Thursday, April 25, 2013

More trees

Jeff sent a drawing he did of trees.

He did not say whether these were drawn from memory or observation, but my guess is that they are from memory, even though there is a lot of good observation at work here. The graceful taper of the trunks and the soft, delicate outer branches have a nice feel of  "tree-ness"! There is something not quite right about the angles at which the branches grow from the trunks in some areas. But a nice drawing, nevertheless. It has a lovely, stark feeling of winter, don't you think?  As always, I recommend drawing from nature. You will learn a lot about trees and their structure if you draw from direct observation.

Manipulating your drawings in Photoshop
Here is something just for fun. One of my favorite artist blogs is Geninne's Art Blog.  She is an artist who lives in Mexico and does beautiful drawings and illustration work. In today's blog post she showed some of her drawings that she had manipulated in Photoshop. One, which inverted the black lines and white background was made to resemble a blueprint by making the drawing appear with white lines on a blue background. A simple manipulation, but so effective! I had to try it. Here is my evergreen tree from the previous post, turned into a blueprint.

Ah, Photoshop! How did artists manage for thousands of years without it? (Ha!)

Monday, April 1, 2013


Jeff's trees (see previous post) got me thinking about drawing trees. The trees in our mind's eye are like the trees at the Christmas tree farm—perfectly symmetrical and perfectly proportioned, with no odd branches poking out in the wrong places. You know they prune them at the Christmas tree farm so they will look like that, don't you? That's not the way real trees grow!

The weather has been really amazingly beautiful here for the past few days. I had no excuse not to sit out on the front steps and draw a tree. Here is our fledgling apricot tree. It has a few blossoms on it right now. We are crossing our fingers that it will produce some fruit this year. We have been told "you can't grow apricots in Portland."

Trees are great subjects for drawing. Every one is different, but there are some obvious things to observe that a lot of people miss. First of all, I am always surprised to see a drawing of a tree that shows no understanding that the the trunk of a tree is biggest at the ground and tapers as it goes up. Likewise, the individual branches are biggest where they emerge from the trunk or from larger branches and taper out to nothing at their tips. Also, the branches grow upward, reaching for the sky. Here is a nice evergreen in our yard. I always think of it as quite symmetrical, but it is not.

The biggest challenge here was to decide how to render the needles.

Most artists draw trees at one time or another.

Leonardo da Vinci drew this one, with all its knobs and broken branches. His simple suggestion of leaves gives me an idea of how I might deal with foliage in future drawings.

The stark, graphic lines of this drawing by Vincent vanGogh show trees that have been shaped by the weather. This one really demonstrates those tapering, reaching upward qualities in the branches. Neither of these artists were looking for symmetry or perfection in their trees.

Have you tried drawing a tree? Did you learn something about the structure of trees that surprised you? I'd love to see your tree drawings.