Trees are what makes this world what it is, through photosynthesis we get oxygen, trees absorb water and their root systems sustain the earth to enable life, preventing erosion, the environment amongst trees we can enjoy as part of our search for stillness. Woods, jungles, and freestanding trees, all provide life for animals.
So, there are many angles to take to thinking about trees, and as this is potentially a large topic, I have decided to think about trees in nature, as providers of shelter and quietude. I have also already decided what I want to do - I had been intending to weave a tapestry of some sort, based on the idea of trees, and I now have decided to do something site specific using tapestry and drawing. I won't share too much at this stage as there may be technical or permission-related obstacles to what I have in mind. It would be even better if I could incorporate words, but this all needs to be tested out.
So, the course book says we should pull everything out, look at all the drawings, samples etc., but I have decided on tapestry weaving and this will be the starting point for understand which tree-related themes I use, and how they will be developed towards the final work. Certainly there will still be plenty of drawing/painting and photography to do.
Here are a few more drawing-water colours I did of trees recently
I am not convinced I can do representational drawings from observation, this is meant to be an old yew or other pine-like tree and in the drawing it looks more like a willow. In the end I don't think it matters too much, it looks like a tree and that is the most important point at this stage.
This second drawing is of a tree with yellowy-green leaves and next to it stands a small tree with branches that shape the crown in an almost semi-spherical shape with branches that turn down-ward. Behind some very tall oak trees.
There is a remnant of an ancient wall that encloses where these trees stand. I did an abstracted take on the wall.
A diversion of sorts
I also got myself a very fancy tapestry loom, second-hand, a Mirrix loom. It is not big, the maximum width you can warp to is around 30cm, but it has extension rods for making long tapestries or numerous samples in succession. It has a warping bar which basically enables you to mount heddles onto the warp, and a lever to enable the heddles to be drawn. I usually just use the separation of the warp by the frame of the loom itself, and pull out the warp threads when I need to. The heddle approach may force me to have to weave across the width of the loom more evenly than I have done before as I usually have just built up sections as I go along. It is all very new and I am looking forward to trying it out.
Here's the loom, with a blue linen warp, set up for some sample development
I thought that I would try out this loom alongside the development and exploration of the tree theme. I have dyed some cotton, linens, sisal and hemp yarn in blues and browns and thought that I would make some samples based on colour, material and texture that may or may not suggest the tree theme - the main thing initially is to understand how I work with the loom. Design comes later when developing the final piece.
Here are the blue yarns - I really like the way the sisal took the dye (centre two balls). This string was just a roll from the DIY shop, but it is a robust and shiny yarn that will be interesting in a tapestry - it is probably a bit too thick for the fineness of the warp currently mounted.
Here are the browns dyed in 'Koala Brown' from an old Dylon cold water dye - I have found that it goes a very long way, if you soak some elements from the first these bits take the stronger colour, but you can continue to add more yarn or cloth over time to get various lighter tones. I planted a blue ball amongst the browns to show how well they resonate:
You can also see how well the sisal takes the colour (right), and the various tones of brown on the linen and cotton cloths.