Tag: Wildlife_sketching

The owl sees me

This image is a slight departure as I’ve used cut and torn paper to tell the story and simplify things. It’s the moment when you are confronted by the unexpected. On a late afternoon visit to the rough field behind the cottage this barn owl and me surprised each other around the headland shrubbery. I was aiming at capturing the suddenness of it all.

The paper is nearly all Ingres pastel paper with a piece of old oil painting block, now
too brittle to paint on. Although the landscape is described with torn paper, there were
still some decisions to make with placing and colours. I cut out a dummy owl from
plain white paper to position it until it felt right. Cutting the bird off the edge of the frame is crucial, as is the angle, it gives the sense of surprise and urgency I was after. In the event, the bird was quite indignant, and performed a mini hover and let out a harsh squawk, before flying off in the opposite direction!the-owl-sees-me

A walk in the woods

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.

aug 27 09 charcoal sketch
chalkney wood, charcoal sketch

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.

old oak, evening, coloured inks

split trunk may 20011 ink
twisting split trunk