D1 A3 P4 E3: Townscapes. A limited pallette study

Finished sketches 


The overall aim of this art (part 3 Expanse) is to develop my observational drawing skills and especially within the world around me. As well as the usual challenges of concept, composition, technique etc there are additional things to think about what you don’t encounter with an interior or still life. Such as the practicalities of drawing outside, the unbounded nature of the scene, the lack of control you have as an artist.

The project focused townscapes. The purpose is to explore different elements of expanse/landscapes than the previous primarily organic scenes.

This exercise a limited palette of no more than 3 colours.

I went off-piste slightly on this one. These really relate to townscapes though of course, the techniques could. I could have argued these were an abstract expressionist interpretation of the socio-economic realities of the modern concept of “town-ness”… but that would be BS. I just had some fun.


I wanted to experiment with the use of cool and warm colors to achieve depth both on its own and in combination with aerial perspective.

I’ve been aware of the cool/warm depth effect but only through researching this exercise did I realise there is a word for it; chromostereopsis. Wikipedia has a great summary of the history,  theory, and practice (En.wikipedia.org, 2017). “Chromostereopsis is a visual illusion whereby the impression of depth is conveyed in two-dimensional color images, usually of red-blue or red-green colors, but can also be perceived with red-grey or blue-grey images. Such illusions have been reported for over a century and have generally been attributed to some form of chromatic aberration.”


Looking back over previous exercises it struck me I hadn’t taken many opportunities to be experimental or abstract yet so I thought I would use this opportunity to do that. T

Particular influences were the Americal abstract expressionism movement for the red heart shape on blue background sketch and the woodland inspired scene. I didn’t think too much about a specific influence but I had examples like Pollock Rothko in mind.

The red heart shape was just pure, unthinking experimentation. I used an old credit card to smear acrylic paint on watercolour paper.

The woodland scene was inspired by one of my earlier sketches from Project 2 exercise 3 (Westmore, 2017a)

Finally, the Mandrian looking piece was influenced by, well Mandrian but also my Joan Miro inspired cloud sketch of project 2 exercise 1 (Westmore 2017b)



On the one hand, I liked the simplicity of the red heart on a blue background it is too simple to hold your interest I think so wouldn’t scale up to a larger piece. This in part due to the fact that it doesn’t really have depth – just two levels background and foreground. It does have a 3D quality to it, partly due to the impasto edges but also because of the extreme cool to the warm scheme. That said the red doesn’t pop out at you in the way some red on blue. Looking back at the theory of chromostereopsis I thought this might be down to the blue background going right to the edge – the theory says it is also important that the red and blue pattern is on an achromatic background (black, grey, or white). Sure enough placing it on such a background enhances the effect.


FOr the woodland inspired scene, the use of atmospheric perspective worked well with the low contrast and smaller “branches” receding into the background. This was a good test of the technique because the tightly cropped view meant little depth cues are provided by linear perspective. This cropped view also puts you “into” the woods I think rather than viewing them from afar. This image I felt could scale up to a more interesting larger piece with the addition of more layers and detail.

The Mondrian/Miro inspired piece was fun but didn’t really work from a depth perspective. I’m not entirely sure but I think it is just too simple a motif to fool the eye. Given the abstract shapes, there are no other visual cues to imply depth so it really comes down t the flow of the line and chromostereopsis again – as I say just too simple a design for that to work. Good fun though!


Westmore, M. (2017a). D1 A3 P2 E3 Landscape: 360deg studies. [online] Matt Westmore (@westmore_art). Available at: https://westmoreart.com/2017/08/29/d1-a3-p2-e3-landscape-360deg-studies/ [Accessed 20 Sep. 2017].

Westmore, M. (2017b). D1 A3 P2 Landscape: cloud formation and tone. [Blog] westmoreart.com. Available at: https://wordpress.com/post/westmoreart.com/1822 [Accessed 23 Sep. 2017].

En.wikipedia.org. (2017). Chromostereopsis. [online] Available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chromostereopsis [Accessed 24 Sep. 2017].


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