Wednesday, November 26, 2008

On trees and leaves.....

Trees, and leaves in particular, have always fascinated me. My parents were both art teachers in New York City, and at an early age I was taught how to draw a tree. In High School I made a book on trees, illustrating it with various images from my imagination.

When we first bought our property here in Oregon, the retired forester who we bought the acreage from helped me plant dozens of Douglas Fir, Pine, and native Cedar. Now, 35 years later, we have mature forests growing, along with some old growth timber and large Oregon Big Leaf Maple. One of the landmarks on our property is a huge 300 year old Douglas Fir tree with a double trunk. The few remaining Walnut trees on the property hug our back and side decks, making us feel as if we're living in a tree house. I love watching the large grey-tailed squirrels hop from tree to tree as they negotiate across our landscape without touching the ground!

Besides raking leaves, I love to photograph and sketch them. There are so many shapes, sizes and colors, not to mention textures. Drawing a leaf can be a mesmerizing and enlightening exercise. A simple #2 pencil will work, but you must learn to translate the color values of the leaf over to a specific tonal value of the graphite. Colored pencil is also a wonderful media to explore. When you draw something you become intimately involved with it's structure and form. Drawing opens up an entirely new world, allowing you to actually see what is around you. Try it!

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