Monday, January 11, 2010

Gesture Drawing & Trees

In my last post on painting the Arizona sycamore, I mentioned that I start with a "gesture drawing," just as I do with the figure. This sketch, whether with tree or figure, is intended to capture the subject's graceful curves and dynamic quality. Some of you asked to see what this sketch looked like and wanted a demo. So, we went back down to Crescent Moon Ranch to do some more trees.

This time, I focussed on the cottonwood tree. Although it doesn't have quite the lyrical motion of the sycamore, it's a beautiful tree, too. Massive and gnarled, it has its own dance. The shape of it is particularly beautiful this time of year when the leaves are gone.

Below is the demo (complete with lens distortion, alas.) I started with some thin paint and a small brush to draw the gesture, and then I moved to a larger brush loaded with grey to block in the main trunk and branches. From there, I did the background, sky and foreground, and then proceeded to work more on the tree. I look forward to hearing your comments.

"Cottonwood," 9x12, oil/panel





3 comments:

marilyn said...

particularly interesting because i am in the middle of a figure drawing workshop in which we are learning the same technique. Somehow i never thought it would work with trees, but why not?

Michael Chesley Johnson said...

Trees are people, too! :) Thanks, Marilyn.

Pam Holnback said...

Thanks for the lesson/demo. This tree really does look like its dancing. The branch on the right looks like it is reaching out to turn it's partner!