New Drawing Growth Project for 2018. We are drawing the Mother Vine in top greenhouse, will watch it grow through the year. Wait for the grapes!
I drew the blossoms as if stars in a constellation - going from one to another, and then drawing in the branches afterwards. I am really getting to know these branches well now.
This is a photo of the mass of branches and buds higher up in the cherry tree.
Pick ONE aspect at a time to explore - here I was looking at how many buds there are, and where they are in space. Creating a map of the buds and flowers. This will help with following drawings, and observation of growth. To clarify what you are seeing when there are loads of intwined branches, move your head to determine which buds are on the same branch or on a branch behind or in front..oR if it is windy you can use the wind to show you which are separate branches.
And today I started to look at another tree in the garden. I started with the WHOLE rather than details, because it was far away, and I was interested in how it looks as a whole.
Sometimes you find a tree that represents how you feel - stick with it, and explore how it has grown, and is growing. I am not sure why, but this apple that has been pruned badly for years and years really moves me. I am interested in how it has coped with having it branches chopped too far back each year. It is in my childhood home so I have known it all my life. It has stopped producing fruit now. I wonder if it is natural ageing, or a reaction to wrong pruning?
Drawing 3. You can see 4 distinct zones: the trunk, then angular chunky branches, then curly thinner branches, then the new growth shooting up to the sky.
The angular zone.
The new growth.
I am documenting the 'Drawing Growth' process here, explaining how to draw a tree by focussing on relationships between branches and buds - 'growing' the drawing by close attention on these relationships. Once you get to know the branches and buds you have chosen to draw and how they relate to one another, it becomes like playing a piece of music. Deeply satisfying, meditative and joyful!
Step 1. Choose a tree to draw. Step 2. Make sketches to get to know it. I suggest focussing on a small area to begin with, to have a hope of really deeply understanding the twists and turns and growing. You will return to draw the same section again and again, and will notice the tiniest of changes.
Drawing 1. Sketch the tree a few times to decide which section to focus on. Choose just a few branches at first. You might draw the whole tree quite a lot of times before you plump on one area. Try drawing without looking at the paper, to give you the opportunity to really attend and engage with the tree and to begin to understand its posture, and decisions it - or a pruner - has made about how, when and where to grow. Don't pay ANY attention to your drawings at this stage - you are using drawing as a way to learn more about the tree, not to create an image. The drawing is evidence of your close attention.
Photo of the chosen section of the tree.
Draw just a few branches - this way you can relate points to points, e.g. check how a tip of a branch relates to other branches and buds. The next drawings have some of these relational lines visibly drawn on.
You can 'Eye Draw' these and translate to your hand, or you can 'Air Draw', to help your hand to learn the angle and distances between points. Air Drawing is when you trace a line in space with your pencil - e.g. lift up your hand and follow a branch with your pencil, drawing along it. This encodes the visual line into a motor action. In fact when drawers look at things with intent to draw they imagine the action and create a motor plan for their hand. See my doctorate for more info on drawing and cognition - specifically the physical synchronisation of eye and hand movements and the role of motor planning in drawing.
January 4th 2018
Drawing invisible lines between points on the tree. Learning how buds relate to one another in space. You can use this as an 'as you go along' check on accuracy of your drawing. You can then compare tomorrow's drawing with today's, to see how the tree has grown.
An accident with a dirty rubber (eraser for US people) led me to think I will make some charcoal drawings, prepare a ground and rub out the branches and buds, as another way to draw the tree.
Warm up drawings, to get a feel of the rhythms of the branches. Including some drawn in relational lines.
Detail from Drawing 4.
While drawing, I became especially interested in one area, so for now I will narrow my focus down again, to just these small few branches. This way I will really notice any changes and growth of new buds.
- more tomorrow.
Drawings of trees, in chronological order and with details of what I learn through drawing.
This raised questions about how sections of the tree connect to the roots. I started thinking about how tree trunks often seem to spiral up, with a twist in the trunk. Why?
Again, thinking about air drawing - how tracing lines in the air can teach you stuff that your eye alone can't see. In this case I used it to check the angle of a branch. You can see and feel the angle your pencil and hand take, and transfer it to the paper.
Pine tree, like music. Thinking about how each branch relates to others, the balance. And they are lyrical. Sometimes trees seem like a SIGH. Or a dance. Also the trees in background and foreground of the pine, like an orchestra.
Magnolia 2. Following branches, enjoying the subtle changes of directions, and the little 'thought' nodes of the tree, e.g. might I grow a new branch here? I know from Brockwell Greenhouses work that the tree releases growth hormones at specific places. More info soon re HOW they grow, and how they make decisions, like what direction to go, whether to pause, conserve energy, grow fast, etc.
Angie Brew is an artist, researcher and drawing teacher. She holds a Drawing MA with distinction from Camberwell College of Art, UAL, London. For her doctorate she worked in the Drawing & Cognition Project, Camberwell, researching enactive observational drawing methods and pedagogy. This resulted in a new cognitively-informed approach called 'Drawing Growth', synchronising eye and hand. Her art practice explores drawing for well-being, and close observational drawing of growth processes. She is artist in residence in a community greenhouse in Brixton, London, where she leads a collaborative Drawing Growth project and a weekly drawing club.