PART 3. Project 1, Exercise 2, Large observational study of a single tree

During these studies of trees, which have made me really look at trees all the time, I’ve developed a particular liking for oaks, every one being so different with such interesting angular shapes, and also for birches, with their elegant limbs and fluttery leaves. This beautiful mature birch is on a farm track near my husband’s workshop and I sat for a few hours one sunny afternoon drawing it. It is now known as ‘my tree’…

There are no progress pictures as I was too engrossed. I used a sepia fine-point drawing pen on white cartridge paper. This was perfect for rendering all the tiny twigs and the striations in the characteristic bark. I’m very pleased with this drawing and think I’ve captured the shadows quite well, and achieved effective simplification of the upper foliage.

PART 2, Reflection

My video session with Ilsa was really positive and enjoyable. The tips and guidance given are very valuable, and the fact they are so specific and detailed gives me confidence that broadly, I am doing well.

I had tried to concentrate more on shadows after the feedback from Part 1, but this was picked up again as needing more focus. It is only upon reflection that I can see that I still did not pay enough attention to what I can really see, and to how I translate that onto the page. I reworked one of the stones from Proj1 Ex1, and can see a big difference. I particularly paid attention to the relative tonal value of the stone versus the shadow at each point along the boundary. I must take more care with shadows so they don’t become my nemesis!


Photograph of subject stone:

Reworked drawing:

Proj2 Ex4 Monochrome – this was the first time I have purposely stepped away from my favoured ‘traditional’ composition and I didn’t manage some elements particularly successfully. Ilsa’s guidance here was particularly insightful to me; the drawing is less successful, but with such a minimal composition, the demand is much higher. I have learned that composition isn’t just about viewpoint, it also impacts other aspects like technical requirements.

Proj3 Ex3 Material Differences –  I had never considered that we take for granted the work of artists in previous centuries, so Ilsa’s observation that my exploration of perspective using the panoramic feature on my smartphone is something ‘new’ that I’m undertaking on my own was both surprising and pleasing. I suppose as I research more and more contemporary artists, this will become harder to do. I’m relatively naive at the moment. The piece itself was not successful in my view, I need to find a solution to the dominance of the ceiling in the middle of the piece. I will probably circle back around that in a months’ time after my holiday driving round Europe, during which I need to be at the ‘landscape stage’ of Part 3 to take advantage of my travels, so I have to spend my time on the preceding exercises between now and then.

Assignment piece – I loved that this picture seemed to have caught Ilsa’s imagination; I got a little glow getting what felt like ‘additional’ feedback that was a distinctly personal response to the unusual aspects of the drawing! Again, some useful direction on small points to be careful and mindful of.

Sketchbooks – I hadn’t really appreciated that they should be used as a repository as well as a place for sketches. Mine now contains photos and reflections from studio visits and I shall continue in this vein. They will be lovely things in their own right I think.

Recommended reading – ‘Unnatural Wonders’ by Arthur C Danto to develop thinking and language, and ability to better collect and verbalise my thoughts and opinions. I’m 20 pages in and already slightly stunned by what I’m reading!

Ok, I’m off to draw some trees   :o)