Essential Lines, Prioritisation, and Simplicity

I love it when a few simple lines or shapes capture the essence of a subject, so I really enjoyed this exercise from my studies with Newlyn School of Art, UK.

I began by selecting a photo of a landscape to use as a reference. This is a photo I took on one of my walks through our local park, the beautiful Maxima Park.

Then I selected 7 different drawing tools. I chose:

  1. paynes grey fluid paint and a thick brush
  2. a thick green coloured charcoal stick
  3. a black Posca marker
  4. a lime yellow oil stick
  5. a black fineliner
  6. a paynes grey watercolour pencil
  7. a pencil.

The challenge was to draw a landscape from the reference, using each of the drawing tools to make just 1 line each.

Next, I removed 2 of the drawing tools and drew the same landscape using just 5 tools to make just 5 lines.

And then finally, I removed another 2 tools and took on the hardest challenge, to draw the landscape using just 3 tools and 3 lines. This one was much tougher and demanded more creativity, so I tried it several times.

I really love these 3-lined compositions!

This was a great exercise for practicing abstraction and simplification, and for thinking about what about the landscape felt important or interesting or essential to me and what I was willing to let go of. It also made me so much more aware of the different qualities and capacities of the different drawing tools. It’s an exercise I’ll definitely return to!