Here are three small sketches from a walk across fields last weekend.  They were started in the open air, using conte crayon, water and cool grey brushpen, and reworked at home with layers of crayon, watercolour, white gouache and knife.  They are done in the smallest size Moleskine notebook, about A7.


I have been following s series of tree sketches by outsideauthority which stimulated me to think again how to capture their form.  On this walk, there are no unbroken woodlands, but rather narrow lines of trees following the ditches and tracks.  I stood on a wooden bridge like a troll’s lair in the gloom of the branches and looked out into the open fields beneath a heavy winter sky.

2017-02-12-14-52-36-1    2017-02-12-14-42-59

For the second picture, I looked back along the track I had walked, marked by single trees overhanging the hedgerows.  I overworked the pleine aire sketch with successive layers.  The knife proved the most effective tool and I, at least, like the dynamism of the heavily worked surface.  However, in the lower part of the tree, I should have scored the paper vertically across (not following) the main branches, to capture the sense of the upward growing peripheral twigs in three dimensions.


I forgot to make a record of the third field sketch.  Here is the finished, somewhat unsatisfactory, piece.  The path crested a low hill and the descent was marked by trees clinging on to the eroding soil.


8 responses to “trees

  1. That reworked first one is excellent. So much layering and interest, but I also like the top half, cropped – just discovered that scrolling down. I think that may be the best composition. The feathering trees on the top right balancing the splatter of strong green bottom left and the two interesting tree shapes in the strong yellow. Saying that, my son says I’m wrong and it’s better full length. I can’t see me in any of them though! Love the blue grey horizontal line through them. There really is no end to what you can find in trees.

    • Thanks OA and to your son too (my daughter often goes through drawings on WP and Facebook).
      Your influence recently has been the way you are working through multiple versions, experimenting with different compositions and techniques. Some of your coloured pictures play with how light interacts with trees and fields, and others are really interestingly experimental, like your exploration of resist and water colour. So I do t expect mine to look much like yours but they are influenced by you.

    • Hi Rosie
      I think the paper helps. Moleskine books might be seen as overpriced artist bait, but I’ve found the texture and strength of their water colour paper enables me to create an illusion of detail with broad strokes of the crayon. Each crayon behaves differently with water too and I do live drawing back in with the point of a knife. Drawing big is always a good idea, but I’ve found a freedom in drawing small too.

  2. Pingback: light on trees | kestrelart

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