The Seven Training Sketches

Like soul landscapes, these nature-themed works express something of how nature is experienced in the inner life of the artist as well as revealing the invisible forces that shape the landscape.

The works are based on the Seven Training Sketches for the Painter. The Seven series are also called the Friedwart sketches, as they were given to the teachers in an early Steiner school at the Goetheanum, in order to develop the students’ feeling for nature’s moods. A favourite motif of mine is ‘Sunlit tree by a waterfall‘, seen here in watercolour on white and black backgrounds, in pastel and as a mural in a living room. Such nature themes are well-suited to enlivening large spaces.

Here are two more interpretations of sketches from the Seven series, Trees in Sunny Air and Trees in Storm. Trees are like the lungs of the earth, breathing between the condensed ground and the expansive skies. In this motif, we can see changes in atmospheric pressure, when the ordered canopies are blown into chaos and the dynamics of moving air forms becomes apparent in the disordered forms of the foliage.


Other sketches in the Seven series include a sunrise/sunset, a head sketch and a Madonna sketch, the basis of my ‘reinterpreted’ ikons seen here.

Below are another two tree motifs from the Nine series: Blossoming/Fruiting Trees and Summer Trees. Here we see quite different processes at work, in the changing of the trees from within as they move through the cycle of the year.

Like the Nine Training Sketches, which focus on bringing the artist to an understanding of the objective but invisible laws of Nature, both series explore the processes in nature rather than their physical representation. In this way, the viewer becomes more awake to the ‘becoming’ and ‘dying away’ nature of Nature, part of a greater cycle of movements, change, flow and ebb that is often invisibly taking place continually around us.

Both series form a part of an ongoing research process that trains the soul ‘configuration’ of the artist through their repeated practice, through immersion into the themes again and again, using different mediums and techniques.Although these motifs reflect the inner moods and processes of Nature, it is impossible not to imbue them with something of the soul mood of the environment in which the artist lives, in this case the Australian landscape.

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