For most people drawing foreshortening is difficult and I am no exception. I remember very well my first exercise from the Bert Dodson book “Keys to drawings” (my favorite drawing books on amazon). He requests the reader to draw the own left or right hand with the fingers pointing to the viewer. That exercise gets the right side of the brain in action. To close one eye helps a lot. It stops the left side of the brain interfering again and again suggesting that those fingers should be drawn longer. I commend to try yourself to get that funny feeling inside your head
Ball pen sketch of the left hand, drawing exercise to learn foreshortening.
The local bookstore has proven indispensable one more time. I found one copy of “Oak,one tree,three years,50 paintings” by the British painter Stephen Taylor lying on top of a pile of art books as if it was left there with purpose to be found by the right buyer. A quick look made clear that I had to have the book in any case. At home I slowly realised that I had made a really lucky discovery.
Painting is dead since Duchamp . If painting is dead, plein air and/or landscape painting is deader than dead. But it is something painters cannot let go it seems. I can spare you explanations about the artist Stephen Taylor and his motivations (Stephen Taylor writings) because the artist has documented his work on his website. After seven years of studies in the same open Essex landscape Stephen Tayler has turned his attention to painting water. His almost scientific interest in the perception of colour and light becomes more clear after watching the short videos on painting water.
It is the first time that I see a painter making use of digital photography and plein air field studies with convincing results. The big paintings are photorealistic in an irritating way as they contain a breeze of Rousseau at the same time which makes the image toggle between photography and painting. The book has a some interesting detail reproductions which illustrate indeed the intention of the painter to display the perception of nature with his observation-based painting. The “pictures of a tree” seem the inevitable by-product of that process.
For someone who has done observation-based sketching in the woods for a couple of years Stephen Taylor and his work are a great confirmation. After the forest diary I feel that I need to take the next step with drawing,sketching or painting trees without making “pictures”. That was the mantra I had in mind over the last 12 months when I set out to the next sketch : make notes of what you see, sketch without making a picture. Reading this book might be the required catalyst.
A couple of days ago I went to the same place I started the forest diary sketchbook on a grey afternoon in January 2009. I started with a humble sketch in ink, black and white,which still reminds me of those insecure days when the financial crisis hit.
Now at beginning of autumn 2011 the scenery is much different with lots of leaves and the undergrowth developed and the general outlook is not that grim anymore, but life has changed a lot and permanent since 2008/2009 for many of us.
Until end of the year I hope to finish a paper back facsimile re-print of the entire sketchbook with some extra text and “technical” information on these sketches. As usual I will publish on Blurb (Editionh on Blurb)
The acorns were coming down almost like rain and hit my sketchbook and color trays. No wonder that the soil around me is disturbed by wild boars.
I proceeded in this sketch again from back to front of the scenery.
There are windy days, the wind howls up in the trees. I have walked to the very edge of the village district. Looking through the trees I can see some orchards down hill and in the far distance the next bigger city in front of hazy blue background hills.
Flies and crickets inspected my sketch. Interesting to see how they take place on a suitable background colour that supports their camouflage.
oak trunk detail, gouache dry bristle brush technique
See more intermediate states of this sketch in the Picasa album of this weblog
The end of summer has come with some hot days, but autumn is near. The sound of falling acorns can be heard everywhere and the cobwebs glisten in the evening sun.
The growth of foliage on trees, undergrowth and grass is at its peak now. Each and every patch of soil seems to have done it’s job for this year. The clear transparent order of bare trunks and branches in winter has made place for a veritable jungle in green.
I try to do my sketches only with a minimal plan and prefer to play with the colours and forms as I find them. Not much thought about composition is necessary in the forest, also it is easy to neglect and change elements of the scenery.
I just put in patches of colours creating a pattern that finally weaves an image of a forest.The sketch is what has been there, but it is not a copy.
My thoughts go to poetry I am reading : John Burnside an English,German volume of poems called “an attempt about light”. I snatched a signed copy in one of the most “beautiful european bookshops”. Burnside is a remarkable author who evokes images and resonances from unknown places inside and yet unfolds his view of the world. I wonder whether his poems are realistic, more realistic than that what we see?
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.