17 February 2016

"It's Like Drawing People" - Tree Post II

Ever since my mother (also an artist) pointed it out to me via the book 'Castles', Alan Lee's artwork has been an integral inspiration to my own. His drawing temperament spoke resonantly to my natural inclinations, and even before my teenage years, I began to "look closer", because of Alan Lee. I know many artists who've been driven in their own work by Alan Lee's, just as strongly. He's A Great!

Continuing on with these tree posts for this project with my "Infinity Tree", I've revisited some of my favorite quotes from the master of trees in the 'The Lord of the Rings Sketchbook' - Some things to keep in mind and to be inspired by anew - In Lee's words:

"I love drawing trees and forests. It is like drawing people with an endless capacity to stretch and twist, their history recorded in every scar and irregularity - and they hold their pose for years! invented woodlands, informed by spending long hours sketching in real ones, gave me an opportunity to draw and design with freedom as well as delicacy, as long as I remembered that trees have an anatomy too."

"The competing forces that affect the growth of a tree - gravity, wind, and the need for light - can be read on the contortions of branches and the form of the trunk. Like skin, bark only partially conceals the structure underneath, and in old trees bark is frequently rotted or broken away. Drawing trees is more an act of empathy than analysis, though, and I seem to find it a little easier now than I did when I was a sapling."

I love the notion that to interpret a tree - or any living thing - via drawing, is more an act of empathy than analysis. I'm always seeking the moments throughout the creative process, the drawing, the painting and capturing of light and gesture, structure, etc., moments within that can balance empathy and analysis, so to keep the two dimensional artwork living, breathing, engaging, emotive, and certainly from my personal experience.

So with my Infinity tree, I'm eager to convey, one;

- the merged imagined and referenced technical analysis of the tree's anatomy,

as well as, two;

- the sense of it's enigmatic character explored with empathetic and gestural pencil work...

If that makes sense.

I've been admiring and considering some formerly accomplished main character trees of the drawn or painted page, by other artists:

This example of ancient Norse myth, featuring Odin thrusting a sword into Branstock in the hall of Volsung, as illustrated by the legendary English artist Alan Lee (and from his book 'Castles'):

Illustrated by Alan Lee, 'Castles', 1984, all rights Alan Lee

Or this stunning work illustrating "Jason and the Talking Oak", by the legendary Maxfield Parrish:

Maxfield Parrish, 1910

Here, a 'natural world' version of the subject entitled "Oak Tree on a Northern Beach", painted by Leopold Rothaug:

Leopold Rothaug, 1924

And again referencing legend in this illustration of "Giant Velles Protecting the Ancient Oak Tree" painted by Serbian-born master painter Petar Meseldzija

Copyright and Illustrated by Petar Meseldzija, 2014

There are myths of dangerous trees in cultures across the world, as in this plate illustrated from J W Buel's 'Sea and Land', a Madagascan man-eating tree called "Ya-Te-Veo" ('I see you'):

Illustrated by A.W., 1887

Or this religious woodland, "Harpies in the Forest of the Suicides", as from the notorious Dante's Inferno, here engraved by Gustave Dore:

Engraved by Gustave Dore, 1861

Notice how all of these trees in some way merge two worlds, be they literal or metaphorical, most definitely ethereal, and physical. I'm after that in my own piece, for certain. The tree as "bridge".

I am excited for the next batch of work on this project!

Back to others, first, though.


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