This evening I discovered a stunning essay by Richard Hacken on the Germans and their woods : Into the imagined woods. Best of all it comes with a lot of interesting illustrations and Mr. Hacken definitely got it right!
Sometimes it is necessary to try at least a breakout or an escape from the usual routine to find new ways. This monotype is a combination of an oil color drawing, a “regular monotype” and some painting on paper. I kept this work, which seems not to comply to any kind of appropriate technique or style, because it represents the view of nearby a forest in a surprising way: everything is unclear,but still a forest is visible. I love it, as it is an honest document of failure.
The sketches of a spruce tree are finished now. On the third and last evening session I tried to draw the full tree. I took simple measurements with a wooden stick to learn about the proportions : Ratio of tree top and total height, width of the trunk and lateral expansion of the tree top. I used a small bristle brush to draw the masses of the needles and work over those areas with a metal feather later. There is a special silence in the woods, that I enjoy entirely. The sounds of August are coming the fruits of oak and beech trees fall down with typical sounds, only very few birds,mainly woodpeckers, can be heard.
I left the drawings partly unfinished. Viewers can see better how the drawing was made, unfinished drawings inspire the fantasy of viewers more than totally executed ones too
On the weekend ther was time for another visit to the forest at another day of time, in the morning. I like to revisit my motifs also at different times of day with different lighting. Most people do not reckognise this in the finished drawing, even when shadows fall in different directions.I tried to capture the look of the tree top in direct sunlight and started to draw the lower part of the trunk,which was better to see in morning light instead of afternoon backlight,which made it look almost uniform black.
Some time back I started to keep a sketchbook in A3 Format which is only for studies in our nearby forests (Waldtagebuch).
Yesterday evening I began to draw an old spruce tree. The trunk of about 30 meters height and the tree top can be seen fully as a dark silhouette against the sky. The older spruce trees are, the more horizontal the branches get, with the smaller twigs hanging down like curtains. The needles of spruce trees fall off only after 6-7 years. Coniferous trees have very well adapted to climates with a short and cool vegetation period. Instead of ca. 120 warm days,which seems to be the least for most deciduous trees in our climate, they could live with only 30 days. The development of needles with longer duration than deciduous leaves certainly is a clever strategy to make use of less favourite seasons.
I will spent some more days with this drawing, the lower trunk will be placed on the next page and I want to draw also proportion study with the tree in full too. I am using only short, simple strokes with a metal feather and india ink. Beginning from the top I worked the way down first on the right side marking the connection of the major branches.
Today I want to point out to some outstanding tree drawings by a German artist named Albrecht Rissler. It is ever surprising how many great artists are out there on the net and you stumble on them only by incident. (Thanks Katherine for that one!)
Albrecht Rissler is born 1944 and made a career from self-taught drawing in the tough world of illustration in the post war area. He has been teaching as a Professor at the University of Mainz,where he helped numerous young people to find their way in drawing and illustration.
Albrecht Rissler has illustrated numerous books and he is author of a book dedicated to travel sketching (in German). It is out of print and I was lucky enough to order one of the rare antiquarian copies in circulation.
When you look at his drawings I hope you will see the same “magic” that took me immediately. There is a timeless quality in this works. Here are the links from his German Website Risslerart.de
The plein-air oil of a pine tree trunk in this post is one of my oil stick paintings, which I have for whatever reason destroyed in a bad moment of mercyless self-criticism.