Compulsive drawing

I spent most of yesterday outside in a forest. My students had an outdoor day, practicing orienteering. I sat by one of the controls in a deep pine forest and of course I used my time out there for drawing.

I know many artists find a lot of inspiration among tall trees out in the wild, and I enjoy drawing landscapes on the whole, but pine forests… I don´t know, they make me feel a bit claustrophobic. I mean, I like picking berries, mushrooms, or just walking around in them, but when it comes to drawing I suddenly feel like the old saying (at least in Sweden) “I can´t see the forest for all the trees”.

I kind of forced myself to just sit down and draw what´s in front of me. Pine-trees. How inspiring. They are so… vertical. All of them. I couldn´t seem to find any interesting rhythms to capture on paper, and no intriguing compositions either, so I just started drawing one tree – any tree in the bunch, really – and worked on from there. After a while I kind of got the idea that if nothing else, I could at least try to get the values right. The tree-trunks were darker than the background, but lighter towards the top, so I started working with short strokes of my dip-pen to make light and dark. And man, did I regret that before I was done. I think this drawing took me an hour and a half, at least. It´s 13.5×19.5 cm of tiny ink-marks, and it almost drove me crazy.

Now that it´s done, I kind of like it, though. I can actually see a rhythm in it now, AND I like the composition. It was worth it, after all, but I hate this kind of detailed, time-consuming way of drawing. Not looking at it, but doing it. I hate it because once I´ve started something like this, I can´t stop until it´s finished, I get caught in this obsessive drawing behavior, and by the time it´s done I´m exhausted and a bit angry because I even got the idea to start something so tedious…

Still, this drawing fills it´s space well. It´s on the first page of my new sketchbook, and it´s always a good feeling to fill that first page…

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