Category Archives: Project 1: Trees Ex. 1: Sketching individual trees

Part 3: Expanse. Project 1: Trees Ex. 1: Sketching individual trees.

The best part of this excersise is that I’ve started looking at trees.

It might sound odd but looking is totally different from seeing them as 3D wallpaper… noticing shapes, how few trees in the countryside stand alone, how different the shapes are (often for the same kind of tree!)… and how they move and groan and birds come and go… how the light hits the leaves.

They each have an ‘aura’ just like people… a personality.

The most difficult was getting started, out of my comfort zone of the house. Like stepping out of safe internet world and starting talking to real people. It’s a totally different experience.

And then there’s the hurdle of… I’m not very good… what will people say.

Well… I got started and it was liberating!!!!

Sketch 1: Black marker pen.


What I realised (apart from the couple walking the dog who gave me a big smile) was that I was far too near to the tree. I hadn’t clocked the instructiuon – you’ll need to be at some distance from a big tree.

I was sat by the bowl of the tree about six yards from this massive oak with cows snorting behind the fence. Steam from their nostrils after an early Summer shower.

So, my forward field of vision was only a part of the tree in front of me and I couldn’t draw the branches stretching over my head.

It made me think about our tiny field of vision… how if I keep my head in the same position I can move my eyes around and draw something complete (at least in theory if skill allowed), but that in everyday life we move our head around and to ‘stich’ different viewpoints together is very difficult.

Second go… pencil… sitting in nettles and thistles too close to an aged and very wise willow tree with amazing spindly branches and tiny leaves.


I thought I was at fault not being able to draw branches in front, to either side and above me… but came to the conclusion I wasn’t and would have to get further from the tree.

Next time I should re-read the instructions in the excercise!!

Something about this I sort of like but I can’t put my finger on it.

Annoyingly the page kept blowing shut (take clips next time) but the joy was the sounds, smell, atmosphere… it’s like you become a part of the drawing. It’s exciting and I’m trying to capture so much more than the tree.

Even if none of it’s on the page!

Attempt 3… charcoal… between heavy almost sleety downpours… strong wind with paperclips holding pages in place. On an old second world war concrete army road… they used to make tanks and drive them down here.

It was frustrating not finding any isolated big trees so stood on the road and tried to single out a small tree (so I could see all of it) from the wood.


This again has something – even though in an ‘accurate’ sence it doesn’t capture even 20% of the complexity.

I was struck by how the tree was affected by what was behind and around it… did the gaps in the leaves reveal sky or vegetation? How did the light fall… it was in constant movement with the wind making silvery waves as the leaves bent and returned.

And I felt different standing to sitting down so it was almost like part of me was going into the drawing too.

Weird but wonderful!!!

I must admit to adding to this: when I came home, I got out the putty rubber, pinched a little bit, and tried to take out some of the charcoal to reflect the white underside of the  leaves blown by the wind. I couldn’t see a picture in my head but had a sort of emotional memeory of how the leaves danced in the wind.

It was fun.