I’ve always loved the idea of artist books and have plenty of sketch pads with designs, projects and drawings. So at last, I’ve finally got around to making a hand bound book of my own. It combines three interests of mine, the medieval art style, liner projects that explore a theme and bookbinding.
I’ve put together a couple of books before but this time I decided to do it properly and bought myself the right tools for the job. So with this in mind, my recent art works have been looking at how trees were portrayed by artists through the Late Middle Ages.
From borders to hedgerows
The images start with the heraldic border designs, flowery lines with leaves and buds that dangle down the page and trail across the tops and bottoms. As the church relaxed its attitude to depicting nature, artists increasingly began to explore painting trees.
Their first attempts show lollipop style trees and any parent will be familiar with a green blob on a stick. These gradually developed to a stage where there are tree shapes filled in with leaves.
By the 12th century artists were becoming more and more recognised and with the arrival of Giotto di Bondone the superstar painters had begun. Prior to his fame, artists were merely seen as craftspeople with a technical skill.
Cimabue, Duccio, Martini and the Lorenzetti brothers all brought their own take on nature and with it secured the status of artists in society.
Eventually the way of drawing leaves changed from simple ellipses to more complicated ideas. Here you can see the type of foliage that could have been found throughout the era.
By the end of the 14th century artists had started to nail painting nature and were capable of capturing the rich diversity of trees present in the landscape. It is really interesting to follow how artists, over time, looked at the world around them and experimented in painting vegetation.
Hand bound books
The idea now is to compile these paintings into a leather, hand bound book. I will also make a limited series of 24 watercolour paintings reproduced as digital prints and stitch these into an A5 copy of the original artworks.
If you’re interested in obtaining one of these rare books about the story of Medieval Trees, please email me for further information at –firstname.lastname@example.org