I was looking at the large pine behind my house that had broken in a wind storm last fall. It was still standing, but there was no green left, so it was basically dead. I thought of how at the end of each year there are stories of the people we had lost that year and I felt that this tree should have been on that list. I decided that I must memorialize it. It was about 35 degrees and overcast, and there was still an inch of snow on the ground. I put on thick boots and thin gloves and started to draw. I guess I really got into it. I didn’t feel cold at all, but the pens weren’t cooperating. One went dry and the other wasn’t much better. I just kept drawing, though, darkening this and filling in that. I thought I should stop several times, but then I would find another part of the picture to work on. When I finally decided to stop I figured it had been about a half hour, but I had actually been there for well over an hour. When I put the pen away and took a step my leg reacted like it was frozen in place and I almost lost my balance but recovered and stumbled for a few steps with my joints buzzing. I realized that I had, except for my head and hand, been standing perfectly still for a long time.
Sunday afternoon was much like the day before, so I returned to the tree, this time with better pens. This time I drew it from a different angle. It seemed slightly warmer than the day before, but I only lasted 50 minutes this time and my hands were damn cold by then.
Some of the best work I've done isn't hanging on a wall; it's sitting in a box in my closet that's full of my old sketch books. I fill up one or two books each year. Some of the sketches end up as a basis of a more formal work, but most don't. They’re more important to me as a pictorial diary and also as on-going training; learning to really see and to understand shape, light and color.
This blog is to share my sketches as well as my sketching experiences.