Now spend more time really looking at a tree in detail. Spend at least an hour on this drawing. Choose which media will suit the individual characteristics of ‘your’ tree. For example, you might decide to use A3 cartridge paper and a fine drawing medium such as a drawing pen, pencil or ballpoint.
Try to work fairly quickly so that you keep a free and flowing hand to follow the fluid lines and forms of the tree. What makes the tree distinctive? Its solid massive presence (a mature oak, horse chestnut, sycamore or ash), its airiness and delicacy (a birch), or its bent windblown form (a hawthorn)? You don’t need to draw twigs and branches in detail but try to capture a sense of directionality. Ash twigs curl. Beech twigs grow straighter and are almost on a horizontal plane when in leaf; in winter they reach up. Some Scots pine, larch and firs only branch out high up the trunk, making for a very distinctive form. Continually observe your subject and don’t be afraid to keep drawing without looking at your paper.
Notice the light source; see where the deepest shadows are and the strongest light (these are usually next to each other). Hint at texture by fluid use of shading or lines.
These are trees that are meaningful to me and which I sketched using pencil. Both are tree trunks and I think Larch, but I’m not sure. I was attracted by the burr bowls attached to the trunk in both trees and the unique/individual contours and shapes these growths provided.
This sketch is of a Hawthorn (without the ‘e’) bush trying to become a tree. I just loved the twisty, curling, reaching branches. Again using pencil I think I captured its living, aspiring essence.
Reflecting on my three sketch ideas, I was hard pushed to chose between them. In the end I selected idea sketch 2. Why? It touches me in a way that shouts survival against all odds.
Finished drawing of old larch tree with burrs in fineliner ink pen and waterbrush pen on A3 heavy weight 220gsm cartridge paper. I decided on this tree as my subject due to the dynamic limb shapes and the wrap around/clingy effect of the burrs. The whole tree appears almost other-worldy. It has been growing for a very long time and seems to force its self up through the ground. I tried to concentrate on the bulk of the tree from the ground to just above the burrs and simplified the branch network substantially in order to display the key features. Introducing suggestions of colour adds to the tree’s mystery for me.
Stuart Brownlee – 512319
5 September 2015