August 23rd, 2021

Floe Lake Study

ARTIST: Tyson Klein, Canada

ARTIST STATEMENT: The Rocky Mountains are a common theme in my artworks. Being raised on the prairies, I have always been drawn to their foreign starkness and scale. I try and spend as many summer weekends as possible in the backcountry of these mountains and usually spend the rest of the year planning hikes for the following summer.

I have recently added a sketchbook and set of pens to my hiking gear in an effort to better remember some of the incredible vistas of these trips. This study of Floe Lake in Kootenay National Park, B.C. is one of a few sketches I have been able to do in the backcountry this year. My drawing process in the backcountry has a few quirky considerations lending from plein air painting and the physical environment of the Rockies. For example, the low air pressure high in the mountains means that some drawing implements (fountain pens and acrylic paint pens for example) can become pressurized from the ascent of a hike, leading to all kinds of messy situations that need to be handled before pen gets placed on paper. Also, the sun in the thin atmosphere can drain your energy very quickly. Like a plein air painter, staying in the shade is a must for a study like this. For this study in mid-July, the black flies, horseflies and mosquitoes were almost unbearable, but they did help me keep on task while the sun shifted across the face of the mountain.

As for the sketch itself, I tried to go slow and choose a hatched texture that fit with the motion of the mountains, trees and air. There is no cross hatching in this drawing, and apart from some perpendicular lines in the texture of the trees, almost all lines are parallel. This consistent and dense linework takes a lot of time and is easy to rush, but if each line is purposefully drawn it can lead to a very dynamic feeling that, in my opinion, existed in the real scene in front of me.

The grey paper of this sketchbook is perfect for a three-tone drawing, especially where the subject has such extreme variation in values between the rock and the snow. With this paper, I used the grey as an ‘anchor’ value; I chose a midtone in the scene and either lightened with white if the value was lighter (the snow in the sun, the snow in the shadow, the sky) or darkened with black if the value was darker (the rock of the mountain, the scree in the shadow, the trees). Careful observation of value is one of the most important things to focus on in a subject with such extreme contrast in a monotone study and can single-handedly be the success or failure of a drawing.

Sometimes it is a struggle to complete a detailed drawing like this on scene, but each completed sketch I have is another memory of an afternoon spent in the mountains.

MEDIA: Pen & ink, acrylic paint pen

SURFACE: Nova Series – Heavyweight – 150 gsm – Gray – Medium Grain Finish

ABOUT THE ARTIST: Tyson Klein is an artist from Saskatchewan, Canada. He has created large murals, pen and ink sketches, and many works in between. Tyson usually likes to create on-scene studies of natural landscapes and abstract linework. Follow him on Instagram @klein.tyson (


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