Saturday, November 4, 2017

Vocabulary Homework

Last week Suzanne gave us a graphite class homework assignment that I was especially eager to do: sketches of different types of foliage – from life! Yes! After seven weeks of drawing only from photo references, we were finally instructed to look at actual trees and make small samples showing how the foliage differs among them. This assignment is intended to help us develop a wider “vocabulary” of marks that we can refer to when we need them. The purpose of having a broad vocabulary is to avoid resorting to drawing generic trees.

Of course, the best way to avoid drawing generic trees is to have as much knowledge as possible about specific types. Suzanne herself has an admirably vast arboreal knowledge, and just learning from her has helped me a bit in that regard. While I’m not interested in trees enough to study them in general, I do want to be able to identify at least the ones I encounter in my neighborhood, especially ones I’ve sketched, so that’s my goal now.

When I was at Swansons with USk, I was tempted by all the festive autumn décor, but I still hadn’t started the vocabulary assignment, and I knew the cloudless sky and sunshine would make the homework easier. I wandered around Swansons’ large property to the back lot where the nursery’s trucks and equipment are stored. A variety of trees grew right behind the lot. With only a 4B pencil, I tried to capture the essence of each tree by varying the marks and textures. As challenging as it is to draw trees by any means, compared to drawing them from photos, having live models felt like a piece of cake. (I was born to draw from life!)

At the bottom of the page is a photo I took. See if you can match my “vocabulary” sample with its model.


  1. Glad you found a perfect spot for your homework. Nice trees and yes, I can match them to the ones in the photo.

  2. I think so. You have captured the trees nicely for me to identify them in the photos.


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