Olives and mark-making

I remained intrigued by the shapes, surfaces and tones of the gnarled olive trees growing amid limestone blocks in Mallorca’s mountains.  I was reflecting on a workshop I had attended with fellow artist blogger, Outside Authority, led by artist Oliver Lovley, where we concentrated on building shapes with different pencil marks.  Searching for guidance I found this sketch, on the News Illustrator Facebook home page, owned, it turns out, by Richard Johnson, field artist and journalist for the Washington Post.   His draughtsmanship is beautiful, skilled and illustrative.  I used a photograph taken in Mallorca and sought to emulate his mark-making technique for this drawing.

Here is another, earlier attempt done standing in the shade on one side of the road, looking at a tree apparently grafted onto a stump leaning over a fence.  The picture is on a much smaller page and more textured surface and I resorted to brushed water to merge the marks, which sort of missed the point of the exercise.

In the English Midlands, trees are mundane by comparison.  Here are three sketches of the same fallen log, eaten from inside by a fungus erupting in strange black fruiting bodies.  These too were undertaken with Oliver Lovley’s workshop and Richard Johnson’s technique in mind.