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…
Showing off our finished drawings to family and friends can be gratifying. Enthusiastic viewers appreciate your techniques and may even understand that you spend many hours practicing to improve your skills. But hidden to their eyes is your dedication to doing studies—a most misunderstood aspect of learning to draw from observation.
In the tradition of the Renaissance artists, Naomi (shown above) learns the importance of studying as she practices using the system of perspective drawing.
Early Egyptian, Greek, and Italian Renaissance artists and artisans used drawing to study their subjects. They made countless study sketches to solve problems, prepare artwork, and map out elaborate architecture.
By doing study sketches, students at the Scribbles Institute learn to block in dominant shapes of their subject, sketch accurate contours, and confidently work their way toward drawing final compositions.
Autumn brings us Halloween, the time of year when our thoughts are haunted by ghosts and goblins. But for those of us who are learning to draw, the zombies of perfectionism can be the most terrifying creatures—every day of the year! Continue reading Attack of the Zombies of Perfectionism→
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→
While paging through Charles Bargue’s Drawing course book, Scout’s eyes lit up as we came upon the print of the plaster cast torso.
“It even has block-in lines!” she said enthusiastically, referring to the angled directional lines that would help her depict weight distribution of the figure’s muscles. We promptly bookmarked the page as the subject for her drawing session.
Choosing a subject to draw is an important aspect of the drawing experience. Your subject should strike an emotional chord that stimulates your eye, builds your skills, and fits your purpose for drawing.
As we welcome new Level 1 students to Drawing Lab sessions, our courageous Level 3 sketchers continue to lead the way, forging ahead to explore the possibilities of realistic and abstract drawing.
In the above drawing of a sand dune, youth student Jesse ventures out of his comfort zone to learn blending techniques of colorful Tombow pens. The realistic ridge of the dune is defined by a curved contour edge. Bold highlights and richly layered shadows show 3-dimensional form of the massive dune.
But we also become intrigued with Jesse’s experimental process of blending ink colors. We begin to share his fascination with orange, yellow, and black ink commingling with the paper’s surface. The line between realism and abstract drawing is blurred, and we are enthralled with Jesse’s subjective experience with materials as much as the image of the sand dune itself. Continue reading Realism or Abstract? You Decide→
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?→
From our earliest days in school we learned that copying other students’ work could result in serious consequences, sometimes even a failing grade. But if you are a drawing artist, copying the other guy is a necessary virtue for improving your skills. Continue reading It’s Okay to Copy the Other Guy’s Drawing→