The drawings I’m sharing from my personal drawing challenge for August are things I see every day, whether or not they actually register in my awareness. They’re just ordinary, everyday things.

Or are they…?

original graphite drawing of a tree

This first drawing is a detail of one of the elms growing along the east side of the back yard. It’s to the immediate right of the Mock Apple Bush that was the subject for one of the June drawing challenge drawings. Like that earlier drawing, I noticed this subject while walking Thomas. But Thomas had found a comfortable place to nap, so I had lots of time to work on details and values.

What you’re looking at is a section of damaged bark with the core of the tree exposed. The damage is not new. In fact, it looks almost as old as the tree.

It was late in the afternoon when I noticed it and what drew my attention was the play of sunlight and shadow.

But it didn’t take long for the subject to take on a different reality. Tell me, could there be a door into a magical kingdom hidden here?

The drawing below is another one of those “normal” things. It’s broken pavement between the back porch and driveway. The cement is about 1/4 inch thick, but was poured years ago over limestone and unprepared substrate. It’s been breaking up since long before we bought the house.

On this day, the sunlight struck it in a fashion that beckoned my attention. Thomas was again comfortable, so I sat down and went to work.

original graphite drawing of broken pavement

Perhaps it’s partially due to the influence of the previous drawing (I can no longer look at that tree without looking at that part of it and I can no longer look at that part of the tree without wondering). Perhaps it’s the writers side of my brain kicking in.

Whatever the cause, I didn’t draw very long before I began to see a rugged coastline. The broken edge of cement became steep cliffs descending to an ocean or bay. The cracks became rivers; some of them carved through deep slot canyons, others on the surface and cascading to the water level in raging waterfalls.

On this particular day, Thomas allowed only 20 minutes to draw, so this drawing is nowhere near as complete as the first one. But it’s a good start.

Both drawings were drawn on heavyweight paper in a small (9×6) sketch pad. I used a Turquoise 6B pencil and worked from light to dark in sketching basic shapes, then filling in details.

I can’t help but think I’ll be looking for other such subjects or returning to these, if only to see what other secrets might be lurking among the everyday things in the backyard.