Part 5.4: Final Piece

I began my final piece by choosing two subjects which I could not decide between and started with two pieces of A1 paper (knowing larger scales work best for my method of working). It was my hope that as I moved through the creative process with both pieces, it would become more apparent to me as to which piece should become my final piece and which was more successful than the other before finally settling on the one final option.


I decided from my experimentation that the strongest result was from that of a surface of newspaper and also the ink as I found these the most appealing, however, I later changed my mind and decided from looking at earlier experiments that I actually preferred found papers due to their cleaner black and white appearance as opposed to the grey of the newspaper. I also then decided that using tea staining would create even more texture than the ink due to the way in which ink appeared to dry smoothly, whereas tea staining would dry where it lay, creating a marbled effect on the found papers.

Once this surface was ready to work on, I decided to draw a grid on both pieces to assist me with laying my chosen subjects down roughly but accurately. I then removed the grids and outlined the subjects in charcoal to assist in being able to see it easier whilst working into the pieces.

It was at this stage that I realised that the second of my pieces was not really working. I found that the human subject only reached halfway up the page with the tree subject covering the remaining half of the page. I felt that if I were to continue, the tree would become more excess space than interesting detail, as well as creating a bit of a battle with the human subject to claim the foreground of the piece, when I would actually prefer the human subject to be the main focal point and the tree important but secondary in the background.

Initial Detail of the Human Subject in Biro

Face, Hair and Hands

Detail of face, hair and hands

I decided to begin filling in the detail of the human subject by using black biro, as I knew there were a few very fine details which needed to be considered very delicately (the face, hair and hands) and my earlier experiments have led me to understand that biro is my strongest tool in this area.

When working on these areas, I decided not to draw the actual shapes I could see, but the shadows, patches of tone and the contrasts within them all as I wanted them to be as deep and as strong as possible to create depth and the sense that the human was quite three-dimensional. With regard to the hair, I decided that the biro was the strongest tool for the base shape and flow of the strands as I could manipulate the direction and shape of my lines to create a realistic representation, but also to help assist the viewer in distinguishing the hair from the deep shadows and the rolls which make up the bun at the back.

Arms, Torso, Buttocks and Leg

Once I had completed the finer detailed areas, I moved on to the remaining areas of the human subject’s body and created subtle marks and cross-hatching to show the movement of the skin over the underlying bones and muscles to create depth and shape within the flat surface and to subliminally inform the viewer the direction the lines are moving in and the roundness this adds.

Detail of arms, torso, buttocks and legs

Initial Detail of the Tree Subject in Biro

I then began using the same method with the biro for the tree as I had the human form, to stay light and delicate, but to simply give the tree its rounded form by subliminally showing the direction the lines are moving in.

Detail of Tree Subject

From here, I added a layer of charcoal to the tree and sealed it with pastel fixative.

I was quite surprised by the changes which developed in the marks created with the pen from the application of the fixative as it seemed to make the lines bleed somewhat and bring out the different under-layers of colour used to build the ink to its black hue. I actually rather enjoyed the surprise result and decided to try and work with it.

I later returned to my piece, having worked in stages throughout the development, deciding that the single layer of charcoal on the tree was effective, but needed more work to show a differentiation between the ground, the roots and the trunk of the tree, but also to stop the human subject from appearing to float in the air.

Additional Media Usage

I then moved on to adding several additions to the piece.

Firstly, I used a putty rubber to redact some of the charcoal to increase the definition around the edges of the collaged paper with the intention of this to subtly stand out as though real bark would itself. This did not really appear to work so well as the layer of charcoal was actually rather thin in the first place, so not much was lifted. There was also the matter that I had used the pastel fixative a little too prematurely, in hindsight, so I decided to rethink my methods and come back to the piece at another time with fresh eyes.

When I returned to the piece, I used the black biro to work back through the piece to create differentiated lines to break up the single directional lines previously created and to deepen some areas I had already created, but felt I had overlooked slightly.

Next, I added some black marker marks to the piece and finally a layer of black acrylic paint pens as I liked how the layers of black lines seemed to deepen and created that layered effect my tutor had tried to get me to develop earlier in the course. I also worked on creating a definition in my grounds by bringing a sense of grass to the area beneath the model and at the base of the tree’s roots.

I used the acrylic marker to also make apparent the different edges of the paper I had used to create a collage, within the tree to emphasise the bark. I felt doing this would be a much more natural way of creating the bark as opposed to trying to create my own example of the same. I felt it rather fitting to emphasise the use of paper in a piece expressing a love and appreciation of trees and the extent to which we humans rely upon the same.


Once I had finished my piece, I took a while away from it to be able to see it with fresh eyes before returning to be able to reflect without continuing and potentially overworking the piece.

I think I could potentially added a little more shadow to the human subject’s flank on her right-hand side to assist in grounding her further and showing the form of the root on that side also. I think I could have worked further with the bark markings to create shadow to one side and add more texture as the result shown above appears a little cartoon-like.

Finally, I think there could perhaps be some excess space within the piece which could be removed and the piece cropped to have more of an impact (as shown below), however, I do think the space in the result above does add to the grandness of the tree.

Reflection Cropping Idea

Part 5: Artist’s Statement and Questions

Artist’s Statement: Combining the Human Form with that of Trees, using Mixed Media, Line and Tone

For this Part of the course, I began by working back and reflecting on my earlier exercises, projects, assignments, parts, research, tutor recommendations and feedback, as well as my own self-reflection, to be able to pinpoint key areas of strengths and to help me with developing an idea for my final piece.

From this reflection, I feel I have a very strong passion and greatest strength for, and in, the figure, but also with other more natural and organic forms, most notably trees.  Whilst I feel other exercises such as still life and architecture have been good for me to experiment with and develop my understanding of deeper aspects of the ‘rules’ within art, they do not hold much in the way of interest and intrigue for me, but also they do not appear to be as strong as the aforementioned topics, so I feel it now necessary to discard the ‘themes’, whilst still retaining the lessons learned (i.e. perspective and other technical skills) and producing a final, much stronger and more focussed piece.

After considering the reflective process and determining that my strengths lie in the human form and the organic form of trees, I began to question whether I could potentially combine the two and how strong I could potentially make the end result.  Perhaps I could create a piece of a person next to a tree in some form of pose?  Or maybe create a person in the form of a tree, or vice versa? 

I decided to carry out some research into artists who have worked in a similar sort of way to what I was considering doing. I came across several artists, whose work and my findings can be found by clicking here.

From this research and reflection, I decided that I would like my final piece to incorporate a human and a tree.  I decided I would create several sketches of different several compositions and then, from there, I would move on to reflecting on the medium experiments recently finished to find which options would work best for the strongest sketches.  I will then create a few drafts of the chosen sketch with the chosen media before moving on to creating my final piece.

The result I want to achieve is a combination of human and tree forms to really invite the viewer to appreciate the complexity of our closeness as humans to our organic foliage counterparts.  Neither humans nor plants could live without the other, thanks to the wonders of the universe and the science of photosynthesis; the trees provide us with shelter and food, but also – and most importantly – the clean air we breathe.  In turn, we are able to return the favour, so to speak, by assisting the trees in their growth by assisting with feeding and pruning etc. 

It saddens me that we abuse our silent counterparts so drastically, but then, without this, there would be no paper for me, as an artist, to convey my message.  It is a very complex circle of life, however, I think we need the trees and other plants much more than they need us and this ‘leaning on’ by humans is something I would hope to convey to my viewers.

Questions from Course Textbook

After finalising my Artist Statement, I decided to create a questionnaire holding the questions in the course textbook so that, as I am working through the different experiments, I am able to write down my chosen option and the reason why this was chosen, so I could quickly reflect and pinpoint when beginning my final piece, as well as any amendments and the reasons for these. I felt this would assist me when self-assessing at the end of this Part. The document used when creating my final piece can be seen below:

Part 5.3: Initial Conceptual Ideas and Studies

Surface and Media Experimentation

I decided to begin by creating some very brief and nondescript mixed media experiments, using the same ideology as used in a previous exercise, to refer back to once I had found my chosen subject. I created three pages using inks, masking fluid, pen, chalk, charcoal, masking tape and a range of found papers and then applied of these in a very child-like way, just to see how each interacts with the other.

From looking at these results, I think the chalk and charcoal as surfaces is very delicate and the colours work nicely together in a subtle way in the background. However, other than the charcoal, there does not seem to be many media which will work on top of these surfaces. The tea works really nicely as a base and I think would assist in keeping the image as a limited palette, especially if mixed with some of the found papers.

Initial Sketches of Chosen Subjects

Next, I decided to create some preparatory sketches to try to come up with different ideas for the composition, structure, layout, design, different angles, foreshortening, perspectives and technical aspects of my final piece.

Sketches of Human Subjects

I began by sketching several figures from a couple of books I have and also from the internet (the details of which can be found in the bibliography, below). I decided to use several different media to try and deduce which would be the most successful for the final piece.

Sketches of Tree Subjects

Next, I created some sketches of several trees from my local park, again using the different media to try and assist with deciding upon a chosen media for my final piece.

Combinations of Preferred Subjects in Biro

From here, I tried combining some of the figures with some of the trees to try and come up with the best choice for my final piece. I chose to work in biro for these sketches as I find it the most delicate, but quick and controlled for my method of working. I also realised from my initial sketches that my pieces in biro were my favourite with respect to the precision and fluidity created in them.

Different Media Experiments of Preferred Subjects

From the quick sketches I created, I decided that my strongest option would be to zoom in to the tree as close as possible to remove any excess space, but also to choose the two figures I found the most interesting to provide the best result and the most intriguing story and connection to my chosen question for this assignment.

With regard to the choice of media and surface, I tried to consider all of the artists I had come across both independently and from my tutor when creating the sketches and to try to include a mixture of several within my experiments, such as Moore’s expressive but controlled use of lines, Schiele’s delicate and subtle mix of colours, Redon’s use of contrast in his pieces of trees.

I found I really enjoyed the collage aspect and think it provides extra depth to the piece. I also like the monochrome and limited palettes I had created in the pieces and think I will have some fairly difficult decisions to make with regard to the final piece as to which options to choose.

I did find, however, that I struggled to choose between the two favourite poses as they were both appealing. Again, I feel this will be a difficult decision to contend with.

Assignment 3

Preparatory Work

I decided to begin this assignment by working my way back from the start of this Part of the course and to include as many techniques from the exercises within it.

My first task was to choose a viewpoint which included a bit of all, or as many as possible, of this Part. I had been looking around for a while but then decided on the view from my in-laws’ home, which overlooks a lot of trees and other greenery, sky and clouds which lead to an atmospheric / aerial perspective in the distance, houses which show the other different perspectives, and a statue (a birds’ feeding post) in their garden.

Photographs of Chosen Scenery

Looking around, there was a lot of scenery, atmospheric perspective and beautiful rolling clouds. It was an overcast day and there was a dampness in the air, yet there was not much wind.

Whilst I could choose from any of these viewpoints as they were all beautiful to behold. I decided to create a quick sketch of some of the more interesting and diverse scenes to assist me in deciding, as I felt I could only see things properly through actually drawing the scene to understand it better and in more detail.

Quick Sketches

I began by carrying out some quick sketches in willow charcoal of the area by turning and zooming in on sections I felt were interesting and which held several different angles, sharper areas and softer curves.

Quick sketches of viewpoints

10cm x 10cm Square Sketches

From the sketches above, I then decided to create six 10cm x 10cm squares; one zoomed-in box for each quick sketch and each in line and tone, as with the earlier exercise in this manner.

Linear and Tonal 10cm x 10cm Boxes

I really enjoyed doing this exercise again as I genuinely really enjoy zooming in on certain areas and I am rather pleased my tutor suggested it. My favourite was by far the bottom right tonal piece as I really like the angles and sharp contrasts within it as well as the softness of the greenery.

Selecting a Viewpoint

I decided that my favourite viewpoint which held a bit of all the previous exercises was the view with the birds’ feeder in the foreground, houses in the middle ground and sky / clouds in the background. Whilst I actually thought the last 10cm x 10cm square was really interesting, I decided to look at the full viewpoint again for my final piece.

Quick Studies of Clouds

Next, I decided to revisit the clouds experiments to assist me with developing my final piece. The coloured pencils I felt were rather unsuitable as I could not manipulate them in the way I wanted. I really liked the soft pastels and how subtle the colouring could be within it. I liked the willow charcoal as I was able to manipulate this rather well, however, it was a little heavy in the delivery compared to the soft pastels. The oil pastels was the most disappointing, however, I think that may purely be down to my approach and heavy-handedness.

Foreground, Middle-Ground and Background

Next, I decided to break down the three grounds within my chosen viewpoint as I had done in an earlier exercise as I really found that that helped me to distinguish between the three rather well. This time, however, I decided to use some oil pastels to quickly jot down the colours I could see (and which I had the closest representative to).

Separating grounds

I noticed that the background was very washed out with barely any intensity or detail at all. There were only small areas where the sky broke through the clouds. It was a very overcast day, which I thought perfect for assisting in creating an atmospheric perspective within the piece.

The middle and foregrounds confused me slightly, however. From my earlier practice, I had found that the more distant the object, the lighter it would appear. These two grounds appeared to be in reverse. The greenery of the middle-ground was rather dark, yet dull, whereas the greenery in the foreground was rather light and rich in colour. Besides this, it was apparent that there was much less detail to the middle-ground than the foreground. I decided that when it came to my final piece, I would lighten the middle-ground to assist in following the method I had previously used, leading to the light background.

I decided that the houses which I had put in the middle-ground section would help create that sense of distance and I had read in my research of grounds that including an object such as a building within your piece in the middle-ground will assist in the divisions. I chose to leave the house closest to the bird feeder out of the piece as I think I would have made it harder to distinguish between the grounds and make that area generally too cumbersome.

Perspectives in Chosen View

Having chosen my viewpoint, I the used a page in my sketchbook to look at the perspectives of the objects in my piece. I found that there the roof of one of the houses and the electricity unit were both seen in one-point perspective and that the second roof and the bird feeder were both two-point perspective. Due to not having enough room to find the actual vanishing points for these objects, I decided to measure the widest area and then the narrowest area of the angles as it was not always clearly distinguishable that the lines were narrowing just by looking with the naked eye. For instance, the base of the bird feeder looks as though it is completely parallel upon first viewing, but if you look closer and actually measure the distance between the lines, it becomes clear that they definitely narrow over towards the left-hand side of the page, so the vanishing point would clearly be over in that direction as opposed to over in the right-hand direction. However, other areas, such as the top right of the bird feeder’s roof seemed to run almost parallel. This would really assist me when plotting out these details for my final piece as I think it really does help me to see the facts of the objects in a much clearer way as opposed to what I think I see.

Perspective experiment

Choice of Palette

Next, I played with the different colours I could see within the three grounds and different objects of the piece. I merged the next colour with the previous one and so on. I then worked over the top of the shades with other colours in the same category to see how they would interact with each other.

Once I had done this, I decided to work into each with the lid of my pen to blend the colourings, add a lightness to them and also to add a little texture.

I really enjoyed this exercise as I found a few colour combinations I had not considered previously. I also really liked the scratchings as I think these will be really useful for the greenery and also the wood of the bird feeder to create some texture within the piece.

Choosing a palette

Quick Sketch of Whole Composition

I then decided to create a line study of the whole piece quickly in charcoal in my sketchbook. I tried to look up during the creation of the sketch to see what I was drawing as opposed to what I thought I was seeing.

On reflection, I think I have actually done rather well with this sketch as the depth in the bird feeder is good as a result of the tonal differences created with the charcoal. I stayed with the natural darker middle-ground, but I think I was correct earlier when I decided that the darker middle-ground would not be the best way to complete my piece.

Quick sketch in charcoal

I then created a piece purely using the side of my oil pastels to create broad strokes of the general colours within the chosen piece. This time, I swapped the middle-ground and foreground tonal ranges so that the foreground was darker and the middle-ground lighter to blend easier with the blue and white of the background.

It was only when I had finished that I realised the outline of the A4 piece of paper on the page behind had come through. I actually really like it. I think it frames it rather nicely and adds a sense of intrigue to the sketch. Whilst it was an accident, I think it would have the viewer question why it was there, why it is not central etc and would draw them in to the piece.

Final Piece

I felt finally ready to begin my final piece and decided I would use oil pastels to help me do so as I had really enjoyed working with it in the preliminary stage.

I began by taking the photograph of my chosen viewpoint and drawing a grid over it. I decided to do this as I wanted to be as accurate as possible with my perspectives, measurements and structures of the skeleton of the piece. I had found this really useful in my earlier exercises and wanted to use this method within my final piece.

I decided to use a piece of pastel paper which had a good texture to it and which I knew would work well with the oil pastels in creating even more texture within the piece. I drew the objects into place and roughly drew the divides between the three grounds.

Luckily, due to having a wet and miserable summer, the day I returned to complete my final piece, the weather was exactly almost identical to the day I had originally taken my photograph and had created the preliminary sketches.

I then put in the base colours on the three grounds in an almost solid colour so I could build over it. I then began working in the detail of the roofs and building the greenery up, which I decided to stay rather expressive with as opposed to adding much in the way of actual detail.

I got to a certain stage and took a step back from the work to look at it and see if I needed to make any changes. I realised that the rooftops appeared to just be floating in mid-green sea, so I decided to bring the tones used in the greenery of the foreground up to the roofs, thus separating the roofs specifically into the middle-ground.

For the sky, I considered my earlier experiment with the oil pastel to recreate the clouds and thought them too much, so tried to recreate the effect of the soft pastels with only the slightest touches of blue, grey and silver to add density to the clouds, which I believe has been rather successful.

Final piece – first stage

I kept on building up several layers of colours and scratchings (changing the movement and flow to suit the object) to create depth and definition in the foreground until I finally decided I had gone as far as I could without overworking the piece.

Finished piece

Overall, I am actually rather pleased with this final piece and think it rather successful. I have managed to include a lot of the exercises and projects worked with in this Part of the course and believe I have learned an extraordinary amount in such a short space of time.

I think the piece is believable and the grounds distinguishable. I am happy with the atmosphere I was able to create in the background with the rolling clouds and the subtle density and thinning to the blue sky behind. I think my greenery could perhaps have been a bit more distinguished, but I thoroughly enjoyed being really expressive within these parts of the piece and feel I allowed this to come through, yet be restrained when needed (such as the roofs and the electricity unit).

Part 3: Project 2: Landscape

Research Point:
Vija Celmins

Please click here to view the information gleaned in this Research Point.

Exercise 1: Cloud Formations and Tone

Exercise 1: Cloud Formations and Tone

For this exercise, I chose to sit out one day and, true to typical British weather, felt I had the luck of several different ‘skies’ all in one day.


The day began rather sunny, but with a bit of cloud in places. I decided to recreate the bright blue of the sky behind the clouds using a blue ink wash in my sketchbook. I then used some white, light grey and dark grey pastels to recreate some of the clouds I could see, trying to capture the movement of the clouds across the page. I tried to capture how light and fluffy the top of the clouds were, as well as how heavy and dense the bottom of the clouds were. I did try to make the top of the clouds much, much lighter, but there was only so much the pastel would lift. I thought about using something such as correction fluid or acrylic paint, however, I thought the use of them would make the lightness of the cloud much too heavy.


Later in the day, the sky clouded over and the clouds which were much lighter and sparser had become much heavier and closer together, overlapping each other in places. I tried, again, to lift the area where the sun was, increase the depth and layers between the clouds using pastels. Again, the pastel would not lift enough for the ‘sun’ section. I think, perhaps, I would be better to leave this section of the page white without applying the blue ink wash all over and building from there.


For this piece, I tried to use the pastels to recreate the colours in the clouds where were utterly beautiful, since the weather had, once again, taken a turn! The sky had cleared and the clouds were spread out like lines across the sky. I used a blue ink wash again and then applied a red and yellow wash beneath. I then used coloured pastels to recreate the colours I saw. I was a bit disappointed with the outcome as I think it is a great representation of a sky, but I don’t think the clouds are distinguishable really.


Again, the sky was rather clear and the sunset was beautiful.

Calm clouds

Finally, i decided to take a piece of A3 cartridge paper and used some blue / white mixed ink to create the sky in the background. I then used soft pastel to create the clouds, which were constantly moving, and tried to show this movement within the piece. I also tried to create a bit of weight to the bottom of the clouds with a touch of grey. Remembering what my tutor said about less being more, I only added a slight amount of the grey, so it was almost invisible. I admit, I did find it a struggle to remain so light-handed as I do enjoy my darker colours!

Exercise 2: Sketchbook Walk

Due to this being a quick study exercise, I decided the best medium would be willow charcoal. I went for a walk during a warm summery day at around midday and came across these four scenes which interested me for different reasons, but mostly for the potential for depth, perspective and patches of tone, again, trying to work on my tutor’s feedback.

I was actually rather pleased with myself consider how fast I had worked to create these studies and feel I have been successful in creating depth rather well within the sketch of the single tree with trees in the background as the shadows and different strengths of tone really does work to create the impression of depth.

However, I do not think the study of a single tree with leaves and shadow was quite as successful as I think the shadow appears too similar in tone to the actual leaves of the tree.

I am rather pleased with the perspective of the first study of the trees with the pathway and do think it is somewhat believable.

Whilst, I’m not majorly impressed with the close-up of the tree trunk, I am happy with the texture I think I have got across within it.

Observations to Note from Course Textbook

I carried out this exercise on a summery day at around midday. The weather was warm and there was not much of a breeze. There were not many clouds and those which were visible were light and fluffy. The light fell to the right, left and in front of the trees, depending on my chosen viewpoint when selecting what I thought were rather interesting views. I chose the views I did as I felt they all offered something different; a full tree with foliage, trees leading down a path, a single tree’s trunk to show texture and also another single tree with smaller ones in the background with fantastic tonal changes.

Exercise 3: 360° Studies

For this exercise, I decided to work in biro due to its flexibility, expressive nature and my natural preference for this medium. I spent 15 minutes on each section and tried to work as quickly as possible, getting as much detail in as possible.

I found this exercise really good for practising my perspective skills (again, as recommended by my tutor) and thoroughly enjoyed some, if not all parts of the process.

My favourite is by far the curved wall piece as I just think I have managed to get a fair bit of depth and tone in this quick study as opposed to the other pieces. I also really like how the pieces appear to be just messy squiggly lines until you start to see them properly and they form an actual image.

Research Point: Artists Working in Series

Please click here to view the information gleaned in this Research Point.

Part 3: Project 1: Trees

Exercise 1: Sketching Individual Trees

For this exercise, I decided to use a piece of A2 paper and divided it roughly into four (I didn’t measure this, I just drew a line roughly where I thought the centre was both vertically and horizontally). I walked around my local park and settled upon this tree for this exercise. I followed the instructions for the exercise but found them rather frustrating as the first and third instructions seemed almost identical, as did the second and fourth. I carried on regardless and am actually rather pleased with the outcome. I tried to stay very basic in my first and third sketches, focusing mostly on the outline, as instructed in my course manual, and then included more detail of the shadow in blocks of charcoal for the second, but with no real regard for the textures etc, trying to take note of my tutor’s comments in my feedback for Part 2 to try to use patches of tone as opposed to blending too much. For the fourth piece, I tried to show the shadows, as well as the textures of the mossy areas of the tree and also drew in more of the finer branches. I tried to stay rather fluid and quick within my sketches and was actually rather pleased with the fourth and final piece. I found I did not really look at my page for the first and third sketches as much as I did the second and fourth, but I think this was because I wanted to place the areas of shadow and texture as accurately as possible, whereas when it was just the outline, I was not as focussed on getting things in precisely the correct place.

I really enjoyed the fluidity of the charcoal, but think I would like to try using a biro for the next exercise, due to it asking for more detail to the tree and to take a longer time in doing so. The charcoal would be too quick for this I feel.

Exercise 1: Sketching individual trees

Questions from Course Textbook

What techniques did you use to distinguish one species of tree from another?

I tried to pay attention to how the bark differed; whether by colour, texture or pattern. I also tried to note the difference in the shapes and colours of the leaves, as well as how the branches and trunk grew or twisted. I also used an app to help me identify the species.

How did you convey the mass of foliage and the spaces between?

For this exercise, having tried to indicate the main shapes of the tree, I chose to zoom in and ignore the foliage, concentrating solely on the movement and shapes of the trunk and branches.

How did you handle light on the different parts of the tree?

I tried to use the method of scrunching up my face to see the fall of light on the tree. I used blocks of tone as well as rubbings in places to represent the texture / light fall on the trunk as I found that the light would find the contours of the bark, creating smaller patches of light and dark areas all over.

Did you manage to select and simplify? Look at your drawings and make notes on how you did this, and what you could have done better.

I think I was rather successful at simplifying, owing to my tutor’s comments regarding my assignment piece for Part 2. I do think the sketches could have been better if I had included the foliage and the difference in the light and dark patches of tone within them.

Exercise 2: Larger Observational Study of an Individual Tree

I began this exercise by drawing the outline of a tree I had come across in my local park. I tried to look closely at the outline of the tree, blocking out all of the background information to see the tree clearer.

Outline of tree in biro on A2 page

Next, I decided to work my way up the tree, adding in the tone of the tree and the blocks of tone in the shadows in the different parts of the tree’s flank and limbs. I specifically chose this tree due to the contrast in the patches of tone, which seemed to play a big part of my feedback, as well as the need to work on my form. The patches of tone in this tree almost abstracted the form of the tree, which helped me to see it better and not just to draw what I thought it should look like.

I didn’t want to apply too much in the way of background information to this piece, but wanted to ground the tree somewhat, so included a little area of grass around the bottom.

Creating the detail and patches of tone

I really tried to consider what my tutor had said in my feedback about depth and how I should create the outline first and then let my expressive mark-marking loose inside the outline. I think this exercise was perfect for that as the skin of the tree had so much movement with lines going this way and that way, so I really did have fun with this exercise.

Further work on patches of tone

Going off my tutor’s feedback and her comment regarding excess space within my piece, I decided to step back from the work I had done so far and rethink the piece. I decided if I were to continue with the top of the tree, it would become too top-heavy and the excess space was rather a lot. My tutor advised me to crop when I felt it necessary, so I listened to my instinct and decided to cut it down somewhat. There is still a fair bit of excess space in the piece to either side of the tree, but I think it adds a little illusion to the piece and, together with the patches of tone and cropping, creates a sense of abstraction.

Finished piece

Exercise 3: Study of Several Trees

For this exercise, I tried to remember my tutor’s comments regarding building my image in layers. I started with a layer of brown oil pastel, followed by a layer of green and then worked on adding the other colours I could see in my chosen viewpoint. I took a step back after this and realised the tree held no texture and there did not appear to be much definition between the foreground, middle-ground and background, so I decided to continue to lighten the background with a ‘wash’ of white oil pastel, as this was where the source of light from the daytime sitting had come from and then darkened and deepened the colours of the foreground somewhat with darker shades of the colours and also black oil pastel, and applied some texture throughout with expressive mark-making, but trying to maintain the three separate sections at the same time.


I really enjoyed studying the trees and thought it may be somewhat similar to drawing the human figure and all of the ways of movement both can achieve.

I think these exercises were brilliant in helping me practise my tonal work and to experiment on my tutor’s comments regarding this. Whilst I drew the outline of the tree, I did not bother much with trying to ‘draw’ a tree as opposed to drawing the different patches of black, white and varied strengths of grey, leading to what I think is a much better representation of the tree than if I were to have tried to draw the tree itself.