make your landscape drawing if you're heading out on a hike like this. You might not have access to an area of amazing beauty or some similarly fascinating historical place. If you're able to just head out to the park down the road, that's perfect and in many ways it is just as significant as coming to a place like Queen Maeve's grave. It's all about how you interpret your site, how you interpret it through your drawing. I want to make sure that you understand that the way you draw, whatever it is you see is what's important. It's not the place itself that has to be important, it's all about you in a landscape and how you interpreted or respond to that landscape. My first tip when you get to your drawing spot is don't rush into setting up and starting to draw immediately. When you get there, take time to look around your chosen spot taking the view from a few different angles if you can and this will really help you to compose your drawing. It also helps you to now start to slow down and start to begin noticing and observing. My second tip is probably just for myself more than it is for you but that is to try to not be too shy about drawing in public. For me, that's very challenging. I always feel slightly uncomfortable and a bit nervous to draw in public but you really have to ignore it. You have to ignore that and you have to just draw anyway. If people do come up and start talking to you, it's okay. Don't feel it's a total disruption of your process. People are genuinely interested in what you're doing in your work and the truth is that they never really hang around for too long anyway so you can get back to drawing, but definitely don't let that stop you from drawing in public. Then my last tip is don't finish your drawing too soon or at least don't rush it. You might think that after a certain length of time, you feel okay, that's it, you're done now it's time to go. My advice is stay with it just a few minutes longer even just sit with your drawing once you think it's finished because you'll be really surprised at how even a few more minutes spent on a drawing that you thought was finished can actually give the drawing much more depth and interest and you'll be so glad that you didn't rush the session and just ended abruptly. In the next lesson, I'm going to talk about some techniques that are used for this drawing session and give you an insight into some of that process. 6. The Process of a Landscape Drawing: In this lesson, I'm going to explain how you can start your process for a landscape drawing. The beginning phase is probably the most daunting for a number of reasons. In this lesson, we'll identify those challenges and I'll share some advice for how I get around them. The first and the most difficult challenge is that when you look at your chosen landscape, it's likely that you will be completely overwhelmed and think, what on Earth can I draw here? There's just simply too much to take in. There's no way I can get all of that detail down on paper. This happens to me all the time. I see this amazing rich detail and that's what I want to be able to put into a drawing. The easiest way though to counteract that sense of overwhelm is just to start blocking in a simple composition. Do this as simply as you can. Here, I started with just some lines to indicate the outline or the silhouette of the far hills. I just started blocking in the rolling fields and landscape in between me and those far away hills. I wanted to separate out the different sections that I saw on a broad basis without going into details and just with these simple lines. Another good tip is that at the very beginning, I would encourage you to tap into the feeling that you get up from the landscape. One of the main things that I want you to get out of this class in general, is that you can draw everything that you see on a visual sense or on a visual plane, you can draw that through your sense of what you feel. This really is a wonderful way to start out drawing process. If you start from that feeling place or acknowledge the feeling that you get, then you can carry that approach right the way through the entire process. How do you draw what you feel about a landscape? Well, what you can do is just let your intuition guide your pencil instead of letting your logical brain guide your pencil. Just allow the lines to flow across the page in the same way that you see the landscape before you flowing or moving around. Whether you start blocking out your composition or whether you just allow an intuitive approach to start it, basically starting simple is the key to ensuring that you'll be able to continue your drawing. I don't really spend much time to create a composition in a photographic sense. I'm consciously avoiding that really and I'm just trying to draw in an intuitive and a loose way so I don't spend time to make measurements or proportions. To me, it's much more important just to respond on a feeling level. What I'm doing now though, is I'm starting to find some of the tonal variations and picking out some textures. This is something I want to talk about in the next lesson. But for this first part of the drawing, it's actually really important to let your eye wander over the scene and to try as much as you can to let your pencil follow your eye movement. This creates a very powerful drawing. Because when you allow your pencil to follow your eyes, what you're doing is recording or capturing a very truthful or honest and a very direct impression. That to me is the beauty of drawing something from life. When you're out in nature and you are immersed in the landscape itself, you have that opportunity to make a drawing in a very different way than if you were to draw from a photograph. Because you're physically in the landscape, you're part of it and all of your senses are working around you and you can channel them through your visual impression of what you see onto the page that you're drawing. What you see in that moment and what you feel is really something only you can see; it's not an already pre-recorded image. If you manage to get your pencil to make marks on the page, the same time that your eyes observe, even if those marks are just scratches or rough marks on paper, they're not proper shapes, they will nonetheless have a very strong effect because they are marks that have meaning. They're connected to your experience in that moment. They simply put marks that record what you see. My main tip in this lesson is to not restrict yourself to draw in what you think should be perfect lines and perfect shapes. Go with what your pencil wants to do on the page, make random and expressive marks. It's such a good practice to do in an outdoor landscape setting because you'll be really surprised at how dynamic and exciting your drawing can become even if it's not properly detailed or it doesn't look like a photo. The other challenge that you might face at the very beginning related to this challenge of seeing all of the details at once, is that you might find that your drawing changes over time simply because your proportions or your composition is changing slightly as you move and spend more time on your drawing. This is really common. The reason that this happens is because when you do start drawing and you're looking and observing your landscape, the more you look at it, the more you see. That's why you find that you need to change your composition a little bit, add elements or lines or hills or areas that you didn't see at first. But this is all part of the process. The entire process from start to finish is about discovery. You could actually choose one tiny minute portion of your view and you could draw that for half an hour and by the end of the drawing session, you still wouldn't have drawn everything that there is to see or everything that you wanted to say about that one tiny area. My advice is to settle with the composition you start out with and just draw into it for the whole time. Don't worry if you do need to move things around or if you need to be selective. If you decide that you don't want to add in certain sections, that's fine too. Ultimately, no one is going to compare your drawing with the actual landscape and come back to you and say, "That tree wasn't there," or "That shrub on the left is actually a farmhouse." Don't worry, just remember this is about the process more so than it is about the outcome. A good example here is like the obvious thing in my drawing, I chose to include a section on the right-hand side of the rocks of the monument. Now of course, my drawing is nothing like what the rocks actually look like. There's no way I was going to be able to draw each and every single rock exactly. I also didn't want to, that really wasn't the feeling that I was getting or the impression. I wanted to simply give the impression of how the rock sits or tumble into my view of this landscape as the landscape stretched away into the horizon. The rocks fall into the composition. They frame the rest of the scene and so I don't want to spend too much time to draw each and every single rock. What I did do was I tried to use my linework to make a bit of a distinction between the rock and the Earth; you know that sense of stone and grass. That's what I'm going to talk about a little bit more in depth in the next lesson. 7. The Key to Landscape Drawing: In this lesson, I'd like to share with you what I believe is the key to making a strong finished landscape drawing. Up until now, I've talked about the process, the importance of arriving at your chosen place with mindfulness, with openness to what the landscape offers, with a non-judgment to your own work, with courage to just start no matter what or no matter how daunting it might seem and also with a commitment to drawing what your eyes see. All of these aspects form a framework for drawing and not just for landscape drawing. Certainly, definitely though, for drawing any subject from life. However, at some point in this process, you do want to feel that you're coming through it all with a drawing that makes sense in terms of your experience. A drawing that looks like the landscape or at the very least, looks like how you interpret that landscape. To that end, I want to share with you one incredibly important technique or one way of drawing that to me is the key when it comes to making a drawing look finished. That one aspect, that one key to drawing is learning or developing an understanding of how to draw texture. A drawing that has good shapes, great values and strong composition can still look flash and a bit weak if it lacks a sense of texture. I used to never consider texture with my drawing. I always wanted to focus just on shapes, values and composition. Those things are important. Don't get me wrong. I'm not saying that we need to disregard them. But I learned that texture makes all of those things come to life. It is the thing that can make your drawing look powerful, strong and look like a finished artwork. I'll admit it's not the easiest thing to draw. In this lesson, I'm going to share some advice on how you can draw texture. First of all, I want to explain why it's so important, as I just said, it can make your values and your composition come to life. But furthermore, being able to draw the texture of different elements or objects in your scene will ensure that those things feel different and distinct from each other. For example you don't want the rocks looking exactly like the soft grass. This sounds very obvious but honestly try to draw it, it's not that easy and the reason is because when you are drawing, we all do this. We tend to use the exact same emphasis throughout our drawing. Because of that, the same marks or the same lines are used to draw different separate things. That's what makes things appear to have the same emphasis, the same texture. This is what you want to try and avoid. How then do you draw texture? Well, the first thing to understand is that there is a distinction between shape and texture. If you draw rocksin like a squarish shape and then you draw grass in a spiky shape. That's not necessarily going to describe each of these things as different textures because as I just explained, you'll likely be using the exact same mark with the exact same line to draw both the rock and the grass. This is a big mistake and understand that drawing texture means making marks that themselves feel like the thing if you look at them. Again, I know this is not easy because this is what I try to grapple with all the time. It's a constant practice. For example, to me the rocks felt hard and angular, cold and sharp and above all strange. I was trying to make a line or a mark that felt angular, cold, sharp and strange. I wasn't trying to draw the shape of the rocks individually. Similarly, the grass felt soft, cushiony, spongy like a carpet and I was trying to make marks that were soft and cushiony any spongy. I wasn't trying to draw blades of grass. That's really the most important thing I can tell you about landscape drawing. If you could hold the rock in your hand or the grass in your hand. Close your eyes and draw what your sense of touch was recording, not the shape, but the actual sense of touch. Then if you can do that, you've cracked the code. You will have the key to drawing as far as I'm concerned. Texture is everything in a good drawing. Making marks that are different and that describe texture is the key. It's what you should be concerned with over and above composition and shape of individual elements. Mark-making, simply put is a vital part of drawing. Just as in the way you look at a landscape is completely unique to you. No one else sees what you see. In the same way, making marks is completely unique to you. That's your signature and that's why, again, when you match mark-making and observation, the result is just going to be completely truthful, honest and direct recording of what you're looking at. My advice is to try to make as many different and varied marks in your drawing as you can and make that correlate and describe what it is you see, you will find that actually through the practice itself, things like values, shape and composition will come through of their own accord. Yes. That's my final piece of advice for you here. Texture is the key to drawing, especially for landscape drawing. 8. Final Thoughts: Thank you so much for coming with me on this journey. I really feel honored to be able to share the small experience with you. I sincerely hope that somehow, some way, this course has inspired you to go out and spend time drawing a landscape. My final thoughts that I want to leave with you is that I personally find this drawing session to be very revelatory. It turned out to be so much more than a drawing session. I learned about myself and about my drawing practice. I made a powerful personal connection with a place that I know I'd never have had any other way. Above all, I discovered that by sitting down and looking at a landscape and spending less than half an hour sketching, I experienced this incredible place on a level far deeper than if I had simply walked around it and taken a few photos with my phone. Drawing or sketching, what you're looking at, can give you a completely different experience than simply looking at it. It makes you feel connected, it makes you appreciate, and ultimately, it can be a very nourishing and supportive experience. I highly recommend it. On that note, I want to remind you again about posting your drawing up in the project section. I'd love to see your drawing. I'll give you feedback and support if you like. But more than that, I know that the other students in this class would love to see your landscape. Tell us about your chosen place, why you wanted to draw it. Tell us about the journey there, what the destination was like for you, and above all, tell us about your process. Let me know in the discussion tab if you've got any questions or indeed if you have any advice that you want to give that you think would help others. Again, thank you so much for taking this class with me and I look forward to seeing you in the next one.