Project: Drawing trees

Exercise Sketching an individual tree

Preliminary drawings in 3B soft pencil.

Preliminary drawings in 3B soft pencil.

I made four preliminary thumbnail studies of a tree in pencil.

Ink on magazine page.

Ink on magazine page.

I made an A4 study of a tree on a white-painted magazine page in blue ink.

Acrylic ink on envelope paper.

Acrylic ink on envelope paper.

I made another study of this tree on an envelope with ink and brush.  This is a hawthorn tree.

tree pencil

First I made a pencil drawing on A3 paper.  It is a line drawing of a young cherry tree.  I tried to capture the delicacy of the tree, because it has a narrow trunk and very fine branches which are almost invisible, with tiny little leaves.

Below is another A3 study of the same tree, this time using more expressive lines to draw the leaves.  I think the expressive lines capture the way the leaves quiver and move in the breeze.  I added a wash of colour, which means that the lines don’t stand out very well.  I think it would be worth trying with black ink or oil pastel, rather than pencil.green tree

Exercise: Larger study of an individual tree

Larger pencil drawing of a tree.

Larger pencil drawing of a tree.

At first I made a large pencil study of an individual tree, which took around ninety minutes to two hours. I thought this drawing was successful for observing the lines and forms of my tree, as well as the light and dark areas in the foliage.  I did not think my pencil drawing really captured the presence of this huge, awe inspiring tree.  Partly it just did not look three dimensional as I would like.

After completing this exercise I decided to return to it with a range of different media to see if I could observe different characteristics of my tree.  I think it is an oak tree, it has a “solid massive presence” as the exercise describes.   So below are some drawings which I approached in more experimental ways.  

I made a collage of different papers to draw my tree.  I also developed ideas of how to draw the clusters of leaves as they hung on the branches.

Ink on coloured papers.

Ink on coloured papers.

I made a drawing using oil pastels, pencils, pencil crayons, inks and watercolours.  I worked on these drawings more quickly than the pencil drawing, and I think it helps to observe the movement of the leaves.  Layering different media definitely helps to describe the

Graphite pencil with ink, coloured pencil crayon, watercolours and oil pastels.

Graphite pencil with ink, coloured pencil crayon, watercolours and oil pastels.

Oil pastels, pencil, ink and watercolours.

Oil pastels, pencil, ink and watercolours.

Oil pastels and watercolours - wax resist.

Oil pastels and watercolours – wax resist.

 Exercise: Study of several trees

Preliminary studies of several trees.

Pencil study of several trees, observing tone, textures and patterns.

Pencil study of several trees, observing tone, textures and patterns.  Also exploring simplification.

Ink study of several trees.

Ink study of several trees using dip pen.  This was a good way of exploring linear qualities.

Study on coloured paper using ink with brush and dip pen - this was useful for exploring the combination of both the broader lines and the finer lines working together.

Study on coloured paper using ink with brush and dip pen – this was useful for exploring the combination of both the broader lines and the finer lines working together.

Oil pastel study of several trees.

Oil pastel study of several trees.

Mixed media trial.  Study using ink and brush with oil pastels.

Mixed media trial. Study using ink and brush with oil pastels.

Several trees

Brush and ink on yellow paper. I was not very happy with this study, and wanted to work in on top of it. But I then thought that it is a good record of what the trees look like as they sway and brush up against each other. So for a quick drawing, it is successful, and I would not want to work on top of it and cover up the marks I have made here.

Below is my oil pastel and pencil crayon A3 study of several trees.  It was supposed to take one to two hours, but this took three hours.  I think I should try again to draw one in an hour and a half, see how that turns out.

This study was meant to have a point of interest; I chose the round area of light in the central background, but I have not been able to make it the obvious focal point.  In reality this is quite a dark view, with light leaking through the leaves.  I have tried to demonstrate this by drawing the leaves closer together in the darker areas, and further apart in the lighter areas.  This works in a visually interesting way, but does not recreate the scene which I could see.

I used mixed media because I thought that would work well to show the trees and the foliage.  I think this scene might be better drawn in soft pastels.

I am not sure this was a successful drawing, but I am pleased with it because when you look into it for a few minutes your eyes are led around by all the groups of marks and colours, so it is an interesting image.

I think I have been successful in drawing contrasts of light and shade, the forms of trees, mass, lines, texture and colour.

Study of several trees - oil pastels on A3 paper.

Study of several trees – oil pastels and pencil crayons on A3 paper.

Check and Log - Copy (3)

How many different tree types have you drawn?

I have drawn a hawthorn, a cherry tree and a group of trees which included a silver birch and an oak tree, as well as fir trees and some other trees which I don’t recognise.

What techniques did you use to distinguish each type?

To draw the hawthorn tree I used a scratchy movement, as well as a circular motion with my hand to try to represent the crinkled puffiness of the foliage.

For the cherry tree, at first I used smaller marks which were individually separate from each other in the same way you could see on the tree.  Then later I added some groups of oval type shapes which were made without taking the pen off to convey that the leaves were close together and over lapping.

With other trees I used dashes and dots which were different size and shape depending on the type of tree.

What did you do to convey the mass of foliage?

With oil pastels I made lots of dots and dashes very close together to convey branches full of leaves, but this was not entirely effective.  With ink and brush I made multiple strokes to show leaves on the branches.  Other methods I used are as above.

How did you handle light on the trees?  Was it successful?

I tried drawing light falling through the trees, but it was not perfect.  I plan to continue my examination of how to draw this.  I made other drawings of light on the trees themselves by adjusting the colour or tone, and this was effective.

Did you manage to select and simplify?  Look at your drawings and make notes on how you did this, and what could you do better?

I think I have selected and simplified.  In my first drawings I had drawn different individual elements of the trees, outlines and silhouettes etcetera.  Focusing on the shapes of leaves and branches.  In my drawing of several trees I looked at the way the leaves all looked together, rather than looking at each individual leaf.

 

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