Sunday, January 10, 2010

Trees and balance

Here is a view from behind the Inn on Sugar Hill, where I will be teaching snowcamp in a couple of weeks. I have a few places left in each of the two workshops, so if you want to go, you still can. OK lets take a closer look at that birch out there.

When you draw figures, you look for the balance in the pose. Often when I was studying drawing with Ives Gammell we would drop a plumb line from the base of the neck to see how the figure balanced. Trees balance too. For instance this tree's trunk leans off to the left, but above, the foliage counters that . Here, look at this picture below that I have drawn on .

There it is, the shape or weight of the foliage is balanced above the "feet" just like in a figure. However trees have an advantage that people don't, roots. So we are not really seeing all of the tree when we look for its balance. Imagine if you could nail a model's shoes to the floor, they could lean in one direction without tipping over. Sometimes trees operate like that.There are windswept places where all of the trees lean at impossible angles. There are also trees that have lost limbs that seem out of balance. Many of those with some time to grow, will attempt to regain balance above their base.


Mary Bullock said...

hmmmmmmmmm - do you think that what my mother was trying to do when she nailed my foot to the floor as a child = give me balance??

Stapleton Kearns said...

Did she put the nail near,or through the actual foot? Let me know that and I can give you a better answer.

barbara b. land of boz said...

Stapleton, the view from the Inn looks inspiring, but I must take a raincheck.
Your post on trees should become a MUST READ for landscape painters. I can "see" that you have studied trees. There is no place on earth as comforting as the arms of the forest.
Take care of yourself....You have more post to write!
barbara b. said...

Observation. Recognition. Decisions.Rendering.

Thanks for keeping my eyes (and mind) open and my hands busy.

terry said...

Wow! This is great. I am near Palm Springs CA and I love drawing and painting our Eucalyptus trees. This is a wonderful insight! Please keep writing, we will do our best to give you helpful feedback to perfect your book, and scramble to buy it, when you are happy! Thank you, thankyou.

willek said...

This tree thing is great. I can't wait for the ocean/ seascape segment coming up and you have yet to touch on cloud shadows and their utility in landscape work, the effects of strabismus in occulocation and classical, derivative, hypercounterconstuctionism...

Gary Keimig said...

Great blog, Stapleton. Great information you are imparting.

CM said...

Stape your comparison of the balance of some trees with the balance of the figure gave me an AHA!! moment. I am looking out the window now and even though there are no deciduous trees here I can still see the branches creating balance. In the evergreens too. Thank you again for opening our eyes and making our world a more exciting place.
Corinne McIntyre

billspaintingmn said...

Stape, this balance info helps to sharpen my awareness.
Sensitivity to common sense is a practice sometimes over looked.

Stapleton Kearns said...

Thank you. Here I am writing again.

Stapleton Kearns said...

Don't forget to plug the meter!

Stapleton Kearns said...


Stapleton Kearns said...

Thank you. A book seems so far away. I have a big list of things I need to write about first. Do you remember the whole earth catalog?

Stapleton Kearns said...

I will get to all of that be patient.

Stapleton Kearns said...

I need to write about evergreens to don't I? I have painted lots of those as I have lived in Maine.

Stapleton Kearns said...

Sensitivity, I guess that an artists ought to try to be sensitive.