Category Archives: 2 From Inside Looking Out

From Inside Looking Out 2 – Hard or Soft Landscapes

Living in Bangkok it is very hard to find any rural landscape to draw or paint for this exercise but luckily enough it was a very busy month socially and within the space of a few weeks I had travelled to the seaside town of Pattaya and Koh Lan (Coral Island) to my girlfriend’s home town of Chiang Khong, just across the Meekong from Laos. This helped me get in quite a few studies of both rural and urban studies in a matter of days.

Urban Sketches

Chao Phraya River Bangkok

Wet on Wet Watersoluble Pencils

Wet on Wet Water Soluble Pencils

This is one of my favourite sketches of a hard landscape to date and it was a very different style for me. I made the sketch with wet water soluble pencils in a side to side motion on wet paper. The problem though was that I did not capture enough information to turn into a painting and another trip to the spot was needed before I could consider this for a painting.



Pattaya Pier

Watercolour Pattaya Pier

Watercolour Pattaya Pier

This watercolour sketch was drawn from a photo that I took arriving at pattaya from Koh lan on the ferry. Although it is quite a week sketch there are parts of it that really stand out, mainly the ripples on the water and the sky.




Cranes on the Chaophraya

Watercolour Cranes on the Chaophraya

Watercolour Cranes on the Chaophraya

There is some pretty interesting construction going on at my side of Bangkok at the moment that needs documenting. I passed these cranes on the way to work every day for about three months and eventually managed to get the day off so that I could draw them. This sketch had all the information needed to be developed into a painting but at this stage I’m not sure if I would be able to depict the water using acrylics


Emporium Park – Sukhumvit

Watercolour Sketch Sukumvit Park

Fig.1 – Watercolour Sketch Sukumvit Park

Watercolour Sketch - Sukhumvit Park

Fig. 2 – Watercolour Sketch – Sukhumvit Park

I wouldn’t have thought about going here as I live at the other side of the city but my girlfriend landed a private yoga class in the park and so it was a great opportunity to do a bit of sketching after I had helped her take photos of the Yoga class.



I did a lot of the sketching in the park and then finished them off at home and over did it with the water which looks too muddy.  The water in the park is very discoloured but should have more reflection on the surface in the sun.





Watercolour Sketch - Sukhumvit Park

Watercolour Sketch – Sukhumvit Park


The third sketch was a little better and I actually thought about using it for the coming linear perspective exercise. It was also great practie for mark making for the leaves of the trees.







The Temple at Rama VII Bridge

Acryic Sketch of Temple and River

Acryic Sketch of Temple and River

This sketch was a very fast sketch in acrylic of a temple by Rama VII bridge that sits on the Chaophraya river, the UFO type building in the background is the Nonthaburi campus of some Technology university. I thought it was a good contrast of old and new buildings. I sketched the buildings very quickly over a wash of blue and red which gave me the colour of the sky and those colours reflected on the water.


The water however was the only thing that stopped me developing this further in acrylic as again i’m not sure if I would do a good job of it an acrylics I think I may have to look into techniques for painting water.

Silhouette of a Local Temple

Silhouette of a Local Temple

Silhouette of a Local Temple


On the way home from painting the last sketch I took a photo of this temple on my side of the river which come out as a silhouette. It was a bit too easy to paint but it did give me some practice painting the sunset which I painted in watercolour before drawing in the buildings with a Pentel Brush pen.


Chao Phraya River – Khrung Thon Bridge

Watercolour Study Chaophraya

Watercolour Study Chaophraya


I took another trip back to the place where I completed the first sketch in watersoluble pencils. This time I wanted to capture more detail that I could maybe use in a final painting. Unlike the other sketches in watercolour I wanted this one to have more fluidity to it and so this time I used a wet on wet technique. It was my first time using this technique but I think it worked quite well. The only thing that didn’t really work was the boat.


Rural Landscape

Chiang Khong, Chiang Rai

The laos Bank of the Meekong River

Fig 1. The laos Bank of the Meekong River

Charcoal Study of a lake

Charcoal Study of a lake

The next sketches were part of a series of sketches I drew in charcoal in Chiang Rai while visiting my girlfriend’s home.

Fig 1. is a sketch of the banks of the Meekong river which I really liked as there were many layers to it with the trees and mountains in the background and the river in the foreground.


Fig 2. is a sketch of a small resevoir at the back of the girlfriend’s house. This was drawn at sunrise which I couldn’t really get over in charcoal. Being the most appealing of these sketches to be developed as a painting I took a photo of the scene so I could use the information from that for the colours I needed to use for the final painting. I just hoped that I could manage to paint the water as easy as it was to draw it in charcoal. Could I use a similar technique in paint?


The Final Painting – Soft Landscape

Final Painting after 1 Sitting

Final Painting after 1 Sitting

Once back in Bangkok I began the final painting in the comfort of my air-conditioned apartment. Firstly I prepared the support the support with a wash of pink and blue that met in the middle this gave me a blue to work on for the sky and pink for the reflection of the illuminated clouds on the water. Then I begun to paint the clouds using a scumbling technique.

In fact I used the same technique but with different thicknesses of paint for most of the first part of the painting which I did in one sitting using only the the primary colours, red, yellow and blue plus white, mostly layering them on top of each other or mixing them on the canvas rather than mixing on the palette, applying the paint with a medium filbert.

Finished Painting 12 x 16 inch

Finished Painting 12 x 16 inch

When it came to the water I had no idea how to go about depicting the reflection on the ripples of water and tried several different techniques until I thought it would be a good idea to take a look at Monet’s Water Lily paintings. In one of his paintings, Water Lilies and Reed he seemed to use small horizontal strokes, this helped me a lot and I finally got it right, applying the paint in small strokes with a small detail brush.

Thoughts on Final painting

I really like the final painting for a number of reasons. Overall I’m quite proud with it as it was the first time I had painted using only the primary colours.


I originally chose the composition because even though this was a simple composition it was very soft with several focal points that would draw the viewer in such as the sky, the water and  the flow of water between the mountains. I wasn’t sure I could do a good job painting these areas but I am very happy with the results.


From Inside Looking Out 1 – View from a Window or Doorway

The brief of this exercise was to:

‘Choose a view onto the world outside. Decide how much of the interior you wish to include and where the main focus of the picture will be.

Decide on the purpose of the composition and the mood and atmosphere that you wish to create. Choose whether or not to use the framework of the window as the external edge of your picture support or whether to actually include the window or door frame as part of your composition.’

To begin with I looked online to see how other artists had tackled this type of composition.

Edward Hopper - Office in a Small City

Edward Hopper – Office in a Small City

I was already very familiar with Edward Hopper’s paintings and I’ve always liked the way (as the brief stated) he creates links between interior and exterior worlds. Although there is generally a good balance between both in Hopper’s paintings the cityscapes, landscapes and even seascapes seen through the windows in his paintings are made up of very basic shapes and fundamental forms.

Raoul Duffy - 1953 Window at Nice

Raoul Duffy Window at Nice

Raoul Duffy’s paintings remind me a lot of the works by many Urban Sketchers. However, as these would usually lock in the outlines first and then sketch, Duffy seems to have sketched the buildings etc first and then defined with dark outlines. The interiors in his paintings are very obvious and therefore the exteriors could be as sketch as he wanted. This sketchiness also helps to create depth to his paintings.

A Corner of the Artists Room in Paris - Gwen John

Gwenn John, A Corner of the Artist’s room in Paris

In comparison to the first two artists, in ‘A Corner of the Artist’s Room’ by Gwenn John the artist has exploited the light shining through the lace curtain with a faint blur shape depicting the buildings outside.

My attempt at this exercise – A View from my Apartment

To start with I walked around my apartment with a camera looking through the lens trying to find a view that would make a good composition in which hopefully I could include part of the walls and window frame. Unfortunately the views from my windows are very complex pretty difficult to simplify which I tried to do in the cityscape exercises in Drawing 1. The best I could do from my apartment was the view from my side window.

2 Sketch from my side window

The watercolour sketch above wasn’t brilliant but it showed potential. I really liked the ‘Industrial Landscape, Leeds’ painting by Joash Woodrow, in the course material and this view would allow me to do something in a similar style. Although the buildings seem cramped through the window the many different colours of the buildings would make the painting pretty cheerful. The only problems I could see was that 1. The window frame and walls were so boring there was no point including them in the painting and 2. The shadows changed very rapidly throughout the day.

A View from Debsirin School

As a teacher in a Thai school, where teachers rotate classrooms rather than the students. At Debsirin School, like my apartment, the views are quite complex as most of the balconies and windows look out on to the metropolis of Bangkok. Though I did find one view, with a good perspective that was quite nice to draw, looking out towards the city over the tops of the red Eurasian style roofs of the school buildings. With this one I could include part of the wall of the balcony at an angle but not looking at it full on.

3 Sketch of the View from Debsirin

A View from the Balcony at Debsirin School, Bangkok

A View from Wat Makut School

1 Sketch from Wat makut School

The view from the window of Wat Makut School turned out to be one of my favourite sketches so far. I’ve been looking at this small street for 7 years and I did draw it before for my Drawing course but it was drawn in pen.






Debsirin Temple Gates

A View through the Temple Gates

A View through the Temple Gates

This was one of three watercolour sketches that I thought would work out really well, one looking into the temple and two looking out but I just couldn’t get the sketches right. Instead of giving up I should have changed mediums as these would have been ideal for charcoal or even ink sketches.

Wat Debsirin Lake

Wat Debsirin Lake in Wc, Pastel and Pen

Wat Debsirin Lake in Wc, Pastel and Pen

On a walk behind the temple for the first time one lunchtime I discovered these buildings that seemed to be built on rafts or piers on a small lake. From my viewing point it looked like I was viewing them through a window with the scene perfectly framed by the shade of the trees,  fence and plants.



Preliminary Sketch in Acrylic

Preliminary Sketch in Acrylic

Preliminary Sketch in Acrylic

I decided to do another sketch of the view outside my window in my mixed media sketch book in acrylics so I had some insight into how the painting would look and what mark making techniques and of course brushes I would use in the final piece. Using the filbert for the arched windows of the condominium facing the road helped me to make up my mind.





The Final Painting

Final Piece - A View from my Apartment

Final Piece – A View from my Apartment

A friend of mine always said, you could tell that westerners aren’t allowed to be architects in Thailand because all the buildings look like cereal boxes. I’m not sure whether the first part of that statement is true but it is true that most of the buildings here are very boxlike, especially the older ones and I intended to take advantage of that here.

I regret that I didn’t take photos of the different stages of the painting but I managed to get most of the painting done in one day.

I started with the sky daubing on large brushstrokes of blue and white paint mixing the colours on the canvas to depict the white clouds in a blue sky, the orange tint on the clouds was added afterwards.

From there I painted in the two skyscrapers under construction in the background mixing in layers of burnt umber, Payne’s grey, orange and white.

Continuing to work down I then painted in the shapes of the buildings in mixes of orange, yellow, white and pink to give me the different pastel tones with the red and white sign of the pawn shop giving the viewer an alternative focal point from the tops of the skyscrapers.

The arched windows at of the building in the right of the foreground gave me a great opportunity to do some mark making with the filbert brush and I also had a small flat brush that was perfect for the windows of the two apartment blocks.

As I started the painting there were no shadows on the building but by about 5 o’clock the shadow of my old 28 floor apartment block began to fall on the buildings which I think really gave the composition depth.

On the whole the painting did turn out as I imagined albeit a bit too neat. I wanted to be rougher with less defined forms depicting the clutter and mismatch of buildings here in Bangkok where every available space has been built on and buildings have been designed to fit in the smallest of gaps. Moving from the 26th floor of the building next door to this low-rise with the skyscrapers under construction opposite makes me feel really penned in and it will be good to remind myself of that when I move back to England this year.


I regret not painting the view from the school window as that had a window frame that I could work with unlike the interior wall and the window frame of my apartment here. However I have paced  the painting against light coloured boards which enhances the feel of the composition and does make it look like you are viewing the buildings through a window frame so I think I have achieved what I set out to do