This painting grew out of a personal study I had been doing in my A3 sketchbook on how artists use LINE in their work. This study came about because of my ongoing interest in drawing. I looked at the work of several artists and began to see how LINE can be used expressively and not just as an outline. One of the artists I looked at was Andy Goldsworthy – I love his work in the landscape and saw his use of LINE in many of the sculptures as echoing the intricacies and delicacy of nature.
A section of his work in his book, WOOD, concentrates on a vast, ancient oak tree and the images here reminded me of the images I saw in the Botanical Gardens in Sydney of ancient Moreton Bay Figs which are huge, sculptural trees with enormous roots and vast branches. These images all came together for me and I decided to try to express the beauty of these huge trees in all their grace and strength.
Some preliminary planning was done in the sketchbook mainly in regard to textures and colour. The painting itself happened in 20 minutes of hectic creative activity – there seemed to be water, paint, inks coming together simultaneously…all flowing in together…with me trying to control yet not control, letting the paint flow into tree-like shapes, adding Indian Ink to see how it would blend, dabbing away drips furiously and blowing through a straw to make use of the puddles of paint forming on the surface of the paper. At the end of 20 minutes I was exhausted! I couldn’t believe how much fun it was but felt to have been on a knife-edge throughout.
The following day I came back to work on the painting and sat looking at it for about half an hour. This may be an entirely wrong decision but I felt I couldn’t touch it! I want to just leave it as it is because it emerged out of pure inspiration and that hasn’t happened to me before! No doubt this is the magic of watercolour!
I’ve really enjoyed using a different format and can see how important it is to make decisions about this kind of thing as part of the preliminary work. The extended landscape shape emphasizes the outreach of the huge branches and I think adds to the power of the image. I would like to do some work on the wonderfully vertical trees of the forest and the success of this image has given rise to some new ideas.