The Beauty of Landscapes

The Beauty of Landscapes

by Judith Heilbronn-Crown

Perhaps the most important thing about drawing landscapes is taking many photographs in places that inspire one, and then being able to choose from one’s favorites. I would like to do more work on location, but usually there is only time to do quick sketches at most. My favorite subjects are waterfalls, partly because they are perfect for working on my favorite surface, UART Dark 400 sanded paper, but there is beauty everywhere one goes and I take thousands of photos every year, though I only have time to use a few of them.

Ambleside (Rothay Park), 30x19.5 cm (Ambleside is in the Lake District in the UK)

At most locations I take quite a few photographs that would seem almost identical at first sight. Sometimes a few steps to one side, or nearer or further, can make a major difference to the composition of a picture. Also sometimes a landscape that is pleasant but not really interesting can, if zooming in, have an area that would make a lovely drawing.

“Perhaps the most important thing about drawing landscapes is taking many photographs in places that inspire one, and then being able to choose from one’s favorites.”

I spend a couple of weeks, every year, visiting lovely areas in the UK. I would love to have the time (and finances) to be able to walk the whole of the coastal path, but I know that is just a dream! I have walked a little on the Devon and Cornish coastal paths, and in South West Wales, but those are only a small section of the Coastal Path which runs all the way around the UK. I love the cliff walks, and the beaches with rock pools, and the towns and small villages. Of course, it is best to walk with the sun behind one or to the side rather than directly towards it, if one has the option.

Near Lynmouth, 27x38 cm (Lynmouth is in Devon in the UK)

Several years running, I stayed at Watermouth Cove in Devon (UK) and found many beautiful areas. As well as the coastal walks I also visited Lynmouth and walked to Watersmeet up the river. This walk has been a major inspiration in my art work as there are numerous small waterfalls. The light is different on every visit, and sometimes the river is flowing more strongly, so one always seems something new that one did not notice before. Even when it rains, it is beautiful. I have also found places in Wales that have inspired me, such as Dolgoch, St David’s and Llanberris, and further North, in Scotland, the Isle of Skye and other islands are beautiful. The Lake District also has so many beautiful places, and I have only visited a few of them. There are still so many places in the UK that I have not yet visited, and hope to, but I would also like to visit New Zealand and Yosemite in the USA as I know that those are very beautiful!

Rydal Caves, 30x27 cm (Rydal Caves is in the Lake District of the UK)

There is always something to draw even if one cannot go out to visit lovely areas. I used to draw flowers and plants, or do still life arrangements, but nowadays I do less of these. I always like challenges and sometimes go outside my “comfort zone” with doing a portrait or an animal. It is always good to experiment. That is how I first discovered that I liked working on black paper.

“...there is beauty everywhere one goes and I take thousands of photos every year, though I only have time to use a few of them.”

My first black picture was on Stonehenge black paper. I decided to try a waterfall scene, and it worked. I later tried the St Cuthberts’ Somerset Velvet black paper. I discovered that if I sprayed it first with fixative that it has slightly more tooth, which is useful. Luckily I discovered early on which white pencils worked best for me on the black papers, and that if you want bright colors you need to lay down a light (or heavier) layer of white first. My favorite whites are probably the Derwent Watercolour Chinese White and the Caran d’Ache Museum White as they are intense but you can also go over them relatively easily with other colors, or touch them in a little water to dot thicker layers onto the paper. Recently I discovered UART Dark 400 which has a lot of fine tooth so takes up a lot of color. The colors are much brighter on this!

I use a variety of types of pencils, but I stick to the more lightfast ones within each range and now tend to only buy pencils that I consider lightfast. The white papers that I use are varied and I don’t have a favorite white paper at the moment.


Judith Heilbronn-Crown is a Signature member of the UKCPS, the UK Coloured Pencil Society and has exhibited in many of their exhibitions. Although specializing in landscapes, she is happy to accept the challenge of different subjects. She mainly works with coloured pencils, her favourite media, but has used oil and acrylic and experimented with lino and woodcut prints, and painting on silk. She has occasionally written articles for Leisure Painter magazine.

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Comments (3)

Very informative article. I am new to drawing and photography . How do you develop your photos? Do you get them developed online? I have a digital camera.
Thank you.

Lori Ma - Nov 18, 2019

Excellent article with several good tips, besides wonderful drawings of course. The use of black paper and then white pencil inspires me to try again…especially as I live just a few minutes from the Devon coastline and about 40 from Watersmeet, mentioned in the article. Thank you.

Everett Sharp - Nov 18, 2019

I loved your article it made me feel as though I was traveling in the places you were visiting. The pictures are so lovely.

Lisa - Nov 18, 2019

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