The Artist Emerges

The wolf pine now howls at the fall foliage. White pine, Petersham

After many months, I just looked up and realized just how late it’s gotten- while I was busy, the forest changed from a symphony of green to an arboreal fiesta of reds and yellows. People are stuffed into coats and scarves with raw chilled hands plunged in pockets for warmth. The harvest is in, my project is done. It’s a wrap. It’s time to go home.

Lovellville Mill in Holden, Mass. A 19th Century textile mill that was built on the edge of a double waterfall.

I’ve learned various things from my odyssey in the woods- all about heirloom apples and ox-milled apple cider, how an ice-house works, early American taverns and roadhouses, and how to use Google for finding 18th century farm journals, among other things…but what it comes down to is this:

The forest is the story.

19th century water-powered cider mill dam, Nelson's Brook, Petersham.

People are tied to the land, and this land was, and still is, shaped by people. The New England forest is filled with artifacts and relics, skeletons and ghosts, and is in itself an artifact of human history.

Wing Spooner 's malt mill, built sometime in the late 1700s, worked through the early 1800s. Ale, anyone?

There are a couple of new pages with lots more artwork, and there’s lots more to come as soon as I get to finish scanning it all in. I’ve been a poor correspondent, I know. It was necessary to keep low to the ground, to go to a quiet place. The woods were perfect.  Thoreau said, “Shall I not have intelligence with the earth? Am I not partly leaves and vegetable mould myself?”

Excuse me while I brush away the leaves and mould, and return myself to the world.

22 thoughts on “The Artist Emerges

  1. Stefanie Graves says:

    I love that porcupine! He almost literally tumbles off the page. And the light in your drawings is amazing. Even in what I perceive to be deeper parts of the forest are lit with magic. You make it look so easy.

  2. murr brewster says:

    You can just stay away as long as you need to, as long as we get to see the haul eventually. Some people lay low for years but they’re just watching television.

    And I agree with Stefanie. Every now and then I decide I’m going to take a sketchbook with me and just do rocks. Like you, I say to myself. If you can do it, I can do it, I say to myself.


  3. Cris says:

    Wonderful drawings! And what a great project this has been for you. I will send this link to my drawing students – they will love what you have done with color in your pencil drawings. I would like to also send them the link to your lessons on drawing birds, but I can’t locate it. Would you please post that again or reply to my comment? Thanks so much.

  4. artybecca says:

    Gorgeous,as always. I could look at those drawings for days. The rocks, the surface of the water, the highlight on the edge of the tree trunk against the dark water, the bold linework …sigh.

  5. Sarah Atlee says:

    Great compositions on the cider mill dam and Lovelville drawings. Those bulky stones are so interesting alongside the delicate activity of leaves and water. So glad you enjoyed your time out East!

  6. julie Zickefoose says:

    Yeah! Love it all–the light on the wolf pine and the water and rocks, and the unobservant porcupine. I’ve sat that close to an unaware skunk. I guess with armor like they both have, you don’t have to be too observant. Never knew they grazed. Sorry I’ll miss you in MA but I’m glad you’re headed home to OKC.


  7. Tim Wootton says:

    Simply amazing, thrill-a-minute sketch journey through ecosystems and thought-waves. It’s enough to make a grown person weep with frustration knowing the levels one has to try and reach, but always that slightly self-depracating and humble narrative gees us up. You are a breath of air – of the freshest and most zestful ilk.

  8. Karl says:

    I’ve worked with understory mixed-species flocks in Brazil and have used sketches for ID purposes during my dissertation, it is a pretty difficult task. Your sketch from that Peruvian flock is truly amazing.

  9. jane tims says:

    Hi. Have you been in our grey woods… I have a tree that looks just like the one at the top of your post! I like the rocks and the look of the mosses on them. Jane

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