Wheat and Other Things

Have you ever wondered how artists are able to capture all the important details in a landscape? When we look at a field, or a forest, or a city, we see thousands of details, and for the untrained eye, it is staggering to think of how one could be able to draw all these things into their own work. However, while you could attempt to draw in extremely fine detail, often the best results are had from drawing just enough detail to be able to capture the feel of a landscape. So this week, I undertook an attempt at drawing a landscape of my own.

With limited experience and time, I tried to find a very simple landscape. As my aide this time, I used a few extremely helpful pages from the website, How Stuff Works, which has an extensive list of different how-to-draw lessons. I settled on a wheat field, something that in reality has a huge amount of detail, but which I learned was perhaps one of the easier landscapes to draw.

First, I took a ruler and drew a horizon at the top third of the page. Drawing wheat involves drawing a lot of ovals: first the general shape of the heads of wheat are drawn, then the kernels are made of smaller ovals within those. After that, which took most of the drawing time, it was simply a matter of using lines to represent the seed fibres and more stalks of wheat that stretch off toward the horizon, then more ovals for clouds, and finally my best attempt at a circle for the sun.



I found this kind of drawing much different from what I started with with drawing faces. The goal is not to capture a realistic image of the world, but capture realistic details of the landscape, while at the same time simplifying those details that are out of focus. In this case, most of my detail focus is on capturing the details of the few stalks of wheat in the near-ground, while simply representing the rest of the field and the sky using simple lines and shapes. This technique is strikingly similar to what is done in photography, something I am much more familiar with, called limiting focus. It required a certain change in the way I understand different kinds of drawing, much as I had to for drawing cartoons.

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Andrew Monro

Andrew Monro is an editor with an enduring reputation as an impeccably well-dressed individual, and a surprisingly pleasant person to have a beer with. He is an aficionado of web forums, fine wine, modern poetry, and petrichor. He is a native British Columbian, but now lives in Ottawa.

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