Monday, July 14, 2008

Drawing Trees with Sarah Simblet

On Saturday, I did a National Gallery workshop with Sarah Simblet on the Anatomy of Trees - exploring the structure and dynamics of trees and approaches to drawing trees. I highlighted this (and my full size drawing) in yesterday's post and today have two posts - this one about the workshop and another on my Travels with a Sketchbook blog which explains how I developed the largest drawing (as in widest!) I've ever done.

Sarah is Tutor in Anatomy at the Ruskin School of Drawing and Fine Art, University of Oxford, where she is also a member of Wolfson College. She's the author of various books including The Drawing Book (see my book review The Drawing Book - into the vivid heart of drawing).

extract (12" x 16") from
St James Park - the Lake View,
with trees
(right hand page)
coloured pencils in double page spread of sketchbook
copyright Katherine Tyrrell

We spent the morning in the National Gallery Education Centre while Sarah explained various strategies for drawing trees. I knew a lot of what she covered but find it's always good to have a very focused 'work-out' periodically to give me a fresh perspective - as well as identifying and filling in any gaps in knowledge and techniques I've learned to date. A combination of refresher and a pick me up plus it's always good to hear sarah talk about the process of drawing!

Sarah covered various topics and I'm not going to give everything away in terms of detail as she's got a new book for Dorling Kindersley - The Drawn Garden (to be published Spring 2009) - but to give you a teeny weeny taster of what might be covered by the book here are some of the topics she covered in the workshop:
  • materials for drawing trees in monochrome
  • working outside - and ways of addressing associated environmental challenges
  • scale relationships
  • pictorial composition - how principles and elements of design relate to trees and how to orchestrate eye movement
You are in control of how your viewer looks at and experiences your drawing
Sarah Simblet
  • subject matter - the interplay between focus and detail
  • strategies for drawing trees
Sarah never works from photos and always works from life and her personal experience of a subject.

She showed us some of her wonderful drawings in pen and ink - on a paper which I didn't recognise - a paper called heavy weight Lambeth Drawing Cartridge from John Purcell Paper. I've now added this to my Paper and Non Canvas Supports - Resources for Artists information site.

You can see some more of Sarah's drawings here. I think these particular ones are of water.

I wonder whether Sarah prefers drawing trees when they don't have leaves as she's really excellent at drawing the structural architecture of a tree. She certainly entertained us with stories of drawing trees in winter and how to avoid your paper getting messed up with the detritus of birdies up above!

After lunch, we spent the afternoon in St James Park drawing trees. A lot of my workshop colleagues had a go at drawing with a dip pen and chinese drawing ink and produced some splendid drawings as a result.

I draw in pen and ink quite a lot so decided to stick to my favourite coloured pencils! You can read more about how I constructed my drawing and my decision-making processes in 'Anatomy of a drawing' in a post about Drawing trees in St James Park on my Travels with a Sketchbook blog.

If you're coming to London, it's always well worthwhile checking out what's happening during the period of a visit in terms of events, talks, education courses and workshops at the various art galleries and museums. You can usually find information on the websites.

1 comment:

Cathy Gatland said...

I'm as green as those trees that you could go to a Sarah Simblet workshop - I have had The Drawing Book for a couple of years and it is endlessly informative and inspiring. I think I may visit my local park with pen and ink soon!

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