Create an abstract landscape drawing using a photograph as reference, inspired by artist Bernice Bing.
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Bernice Bing, Mayacamas No. 6, March 12, 1963, 1963
Here we see Bernice Bing’s depiction of the Mayacamas Mountains in California’s Napa Valley. Her painting evokes a personal view of the landscape she called home. Bing used a rich palette of colors. Can you see the shades of reds, greens, blues, and earth tones? How about various shapes, lines, and traces of her gestural marks? The diagonal horizon line and the swift brushstrokes she left behind give this painting plenty of movement.
- Landscape photograph
- Soft pastels or oil pastels
Questions to Consider
How can you use a landscape photo for inspiration and transform it into an abstract landscape drawing? Can you capture the landscape’s essence and make it your own?
1. Refer to your landscape photo for inspiration. We can break apart the example below into three spaces: the background (the sky), middle ground (the mountains and the bay), and foreground (the green hills), which is closest to us and where we can see the most details. See if you can identify the background, middle ground, and foreground of your chosen landscape photo.
2. Using your pastels, draw a horizon line on your paper. This is where the background meets the middle ground.
3. Continue to draw in a gestural way as you observe the landscape. In this example, the focus is on the mountains in the middle ground, where there are small, broken-up lines and different shapes.
4. Work your way through the foreground with loose lines and some shading.
5. Be bold with your mark making and trust what you see and feel. Layer and blend different colors together. Give yourself freedom to use your imagination as you draw.
After creating your landscape drawing, consider the following questions:
- What landscape did you draw?
- Do you have a personal connection to this landscape? What story would you like to tell about your drawing?
- What colors did you use? Did you experiment with blending different colors?
- Describe the kinds of marks you created. What kinds of lines and movements did you capture? Were they fast or slow marks, or a combination of both? How did drawing make you feel?
We would love to see what you create! Email pictures of your artwork to firstname.lastname@example.org or tag us on any social platform with #deyoungsters.
- Bernice Bing, Mayacamas No. 6, March 12, 1963, 1963. Oil on canvas, 49 x 48 in. (124.5 x 121.9 cm). Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, Gift of the Estate of Bernice Bing, 1999.148. © Alexa Young and Frieda Weinstein Estate of Bernice Bing. Photograph courtesy of the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco
- Process photographs by Rea Lynn de Guzman