Friday, April 12, 2013

New Charcoal Drawing Swamp Thing (Big Thicket Cypress)




Swamp Thing
Mark Nesmith
Charcoal on Paper
22" x 30"
2013



 I've always loved the woods.  I spent most of my childhood days roaming the woods behind my home and building forts.  I vividly remember countless field trips to the Big Thicket during summer camp, and the many YMCA Indian Guide camping trips with my father in the piney woods of East Texas.  As an art student at Lamar University I used to take day trips to hike the Big Thicket trails and fill up my sketchbooks with studies of trees and swamps.  My favorite has always been the cypress sloughs.  There's something that feels so ancient, almost primordial, about the cypress trees emerging from the shallow water.   It's almost like you've suddenly stepped back in time and are getting a glimpse of the world before humankind and the progress of civilization began to tame the wild. 

I've made a few attempts at oil paintings of the Big Thicket over the years and never really been satisfied with them.  To me the flickering light filtered through the canopy of trees and the rough texture of the tree trunks lends itself beautifully to charcoal.  Here I've used vine charcoal, compressed charcoal, and even a little Conte crayon and made liberal use of magic rub and kneaded erasers.  In the background I've all but erased the trees carving away at their mass with erasers to simulate the way bright daylight seems pierce the darkness of the forest and dissolve the leaves and branches overhead.    

If you've never hiked the trails through the Big Thicket you need to put it on your to do list.  It's a short drive from Beaumont north on Hwy 69 just past Kountze to the visitor on FM 420.  It's one of the most bio diverse areas in Texas and makes a great little picnic day.




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