It was at my artist in residency at Mountain Seas on Flinders Island that inspired me to focus on trees. Not just any tree, but melaleucas. I love their canopies, the way the top parts catch the light while the underneath is in deep shade. I love the shape of them ~ flat areas and crevasses. But I also love their trunks and branches, which twist and bend. When they are massed together there is a rhythm to the shapes.
I am obsessed by these trees. I try to move on, but I keep coming back, either to try them in a new way or perfect what I have been doing. I have used pencil
I have painted with watercolour
I have worked them in yarn. This was probably the least satisfactory way of creating them, but it did lead me onto creating embroidered landscapes.
They all flowed from the Flinders Island experience, where I saw the melaleucas massed together. The trip across the Nullarbor has fuelled my obsession in a different way. The trees there are not melaleucas and, while there are hundreds of square kilometres of them, they are individual trees. I am not sure what species they actually are, and at the moment, that is unimportant to me. Like the melaleucas it is the shape of the canopy and the sculptural branches and trunks that make my creative heart sing.
Maybe you look at these photos and think “Nice pictures, but iI don’t quite get the obsession”. I love them partly because they dovetailed so nicely with the melaleucas, so similar, and yet they shimmered in the wind. Partly because I had to wonder about the evolutionary process. What advantage is there to have such spindly branches? (Bendy branches help in the wind, I guessed, and maybe thinner trunks help move water more efficiently. Any thoughts?) But largely because when you are travelling a thousand kilometres (and another thousand back) staring out the window, you do get a bit obsessed by what you are looking at. I found I was trying to capture the individual trees in my mind.
So, the trees sat there for a couple of weeks and a couple of thousand kilometres. It wasn’t until I came home that I realised two things had come together ~ the trees and a set of oil pastels that were a Christmas present in Western Australia. And this is what is coming out…
The oil pastels allow me to smudge and blend and get carried away with colour combinations. I can layer colours over each other and drag pastels through areas. Then the trunks and branches have the delicacy of the ink. That’s like doodling! Mostly I use black ink pens, but I have been experimenting with different coloured inks. (I show some of my experimentation on my Instagram feed, AnneLawson54.)
Some close up photos so you can see how the oil pastel creates luscious textures and combinations of colour.
So far they are all either A5 or A4 size, but I am planning bigger ones. They are so satisfying, and such a contrast to the detailed work in my botanic art paintings!
Most of the paintings are available in my Etsy shop AnneLawsonArt. There are details of each if you are interested in finding out more. Some of the other drawings I have shown you in this post are there too. However you don’t have to buy through Etsy if you don’t want to. You can email me at email@example.com and we can sort things out.