Mountain Air – I notice some things.

After reading of John Ruskin last summer, how he recommended that everyone learn to draw as a way of learning to attend to God’s creation, I felt it almost my Christian duty to at least make an effort. Normally I don’t want to take the time for a new challenge like that, so I had put it off until I knew I would have these uninterrupted hours at the cabin.

An ant visited my sketch pad.

Betty Edwards, in her book Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain, was my instructor. I enjoyed some of the exercises one day on the cabin deck, and the next I walked over to Gumdrop Dome and attempted to draw a very complicated scene.

It was a surprising pleasure, concentrating on all the lines and angles in front of me as I perched on a boulder, soaking up one of my favorite venues in a brand new way, noticing with my hand transferring what my eyes processed through my mind — for about an hour. Then suddenly I was done for, too brain weary/bored to finish my impossible drawing.

I picked up my tools and hiked a little farther around the dome where there was a simpler picture in view. This will be easier, I thought. So I sat on another rock and started in on this slope of the dome with a tree growing out of it, photo at right.

But no, granite domes and trees are just way too intricate for this beginner, and I gave that sketch up within a few minutes. It was soothing after my exertions to take out my camera and do instead some more familiar kind of focusing on these natural wonders.

tree bark

My primary goal in taking this little walk was unrelated to my drawing exercises anyway. When we’d hiked here with our friends earlier in the summer, while the other three were on top of the dome with the camera, I’d walked around the side and noticed the dearest little tree growing out of the rock and seeming to lay its “head” down on the stone, in a manner reminiscent of the way we children in First Grade used to lay our head on our desks every day after lunch for Rest Time.

This is how it had looked to me then:

I had tried very hard to concentrate my mental forces and memorize the way that tree looked, so that when I arrived back at the cabin I’d be able to sketch it. The results weren’t satisfying, though, and I’d contented myself with the thought that Next Time I would go locate it again, camera in hand. Here was my next time, a mere two months later.

As I walked around the tree I saw that it’s not resting on the rock at all. But the poor thing must have had its bones permanently bent by snow as a child. It will always be a hunchback, but with the honorable position of pointing to a beautiful granite dome, showing the climbers, “This way to the top!”

Here is another complex arrangement of nature that I didn’t even consider taking pencil and paper to, rock, trees, sky and clouds. This one seems to demand colored pencils:

At last, the picture I know you all have been dying to see, the result of my feeble exploration of the mountainside with the Right Side of My Brain:

12 thoughts on “Mountain Air – I notice some things.

  1. Drawing takes real concentration, I find. So I'm lazy and don't do it. But I like to. It's a conundrum.
    Your sketch is something to be proud of – you did it, you stuck with it.

    Poor little hunchback tree.


  2. I love that little bent tree!

    Your art is actually very detailed for a beginner! Is that the method where you draw with your left hand (if you are right handed)?? It looks good to me.


  3. OH, GJ, I think your sketch is very, very good! I like the shading on the rocks particularly. And the tree needles are good as well — I find trees so hard to do. I can't transition from the trunk/branches to the leaves. It always looks like 3rd grade drawing 🙂 Good work! I'm glad you found it satisfying. The photo you took just above the sketch is really beautiful also — wonderful light and shade on the rocks!


  4. I have thought about getting that book. I think it would do me so much good to practice those exercises. I like how you walked around and looked at that scene and the angles you saw. I bought myself a sketch book to use this fall, and I started off really good but was soon frustrated because it is such a challenge for me. That was when I saw that book and thought I need it.

    Oh, I have always been a fan of John Ruskin too. Have you ever read how Diana Wynn Jones was sent to the Lakeside area in England during World War Two and stayed in his house and went to the attic and found his sketches and erased them so she could draw? It makes me laugh every time.

    It is beautiful here today, finally. Have a nice week.


  5. Yor sketching should please you in your spirit as well as in the beauty of the finished product. I find as I mature that time expended in certain activity gives great satisfaction.


  6. I think you've done a marvelous job of noticing with your pencil and paper.

    The more we layer our lives with these kinds of exercises the more we shall see the beauty and be blessed by it.

    Thank you for sharing this lovely post and what you learned for John Ruskin.


  7. Oh, that tree! I like the idea that it's resting its head on a desk.

    I've always wanted to do right-brain drawing. Drawing is one of the best ways I know to get lost in deep time. And it does make you notice things you might not have attended to.



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