Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Compulsive drawing


I spent most of yesterday outside in a forest. My students had an outdoor day, practicing orienteering. I sat by one of the controls in a deep pine forest and of course I used my time out there for drawing.

I know many artists find a lot of inspiration among tall trees out in the wild, and I enjoy drawing landscapes on the whole, but pine forests... I don´t know, they make me feel a bit claustrophobic. I mean, I like picking berries, mushrooms, or just walking around in them, but when it comes to drawing I suddenly feel like the old saying (at least in Sweden) "I can´t see the forest for all the trees".

I kind of forced myself to just sit down and draw what´s in front of me. Pine-trees. How inspiring. They are so... vertical. All of them. I couldn´t seem to find any interesting rhythms to capture on paper, and no intriguing compositions either, so I just started drawing one tree - any tree in the bunch, really - and worked on from there. After a while I kind of got the idea that if nothing else, I could at least try to get the values right. The tree-trunks were darker than the background, but lighter towards the top, so I started working with short strokes of my dip-pen to make light and dark. And man, did I regret that before I was done. I think this drawing took me an hour and a half, at least. It´s 13.5x19.5 cm of tiny ink-marks, and it almost drove me crazy.

Now that it´s done, I kind of like it, though. I can actually see a rhythm in it now, AND I like the composition. It was worth it, after all, but I hate this kind of detailed, time-consuming way of drawing. Not looking at it, but doing it. I hate it because once I´ve started something like this, I can´t stop until it´s finished, I get caught in this obsessive drawing behavior, and by the time it´s done I´m exhausted and a bit angry because I even got the idea to start something so tedious...

Still, this drawing fills it´s space well. It´s on the first page of my new sketchbook, and it´s always a good feeling to fill that first page...

19 comments:

Nancy said...

This is amazing. I can see why it drove you crazy; yet what a beautiful result.

Penny said...

Nina - This drawing is absolutely lovely. I admire you for sticking with it -- even when you are frustrated. I give up very easily. Sticking with things has its merits!! Penny

kuriyama said...

Attractive your work.
Hardship externals.
I understand your endurance.
Moreover,
There is a similar problem also in Japan.
There are a lot of man-made forests.
They are tedious still sceneries.

jill said...

while you might have found it tedious work, i find it a beautiful picture and would love to be there. but i guess that just gives away my midwest/country background -- rather to be surrounded by nature and stillness than crowds and noise.

glassgirl said...

beautiful work! It's been a long time since I've done any real pen and ink. you've inspired me! I shall have a go at it very soon.

melissa w said...

What a way to kick off the new sketchbook. Inspiring to say the least

Toni said...

It is beautiful. I know it is a lot of verticle lines but with the right value tone there is a lot of depth which I find interesting.

pedalpower said...

It's lovely...I know what you mean about getting caught up in too much detail or a technique that drives you nuts. I started a portrait of my dog in pointilism-with a technical pen. It was going pretty well, but I got soooooooooo tired. I never did finish it. Good for you for sticking with it.

Felicity said...

I love the light showing at the top of the trees and I think the verticalness (don't know if that is a real word!) really works here. Sorry it was so horrible to draw but I hope you feel it was worth it, it's wonderful.

Renate said...

Your hard work did pay off. Very classic and simply beautiful.

Nancy Van Blaricom said...

It only took you an hour and a half? I personally think you captured so much in that hour. Some times persistance pays off. Great job.

Rachel Murphree said...

just lovely -- definitely framable, is that a word? I'd be quite proud if I were you...

Mittroseliv said...

...a v e r y good classical drawing! My comliments!

...by the way...we have the same saying in German...we can´t see the wood because of the many trees...

littlemithi said...

Nina, what a beautiful drawing - I have a great love of trees too and this really caught my attention. I've been to Sweden twice and your drawing reminded me of the beautiful countryside there.

Linda said...

I think it has a wonderful rhythm to it -- the vertical strokes strengthen the feeling of height in the trees. There's a cold, dark feeling about -- PERFECT for a pine forest. And it looks like it was more meditative than tedious...
:-)

paula said...

This came out really wonderful. Thanks for posting all your feelings on doing this piece. In one sense, it probably has a unique place for you in how frustrating it was to come by.

Jana Bouc said...

This seems like a real masterpiece to me. Elegant, detailed and technically perfect, both in accurately capturing the scene and your technique in getting it down. I would be thrilled to be able to draw like this!

Robin Neudorfer said...

Oh I wish this drawing wasn't in a sketchbook. It is wonderful. Has a historical woodcut look. Great composition and good use of negative space. Lovely.

Ester said...

This is beautiful-totally breathtaking! I grew up in the woods, and this brought back some memory-feelers for me. Really beautiful work. Also it reminds me of engraving :)