MAKING THE LEAVES TOUCH THE BRANCHES


As a child I would draw a stick figure with arms, legs, fingers and toes in spread-eagle fashion.  In the same way I drew trees, with branches breaking off from the main trunk, adding leaves in the empty spaces around it. 

Somewhere between childhood and adulthood I acquired the ability to “see” objects as three dimensional shapes. Or perhaps more precisely, I increasingly felt the need to render that depth and dimension.  I’ve learned it’s not so much about drawing, but seeing.  If you study the form of things, memorize its construction, the volumes, the tones, the reflections, then when it comes time to put it on paper those observations come out naturally in your drawing. 

While it’s certainly true that everyone needs to start with the basics, like shading a circle to appear as a sphere or making little boxes shaded from dark to light with your pencil, these exercises have merit.  But of course that’s not really where it all happens, comfortably sitting at a chair in a warm studio. I’ve been told for years to GET OUTDOORS!  Take paper and pencil and go plant yourself outside and draw whatever is in front of your face.  Learn how the sun hits the edges of trees and rocks.  Note how the moss adds texture to the shadows.

It’s a cliché, but the phrase “practice makes perfect” really is the whole crux of the matter.  The more you practice… the more you increase your visual vocabulary inside your mind… the more life your drawings will have.

So that’s what I do, I try to pay attention.  A certain tree nearby that deserves a few moments to look at it properly, even though I pass it by every day.  To SEE how the branches stick out behind and in front.  To OBSERVE how the leaves are not always in profile.  To MEMORIZE how they curl and twist and caress the stems.  And most importantly, the next time I draw one, to make sure the leaves touch the branches.

                                                                   

on 14/03/11
Posted on 03/14 at 06:11 PM
(4) CommentsPermalink