Exercise 46: Larger study of an individual tree

study of a thorn tree on Dartmoor, pencil

study of a thorn tree on Dartmoor, A3

Spend at least an hour on this drawing. Use A3 cartridge paper and a fine drawing medium. Work fast and note what makes the tree distinctive. Twigs and branches do not need to be drawn in detail, but try to get a sense of directionality. Note the light source.

For this exercise, I chose to draw one of the thorn trees on Dartmoor. Characterised by their windblown shapes, these trees tend to be bent, spiky, and winding, their trunks developing into twisted forms, etched with the striations of growth. I used a variety of pencils, ranging from B to 8B. Although my main focus was the tree itself, I included enough visual information to set it in context – the scrubby tufts of grass, the lumps of rock, and dried expanse of bracken in the distance. The main object, however, was to describe the nature of the tree – to draw out the attributes that distinguish it from others. Here, that meant depicting the pattern of growth and the overall form. Bearing in mind the advice to be selective and not get bogged down in detail, I simplified the spread of branches, concentrating on directionality and contrasts of light and shade. Set back as far as I was, I couldn’t see the texture of the trunk very clearly, so focused on the winding marks that spiralled the length of it.