The drawing above was made using charcoal on paper in 1875 by Odilon Redon.
The artwork is clearly of two tree trunks in what looks like the entrance a forest or wood. The trees have an almost human like quality and it looks like they are embracing each other with the tree on the left whispering something to the one on the right. There is what looks like a path running from the front of the image and passes through the centre of the two trees and leaves the painting as some steps up a small hill.
The words that come to mind when I see this are: darkness, light, anthropomorphism, glade, wood, gnarled, rough, bumpy texture, bark, fairytale.
Although this an image we have to look at as part of Drawing 1, there is a great deal which attracts me to it and would have enjoyed looking at it even if it weren’t compulsory. The sense of fantasy appeals to me, it wouldn’t look out of place in Tolkiens work which are my favourite books. I also like the intrigue the piece creates, where are the stairs leading? Are these the only two trees in the wood? I mentioned Tolkien as I get the sense that when you turn your back on the trees they would spring into life as the tree on the left in particular looks like it is in an unnatural pose as if it has just been caught.
When you first look at the drawing you are drawn to the space between the two trees, like an entrance way leading you to the steps, you then notice the entrance is guarded by the two big trees and then finally you notice the tree details like the gnarled branch and the texture of the trunk.
There are a variety of different lines made in this drawing. The tree on the left has twists and curves that follow the shape of the bent trunk, there are also shorter lines to give the texture of the bark higher up in the shadow. The tree on the right has much straighter vertical lines to show perhaps it is a younger tree, it is less deformed and has a smoother texture. Around the trees are lighter more free lines of the small plants on the path with longer lines to show the shadow from the trees. In the centre the dark entrance is created by dark small close shading.
The shapes too are varied, the right tree is almost like a long cylinder and the left tree is a more twisted shape but still fundamentally is a cylinder. Both are shaded to show the concave and bulges associated with old trees.
Tone is used with exceptional detail in this piece. There are very dark areas to areas of light where the sun is shining down. In between are a whole range of mid-tones created using close shading and some hatches. Overall thought there is a very soft blended almost warm feeling even though it is a monochrome piece. There are no harsh lines between the different shades and the tones blend in to create a very realistic piece of work.
Odilon Redon created this piece around the year 1875. Redon was a French painter born in 1840 and so was around 35 years old when he drew this, he was known as a symbolist painter. In 1870 he served in the Franco-Prussian war and so this was drawn just after he had seen battle. He called his series of dark drawings which were done in shades of black his noirs. and it was not until 1878 that his work gained any recognition with Guardian Spirit of the Waters, therefore Two Trees was made before he was well known.
In Guardian Spirit of the Waters, Redon is still using charcoal on paper to create a very dramatic, atmospheric piece. Again there is a huge range of tones from very dark shadows around the face to bright highlights on the boat and lit part of the face. It is a very strange piece in that it should be scary and nightmarish with a giant head floating above a small boat but the dream like quality makes it more fantasy like than frightening.
After 1900, Redon moved on from his noirs to use colours and pastel work, often using Buddha in his drawings:
This is moving away from a style that was reliant on monochrome tones but Redon still captures the mystical fantasy atmosphere in his work. The plant towards the front of the picture for example is drawn in a very fleeting whimsical way to give it an ethereal quality. The patches of colour in the background are a mix of tones which again helps create the unreal impressionistic atmosphere.
A2 size – soft graphite stick and white chalk on a painted acrylic background.
This exercise asked us to choose at least six objects of different shapes and sizes, a mixture of regular shapes and irregular shapes and draw the image on at least A2 size.
I started with just sketching some basic shapes in my large sketchbook:
We were asked to collect a selection of objects with different surface textures and experiment with depicting the textures in our sketchbooks.
The first object was actually a wool hat but I concentrated on the texture of just a section of the knitted part. Using pencil I wanted to try and get the repetitive pattern of the knit but also show the irregularities in the texture as parts had been stretched and twisted slightly. I then concentrated on just one strand of the wool to try and capture the softness and cable like qualities. Again zooming in further the final two wool sketches are using different types of graphite sticks to concentrate on just the softness of the texture.
In contrast, my next object was a hard plastic button, as I had struggled with the hard plastic nature of the lego brick I wanted to try different ways to get this quality in 2D. Again I tired to use different materials to capture the hard texture, pencil was first and again I struggled with this. I then drew around the button to get the exact shape and used charcoal sticks to focus on the hard outline created by the button. The third drawing was using a black ink pen and simple cross hatching and the fourth section were experimental drawings using a mix of pencil and pastel, this time focusing on the shine element.
The third texture was a soft piece of cloth. Again starting with pencil I tried to show the soft pillowy texture with a very quick outline drawing. Using some acrylic paint I then focused on the detailed texture the cloth made when itself was used to apply the paint. I like the effect this produced so tried to copy it using some soft grey ink and a mixture of firm and soft brushes. The final drawing in this section was experimenting with some new water soluble pastels to see if I could portray this soft texture.
The final item was a metal key. Again I wanted to try and concentrate on the shine as I didn’t think I had done this well earlier. The top left drawing is using watercolours and I found this difficult to get the shiny texture and so switched below to pencils and ust concentrating on the cylinder of the key tried to get this shine to come through. The final two images are focusing on the end part of the key which when you touch you can feel the squares pressing into your skin. To show this I used ink and the actual key as a stamp and then I used these shapes underneath to do a ‘walk the line’ type drawing just using a black pen.
My final experiment (for now) with texture was using a frottage technique:
I used a thinner piece of paper than my sketchbook paper and a soft graphite stick to create an impression of different surfaces. The surfaces were: a key, wooden floor, terracotta tiles, lemon zester, plastic clothes peg, wool rug, metal cupboard handle and a brick.