Plum tree trunk,ink on paper
I seem never to get tired of looking at trees. There is a remote place about 20 minutes walk from my home amidst the fields and meadows were some plum trees grow unattended, just not cut yet by the farmers who plow through the root area, damage the branches and don’t care in many ways. The fruits are for the animals. This year the plums are still green in August. Hidden from the eyes of walkers and motorists I draw the neglected,weathered plum tree trunk, perhaps they are gone next year.
I roamed the woods again on the weekend. I saw some old tree stumps polished by wild boar, woodpeckers,tits and nuthatches busy and the leaves of wild Arum showed here and there already. I finally settled down in front of a pine tree stump. The sketch is about 26X23 cm in size. I used in total 14 different oil pastel colors, a minimal extended 48 color set Caran d’Ache oil pastels. In addition to the standard 48 color set I used only one extra color from the 96 color set.
The colors used are, marked with black numbers:
1 Black, 2 Light Grey, 3 olive yellow, 4 Moss Green, 5 Beige (96 color set), 6 Grey,7 Dark Grey, 8 Lime Green, 9 Russet, 10 Raw Umber, 11 Brown, 12 Ochre, 13 Light Orange, 14 Pale Yellow
There several hues of beige in the 96 color set that are great for natural warm greys or really muddy earth colors.
I find tree stumps are great subjects for natural color studies. I have circled 4 areas in the sketch. Behind the numbers of those areas you find the colors that have been used.
The color mix changes of course when you change the layer sequence. For example a grey on top of russet will look different from russet on top of grey. I found the color of the pine bark
the most difficult to decide in this study. In the end there were 2-3 layers of grey and russet in varying thickness and different sequence. When you experiment with layer sequence you can get closer and closer to the desired color mix. Once you have learned the sequences and stored in them in your memory you will be able to reproduce many colors with ease.
I always start with and try as long as possible to work with a light touch putting down layer after layer.
Before using a color I break up the stick in smaller pieces of 1-2 cm length for better handling. I keep a small carton box that has all the small pieces of colors that I have in use. The original set box has the remaining half or quarter sticks as reserve.
The little pamphlet on Blurb has grown a bit and comprises now 80 pages instead of the 72 pages in the previous one. The price is unchanged as I stayed within the 80 page limit. The text was edited and extended and in total improved I hope. The chapter on tree trunks is longer also a chapter on drawing foliage was added with some of the latest step by step drawings.
I also added three two page spreads of charcoal drawings which are printed nicely. The paper in my copy is a nice cream white which I like much better than the cold white paper that came in the old version. However I do not know whether Blurb will use same materials in all printing facilities. The coloured front and back covers have been printed very well too.
Coming back to the place I had begun my last forest diary study in drizzling rain I found that an important part of my subject had been harvested. Somehow I regret that not much of the first steps was left in the final stage of this study, even though a bit of sun was a nice experience after the grey days. I made a mental note about the beautiful, marbled colour nuances that lots of water and rain drops can create with gouache. Working wet in wet with gouache is a thrilling thing and I want to explore it further in future.
Temperatures get chilly these days. After a longer pause I continued to draw in the apple tree orchard. It took some time to pick up the thread again and to find my way through the many labyrinth of wrinkles, plateaus and valleys that the apple tree in front had build in many years of growth. It was like looking down on a prehistoric landscape from an airplane. I finally decided to consider this the final step of the drawing even though I did not work through the whole double sheet.
I spent the last sitting with drawing the bark of the big trunk in the foreground until a wind shock blew my little ink vessel across the sheet. The ink went onto my right arm and into the sleeve of my jacket. And that was it for the day.
I forgot to fix the pages with some clams, but I had an extra sheet of paper to protect the drawing from major accidents.