In a very real sense, when we draw or paint any subject, we are translating it from one “language” into another. We either translate directly from the landscape, figure, or still life into the worlds of paint, or charcoal, or pen and ink… Or we begin with a 2-d photograph and translate what we see there into a different 2-d form. I used photos of my favorite places right where I live: Mr. Whicker’s farm and Smith Hollow Lane. It’s fun to ask yourself: How can I translate this image into pen? What lines would express what I see here? Would twirly lines describe this particular tree? Would straight lines, without crosshatching describe the movement of the land? What is the value pattern here, and how can I alter it to make it stronger?
Vincent Van Gogh was a master at translating the landscape into his own language of dots, dashes, swirls, hatches, etc. If you’ve never seen his drawings, YOU MUST! Here and here are examples to give you a glimpse of the language he employed to translate what he saw all around him. If you look back at your sketchbook, you’ll probably see the language you use to translate your world onto paper. It’s SO much fun…being a translator!