Knotholes appear usually after a tree loses a bough or a limb. The tree grows a collar, which is its way of sealing and healing its wound. In most cases it works, and you can see these beautiful shapes, which always bulge outward. When the wound does not heal, rot and decay will develop, as illustrated in the large center sketch below. This also creates an interesting design for the artist. Look for a definite pattern taking place in the cavity. It is the way the grain of the tree flows: The soft wood decays first, leaving the hardwood. This erosion creates beautiful, intricate designs. Do you see the leaves growing on the side of the tree in the sketch in the center of the page? Those three leaves together indicate poison ivy. If you are going to work outdoors, become acquainted with the characteristic three leaves so that you can avoid them. And yes, poison ivy does climb.
In the three-step drawing opposite, I've shown you an easy way
sized the bark around the knots and added some darks here and there. I picked out a few highlights with my kneaded eraser, and satisfied with the results, I sprayed a couple of light coats of workable matte fixative. (Be sure to let each coat dry before applying another coat.)
to create these knotholes. I began with a 2B charcoal pencil on a piece of 4-ply museum board. Without too much pressure on the pencil, I made a loose sketch without being too concerned with the accuracy of the bark. My main intention was to capture a fairly good resemblance of the knotholes and the flow of the bark around them. In the middle sketch, I used a piece of medium-vine charcoal and covered the whole drawing except for the knotholes. Then, with my stomp, I smoothed out the marks of the charcoal and softly hit the collar around the knots to remove some tone. In the final step, with the vine charcoal, I carefully empha
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