Monday, January 26, 2009

the forest OR the trees

I put up my first inklings of a portfolio, consistently titled Vital Creations. Check it out, you'll be pleased!

Meanwhile, since my art jobs are currently scribal rather than drawing based, I've been running headlong into all my trouble areas of art.

Today my challenge is forests.
This, for example, is a perfectly acceptable photo of a forest. But my challenge is in drawing natural-looking forests without photo reference. The epicenter of my challenge lies in the natural randomness of an ecosystem. The different parts of a forest - the diversity of species, natural arrangement of trees, lighting effects, ground cover, etc. - all add up to a reality that is obviously far greater than the sum of its parts. Forests are representatives of nature's complexity, and so creating a drawing that is detailed and comprehensive of a forest is like encapsulating nature for a moment.

I broke it down and focused on foregrounds:

This is a scene from the New York Botanical Garden, near my apartment. It's a study done from the skywalk in the rainforest room of the conservatory. I tried to get the complex plant forms drawn as quickly and accurately as possible.

This drawing above was going to be a prehistoric ecosystem, but never got past this stage. I tried to include plants that would have had ancient representatives, like magnolia and cypress, but didn't use photo reference, so it wasn't going to be accurate enough to be a scientific illustration.
I drew the above sketch while on the phone. I tried to use value to create depth, which is different in a dense forest. That's also what I tried to do here. This all partially stemmed from the consistent depiction of dinosaurs in empty spaces. Sometimes that's appropriate, but one amazing thing about good art is that it can encapsulate an entire world in just one piece of art (check out examples of Doug Henderson's art).

And one last sketch of a forest. I'll return to this theme for sure.


  1. my blog is way cooler. but i like yours just fine. i am now a "follower" of your blog. i don't like it though, i am not the follower type, i am more of a leader. good work d. keep it up and maybe someday you'll get paid for the magnificent work you do.

  2. How about just paid?

    Yeah, more freelance work would be nice...