It’s the way I get to know a tree, through a drawing made with it. It feels more like conversation than observation, and the memory of these intense moments stays with me.
I’m often asked if I use photographs as reference – the answer is both yes and no…
I have thousands of images I’ve taken of every tree that has captured my attention, but I use them to prompt the memories and experience of that meeting rather than as the sole starting point for studio work. My photo archive extends the capacity of my memory rather than replacing it altogether. Also, trees are such three dimensional things, for me drawing from a photo of a tree I’ve never met results in disappointingly lifeless work.
Of course it’s practically quite difficult to bring the whole studio to the woodland, so I’ve evolved a process of finding, sketching, recording and remembering these inspirational trees which sustains my studio work. Photographs and video are essential to that process but, if I’m honest, I’m probably at my happiest on a windy hillside with a sketchbook and a new tree to marvel at.
Here are some other sketchbook tree drawings from this same site, near Duns in the Scottish Borders. You can read more about the location here.