Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Winter into Spring


If you have been following my project to make a drawing each month, tracking the changes of nature by drawing the plants that I see on my walks, you will have noticed that there were no drawings for March.

Ah ha, given up already! you thought. Well, no, the drawings continued in March, but something had changed. It became Spring!

I was seduced by the snowdrops' tiny bowing heads, the early tree blossom, the blue of the hyacinths. Colour began to appear in scattered dots amongst the brown twigs. It was beautiful, promising, awakening and I loved it! But...

...the drawings stopped working. Depicting pretty spring flowers just wasn't doing it for me, it seemed too much like I was trying to be a botanical artist - which I'm not - rather than to do what I'm interested in. It took me the month of March to figure it out.

The drawings in winter worked because of the lack of colour. Lacking leaves or the softness of petals, the winter twigs topped with rose hips and the cones hanging like tarnished earrings from the hazel were all about structure and line. I had written the previous autumn (when walking by the river) about the architecture of plants, resulting in my drawings of teasel, thistle and hawthorn berries. This was what was missing in the drawings in March.

Too much colour, pretty flowers, blousey petals - I was seduced by them and lost the idea of the structures. I had to rethink.

In May, I made a drawing of a bunch of pink blossom from a tree lining a road near where I live. A remarkable colour, but I needed another approach. Having made a drawing in pencil, I realised that for a long time I had really loved the linear quality of the drawings, and this was part of the tracing of the shapes. With the blossom, the linear drawing was about working out how the petals, stamen and stem all fitted together. I decided to go further with the linear quality and make the drawing as a linocut.

I carved the lines detailed and thin into the lino, to give the impression of the delicate quality of the blossom, but also to emphasise the intricate linear quality of the drawing that I loved. Printing the image in pale pink onto a grey paper kept the subtlety and prettyness of the blossom, but revealed the thread-like lines of the structure.

It feels like I'm back on track. It will be interesting to see how these develop throughout the year as the seasons change and throw up new challenges for me! But for now I will keep pursuing that linear quality and see where it takes me.

It's also interesting how, having decided to focus on line and structure, my perception of the world has shifted slightly too. I'm noticing more of the linear qualities around me, not just in nature but in other things too: cracks in walls, snail trails across slabs, the rhythms of fencing. What we see feeds the art and the art feeds what we see.

I'm collecting some of the drawings and prints in my shop, click here to see them.

Also, you can now follow me on my new Facebook page.

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