Friday, January 29, 2021

Assignment: Tree Branches

1/26/21 graphite on Strathmore Bristol vellum, 7" x 9" (photo reference)

Our first assignment using a photo reference in Kathleen Moore’s class was to interpret this tree’s tangle of branches. In the photo, the tree is a black silhouette against the sky. Ignoring foliage, we were to draw the overlapping network of branches to indicate which were closer or farther away. We could take liberties with filling in with twigs, showing texture or making other changes to enhance the composition.

Initially, I attempted to imagine light coming from an imaginary sun as I did in the fun “crazy tree” assignment, but I realized immediately that most limbs were too narrow to effectively show where the shadows would be. I opted to simply use varying values to bring the closer branches forward with higher contrast. At the time of this writing, I haven’t received feedback on the drawing yet, so I don’t know if my interpretation was effective, but my head is still spinning – in a good way – from the substantial challenge.


  1. I think this is beautiful! I love trees, and your drawing certainly captured their graceful shapes.

    1. Thank you, Cathy! I love trees, too. The reference photo showed the tree fully leafed, but we are focusing on branches now, so it was interesting to draw only the branches without foliage.

  2. Replies
    1. Thanks, Joan! I think I spent about 5 hours on it over a few days.


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