Drawing an Inspiring Tree

In the middle of a council car park outside the local polyclinic. Not really the place you would expect to see a tree of such natural beauty and age. But there it was, right in front of my eyes, next to a power generator, in the midst of cars and faceless square buildings. I gave it a hug and then walked around it, taking a few photographs as I did so. It is not often that I talk to trees, but this time I did. 

This wonderful tree became the topic of conversation and topic for the lesson of my Friday drawing classes. The classes were just as inspired as I was by this example of a local ancient/aged tree. It had all the classic signs of its classic age tag: some hollowing, a wide girth, a bulge around the middle and a shortened trunk: what a beauty. 

To make a quality drawing of this was my goal and the goal I set all the classes. You have to do a tree this spectacular a great deal of justice.  

Use an F or H or HB pencil to create a basic line drawing of the major shapes. Although this is an asymmetric shape, it does have symmetry flowing through its shape. Once you have made that drawing, start working from light to dark using a range of soft pencils, the softest I used was a B5. For the trunk use short pencil strokes, where you are building up areas of light and dark. Really take your time with this, it is a wonderful drawing experience.  

The branches and twigs range in size and tone. For the extreme edges of the small twigs, use an F pencil (upward pencil stroke). For the thicker branches use B2-B5, for the thinner branches, use an HB pencil, with a heavier pencil stroke and your lightest pencil stroke is for the extreme tiny twigs on the outer edges. 

Only make a suggestion of the ground level. I also burnished some of the graphite into the paper as I worked. This took me five hours to draw.


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