The resolve to go ahead with my Cambridge Colleges project finally crystallised – several years after I did the initial drawing – during the COVID pandemic, so lockdowns have prevented me from visiting any colleges. However, among my photography portfolio, I have the above image of King’s Colllege, so I decided to make this the second drawing of the series. This is the progress after two sessions.
With pen drawings, I always start with a pencil sketch of the main shapes to make sure I’ve got the proportions and perspective right. Once the pen drawing is finished, you can just rub out any pencil that’s showing and you’re left with a clean ink drawing. The perspective in this image is challenging because it’s quite extreme – the photograph was taken with a wide-angle lens from a high viewpoint. Also, the chapel in the foreground is so much bigger than everything else in reality, and this creates a strange exaggeration of the perspective in the image. I’m still not convinced I’ve got it quite right, but I took the plunge and started the detail with the pen.
I always dislike my pen drawings at this stage, I think because there’s an area of intricate detail that contrasts so strongly with the blank paper around it. I get worried I’ve over-committed myself to detail right from the start. I got a considerable way with the Emmanuel College drawing before I decided I needed to bin the first attempt and start again – let’s see whether King’s goes better first time around!