Friday, 1 November 2013

Project Drawing Trees: Larger Study of an Individual Tree

I have always really liked the character of gnarly old olive trees. I like their shape and the texture of the bark so I decided to choose an old olive for this exercise. There is a collection of particularly lovely ones outside the local garden centre and it was a sunny day so I decided to perch on the ground there and make some sketches. I started with a blind contour drawing to warm up and get me into the mood and then I looked more closely at the overall shape and the intricate patterns of texture on the bark. The challenging thing about the olive trees is that their foliage is quite spiky small leaves and the leaves are quite pale in colour in comparison to the shaded trunks. It was actually the tricks that interested me the most so most of my small sketches concentrated on this area.

While I was sketching, the owner of the garden centre came out to see what I was doing and I sold my first ever picture! well maybe 'sold' is a bit strong. He asked me to draw his favourite olive tree for me and in return kept me supplied with bottles of water and espresso. He seemed quite pleased with the result. After the owner I had a steady stream of garden centre employees coming out to see what I was doing but I continued to draw. This was a major step forward for me as a few weeks ago I would have made an excuse to pack up and leave as soon as anyone showed interest in my drawings.

In the A4 sized sketches I have used drawing pen and worked into this with graphite and also with charcoal which I have moved around with a bit of water. 

The instructions for the larger A3 piece the instructions were to use a fine drawing medium so I ditched the additional charcoal and thickly shaded graphite and stuck to the fine drawing pen. I also tried to show the overall shape of the tree by including the foliage. To my eyes, this seems to have been a retrograde step. The sketches where I concentrated on the trunk as well as using more than one medium are more expressive and I think actually capture better what makes the real character of the olive tree.

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