Category Archives: Project 1: Trees Ex. 3: Study of several trees.

Part 3: Project 1: Trees Ex. 3: Study of several trees.

It had been raining… was forcast to rain more and blowing a gale. Still, my tutor said I have to speed up and that’s what I’m going to do!

I get all my gear together: pastels, pencil crayons, art pens and pastel paper – and all my black and white drawing tools – and clips and headed for the car.


This was the hardest task yet. I’d no idea where to start or how to do it.

As the wind was howling and the ground wet (but the rain had stopped) I decided just to find a bench. I balanced my board on my knee, put the pastel paper on top and held the paper firmly with my left thumb.

I decided to use just pastel… opened two small boxes.

And started.

What tequniques did you use to distinguish one tree from another?

Each tree has it’s own distinctive shape… the branches grow differently (both within an individual tree and more so between species). And the leaf colours are very different… and the way the branches play in the wind.

I don’t know the different trees so I treated them like people.

There colour, shape, form, line and movement distinguish them.

How did you convey the mass of foliage and the spaces between them?

There were three ‘masses’ of foliage. Far distant, middle and close… for the close branches reaching towards me the foliage was formed by individual leaves so I tried to recreate this by using small single stokes of green pastel, looking at how the leaves ‘flowed’ from the branch.

I’d marked in the background so where there were gaps it was a case of feeling the pattern of the leaves and adding them individually to the background around the twigs.

For the far distant trees the trunks were hiddedn and it was more like a hedge. Masses of green like clouds. I tried to work intuitively looking and marking without thinking, imagining how the light might catch the foliage… stopping when it worked… blending greens in the same family and darker browns for shadows. A constant dialogue between looking and drawing.

For the mid leaves I used the pastel on it’s side and scrumbled in patches of leaves where they fell in patterns round the branches and twigs… then went back in and added back the sky where I’d lost it.

How did you handle light on the different parts of the tree?

By using different browns and greys and leaving parts of the paper blank. I also added orange where the lichen grew on the branches coming towards me and caught the light.

Did you manage to select and simplify?

Yes… it would be impossible to draw on all the detail that your eye picks up. So I tried to suggest masses and shapes and added highlights and lines to suggest detail.

What could I have done better?

I was pleased with what I did on the spot and intuitively.

But when I got home I noticed some things needed tidying up… half of this helped and half was a mistake!

I recomosed the picture and took the water left of the tree… this worked. As did lightening the sky round the distant trees… working it had made it green (when I put my glasses on) so I changed it to white.

BUT!!!! Altering detail away from the trees didn’t work… there was a smudge of white on the duck so I decided to tidy it up. Unfortunately that meant repeatedly drawing, correcting, fixing… making round duck white again.

I should just have left it as it was.

The lesson being that creative finishing at home is okay and can improve the composition/finish of the piece but ‘correcting’ the drawing away from source is a potential disaster!

This was the hardest drwaing I’ve ever done but it’s my favourite!!!!