1st Edition

Field Sketching and the Experience of Landscape

ISBN 9781138013957
Published August 9, 2016 by Routledge
420 Pages

USD $72.95

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Book Description

The act of field sketching allows us to experience the landscape first-hand – rather than reliance upon plans, maps and photographs at a distance, back in the studio. Aimed primarily at landscape architects, Janet Swailes takes the reader on a journey through the art of field sketching, providing guidance and tips to develop skills from those starting out on a design course, to those looking to improve their sketching.

Combining techniques from landscape architecture and the craft and sensibilities of arts practice, she invites us to experience sensations directly out in the field to enrich our work: to look closely at the effects of light and weather; understand the lie and shapes of the land through travel and walking; and to consider lines of sight from the inside out as well as outside in.

Full colour throughout with examples, checklists and case studies of other sketchers’ methods, this is an inspirational book to encourage landscape architects to spend more time in the field and reconnect with the basics of design through drawing practice.

Table of Contents

Introduction, 1. Reviewing Field Sketching as a Contemporary Practice, 1.1 Introduction to Field Sketching, 1.2 Changes in how we think about Perception, 1.3 Theory, Ideas and Arts Practice, 2. Developing the Technique of Field Sketching, 2.1 Towards an Integrated Visual and Experiential Approach, 2.2 Fieldwork and Field Notion, 2.3 Drawing in the Field, 3. Core Skills, 3.1 Fieldwork and Field Notation, 3.2 Drawing in the Field, Conclusion

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Janet Swailes is an artist and landscape architect living in the Upper Eden Valley, Cumbria. She has worked for the Countryside Commission for Scotland, Stirling Council, Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park Authority, the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority, as a freelance consultant landscape architect and illustrator, and she currently works for Dumfries and Galloway Council. She has a PhD in Landscape Architecture from Edinburgh College of Art, where she was originally an undergraduate.  


Janet Swailes has a rare gift for expressing the qualities of the landscape through the medium of field sketching. Her astonishing expertise, honed through decades of working in and with the landscape, both as an artist and as a professional landscape architect, is evident on every page of this book. What is equally astonishing is how well she articulates and demonstrates the ways that we can all learn to use field sketching to understand and communicate our experience of the landscape in effective ways. While we might not achieve her levels of skill and artistry, the delight in this book is partly the discovery of how easy it is to develop a basic expertise that will serve us well. Whether you’re an enthusiastic amateur who wants to learn how to ‘read the landscape’ with greater clarity, or a professional practitioner wanting to record or communicate key information effectively and with economy of line and image, this is the book for you. Janet is a wonderful communicator, in image above all else, demonstrating how field sketching may be one way to return to the basics of understanding our environment that many of us long for, and find hard to achieve in a digital age.
Catharine Ward Thompson, Professor of Landscape Architecture, University of Edinburgh.