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A Corner of Sky

Saturday, 3rd May 2003, West Yorkshire

window' . . . take any narrow space of evening sky, that you can usually see, between the boughs of a tree, or between two chimneys, or through the corner of a pane in the window you like best to sit at, and try to gradate a little space of white paper as evenly as that is gradated - as tenderly . . . '

I've done these sketches of sky, as seen through our lounge window, as one of the exercises in Ruskin's The Elements of Drawing. Reading at his instructions again I realise that Ruskin intends that his students should tackle a small, subtly gradated area of sky in pen and ink only.

window'If you get impatient with your spots and lines of ink,' he explains, 'the sense that you will have gained of that beauty is something to be thankful for.'

Ruskin's suggestions for sky studies follow on from the pen and ink tones that I was tackling a week ago.

Discussing gradated spaces in Nature he says:

The sky is the largest and the most beautiful; watch it at twilight, after the sun has gone down, and try to consider each pane of glass in the window you look through as a piece of paper coloured blue, or grey, or purple, as it happens to be, and observe how quietly and continuously the gradation extends over the space of the window, of one or two feet square. next page

Richard Bell