I am always on the hunt for tree and forest drawings. It seems that the topic is inexhaustible. The artist Lisa Oxley has made a remarkable contribution from my point of view with her charcoal drawings of trees (drawing 2). I have never seen something like that before.
There is a great balance between the abstract pattern of short strokes and the representational content. At the same time these drawings look so “easy” as the drawing marks are restricted to minimal means.
As long as there is no wind I still like to go out to sketch.
I found a fairly dry place underneath the layers of beech foliage and decided to make notes of the forests grid of tree trunks. As I neglected the foliage this image looks like winter.
I buy ink in bigger bottles and then use a smaller plastic vessel from the chemical store for transport in the field. The plastic vessel has a cap and on top of that cap a screw closure makes sure that no ink will get outside. Nevertheless I have experienced that the ink somehow made its way out of the plastic bottle into my bag. Since I put the plastic vessel into a plastic bag which I close with a knot.
Ink is acidic and aggressive I suppose. I once stored a small quantity of ink in a plastic yogurt cup. When I came back after a couple of days and lifted the cup, the bottom fell off and I had a tube open on both ends in my hand!
I needed two sessions to complete this gouache sketch in the forest diary. It is the mating season for the roe deers. Today I heard a roebuck jumping through the undergrowth coming nearer. Finally there he stood some 40 yards opposite of me staring curiously at the intruder. With a couple of impressive jumps he disappeared again and warned me with loud barking. On my way home I heard him again giving a barking duel with one of his colleagues.
“You only need sit still long enough in some attractive spot in the woods that all its inhabitants may exhibit themselves to you by turns.” – 12. Brute Neighbors, Walden, Henry David Thoreau
I found that quote,which is nothing poetic, but states a simple fact, on the net today and decided that I should read Walden again.
See the making of this sketch in the slide show below.
Apart from the mixing trays that come with the Caran d’Ache 14 color set I use a separate plastic mixing tray. In the compartment at the very left top I always place the white.
There is clear water in the upper bigger compartment and the mixing takes place in the one below. The plastic cup is filled with water to clean the brushes, I also have some old towels with me to strip off excess colour and water from the brushes if needed. The bristle brushes, especially the old and torn ones, are great to create structures of the wood and bark in dry brush technique.
This is a bristle brush in action. I have those in various sizes with me from very small up to no 16. Mostly I use a no.14 which is nice for painting leaves. I love the Caran d’Ache gouache set because it is so easy to mix natural colours with it.
As a fan of George Rowlett I found my way to the website of the London Artspace Gallery some years ago. I want to point out to a marvelous online catalogue the gallery put up to feature the painter Ray Atkins. Plein air painting is alive still! Here is the link to Ray Atkins, The long view, have fun with looking and reading. Mr. Atkins is in his early seventies now. Anyone who has ever tried seriously his/her hands on painting plein air in oil colours knows what that means.
The urban landscape below, one of my oil paintings, was not painted on site, but from a photograph taken in the suburbs of the city of Dresden. The format is ca. 70X100 cm. In order to loosen up I turned the photograph by 180° and painted while seeing the subject upside down.
We are approaching the most boring time in the year from my perspective now. At the peak of summer there are not many colors in the landscape, all the different greens have changed to almost the same dull, saturated green.
There is not much light under the tree tops left. When I walk with my camera I find shutter speeds of 1/60 or less, which means that there is less light than indoors.
Somehow the greenish light filter of the leaves creeped into this sketch. Temperatures were fairly low in the morning, but then with the sun came the flies too.
I prepared the under painting with lots of colour splashes. The paper got so wet that it broke when I had to lift the page a bit.
I put a piece of fleece under the left page to protect the previous sketch. The water gets through on the backside of the page and might ruin the previous sketch.
For some time I studied light and shadow in a number of dry pastel paintings. Some old vessels bought on the flea market were arranged to still life that I lighted with a strong 1000 Watt light bulb to get dramatic shadows and strong lights.