out of the woods

sketchbook drawings - in the woods trees gnarled oak tree trunk

gnarled oak tree trunk

sketchbook drawings - oak bark in the woods

oak bark

sketchbook drawings - trees stripped bark in the woods

stripped bark

sketchbook drawings - young leaning tree

young leaning tree

sketchbook drawing - pollard trees in the woods

pollard trees

sketchbook drawings woodland - upturned dead tree with roots

upturned dead tree with roots exposed

sketchbook drawings in woods - tree with split branches

tree with split branches

sketchbook drawings - trees and bark in the woods

[sketchbook drawings... in the woods, september 2009]

after a week of teaching, it was a relaxing break to find a couple of hours of solitude by more drawing in the woods… it is not all green leaves; there are knotty and gnarled tree trunks to touch, cracked and split bark surfaces, smaller pollards and spindly saplings, the felled and fallen branches left to season or decay into the leafy carpet. the greenest signs of growth are mostly in the woodland’s high canopy…

[the artist measuring an old oak tree...]

i had previously learnt from the woodland trust that ancient trees can be age-estimated by the number of hugs around the tree trunk at 1.5m high. this oak tree measured about three and two thirds in hugs, making it about 350-400 years old, but dense woodland may make trees grow more slowly than those situated on more open land.

later, on the way back, i went into the local charity shop, whereupon i saw on a crowded bookshelf a small moss green paperback book, with the one word clare on the spine. opening it at a random page, i came upon these words:

mere withered stalks and fading trees
and pastures filled with hills and rushes
are all my fading vision sees

[decay, by john clare]

[out of the woods; out of focus...]