Saturday, October 17, 2009

At the end of last week and the beginning of this week I was very frustrated.

I had the studio space lined up ready to work in, I had the research and designs for the sculpture ready and I had the materials I needed to get started.

And then the car broke. It was driveable locally, but it was not up to the 3 hours each way back and fore to the studio.

But it's actually turned out to be a good week, once I came to terms with the fact that I was going to be here and not there.

The weather has been cold but sunny, with the colours of Autumn beginning to show through. Autumn is my favourite season.

Making the most of the weather, I went out drawing most days.

I've been drawing tree trunks again.

There is something, for me, very 'earthing' about standing and sketching.

As I walk I am thinking about all sorts of things, but my eyes are constantly scanning for something interesting to draw. Suddenly, I will see something. Often, I have walked past before my conscious brain has processed what my eyes have registered, so I walk back and look again to see what it was I noticed.

Then I stand, take a breath, and root myself to the spot. The flow of looking, drawing, looking, adjusting, looking, drawing begins and unfolds itself. Sometimes, I think I have finished but I sense I haven't. I stand a little longer and see a little more, and begin working again. A small A6 sketch can take 5 minutes or 20 minutes. I finish when I sense that it's 'enough'.

I have a nearly-full sketch book of tree trunk drawings now and it's interesting to look through to see how my 'style' has developed.

At first I was using pencil. But my mark-making was very tentative and the results were a little too grey and pale for my liking.

Sometimes I use a straightforward black pen (often a cheap biro). This is better, though a little too hard-edged for what I'm drawing and doesn't work so well for shading or softening the lines. I find it technically more challenging.

My favourite is a water-soluble fibre tip pen, with a water-filled brush. I draw in a Daler-Rowney A6 sketch book on 150gsm cartridge paper.

I like to draw the edges and the main features of the tree trunk, and then blur them with the brush. I then work into them, drawing some more, repeating the process.

I'm not creating a 3-dimensional, realistic representation of a tree. I take photos for that.

As I've mentioned before, I see figures in the trees and I gravitate towards the more elegant shapes.

I'm interested in the lines, the shapes, the contours and the curves.

But as I look back I realise that, really, I'm drawing breasts.

The tree trunks are very much like figures, I agree. And I am also drawn to the organic way trees look almost human. Do you really stand up to sketch? I hate standing to work; only do it if I'm painting large.
Andrea ... I always stand up to work - sketching, painting, whatever.
Do you like hugging trees too?
Anonymous ... haven't hugged any yet ... but it could be heading that way!
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