Nature: exercise 3: colour


Ruskin believed that through drawing we learn more about the subject and, as we learn, we draw better, and when we draw better we learn more.

Drawing is a cyclical process of learning.


Example 1. Two studies of the Golden Eagle’s head.

While drawing this eagle Ruskin posed the questions:

Why is the brow so low and straight?
To protect the eye from the glare of the sun and keep a sharp downward look.

Why is the beak hooked and the lips long?
To tear prey and swallow large lumps of meat.

Why is the eye such a bright yellow?
To enable it to see small rodents over a mile away

Ruskin encouraged his artists to ask questions during the drawing process.

Example 2. Kingfisher

Technique feint pencil over painted watercolour on cream paper.


While drawing ask questions about the Kingfisher and Eagle: think about colour, size, shape of beak, and allow that knowledge to inform the way you draw.

On cream paper use watercolour, pencil, china white to make a study of the kingfisher or eagle. Pose questions about the bird as you draw.

Begin with a light sketch emphasising the significant parts of the bird’s features. Then over lay with watercolour using the faintest colours first and build up to the richest colours. Finally over lay with china white or gouache