The Kick-About #81 ‘Tannenwald’

Charles Sheeler, our prompt for our previous Kick-About, transformed his man-made landscapes into flattened, graphical patchworks. Klimt’s painting, Tannenwald is similarly transformative, magicking a forest of ubiquitous pine trees into something as tactile and richly textured as tapestry and is this week’s muse. Happy browsing – and you’ll find all previous editions of The Kick-About here.

Vanessa Clegg

“This began as a photo I was given a while ago, so, after ripping it up and reassembling, it reminded me of those infuriating ball games where you have to get all the balls into all of the minuscule dips… Then, looking at Klimt’s painting, the fragmented style of tiny brush marks drew me towards the cake decorations: hundreds and thousands so… with a Pritt Stick and sprinkles, I attempted to reconstruct (or is that deconstruct?) the artwork. Not altogether successful, but a good session of ‘playtime’, and, if cakes are ever baked in this kitchen, I’ll be prepared!”

Phil Cooper

“I love Klimt’s landscape paintings more than his super-famous images with figures (that fetch a lot more money at auction but give me one of the landscapes any day). His sense of colour and the mysterious beauty with which he imbues the trees and flowers is rather magical. 

Berlin is surrounded by forests. There are some particularly fine old beech forests about a couple of hours north of the city. But for my response this week I’ve gone small scale and made images of a nest made of twigs I found on my balcony. I noticed a wood pigeon flitting about on the balcony the other day and when I went to trim the broom that had finished flowering, I found a nest. Unfortunately, the pigeons took fright at my bobbing about so much and they abandoned the nest. I photographed it and played around with the photos. I’d like to move on a step from the photos to draw from them, something on big sheets of paper with charcoal. It wasn’t a very elaborate nest – pigeons really are pretty lazy at this, a few twigs plonked on a surface, and they’re done – but I liked the idea that these twigs would create a protective space for the eggs to be laid and the new chicks to hatch. The twigs will then get blown away and rot down into the earth to feed the trees that make more twigs for more nests, on and on…” / /

Francesca Maxwell

“Fabulous painting by Klimt, just the kind of world I see and paint. He uses the dotted, fragmented brushstrokes to create the light and texture with beautiful contrasting colours. I tend to use lines to create a similar effect and I like to play and explore the incorporeity of objects and their interaction with the background. Here is my version of a pathway in the woods.” Acrylic ink on watercolour paper, 76×56 cm.

Jan Blake

“The first question I asked myself was ‘what is the difference between a forest and a wood’, as the Klimt painting suggests tall forests of straight, giant pine forests glowing in dappled Autumn light. The answer was we have fewer and smaller areas that can support species such as heaths, open grassland and farmland, of which forests are part. The term woodlands is considered to be land covered with trees and vegetation, but in the UK tend not to be as large as forests elsewhere in Europe. Most of the pine forests are in Scotland and they still have game to hunt there. The pencil drawing I have made is my view of a ‘plantation’ of new trees of the same species on the Burton Agnes estate in Yorkshire. I think they are ash trees and the repetitive nature of their arching limbs and the grasses between them, as if at sea, captured my love of movement, a complete contrast to the stillness of the Klimt. However, I couldn’t help sharing this photo of a new woodland I helped to plant and nurture that relates more to the Klimt painting. When it matures, the mixture of species will give a completely different aspect of tangled branches and non-uniform shapes.”

Charly Skilling

“I was thinking about Klimt’s ‘Tannenwald’ whilst playing with some oil pastels and ended up with a sketch that was recognisably “woody” but offered little in the way of texture. However, it did suggest a possible means of using yarns of differing weights and ply to build the textures (and colours) that I sought. The different tensions within the fabric, created by using different yarns, caused the shapes to twist and contort, producing trees more reminiscent of ancient woodlands and fairy tales than Klimt’s pines. It felt more like ‘tree-wrangling’ at times than crochet, but I learn new stuff with every Kick-About. ” 

Kerfe Roig

“One thing that struck me about all the reproductions of this painting is the wide variation of color.  I’m sure none are ‘true’ to the actual work. I wanted to do some embroidery, but got little done. I think the concept was valid, the execution not so much.  I’m not sure where it will go next. I may pull some of the ground stitches out to begin with. Just part of the creative process: it happens often to me, anyway, roads that end up going nowhere. But you always learn something.”

always un
finished, the hand’s work
through mind’s eye–
branching off, elusive, en
igmatic as time /

Phil Gomm

“So not a pine forest, but a beech wood carpeted with bluebells. These photographs were produced by over-exposing a lot to introduce lots of white into the image and blow out the details to produce as impressionist a vibe as possible. The leaves on the trees themselves were innately pointillist because they were small, trembling and translucent and the bluebells themselves didn’t seem credible at all – all that consistent colour, and so much of it. The moodier images were over-exposed to push the highlights of the leaves, which appeared to float like shoals of neon fish in the darker bits of the wood, and then the shadows were pulled back into the image for contrast.

Marion Raper

“I have a fascination for any type of trees and really enjoy painting branch shapes and the spaces between them. I know Klimt was more about straight tall pine trees, but I just prefer more movement. In my garden I have two twisty old hawthorn trees with a holly tree between them, which I used as my reference. After painting them I added some gold patterned paper. It turned out more like Clarice Cliff unfortunately!  But hey, it was really satisfying to do.”

James Randall

“Klimt was a young James’ favourite – all that pattern and vibrancy. I tried to sketch up a photo of a tree on the way to a ramshackle holiday rental in a national park along a well rutted sandy dirt road, all gridded up and from a photo. I stopped before adding the tree textures for this image. The trees were black-barked and very dramatic. I hope to paint it up as a momento from one of those blue sky magic moments in life when all seriousness is shed (probably bounced off along that torturous dirt road!).”

Graeme Daly

“I’ve always been fascinated by the detailed scratchings of birch trees, like little beady eyes amongst the white trunks. Back home in Ireland, down a picturesque route swarmed by sleepy sheep, there is a gorgeous forest of sitka spruces and birch trees. My neighbours don’t bat an eyelash when I hop over the fence with my camera in hand. I took a bunch of these photos at different times of the year and made an impressionistic mixed media series a while ago called Lenticels, where I painted over the photos, mimicking the same textures to encapsulate my impressions of this magical place. I loved this series and happened to take more photos this past winter and made a few more to add to the series for this week’s Klimt prompt.”  

@graemedalyart / / / /

And you never know; if you look into Klimt’s pine forest very closely, you might just see a jabberwocky lumbering between all those tall, straight trees… Beware!

The Kick-About #80 ‘Charles Sheeler’

Textile artist, Sheila Hicks, inspired our last Kick-About together, and it was all soft, cushiony forms, meshes and string. This time out, we’re keeping company with Charles Sheeler and his crisp, clean expressions of modernity.

Marion Raper

“I really love the work of Charles Sheeler. How exciting it must have been to live during the 1920s and 30s when industrial buildings provided such a wealth of artistic material. For my first attempt at a painting I began by sticking a lot of newspaper down and did a rough copy of some factories from a magazine, but I felt it needed to be much sharper. Secondly I used an old picture I did some time ago and revamped it.  I have to be honest and say I am not altogether sure where the original inspiration came from, but the colour scheme and shapes are all my own work.

Graeme Daly

“Sheeler’s modernist work makes me ponder the industrial revolution, the building up and tearing down of sprawling metropolises in all their in-betweens of metal, cement and beams. The shapely blocks of colour makes me think of movement, like a time-lapse of something that is always being altered. I created my film by modelling quick and dirty shapes in 3D, then tinkered with the camera to pull the focal length back and added many of the shapes in a line, through which the camera cranes. I added little movements here and there to the shapes to make things feel dynamic.”

@graemedalyart / / / /

Charly Skilling

“When I was browsing through Sheeler’s paintings, I was struck by how clean and colourful his painting is, while his subjects  are often grim and grubby industrial sites.  What’s more, many of his works look like exercises in perspective. Amoskeag Mills 2 particularly caught my eye. A few weeks ago, I decided it might be time to own up to my ignorance and signed-up for an art class to learn some of the basics. (See the effect you guys have on people!). 3 weeks into a 14 week course and perspective is much on my mind, worrying about horizons, vanishing points, and 2-, 3- and multi-point perspectives. I don’t know what the opposite of a ‘Precisionist’ is, but I think, as an “Im-precisionist”, I’ve found my genre!”

Vanessa Clegg

“This was interesting, as I’m ashamed to say that I hadn’t come across Sheeler but liked the way he shifted between painting and photography… Wish I could have spent longer exploring the theme, but had to be satisfied by a couple of off-centre shots (lying on the ground) of the Arts complex where I have my studio.”

Phil Gomm

“One of the things guarding against the prettification of my home town is the presence of an aggregate factory slap-bang in the harbour. With Sheeler’s flattened abstractions in my sights, and likewise his use of colour, I went out to photograph the factory buildings, with the idea of collaging them, so moving quickly beyond this first act of recording them. Whitstable is celebrated for its skyscapes. and on this day, the clouds were so much lace and the light was pin-prick clean. Had my camera been old school, I’d have anyway plumped for a polarising filter by which to pull more drama and detail from the clouds; in the instance of these images, I polarised my images in post and licked my lips as the skies offered up all this tonal range and texture. The dystopian vibes of these photographs diverge at once from Sheeler’s calming expressions of modernity; my photographs remind me of sets from science-fiction movies; they’re all a bit Metropolis and I don’t mind saying I’m very happy about that. I walk past this factory all the time; it’s never felt this cinematic before.”

James Randall

“Charles Sheeler created great strongly composed images. So I took off with my camera around Brisbane city and really didn’t take any inspired pics. I did take some textures; a couple were of grey black hoardings on a building site, which I overlayed with a shadow (reversed to be white) of a collapsible clothes dryer. This combination looked like search lights over a ‘war sky’ whatever that is. Thus I lost sight of Mr Sheeler and fell down the war rabbit hole – in Australia there has been so much news coverage about defence spending and new nuclear powered subs – having trouble with government’s spending of tax payer’s money on weapons, while our less wealthy citizens go homeless. Any how, I kept layering parts of my city photos and distorted or modified them and finally added a couple of quick Illustrator drawn figures.”

Kerfe Roig

“I was immediately drawn to Sheeler’s Against the Sky a Web has Spun, as much for the title as the painting. I made a cosmic collage, simplifying the forms, and embroidered a web on top, then wrote a short poem to accompany it.”


our limitations
turn inside
out expand
beyond the webs we build to
house infinity /

And from abstractions inspired by concrete jungles…

Throwback Friday #150 Meadow Misc. (2015)

I’ve spent a good deal of time getting lost in fields, as for me, there is nothing more transportive than a wall-to-wall vista of meadow grass as its colours and textures are transformed by the breeze and by the light. I can’t recall where this field is or what I was doing there back in 2015, but I would have been drawn to the grid lines of the fence against that strip of rapeseed and the cross-hatching of the grass in the foreground.

Throwback Friday #149 Water Lilies (2015)

I can’t recall exactly where this photograph was taken, except it was one of those lovely large houses with lovely large gardens somewhere in Kent, and it was a sunny day in 2015 and we were just mooching about enjoying the view. The breeze was doing nice things to the surface of the water, with the flowers of the water lilies looking very tastefully scattered. Click!

Garden Fragment (2023)

I was very drawn to all the shell-pink structures and prawnish people in Bosch’s wonderfully strange and limpid painting, The Garden Of Earthly Delights – prompt for The Kick-About #75 – so set about building a miniature version of something that might look at home in Bosch’s landscape. Sadly, I couldn’t get my hands on a more lewd assortment of little people, so this lot seem content to stand about as silent spectators. I rather think they’re missing out.

Un-sofa #1 (2023)

The short version is we bought a new leather sofa recently, which turned out to be too big for the room it was meant for. The sofa came wrapped in plastic – and remains so while we wait for some nice people to come and collect it and take it back to wherever unwanted sofas are destined to go. We have been living with this ‘un-sofa’ for quite a few weeks now – not sitting on it, not daring too, goaded by its postponement of creature comforts. I scowl at it every morning, not least because I was responsible for measuring up and only have myself to blame. Still, what is it that insufferably chipper types say about making lemonade when life gives you lemons (or outsized sofas)? I started noticing how different types of light at different times of day produced strange mountainous terrains out of the plastic wrapping covering the sofa, so with The Kick-About No.71 firmly in mind, I set about investigating them.