I could re-title this post Looking, Looking and Yet More Looking. Remove colour from the equation. Use only white papers, which is challenging; even a range of tissue papers can prove hard to shape into the subtleties of form found in nature -- stalks are not just stalks, they might be tubes, their surfaces striated or marked in some other way; they might be hard and furrowed or angled. Whole surfaces requiring a range of responses. But, of course, this is the purpose of the exercise and it is intriguing. Here then are my six samples.
Before that though, a word about photography. I was very much hoping to show shadows in my images; they are so much a part of my field experience. However, in Norfolk recently we have had only brightness rather than actual sunshine so you'll notice in some cases I've had to resort to artificial light, hence the difference in colour.
So here is Dandelion, made in crisp white tissue. Each leaf is cut in one piece with a rolled central stem partially pressed flat. On this occasion sunlight was streaming through my window creating double shadows. I've drawn the plant on location, and again at home practising the easy flowing shape of the leaves. This really helped and created in my hand a memory of the shape. This I intend to follow up, creating some plant identification cards. I decided to cut about four styles of leaf and as each isn't symmetrical, flipping it over created even more variety. The stems were cut on the slant and pressed to make contact through the length of the leaf.
I love the mood this image evokes, a sense of secrecy, nature quietly responding to weather and circumstance.
This is Blackthorn, an escapee from the hedge where the plants are still encased in their plastic supports. This photograph shows the difference electric lighting makes. Again, the shadows are a lovely addition and this was achieved by making extra fine rolls of tissue and gluing them on the reverse thus raising the branches. I had thought attaching the side shoots would be difficult, but in fact I was able to replicate the way they shoot out from all angles without squashing the central stems. This sample seems altogether more abstract than Dandelion.
This shows an across-the-field view of last year's growth as it had broken down in the field. Again, it is an abstract which the shadows enhance.
These stalks are made from softer tissue and in off white. First I crumpled the tissue, then rolled it in different widths and lengths to create the variety I'd observed. The edge of each stalk was torn along its length with some only partially glued down. This detail wasn't completely true to what I saw but I felt indicated age. What was true to my observation were the striations I tried to show by scoring and half cutting the tissue along its length.
My next texture, shows clumps of grass which have taken root on the rough ground. Unlike the three previous examples the tissue interpretation is trying to indicate background and foreground, though I now realise I haven't really shown the rocks or the true unevenness of the ground. What instead I've concentrated on is the way in which quite small clumps of grass send out long blades across the soil's surface. In no time these link one clump with another covering the ground in a thick green mat. I've cut the tissue blades in groups, some folded then glued them onto a circle of thick paper. The runners are extra long blades, their ends are rolled and then inserted into another rolled blade to create the required length. In fact what I seem to have done is avoid responding to the range of different textures within the image. The sample is mounted on black card.
So, in answer to my question, yes it is. Less contrast with the background, which this time is a beautiful soft grey paper wrapper from my Khadi paper book, is better. Plus simply sprinkling the twigs and leaves allowing them to fall where they will results in something less defined.
Back once more to things linear. I found the hedgerow in spring really appealing and in fact interpreted one of these images in charcoal.
- Oil Seed Rape plants
- Queen Anne's Lace
- Strong vertical growth of mixed wild flowers including Ribwort Plantain, Sandwort, Wild Carrot