Wednesday, 25 July 2012

A sketch a day...

The summer holidays are here and there will be loads of opportunities for sketching ... if I am motivated enough to take full advantage. So with Anthony Gormley's words ringing in my ears:

"A day passed without drawing is a day lost"

I have armed myself with new sketchbooks and treated myself with a trip to my local fantastic art shop, Pegasus Arts, for some new materials which are crying out to be drawn with.

An ambitious collection of sketchbooks?
Off the starting blocks...
So far so good, I haven't lost a day yet. There will inevitably be some lost days, ambition is one thing but real life tends to also happen. I'll just try and lose as few days as possible, and then post some results.

Friday, 20 July 2012

Drawing the not so 'Common Oak'

My third drawing on wood featured a Common Oak on oak wood. The photographs I used for inspiration were taken on morning walks around the Arboretum.

my drawing surface - raw oak with bark and burr features
stage 1 - establishing distant tones

stage 2 - establishing the tree shapes

stage 3 - shadows picked out from several photos,
I wanted these shadows to wriggle across the ground
The finished piece, adaptions made, finished, gessoed and sandblasted
Common Oak, 'Quercus Robur'

I found this piece of writing shown on a sign when visiting the arboretum last week; I hope my piece of work compliments Wyatt's words:

"No writer could ever match the poetry expressed in the form of a single tree,
for it speaks from its roots, through the fibres of its stem, the shape of the trunk,
the turn and spread of the branches, the twisting and reaching of the twigs.
A tree speaks. It speaks of a hundred summers and a hundred winters.
The whole of the message is contained in the way it has grown,
precisely, to make use of what its environment has provided.
It states in essence 'Here I am, and where I am is what I am'"
By John Wyatt, from 'Reflections on the lakes' 1998

Saturday, 14 July 2012


This is the third print in the Westonbirt series, called 'Delay'.

'Delay' Etching 70 x 35cm

The piece shows the view of the end of a path in the arboretum (the same path the previous two etchings - see previous posts). The exit is framed by two arching tree branches. The word 'delay' is a sumative expression of the comments people make when talking about being in the countryside. Rarely do you hear of people expressing the view that they couldn't wait to get back to the humdrum of daily routines, the more commonly expressed feeling is of wishing to delay the moment of leaving. The sanctury of woodland provides a place to pause, and once stopped there is reluctance to move too quickly.
This etching leads to a crooked tree in the near distance, just at the end of the path, it beckons but the crookedness advises caution. It might be better to stay safely in the shadows of the path, unnoticed.

At the end of the day our crooked lives take us forward and, well, I'm curious about that crooked tree!

Sunday, 1 July 2012


This is the second print in my Westonbirt Series, and is called 'Pause'

'Pause' Etching 70 x 35 cm
This print was achieved using the same techniques as 'Wander', shown in the previous post. A combination of open bite experimenting, a little hard ground for the line and a larger swathe of aquatint for the cast shadow down the centre of the path.

The title was inspired by a talk I went to given by Dr Neil Armstrong, a GP who lives at Tremenheere, a large property in Cornwall with one of those wonderful old gardens which gently drifts down to the coast. Armstrong devotes his free time to rejuvenating and developing this garden into a place for people to visit. One of his aims for the garden is to provide a place which will provide the opportunity for people to take time out from the rat race, to stop for a while, to pause. He has built a number of seating areas to encourage this and is installing artworks by well known arists. During the talk he told us about a James Turrell sky space/box which he had just completed and which took the form of a temple like structure. I was very inspired by the idea of providing space to pause, and in this part of this Westonbirt path its possible to pause and look equally both forward and back, where we've been and where we are going.

Its funny how trains of thought link isn't it.... At Tremenheere Armstrong has also commissioned a David Nash installation and the Making a Mark blog this week linked to some wonderful Nash work being done at Kew Gardens. In response to Printed Material's book recommendation on last weeks post I can reciprocate by recommending "Wildwood - a journey through trees" by Roger Deakin, a lovely lyrical book describing a man's passion for all things wood. There is also a fantastic chapter describing Deakin's visit to Nash's studio at Capel Rhiw. Pausing for thought, coming full circle.