Thursday, November 22, 2012

Praise Nature

This is a tree I drew just yesterday. I was wandering through our nearby NYS Saratoga Spa park, in an area I'd previously explored, when I came upon this beautiful beech tree. I'd actually taken note of it a few years ago but its existence had slipped my mind. I parked across the road, retrieved my ever-ready sketch book and went to work.

The drawing below was the result but in scanning it for the blog I found that the light pencil strokes didn't reproduce well. For some reason they seem just a bit out of focus. At least that's the impression it gives. I tried several times with the same result.  I've noticed the same problem in the past with a particularly nice ball-point pen drawing which to my eye is perfect but the scan is truly less than lovely!

So that I might share the drawing here, I opened it in PhotoShop, upped the contrast (probably a bit too much) so that now it shows up very well!  I really love the delicacy of the original but, alone it would have been a complete dud here on this blog. You can see yourself that presenting the two images gives us a more complete picture. I hadn't thought of that before, but I like it!

Now with the stronger image in place, I see another little problem!  Can you?  About 2/3 of the way up the tree on the left side, my eye is drawn to an unfortunate accident, - not one of poor observation of the subject but one of poor oversight in execution. I'm usually very conscious of the shapes I draw, including the shapes of the negative spaces created. There enclosed by, delineated by a couple of small branches is an almost perfect circle among all the odd oblong and triangular spaces!  It's the kind of feature that once seen is difficult to ignore - something like finding a face in clouds or leaves -  it calls attention to itself and interferes with our appreciation of the total drawing.  Looking very closely with some magnification, I see that one mistake was in failing to fill in the hatched shading in that part of the heavy main branch that forms one side of the circle.  Flattening that side of the circle will render it less attractive to our eye but adding a twig to break the circle may still be needed.  While creating lovely things, do be conscious of inadvertent moves that may detract from that beauty.

All that being said, there is something truly satisfying in looking at trees. They are another natural set of forms displaying enough variation between individuals and within each individual that the observation is always interesting, - wonderful shapes, great form, nice structure! When I speak of observation, you know I'm referring to drawing, the best and most intense kind of looking!  The visual knowledge gained and then presented by the serious draftsman is golden!  The image the artist presents to the viewer is often more informative and more interesting than the viewer's own first hand eye.  On this lovely Thanksgiving morning let's be thankful for the simple beauty of nature and the opportunities it gives us all.   Cast your eye around, - really look, - really see!

"Art will never be able to exist without nature."  Pierre Bonnard

"We find the works of nature still more pleasant, the more they resemble those of art." Joseph Addison

"I am at two with nature."  Woody Allen

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