On this rainy day I headed straigth to a hut in the woods. There was this typical laundry kind of smell in the air,temperatures well over 10°C and high moisture. The woodpeckers where very busy, but also other birds. I could identify a new bird, a warbler To work protected on the porch of the big hut was a kind of luxury, sitting in the dry makes the rain even more lovely. As usual I worked my way from the sky and distant background forward to the foreground.
It was already raining a bit when I left home. First birds could be heard, especially the woodpeckers were very busy, spring is coming soon. I sat down in a dark, young douglas fir and spruce tree forest. Green algae covered some of the trunks and contrasted with the dark wet bark. The wind was roaring way up in the tree tops under grey sky.
I got quite a bit of a problem to bring the sketch home. The paper was flooded with color washes and the rain was getting harder. No chance to walk with the open sketchbook. Finally I decided to close the book with a wooden stick between the pages, which was not clever this time. I had to do a bit of repair at home, fix the broken page with tape and revive the trees in the center of the book.
In future I will have a nonwoven cleaning cloth with me to be placed between wet pages. I hope it will absorb the moist color and thus will avoid the mess I got today.
The rain left nice structures on the sheet, I like the washed out look. There is a lot of potential in these unfinished sketches,which I want to explore this summer in a more detailed landscape book in same format. In summer the gouache dries way too fast for my taste, perhaps I will take a spray can with water with me.
Our visual memory is a strong tool, but drawing always from life does not train us to recall what we have seen. On a workshop years ago I heard from the tutor that it is possible to draw almost everything we have seen from memory quite accuratly. It might take some effort to recall visual impressions of the past in a wake state, but why shouldn´t we be able to imagine things as clear as in many of our dreams?
Recently I have been doing many sketches and drawings from memory as for example the little tree landscape in this post.
Compared to Stephen Wiltshire my capabilities are simply embarrassing. I tend to think that Giovanni Piranesi had similar brain capacities to store uncounted details of buildings in his mind as there are hardly any detailed preparatory sketches or drawings by Piranesi.
Some people can, for example the swedish artist Om Jan Tenow. He does terrific charoal landscape drawings in an amazing format. His works take you on an areal trip over coniferous forests with myriads of tiny trees. Here is the link to the inspiring work: Charcoal drawings by Om Jan Tenow
The image of today is a drawing in oil colors, a trace monotype done outdoors on site.
I am an avid collector of online tree drawing tutorials. There are many of them out there and quite a number are good ones.
For today I have picked a 15 Page tutorial : Guide to tree sketching by Claire Walke Leslie, which I find very suitable for beginners too.
Mrs. Leslie explains many aspects of a tree drawing. What I find particularly helpful are her (handwritten) instructions on her demonstration drawings, which explain exactly what she did.
One can print out the file and there are empty pages inserted for own studies.
Many of her instructions are very similar to my own findings I have put down in an instruction sheet “How to draw a pine tree“.
Todays blog illustration shows a sketchbook page dated from December 2004. I made quick notes of trees with a ball pen to study forms and proportions and colored from memory with watercolors at home. The winter 2004 was a relative warm one no snow to see at that time.
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