Sometimes activities and events can reveal something you might otherwise overlook.
My local wood is jointly owned by the Forestry Commission and Essex County Council
and is managed by coppicing. Patches are felled in rotation and some trees left standing
including the odd dead one.
In August 2009 I made a quick charcoal sketch of this lone dead oak newly
exposed in the open, when previously it had been hidden deep in the wood
surrounded by its neighbours. This exposure now reveals clearly how the tree
has twisted and turned over its lifetime stretching for its share of the light.
Now it is home to a family of woodpeckers, and hornets, other wasps and bugs
all buzz around it. Its life as a living tree may be over, but its contribution to the
health of the wood goes on.
I made a couple of large drawings of the tree on consecutive weekends using ink.
The drawing below shows how the trunk has been split as the whole tree has
twisted on its axis, revealed by the peeling bark. I mixed colours on the spot
from bottles and jars and at times felt like some mad scientist in a laboratory.
Techniques including mist spraying of water, so that the ink runs unpredictably,
using clear wax resist and scratching into the paper all helped to add texture
to the drawings.