I'd like to share a drawing that Iíve kept a secret since I first thought up this idea back around March of this year. My parents celebrated their 35th anniversary on September 13th. Since it was a milestone year for them, I wanted to make some kind of artwork for them that would be meaningful. I came across several beautiful poems that likened parents to the roots of a tree, the strong, steady foundation that holds everything together. I liked that idea very much. It inspired me to start working on a poem of my own, personalized to mean as much to my mom and dad as possible. I had to work in complete, delicious, secrecy. They are so involved in what I create and what Iím up to in my studio, so I had to go to great effort to keep this a secret.
Early in the summer, as soon as the leaves were full on the trees, I went for camera walks, getting pictures of our trees to go with some sort of tree poem. The tree that has the most sentimentality for our family is the enormous maple tree that is in our front yard, towering over our house. Itís been a part of our lives for a long time. My dad remembers stringing up a tire swing in it as a kid, and my brothers and I used to play in a tire swing from that very tree, and now, my parentsí grandkids have two tire swings hanging in that tree, too. Itís a trusty old tree, complete with wooden board ďstepsĒ nailed onto it from my childhood.
As you can imagine, I decided that this was the tree to draw. As I photographed it, I included our farmhouse, which was build in 1926. My brothers and I grew up in it, and my dad and his brothers and sisters, and even his dad and his brother. Itís got so much history and so many memories for us all. I couldnít draw that tree without this beloved house nestled beneath it, so my plans were made.
I started the drawing on June 17th.
The drawing is clayboard, just the second clayboard Iíve done. Itís a big drawing, as I wanted it to be dramatic for Mom and Dadís wall. Keeping it very secret, I worked on it only when they were nowhere near, and I had to cleverly hide the drawing, the supplies, and all other evidence that I was working on anything in my studio.
Meanwhile, I spent several nights up late in bed, writing and rewriting the poem I wanted to give to them with the drawing. I found some amazing tips on how to paint letters neatly on a wooden board, and I got started on that. It took many hours to neatly paint the poem on the board. Ah, but the wooden sign didnít take long at all compared to the drawing.
The house part of the drawing was by far the most challenging. I definitely do not have a mathematical brain, and all of these angles and corners and straight lines were certainly out of my comfort zone. I spent many hours (days, even) with a straight edge and a pen, drawing and re-drawing all of those squares and lines and shapes over and over until I finally felt things were in place. I then got to work building values, which was done using various shades of gray pens.
I am happy to say that my parents were both completely unaware I was working on anything. I never thought I could keep this a secret all summer long. I was so excited to give this to them, and they seemed pretty excited to get it, too.
The clayboard drawing measures 16 x 20 inches in size. It is made with a set of Faber-Castell Pitt Artist Pens (the Manga set of 8), some other very fine pens for detail and texture, a couple of different X-Acto knives, a fiberglass brush, some other scratchboard tools, and steel wool to remove smudges or marks in larger areas.
Ok, at long last, here are the pictures. Unfortunately, I had trouble getting photos to accurately represent this clayboard. The photos do not do this drawing justice, but they were about the best I could do. I did not take one single progress photo Ė I couldnít afford any evidence to be found!
A few close-ups.
Here is the poem I painted on the wood sign.
And finally, the complete artwork display.
C&C welcome. Thanks for looking!