Study of Several Trees

After a couple of false starts, due to the weather, I ventured into the garden and quickly sketched a couple of options:

Yep, they were pretty bad and I suddenly felt quite overwhelmed with this and did not know where to begin. There are a lot of trees around my house and in surrounding fields but they all seem to blend into one. Not sure how to proceed, I took a couple of photos to help me choose an area to focus on. I pulled an image up onto the computer and decided to have a go, not feeling very hopeful about it, just as the clouds rolled in and the rain started. I felt like I had nothing to lose but draw straight from the photograph and I wasn’t feeling very hopeful.


It was hard to know where the start but I went with the contrast between light and shade, using chalk pastels because I really did not know how to draw leaves. Pastel is perfect for landscape and if you don’t want to draw fine details, which I was keen to avoid.

I have spent a few hours on this, and I’m not sure if I’m completely happy with it but I felt the need to stop, possibly having gone too far now!

Photo 31-05-2017, 16 30 20

trees in chalk pastel

To distinguish the trees I smudged the ones in the background, to make them look less distinct and darker, and hopefully fade somewhat, whilst the two at the front were lighter and show more detail, and are not as blurry.

To show the mass of foliage I really just went for large areas of colour. showing the small bits of sky that poked through some of the branches.

I used yellows and white to show where the light was hitting the trees, as there are a few trees, and they’re quite tall, there was a clear view of sunlight on the two trees in the foreground.

I have definitely simplified the leaves as there is such a lot of foliage going on, the trees are close together and leaves are overlapping. I have almost obliterated the garage as I thought it would be too distracting so kept it dark to blend into the background.

In future, I need to not panic when drawing outside, trees are a very new subject and I probably need to use the view finder and get more comfortable.


Larger Observational Study of an Individual Tree

I have randomly been taking photos of trees for a long time, even before I started this course, as a consequence I have got them a bit muddled in my head. I thought this tree was local to me but, going through my archive, I realised this was from Parkanaur Forest Park in Dungannon, County Tyrone. We stopped briefly on the way back from a weekend in Belfast recently. Some of the trees here are hundreds of years old, and there is a herd of rare white fallow deer,  so a great place to stop.

I had this tree in my mind so when this exercise came around I knew this was the tree I wanted to draw. It’s obviously an old tree, the bark is very textured and peeling off, and the trunk is covered in moss and plant life, so much to draw!

I used a 0.5 mm lead mechanical pencil, which is good for precision and drawing detail. I probably spent a couple of hours on it as I got quite involved in the minutiae, which I enjoyed but, when I realised how much time had passed, I wanted it to end.

Photo 26-05-2017, 11 54 44

tree in mechanical pencil

This was a fabulous tree to work on as there was so much going on with texture and material but it probably took too long. Whilst the details were time consuming, it was enjoyable to draw, and an opportunity to make a variety of marks. There is a balance to be found between time taken and detail and I’m still working on finding that. Overall an interesting challenge.

Sketching Individual Trees

I was excited to start this exercise, perhaps because it was raining and I was keen to get out of the house but was forced to wait for some drier weather. On sketching the first tree, my immediate realisation was that this was harder than I thought, I had assumed this would be easier than drawing pots and vases but in actual fact it was much more challenging than I had envisaged. There is so much going on with a tree and so many leaves out it was hard to distinguish all of the different parts.

I’m very lucky to live in the countryside and my house is surrounded by trees but, as it rains a lot here, my garden looks like a jungle! It was hard to know where one tree ended and the next one began. I could only find one tree that was distinguishable from the others.

This is it:

Photo 24-05-2017, 09 53 31

2B pencil sketch of a tree

The second tree was amidst other trees but I attempted to figure it out


soft graphite stick

I spotted the third tree in the garden of the town priest’s house, it appealed to me as it was quite a different tree from the others:

Photo 24-05-2017, 09 54 04

4B pencil sketch

Taking the dog for an evening I walk I noticed my neighbour had a fine, blooming labernum:

Photo 24-05-2017, 09 54 24

mechanical pencil sketch of a labernum tree

The first two trees are quite similar in style so I was pleased to spot a couple of different ones around, observation has become a key part of this course. At the back of my mind, I am often considering mark making and am conscious of trying to learn new and different ways to draw. I hope I have managed to show a diverse range of  marks, it’s challenging to get your brain to not think about it but try to expand your repertoire.  An interesting exercise overall!