Part 3 Outdoors; Project 1 Trees; Exercise 1 Sketching Individual Trees

The Aim

To do four preliminary drawings of a single tree using soft pencil, charcoal or pen and ink. Build up the drawings on the basis of previous sketches

  1. Draw a simple outline of the tree’s overall shape
  2. Draw basic shapes in outline or shaded areas that describe how the foliage forms in different masses around the tree
  3. draw the outlines of the trunk and the main branches
  4. draw with lots of scribbled outlines or shade roughly to try to indicate something of the texture of the foliage

The Process

Finding a single tree was quite a challenge, bizarre as I thought this would be easy living in the country side. However most trees form part of the hedging landscape around here. No big parks with single trees in. However found a specimen that was rather pleasing although it still had a lot of bramble hedge around its base. I decided to ignore this as it was only the very bottom that wasn’t visible. I close to sketch in pencil (4B) using 2 pages of an A3 sketch pad for my four drawings.

The results


I had left my instruction sheet at home so I was doing the task from memory and got stages 2 and 3 muddled up, showing the outline of the trunk and main branches before the shading of the foliage masses. I also worked around the double page spread in an anticlockwise direction, meaning no 3 is below no. 4. This was a mistake as I smudge no. 3 a lot whilst working on the last one. Before doing this exercise I was rather fearful of the results I would be able to produce as I have never been able to produce a tree that was vaguely realistic before – so I never drew them, I perceived them to be ‘too hard’. However by following this building up process of observation I am very pleased with the outcome. The muddling up of the order didn’t matter because I still was working in viewing the tree as overall shapes rather than concentrating on individual tiny details. I found that for sketches 3 and 4 I particularly worked around the negative spaces created by light coming though patches of foliage. It is a shame I couldn’t see the base of the trunk (the sketches do look ‘chopped off’. Also the tangle of growth around the trunk (mostly bramble as far as I could make out) has been put in too thickly and darkly in the final sketch. There was a difference between the trunk and this overgrowth in tonal value, but only just.

Part 3 Outdoors; Project 1 Trees; Exercise 1 Sketching Individual Trees

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