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This was a bit of an experiment.

We set off with a group of 18 artists who signed up

to follow the exercise as it was posted here.

We started in early October 2009

and the final image was posted to the tutorial at the end of March 2010.

Nearly 6 months.

The long time was mainly due to the pressures of other work.

In March 2010 the ongoing script here was edited,

 a number of ‘typos’ removed, and the script also re-arranged

so that it reads better for those coming to the tutorial at a later date.

I hope you find it of interest.

Please bear in mind most of the script you read below was written as we went along

Monday OCTOBER 5th 2009

I showed below a selection of photos from a large collection I have taken over the years.  I have numbered them and later I will post comments on what I feel is the suitability of each one for completing a picture in Coloured Pencil.  

I will then ask for comments and we will move on to select an image - or part of an image - for this exercise

1 2 3 4 5 6 8 7 9 10

Or possibly

Southern France Good exercise for buildings.  Would need to omit the car.  Not sure.

Brittany A lot of green.  It might be possible to crop it down

Farm, Milton Keynes.Good collection of subject types - possible

North Sardinia. A lot of detail.  Contrasts would need adjusting to make it work.  Not a lot of foliage.

Harbour scene Cavtat Croatia . That bollard is in the way - should it be moved or re-sized ?  Trees frame the scene nicely

Nice little old pub, Linton Cambridge.  Good mixture of subject matter

 North Sardinia   Stone and bells - Flowers as well -  now there’s a challenge for me !

Bluebells at Coton Manor.That one could be difficult, but I don’t rule it out.

Somerset Ford at Allerford - that’s a famous view, but none the less a good one

Same as above from a slightly different viewpoint


Southern France.  Steps lead to ???  Good for stone, but composition not ideal

What determines a good subject for a Coloured Pencil Landscape ?

The strength of the medium lies in the ability to achieve detail and accurate line. Some images above would perhaps be more suitable for watercolour.  This is not to say that we should avoid skies and water - and other ‘difficult’ elements, but it is generally better to play to the areas where the medium is at its best.

Skies can be left as the white of the paper, though if sun is indicated through shadows,  the eye expects to see some blue sky.

Consider the images shown and think how many different techniques will be required.  For an working example like this, a ‘busy’ picture might well be best to cover the maximum number of options.

GJ writes :

Whilst I'm very happy to go along with whichever picture you finally favour (you know best which elements to include to deliver the most effective tuition), I was very attracted to the one of Allerford Ford -  possibly because I recognise it as somewhere I've been, many years ago!


Anyway, if you did end up favouring this picture, I have produced a slightly different 'crop' on it, since I am keen to learn how to create the dense background forest (which seems to figure in so many landscapes).

DC writes :  I've just looked at the photos you have posted for the SBS project. My favourites would be from numbers 6, 7, 8 and 9. I love the bluebell wood but it might not get the vote as it doesn't have many different textures or elements

PW I agree - it is an attractive picture, but not a great choice for a CP work.

There is one in the bluebell set with a standing figure in it,

I will have to look out the file.    Later : No it’s not a good one, forget that idea

DEW writes :  Regarding choice of pictures, I'll go with the flow, however, my top four are 4, 7, 8 and the attached, modified 10.  I, too, like the “classic” Somerset Ford but with a crop that provides just a little more in the foreground which although it's grey tarmac, gives a better balance and somewhere to stand when leading into the picture.  I think, too, that the house on the left creates too much of a frame.

PW  Any more thoughts ?

JC writes : 6, 7, 8, 10  are the best for drawing from, I should think, and probably the pub at Linton would be my favourite of those, followed by number 10.   (My favourite of the photos is actually number 9 with the bluebell trees, but it might get a bit boring to work on, as there are large areas that need the same detailed treatment throughout - although a great challenge....)

DC adds a further comment :  I'm interested to see that a couple of people like the cropped versions of number 10. For my point of view I feel that they lack a strong focal point and my eye tends to wander around the picture with nowhere to settle. I prefer the stronger contrasts and focal point in the one marked 11.


I would still prefer to go with one of the other pictures and if I had to pick one it would be number 8 for the composition and the contrast of textures, forms, light and shade.

JT writes : Peter, all your pictures would be a great challenge for me. I think no.8 would be a good one to start with. It covers foliage and buildings, and a bit of perspective. I also like the bluebell picture,  it has interesting perspective, but no buildings!

PW This is the whole image of No 8 - as you can see the picture was cropped to remove pedestrians.  I had wondered if the Linton image ( No 7 ) could be improved with the addition of a couple of standing figures outside the far door.  Does that add enough complications in choosing yet ?

PW    One of our number has asked why the landscapes on ‘offer’ are not really wide open spaces - what most people would think of as a ‘landscape picture’.  I offer (1) a photo taken of a view across a part of Wiltshire many years ago that I painted in acrylics ...  as what I see as an example of the type of picture he is thinking about.

This image is actually possible for CP as it does contain quite a lot of detail, but many wide open spaces are much more suitable for watercolour or acrylic.  Really we need to be able to focus on some substantial detail to get the benefit of the detail possible with CP.

As an example, I show (2) the Bowerman Stone on Dartmoor.  That is well possible with CP because the main subject is the stone and that can be worked well in CP.  Take away the stone and there is really not a lot to focus on - a lovely open landscape across the moors, which doesn’t make an ideal composition without the foreground detail.  

This is obviously a discussion point, but I firmly believe that every medium has its strengths and weakness and  to make the best of CP we need to play to some of those strengths and include a major detail feature not so easily done in another medium.

I do a lot of Landscapes - that is what I ‘do’.  I like a challenge and I am happy to take on subjects like (3) the River Tavy in Devon.

This last one exists as a step by step for courses, but experience tells me that it is a very difficult subject for those who are learning.

Very few try it and make a success of it.

I am open to discuss this further though

We are off and running.

The Discussion group are virtually complete

( one lady due to return from Holiday shortly)

Members of the group are currently voting for the image they would most like to do the exercise with and hopefully we will be able to make some sort of a start well before the end of the month.

If you are aiming to follow along with what we do and the discussions that take place, I am going to start the actual Tutorial on the next page so that I can leave this intro in position for later readers.

If you want to take a quick route in each time, then log the next page ( following the link below ) in your ‘Bookmarks’ or ‘Favourites’

To allow maximum space for the Step by Step, the pages that follow on this topic will be blank pages without the website surround but with navigation buttons to go forward and back and Home

I hope you find this useful

We have a decision !

The vote is complete and the image chosen is a variation on the view of

The ford at Allerford in North Somerset.

The action and discussion will now move on to page 2 of this exercise.

As you will see this example is showing the right hand building (close to us) more side on, and also includes a section of garden wall and some close up foliage

I think we will look at extending the view of the central building to include three upper windows rather than two, and look at the options for including and excluding the sky.

Have a think about it

Links to Page 2



This major Tutorial exercise was launched on-line in 2009

and developed into a group exercise with a number of site readers who painted along with the stages. This exercise concluded with 8 long pages of notes

The notes are reprinted below as they developed

(with a small amount of later editing)


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