I have scouted around my neighbourhood for suitable subjects. St Michael Abbey on Farnborough Hill was the first sight I saw from turning off from A331 into Farnborough Park a few years ago when we came to this area. I love this scene ever since.
This is my first sketch of trees with the view of St Michael Abbey from the roundabout over the Coleford Bridge. I like the composition with different kinds of trees in front, middle and background framing the near side modern houses and the oldish Abbey. In historical term, the Abbey is not that old. It was only built in 1880 by Empress Eugenie. That is still a working Catholic monastery.
I would love to do a detailed drawing there but it proved not very practical standing in the middle of a narrow pavement with heavy traffic behind me. I can just manage with a A4 sketchbook. I don’t think I can stand with a A3 drawing broad for an hour. The pavement is too narrow to sit on a stall.
The next I sketch was a group of oaks in my local park. They are old friends. I sketched them last summer with full foliage from a distance. You can see them at the top of the menu. The young leaves were just coming out. It was a sunny day but I was shivering. I would love to develop the right front tree a bit further.
After over a week waiting for a warmer day to go back to the park, the weather turned even wetter and cooler. I decided not to wait any further. I tested out the dip pen to see whether I can manage with it for a larger drawing. The final drawing below is on a A3 cartridge paper. I am relatively happy with the outcome.
What techniques did you use to distinguish one species of tree from another?
Different species are with different overall shapes, branches coming out from the trunk with different angles. If close-up, barks and leaves are with different texture and shapes and colouring.
How did you convey the mass of foliage and the spaces between?
It is difficult for this particular drawing because the foliage is not fully developed yet. For fuller foliage, I would only do the outline of the overall shape with few suggested leaves. The spaces between mass of foliage can be treated as windows to the scene behind it or just letting light through it.
How did you handle light on the different parts of the tree?
The light is from the top left. I hatched heaver on the right side of the trucks and the bottom of the branches and under the foliage.
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.
Yes, I have to simpler a lot. On the whole I am happy with this drawing even though the sketch is not detailed enough as it was not my intention for it to be my sole reference. It supposed to be just an initial plan for composition and help me see the tree better. I would like the have more information to develop the background and the ground. There were more trees behind. My drawing looks a bit bare.