Step-by-step: Creating an imaginary landscape by David Winning

Creating an imaginary landscape by David Winning



Tarn 2016, Derwent XL Graphite and Charcoal on paper, 55x55cm

Hello! Are you up for some creative fun? Great! Welcome to the Derwent blog!

We’re going to dive straight in, so here’s the materials we’re going to use:

A tin of Derwent XL Graphite blocks (for double the fun grab a set of Derwent XL Charcoals too). You’ll need paper, any kind and any size, but the bigger and heavier the better. You’ll also need water, a big brush and an eraser – but importantly, you need a vivid imagination and a yen for the unpredictable!

Ok – so this is what we do – try it for yourself:

In your head imagine the paper divided in two horizontally – the sky and the land. These two sections form the main parts of the composition, but they don’t have to be equal – in fact it’s more exciting if they’re not. The sky can be vast and the land small – or vice versa – you choose, but don’t spend ages pondering about it – try to be spontaneous.

Be warned we’re now at the messy stage, so take off any expensive haute couture, throw on an old t-shirt and let’s get started!

Without giving it too much thought, fill the sky bit and the land bit with colours – I’ve used blues and greys for the sky and greens and yellows for the land, but you can choose any colours you like. Work quickly, be brave – but do not try to draw clouds or trees at this stage. Then, take your wet brush and give it a wash all over. See Illustration 1. Don’t worry what it looks like. It’ll resemble a dog’s dinner at this stage – but remember you must remain open-minded.

Illustration 1









Now step back, admire what you’ve created and allow your imagination to see the potential for creating recognisable landscape features from the random marks you’ve made. It’s a bit like looking for mages in a fire or gazing at the sky and seeing animals or faces in the clouds – we’ve all done it – haven’t we? Ok – just me then! But trust me, you’ll begin to ‘see’ the cloud shapes, a horizon and the profiles of distant hills, maybe even a stretch of water, a wind blasted tree or a crumbling stone wall.

 Whilst it’s drying grab yourself a well-earned coffee break (or maybe something stronger) and don’t think about the piece. Genius comes naturally!

Next, allowing the random marks to stimulate your imagination, take the eraser and by removing sections of the drawing begin to define the horizon then the clouds and any highlights on the distant hills. This process is called ‘reductive drawing’. If needs be add a little extra white from the XL charcoal set.

At the same time, you can build up areas by adding more colour with the XL blocks. You can easily create an illusion of depth by using paler tones in the background and darker colours in the foreground. See illustration 2.

Illustration 2


 You really can’t go wrong! The fail-safe of this process is that you can keep adding and removing marks until the composition balances and the desired level of definition and detail have been achieved. See detail 1.

Detail 1









However, don’t give too much away – create a little mystery to stimulate the viewer’s imagination.

By David Winning

 David Winning is an artist who describes his art as exploratory, subjective and autobiographical. Based loosely on sentient experiences the resultant images are little more than an expression of his own consciousness and his relationship with things, places, time and others.


He describes his approach as spontaneous and unsophisticated, oscillating between the clumsily figurative and abstract expressionism. For David, engagement with the media and involvement with the process is far more important than the outcome.


Drawing is the foundation of all his work and underpins my practice as a painter. David has worked with Derwent for many years, delivering a selection of workshops for all age groups and levels of artistic competency.

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