Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Coming to the Woods

I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.

Walden, Henry David Thoreau

When I first went to Lennox Woods although I was entranced with the beauty of the place, I could not have then anticipated its effect on me. After all, I spend a lot of time in woods and fields, outdoors, looking. But, within the forest there is something new to be learned. So I returned, and will continue for all the reasons Thoreau did and for some of my own.

Nothing happens there of any importance, at least by the standards of the world. It is quiet, but not silent, and within that quiet is a constant hum of energy and life. You just have to listen and look.

That's what I did at first, to the exclusion of everything else. It took a while to hear the sounds and actually see what was there. Slowly, the Woods started to reveal themselves to me. This took some time. At that point I began to sketch and look for motifs to paint. But, still mostly just looking. The season was changing from summer to fall and every visit offered new ways to look at the Woods and new color harmonies. Even the sound of the Woods changed with the season. So I kept looking and listening.

value study, graphite

pen and ink

sweetgum trunk study, pen and ink

Then I started to draw. Drawing is the way I introduce myself to a place. It's the way I study it and try to understand it. And because it slows me down, I always learn a lot about not only what I draw, but the place, and what I want to say in paint about it.

oil study

The drawings have a life of their own as works of art, but of course they also form the basis of paintings- ideas for paintings and reference for individual elements. I hope to have them and the ideas they represent stacked up like cordwood, keeping me warm and productive in the studio for a long time to come.

Autumn Sunrise, Lennox Woods
18 x 24


  1. Deborah: your progression through this project and comments makes me feel like my mind can hear the crunching of the ground.

  2. Thanks Judy! Hope all is well with you.