|10/21/17 photo reference (in progress)|
This cluster of trees is something I see whenever I walk around
Green Lake. The trees form a distinctive group – growing so close together that
they look like they might have been a single tree at one point – so they are
unusual and memorable. When Suzanne, my graphite drawing instructor, suggested
that we bring in our own photos for last week’s lesson on foliage, I knew these
trees would make an interesting study.
Although I think I did a fairly good job of making the brightly
lit trunks stand out from the background, I’m not as happy with the foliage.
The branches in the light don’t seem to come forward enough, but I’m not sure
how to fix that. As for shadows, I worked through the full range from 2H all
the way up to 4B this time, and I finally stopped – not because I think it’s
done but because after about 10 hours of work, I’d had enough of it for the week. I’m hoping Suzanne’s
feedback will help me figure out what to do next.
Compared to clouds (which I prefer to imply rather than draw explicitly) and rocky cliffs and shorelines (which I rarely encounter here in the Maple Leaf
neighborhood), trees are something I see and sketch regularly. I’m fully motivated
to continue learning how to make foliage look more dimensional and tree-like
because I think it will help to improve most of my urban sketches. During my first
couple years of sketching, trees were such a challenging subject for me that I
officially declared them a sketching nemesis. Since trees are (thankfully) unavoidable in the urban landscape, I
decided it was easier to face them than run away, and I tried to practice them
Then, as now, I loved trying to capture the graceful structure
of tree trunks and branches (I still enjoy sketching trees more in winter!),
but when it came to foliage, I was always stumped. Buildings or other objects
made primarily of planes can be shaded on one side to show their three-dimensional
structure. Trees, too, face the sun in only one direction, but they are a
hundred times harder to show dimensionally. Each leaf casts a shadow in a
slightly different direction, and each branch is lighted on top but shaded
underneath. The tree as a whole is spherical, cylindrical or conical, not
cubic, so the shading moves gradually around it to the unlit side, not at a
distinct plane. It’s easy enough to show a tree’s shape silhouetted against the
sky, but what about all those foreshortened branches coming toward me? It’s
enough to drive a sketcher bananas!
Still, a few years ago when I first declared trees to be
a nemesis, I would not have been able to articulate why they are so friggin’ difficult to draw, and now I am, so I
guess I understand more about them now than I did then. Of course,
understanding trees and drawing them are not the same.