Sketching is drawing for no-one — there’s no imagined audience. When it works, I let go of  my need to make it good,  to decorate the page, and just see what I’m looking at. The tree becomes a strange twisting  puzzle of shapes I’ve never seen before, shapes that seem impossible, or wrong, not what a tree is supposed to look like, but I draw them anyway.

From a very young age we stock our minds with a vocabulary of symbols— a flag is a rectangle, a face is a circle, a tree is a trunk with branches— but the reality of things is bewildering and abstract. Drawing becomes an act of rebellion, breaking the categories we’ve placed things into: a tree does not look like a tree, a face is not a circle, a flag almost never a rectangle. Sketching is the mental exercise of seeing without symbols and categories.

I find trees particularly challenging, they’re hard to see, always obscuring themselves with branches. I struggle to let go of what I think a tree looks like and draw what I’m actually seeing. When the tree starts to emerge on the page it’s a kind of magic, revealing to me what this tiny piece of the world looks like.



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Jake Powning

Jake is a professional swordsmith, artist, and writer who explores the strange place where traditional culture and the land meet.


  1. Hi Jake, I have been following your work from time to time over the last few years. The first time I came accross your work the sword DuSith was avaliable for sale. I still regret not pulling the trigger but I was a little strapped for cash at the time. Are you still making custom swords for clients. If so i would like to discuss having you building me a family heirloom. I like the DuSith sword, as discussed above, and i like your collaberative work in Uljake. Let me know if you are interested in taking on a new project and client. Cheers, cbb

    • Hi Brett,
      I don’t take commissions. I have three swords in the works over the next year, I’m planning to keep them for a potential gallery show, after which they’ll be for sale. When I do have new work for sale I’ll announce it here on the website. In the mean time If you can’t wait I suggest contacting Peter Johnsson I’m not sure what his waiting list is like but it’s worth having a look, his work is the best.

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