Drawing and Nature

Most of my drawings begin with a photograph from Nature, or even a natural object. It’s not so I can attempt to recreate objects exactly, but to provide a resource for observation and reference which grounds the artwork in reality.

A drawing of an unusual mushroom.

As you can see, the finished product is both stylized and realistic (within the limits of my ability in regard to both). I like learning how best to convey texture, contour, volume, and depth, developing my self-taught technique to serve my need.

The mushroom drawn above, as shown in a picture from life.

But I like to remain essentially faithful to the particular thing itself, discovering its structural secrets and honoring its imperfections and uniqueness.  Here is the original, which I spotted on the way in to work last week.

Sometimes a subject grabs my attention and demands to be drawn for a very specific reason, and in a very specific way.

Interesting bracket fungus with concentric rings.

These old bracket mushrooms were pretty nondescript, even drab, except for their very distinct concentric rings. I almost walked past them, then returned to their log and snapped this picture.

The same bracket mushrooms drawn with marker & pen.

This doesn’t qualify as one of my more realistic pieces, but it speaks to how I see the ‘original’, the real mushrooms out in the forest. To me, the organic structures are almost abstract (impossible as that may strictly be), and the play of shape and line suggested how I wanted to approach the subject.

A abstract' mass of moss, mushrooms, and lichens on a log.

In the end, my copies of Nature’s organic artwork are always very inadequate reproductions, but they do serve to draw me more intimately into the natural world and to facilitate the exploration of my own creativity.

Artwork drawn from Nature, a brilliant red maple leaf pulled from the ground at the beginning of Fall.

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