Winter brings out the true character of a tree, exposing every branch, every twig. It reveals the very essence, divulges hidden secrets, and leaves you in a trance as you try to follow one branch with your eyes…from the trunk to the very tip of its tiniest twig. It’s a challenging maze and no two trees are the same.
It is perhaps that challenge of recreating the spirit of the tree on paper which brings me so much joy, but I can only fully understand it in the wintertime. Exposed and silent, it confesses that spirit and somehow I feel as if I’m communicating with its Creator.
That is the mystery of art. Although done in solitude, you are not alone. Your creativity begins a conversation with nature and with God and the best part is, they speak in return.
This apple tree had the setting sun turn selected twigs a golden yellow, while others blushed with rose, and yet a few had a cobalt glow. A downy woodpecker feasted on the suet cake at the feeder, filling up before twilight. That’s the story it told me.
On another day, I chose to study this mulberry tree by drawing in graphite with branch pencils my daughter gave me for Christmas.
Neat pencils! It’s like I’m drawing a branch with a branch.
This winter mulberry tree has a hard lean to the right. Most of it’s branches grew from the right side. To the left of the mulberry tree is a thick evergreen tree. There is struggle for sunlight, resulting in the mulberry’s shape and that’s the story the mulberry tells me.
Let’s go out and paint nature, but more importantly let’s hear the stories nature is trying to tell us. Enjoy.
Vanity – n., 1 anything that is in vain or futile 2 worthlessness or futility 3 being vain, or too proud of oneself (Webster’s New World Dictionary)
It is my love for nature… that is the reason why I decided to start, Let’s Paint Nature. I enjoy being outside and looking at every detail, inspecting things, learning about them, drawing/painting them, and sharing it, in the hopes that it will inspire others to pick up that pencil and discover their own nature and the One who created it for them.
Somewhere along the way however, I was more concerned with uploading pretty pictures (vanity). How ridiculous! In doing so, I lost that first love…..sitting in nature, getting dirty, and scribbling for the love of learning without a care in the world who saw it and who did not. Without concern on how the final product ended up.
I don’t want to only pump out pretty pictures.
I wish to inspire the amateur artist who loves nature. The one who wishes to get back into drawing like they did when they were a child. The one who says, “I would like to start a nature journal but…..”
No more buts. Let’s come out of our shell. Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha! Don’t worry about what it looks like, just put pencil to paper and go. Nobody has to see it. You love nature and you will love to draw too. And I promise not to pump out pretty pictures for the sake of a pretty web site.
Today during lunch I sat on my favorite bench beneath a maple tree near my work. To my surprise when I looked up, I discovered a slew of cicada shells, all clinging to the underside of maple leaves. How happy I was to discover this! Yes they’re kind of creepy looking….but wow!!!
I came home from work extremely excited to start sketching. That excitement stirred up that old feeling of wonder and purpose. Nature is amazing!
Pretty paintings might happen and pretty paintings might not happen and that’s okay. It doesn’t matter. Becoming closer to nature through art is the aim.
Not snow, but sap. And after you handle the pine cone, you realize the sap is like superglue on your fingers… but it has the most amazing pine scent, so you don’t seem to mind that you’re a mess. Ha ha ha!
I found this pine cone while hiking and knew it would look great on toned tan paper I purchased recently from Strathmore. Starting with #2 pencil, I outlined the shape of the cone. Next I added a touch of red with a Sanguine Conté Crayon. Taking a #B6 pencil, I shaded the inner parts of the cone to give it depth. Next, I highlighted the edges of the cone with a white Conté Crayon for the sap. Lastly, I outlined with a navy blue sharpie fine tip pen. Usually I use a black Micron pen to outline, however I believe the blue made it pop.
Toned paper is great for shade value practice. Maybe you can find some nature goodies and practice at home!
I decided to change up my mediums and practice sketching with something other than watercolors. General’s Sketch & Wash pencil (made in the USA, yeaaaaaah!!!) is a nice change of pace and I highly recommend it as a quick, yet fun sketching tool.
It acts just like a pencil, however it is watersoluble, which means you can take a clean water-filled brush and move the graphite around.
Kitty Profile - watersoluble graphite pencil
You do not need watercolor paper either. I drew this in a sketchbook with 70lb paper.
Between the two sketches, I think I prefer the simple line contour drawings over the heavily shaded profile sketch. Quick and fun!