Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Ashness Bridge - my drawing for the new Derwent Catalogue

Ashness Bridge - looking north towards Skiddaw
297mm x 210mm, Derwert Artists' Pencils on Arches Hot Press
copyright Derwent - Cumberland Pencil Company

Derwent Cumberland Pencil Company recently commissioned me to produce a new drawing - see above - to illustrate their Artists Pencils range in the new catalogue for 2008.

Derwent Artists Pencils are the first colour pencils that Derwent ever developed. Since their introduction, they have always been associated with an image of Ashness Bridge in the Lake District. This old packhorse bridge crosses the Barrow Beck as it comes down off the fells on its journey to meet the eastern shores of Derwentwater below. Standing near to the bridge and looking north it's possible to have wonderful views of Skiddaw in the distance beyond Keswick.

Various drawings of the bridge have been produced over the years and many of you who have tins of Derwent Artists pencils will have one of those drawings on the cover of the tin.

I was asked to work from a photograph in my normal style - which is not photo-realist. I don't normally work from photos taken by other people since if I've taken them myself they help to remind me what a place looks like and how I need to adjust the photo. However, in this instance, I was very fortunate in being able to get a very good look at what Ashness Bridge looked like from all angles, in all seasons, in all sorts of weather - and taken over many years - by viewing the very many hundreds of photos of the bridge on the Internet! There's even a 360 degree panorama on the BBC website which shows the view from just above the bridge. This was the point at which I realised that Ashness Bridge is indeed a truly iconic bridge. It's certainly the most famous and most photographed bridge in the Lake District and is much loved by many people who visit the area. It was therefore a subject which I needed to treat with respect.
Derwent Artists are a traditional, large diameter pencil,available in 120 shades. The smooth round barrel is comfortable to hold and the generous 4mm wide colour strip encourages natural, broad strokes and free, expressive drawing. slightly waxy in texture, they are easy to mix and blend, producing an infinite spectrum of hues and tints.
Derwent Catalogue)
I normally mix pencils from different brands so this is the first drawing I've done using only Derwent Artists' Pencils. However, I am now convinced of the benefits of working with one brand throughout and very much enjoyed the range of colours available in the Derwent Range. I found they not only provided me with all I needed to do this landscape but that I was also spoilt for choice at times in relation to the autumnal colours.

I was also particularly pleased with how well the pencils worked with my layering and lifting approach to landscapes. I layer a number of colours using open hatching for each layer with the intention of producing optical mixing effects which give depth to the 'local' colour. I then lift off using a battery powered eraser - also using a very light hatching stroke - and then layer again on top to add more texture. (It's pretty much the same as the way a number of watercolour artists work.)

I was very keen to have a bridge which was made up of coloured greys and this approach seemed to work well with both achieving this aim and also getting a sense of the texture of the stone.

For those interested in a Derwent Catalogue, I understand the 2008 catalogue is aimed more at consumers than trade customers and is due to be published in January 2008. It's possible to order a catelogue from the website.