Not making this drawing would have been easy. For a couple of days I walked right past my friend’s basket of ordinary garden tools and nearby potted plants, not even giving them a moment’s notice. But little by little, this random backyard arrangement began to capture my fascination. And then it found its way onto the pages in my sketchbooks.
My eye began to wander to contour studies in the nearby planter.
During pandemic restrictions, you don’t have to travel any farther than your own backyard to start an exciting sketchbook adventure.
As a young child, you likely learned to draw a tree by using a few circular shapes to symbolize masses of leaves supported by a narrow rectangle to depict the tree’s trunk. And if you were in a creative mood that day, a few angled lines could be added to suggest its branches.
Of course drawings of trees could vary widely depending on where you lived as a kid. Tall triangles symbolized towering conifers. Or a long and curved line topped with serrated, curved shapes became a palm tree. It was easy and fun to draw a tree.
Unfortunately, the joy of drawing trees—and everything else—is abandoned by many kids as they become immersed in the rigors of writing, math, and reading. Most people leave childhood drawing behind to pursue life’s more grown-up callings. But not me.
Drawing became my livelihood and a continuous source of joy. And as an adult, trees have remained one of my core subjects of interest. Various species of trees have been tapping their roots in the pages of my sketchbooks for several decades. It is like having my own forest of drawn memories bound together.
Following are some of my sketched moments with trees…
Waking up to a misty Payne’s Gray sky that engulfs coastal Santa Cruz is common at this time of year. On this particular Saturday morning, I was hoping for summer sunshine that would keep our paper dry and help us to see and sketch crucial shadows.
Anticipation ran high as I packed my sketchbook and a lunch. A small tribe of my most ardent studio students was gathering for a workshop at one of my favorite outdoor sketching locations, Wilder Ranch State Park. Continue reading Sketches In Paradise→
The mountains of Santa Cruz are a great place to practice drawing fast. While on a mountain bike ride, I completed the ink study shown above in just a few minutes. Being able to draw anything, anywhere—fast or slow—is how I like to roll. Continue reading Fast & Furious or Slow & Curious?→
Several decades ago, as an avid surfer, nothing excited me more than packing my surfboards and heading up the coast to discover new places to ride waves. Recently, I decided to conjure up my youthful fervor for exploration and set out on a sketching safari to the Pacific Northwest. What happened on the journey was totally unexpected; I rediscovered the thrill of drawing for pure enjoyment.
Learning to control your line work is crucial in learning to draw well. One way to tame the lines in your drawings is to take time to read the line work done by great masters. In studying the confident strokes by legendary virtuosos—from ancient cave artists, to Albrecht Durer (shown above), to Eugene Delacroix—you’ll become a skilled observer of life and dramatically improve your drawing.
Following is the shortlist of my heroes who have laid down some of the greatest lines ever drawn in history. I encourage you to be diligent in studying these Great Lions of Drawing. Let’s dive in! Continue reading The Great Lions of Drawing→
Gianna Goodpaster is a Santa Cruz teenager who doodles, draws, and paints. What sets Gianna apart from other students is her quiet, self-determined journey of creative exploration. After viewing the extreme variety of media she experiments with, we’re compelled to jump on board just to see where her extraordinary journey will lead in the future.
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In fact, Gianna is a daring shapeshifter when it comes to artistic styles. During the past couple of years, having her as a Draw to Learn student required me to keep a wide assortment of tools and subject matter on hand. Whether doing study sketches in charcoal, highly detailed ink renderings, or vivid pastel compositions, she shifts creative gears effortlessly. Gianna’s impulse to create is apparent the moment she walks into the classroom. Quickly choosing her materials, she sets her iPod; then explodes with unpredictable, irresistibley cool drawings. Continue reading Gianna Goodpaster Draws Her Future→