Seeing the Forest Not the Trees

That’s right, today we’re going to draw a forest and we’re  going to try NOT to see the trees.  Let me explain:   Many people will draw a forest or group of trees by drawing one tree,  another next to it, then another,  and so on until there’s a bunch of individual trees standing next to each other. While that is, by definition, what a forest is, if we’re going to draw a view of a forest we need to see one thing.  Or perhaps I should say one shape.


Here is a forest that is the back drop for a farm scene.   Think of the trees as one shape in this picture with the top of the shape in the light and the right side and bottom in shadow.  Throughout the grouping of trees, various ones jut out, or recede behind other trees.  We know this because of the shadows. By putting in some of these shadows, a group of trees is suggested.  The brain knows there are lots of trees here, but I have not drawn one individual tree.



Here’s another scene that shows a group of trees in stronger light.


I love the light and shadow in this one.  Because the trees are growing on a point, we can see the forms of individual trees, but I focused on the overall shape.  Note how the values are simplified in reflection.  A good sunny day is helpful, but even when there are clouds, light and dark will continue to define the shape.


So to draw a forest, think in terms of shape, then values – just as if you were drawing a single tree.  Next week, we’ll take a walk in the woods and see what we find inside.  Stay tuned!



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