As I mentioned a few posts back, one of my projects for this year is a long term creative study of trees.
To start with I’m gathering information in the form of an art journal/sketchbook/scrapbook type thing. The book itself is a type that I’ve used a few of and I like the simplicity of it and the paper is smooth and of a good weight. Also, they are cheap. There’s no need to get precious about using them. I’ve actually just ordered some more through Artist Trading Post (one of the partners of Wanderlust), £1.75 for A4, £1.25 for A5 and £3.75 for A3 (none of my links are affiliate, I get no money from any of my posts, these are just personal recommendations or preferences).
So far I’ve started looking at colour, texture, species names, words and phrases, seasons, ways trees are used, the details of trees, trees in literature/art/culture etc. I’ve used collage, bark rubbing, leaf prints, photos and taped in leaves and twigs.
I’ve found the language around trees interesting and the related mythology and symbolic use of trees. For example, the inner part of the trunk is called heartwood and some people claim that Ogham, an early Medieval language, was based on trees. Beech is associated with femininity and is often consider the queen of British trees, where the Oak is the king. There’s also the ever changing nature of trees and the alleged celtic tree calendar (the internet seems divided about the authenticity of this with sceptics saying that it was inspired by by Robert Graves).
I’m enjoying this stage of following ideas like following a branch of a tree, twisting off in different directions to see if the idea bears fruit. Techniques I’m interested in playing with include using trees for dyeing paper or fabric, chromatography, and the experiment where you use food dye to show how a plant drinks water.