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. Continue reading “Drawing and Nature”

Fall Harvest

It’s always fun to pick up little gribblies from the ground when you’re out for a hike in the woods, or even just a nice walk in the neighborhood. These objects can be used for art studies, sit-arounds, and whatever you can think up. Seeking them forces you to become more engaged with your environment, and more curious. Whenever I find something I can’t identify, I always want to know what it is. And I always want to know more about the things I’m already familiar with. I usually want to draw things, or study them for one of my scenic vignettes, but the search and the study it encourages stand as rewards in their own right.

Beautiful Fall treasures collected on a walk with my daughter.

Autumn in Pittsburgh is arriving by degrees. Many maple trees have ignited in brilliant reds, oranges, and yellows, but most of the trees are only displaying their first blush of Fall color.

Continue reading “Fall Harvest”

From Forest to Page

I draw as often as I can, and almost always draw things I’ve found on my walks in Nature.

A pen drawing of honey mushrooms found on a hike in the woods with my daughter.

I embrace the progressive abstraction as I transfer real mushrooms and other small objects discovered in the course of my hiking to the page. Pens, pencils, and markers help me condense and personalize the often unassuming, ephemeral focus of my fascination. Continue reading “From Forest to Page”

Who Arted in Here?

I’ve been drawing a few of my latest fungal finds recently, just quick illustrations trying to capture the quirk & beauty of some of the things I’ve discovered in the woods.

Pen drawing of a mushroom found while hiking.

This little russula (I think) I’ve drawn before, but he’s just so adorable. I splurged on a couple of new Copic markers and I was eager to try them out. Continue reading “Who Arted in Here?”

Fungus Among Us

I’m organized, I’d say, but the order tends to emanate from the places I’m productive. Things I don’t use often suffer a centrifugal force that leaves them in a state of semi-permanent neglect. The farther you go from, say, my hobby desk, the less likely you are to find what you’re looking for, because it is less likely to be somewhere I actually meant to put it. But…!

Sometimes I get a happy surprise out of it! Today I discovered a cache of old drawings I hadn’t seen in a long time. Continue reading “Fungus Among Us”

Convolutions

I continue to be inspired by the Nature around me, and to convert that inspiration into artwork. Since I’m a teacher I have Summers off, and that gives me both more free time and new responsibilities. Foremost among the latter is caring for my beautiful baby daughter.

Our favorite way to spend time together is to hike through Allegheny Cemetery, one of Pittsburgh’s historic gems. We can easily get lost in its fifteen miles of quiet roads. It is fun to think that we are often the only people to visit some corner of the beautiful 300 acre grounds on a given day.

My daughter & I have great fun spotting wildlife such as hawks and deer. Yesterday she pointed out a robin and a chipmunk! One of the most fulfilling things about fatherhood for me is the ability to see the world through a child’s eyes. Though I’ve seen these things for nearly four decades and too often pass them by paying little notice, they are all new to her, and her wonder lends joy to my experience of the commonplace. I was taught to feel excitement and awe in the presence of Nature’s richness, and I intend to pass that relationship on to my girl.

The Cemetery is a great spot to find the kind of gribbly little oddities that I adore. Over the last few busy days I’ve made time to complete another drawing, this one of some lovely blue lichen growing at the foot of an oak tree.

It fascinates me that what we call a tree can be so much more. It’s a whole world to a host of other organisms, which clamber and climb over one another to gain the best territory and colonize another inch of bark each year. Here I’ve caught an intense struggle between the lichen and the encroaching moss.

I documented my process for this drawing and will have put together a tutorial for anyone interested. It’s fun and, while time consuming, anyone can do it.

Leave me a comment if you like these drawings I’ve been doing, or if you have your own thoughts on the majesty of small wonders.

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This drawing is for sale. If you are interested in purchasing it or another of my pieces, contact me for details.