Project 1.2 Urban landscapes


Do several sketches at different times of the day, concentrating on details, making clear notes and so on.
Once back at home, take a look at your sketches. Complete an urban landscape drawing that you can convert into the print medium of your choice.

  • Reflect on why you chose the print media you did. Was it successful?
  • Make notes on the process: the difficulties, anything that surprised you, the things you found straightforward.

Overview and assessment

I live in Cambridge which provides plenty of inspiration for ‘traditional’ urban landscapes with old architecture. In many ways too much, so I had to focus – leaving other things for future.

Cambridge does have some hustle and bustle and also shopping centres. But I decided to focus for the moment on the older architecture. I started by taking advantage on an etching workshop to explore different types of markmaking with different etching techniques (doing also the willows I further developed for Assignment 1). 

The image is OK for one of my first attempts at etching, and does contrast sharp mechanical lines of human-manufactured buildings and environment to contrast with the much more flowing and hazy lines of the natural landscape lithotraph. But my skills are not good enough yet to produce anything really convincing. I am planning to do a lot more sketches of architecture in Cambridge in the warmer weather in Spring and summer, really observing the light and shadows. Then redo the monochrome image, probably in drypoint as a technique I can use at home. Kitchen lithography would be another possibility.

Development of the image

I started by looking back through some of my old sketches – for ideas and also to do something new.

And to think about what characterises urban as opposed to natural landscapes. I started a Pinterest board of different approaches to  urban landscape:

Firstly different painting and drawing:

  • Lowry’s images of people and streets in the North of England like lives frozen in time.
  • Kossof’s energetic markmaking in his drawings and paintings of London
  • Monet‘s misty impressionist paintings of London buildings and the Thames
  • John Virtue‘s moody monochrome paintings of London

Secondly the ways in which printmakers have used different media to create different effects, particularly:

  • Drypoint, lithographs and etchings of Michael Kihlman with their very detailed almost photographic drawing
  • Linocuts of the Grosvenor school by Sybil Andrews and Cyril Power with their dynamic futuristic geometry to show the energy and dynamism of the city
  • Woodcuts of Frans Masereel in his wordless graphic novels of the city where outsiders get lost in the towering black skyscraper buildings

I also looked at the ways in which artists, illustrators and printmakers have depicted different parts of Cambridge. Building on research for OCA Illustration 2 (see Post on Cambridge Inspiration) I did a second Pinterest Board on Printmakers in Cambridge including:


First sketches

I decided to focus on the Round Church and/or the view through to St John’s college because of the interesting contrast of architecture and styles.


St Johns: Hardground etch


These reproduce fog – something I could work on more. But the length of etching is very difficult to control.

Other possible projects

These are alternative images I would like to develop at some point. But they do not contrast as clearly with Project 1.1 as required by the project guidelines. So I would have to redo both projects.

Back of Kings: Drypoint

King’s college courtyard: Paper Drypoint possibility

Round Church: impressionist monoprint using softfoam


2 Replies to “Project 1.2 Urban landscapes”

    1. Hi Jennifer, I live in Cambridge and am lucky enough to have access to Curwen Print Studios in Londonband Barnabas Press. I did the etching and lithography at workshops.

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