Find a tree that interests you in a park, garden or anywhere where you feel comfortable sitting or standing. Look out from a ground floor window if that suits you better. You’ll need to be at some distance from a big tree.Do around four preliminary drawings – it may help to divide your paper up into four landscape or portrait boxes. Use a soft pencil (2B–6B), charcoal or pen and ink. Keep building up on the basis of previous sketches.
- Draw a simple outline of the tree’s overall shape.
- Draw basic shapes in outline, or shaded areas that describe how the foliage forms in different masses around the tree.
- Draw the outlines of the trunk and the main branches of the tree that you can see.
- Draw with lots of scribbled outlines or shade roughly to try and indicate something of the texture of the foliage.These simple studies will help you get to grips with the structure of the tree
I followed the directions for this exercise but felt I had not really got to grips with trees. I was looking for the perfect tree- but in doing so realised what a variation there is between trees- even within the same species! I found their structure frustrating in their randomness, and difficult to reproduce without looking messy, so I decided to look at a whole range of trees and to sketch different shapes/sizes/colours in different media to learn what works (and doesn’t work!):
By the end of this exercise I was happier that I had made several attempts. I particularly enjoyed using the charcoal and the pen. Watersoluble graphite pencils were effective in that they created a wash and prevented me getting too involved in detail. The colour pencils were similarly useful and I found that working in colour I could create more of a sense of form through using different tonal values of colours.