We all have a general knowledge of what a tree looks like. It might seem obvious, but there is quite a difference between drawing something you have never seen or touched and something you have known all your life. Even if you are a city person, trees are something you must have seen or touched. They’re part of our life. But even if you think you know what trees are like and even if your eyes feel aware of the general outline of trees or forests, drawing leaves and trees could be very deceiving. When children try to represent trees, even though they have lived among them since they were babies, they tend to misunderstand the basic shape of leaves, branches and trunks. The most common mistake is to consider the branches and the trunk as something of a different nature. It is important to visualize the branches as the continuity of the main trunk. First of all, most trees don’t grow straight. They are full of curves and irregularities. From bottom to top, they have nothing but unexpected bending and twirling shapes. Almost every tree has a strong and thick base actually needed for its solidity. The roots give an impression of strength and grace at the same time. They sort of counterbalance the top of the tree full of branches and leaves. The roots dig into the ground when the branches reach out for the sky. Sometimes the roots gracefully stick out of the ground giving strength to the tree when it grows on a hillside. There is a huge variety of trees corresponding of the region where they grow. We all know the heavy and majestic oak tree that grows in temperate climate areas. Of course the pine tree that often grows in the mountains is among the well-known. I particularly love the Mediterranean kind with its flat top and curvy trunk. We also know the birch tree with its silver white bark and of course, the giant sequoia with its impressive size. The branches are the necessary part of a tree. They give him its majesty. Even though obvious, It is important to mention that branches are thicker at the base and thin out as they grow away from the tree. They don’t always grow up. Some go out horizontally and some, mainly on the lower part of the tree, can even go down. The branches and the leaves follow the same pattern: thick base and thinning motion as it grows from the main stem. Some species have a lot of “elbow” shape branches. We must not be afraid, when we draw trees, to duplicate (with minor differences) this type of shape. It appears that the same type of trees tends to repeat the same pattern among its limbs. As an artist, it’s important to make a difference between forests and lonely trees. Even among forests, there is quite a difference between a wild forest where nature follows its ways and a civilized forest where man has trimmed, cut and organized the trees in his own special way. Where trees are planted or kept up by man, the trunks will be straight and strong. In a wild place, trees have more competition and try to overpower each other in a race for light. In the same way, bushes and small plants will tend to be scarce underneath a thick group of trees. Pine forests have their own characteristics: needles
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on the ground, high branches… Some trees are very different depending on the place where they grew or on the elements they had to live with. The wind, the soil or the rain can have a drastic influence on the shape of a tree. Just like with people, time and circumstances play an important role. When drawing a mass of trees, it can be helpful to concentrate at first on the outline more than on the trees themselves. The general light and shade must be the first priority. The details are more precise in the foreground and tend to fade away as we move toward the background. Trees all participate to the beauty of nature in their own way and I have to say that sitting down in a meadow as you are drawing trees of any kind is a true blessing. It reinforces the impression that you are part of this whole wonderful construction and it gives you a feeling of what it is to be a creator.Doppel Banana Boat
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