Check and log: Drawing trees

How many different types of trees have you drawn?

I’ve drawn three different types of pine (and had trouble identifying them), silver birch, downy birch. I’ve also drawn a coppiced tree in woodland,which was surrounded by oak saplings.

What techniques did you use to distinguish each type?

The birches lent themselves to fine lines and detail in order to illustrate the patterned bark and the pendulous twigs which are like fronds of hair. I found the pine trees lent themselves to  more sweeping less precise marks with charcoal and Conté crayons.

What did you do to convey the mass of foliage?

When drawing the pines I tried to give a sense of the overall sweep and shape of the foliage and the different areas of colour and shade.

For my drawing of a wintertime silver birch I initially tried to include too much detail in the form of the pendulous twigs and redid my drawing with a more simplified approach with just a few of the twigs. This was more successful as it enables the viewer to absorb the patterns of the bark and the nature of the twigs without being overwhelmed.

How did you handle light on trees? Was it successful?

I tried to observe the patterns of light and shaow both in the foliage and on the trunks and I think this has worked reasonably well with the pastel drawings of several trees – although I felt some of the effect of the light was diluted due to overworking my drawing. I’m a beginner at pastels but beginning to enjoy what can be achieved with them.

I drew the birch tree in pencil. It was a very grey day and there was very little distinctive light or shadow, so while I have added some shading to the trunk to give form, this is quite a flat picture. 

Almost every weekend we walk with our dogs in Thetford Forest and this has given me a lot of opportunities to observe trees – deciduous and evergreen and the  impact of the light at different times of the day and throughout the changing seasons. This might be the reason why this has been my favourite project so far!

Did you manage to select and simplify? Look at your drawings and make notes on how you did this what you could do better.

As mentioned above, the detail of the twigs was overwhelming on my first attempt at the silver birch and I simplified this by significantly reducing the number of pendulous twigs and I feel this improved my picture enormously.

When sketching the  tall pine trees I was some distance away from the trees and this forced me not include a mass of detail but to aim for an impression of the trees. I’m reasonably satisfied with the results and can see noticeable improvement.

The process of drawing lots of trees in my sketchbook helped me to understand that it is not necessary to include every branch and twig and as I progressed through this project I feel I got better at identifying what to include and what to leave out which has been a very valuable lesson. My confidence in drawing trees has definitely increased.



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