'Work in a wood or study a group of trees... variety of media, colour. Look for a point of interest... an element of perspective or strong contrasts in light & shade, or the dynamic forms.'
So, I had several attempts at this. The first (below, left) was a disaster... I was overwhelmed by detail, a bucolic Buckinghamshire jungle! I lost the focal point; there was a lot of dark shadow & bright sunlight, but dappled & moving; it was all very close - not much distance, so I found it hard to create depth. I just wasn't observing well. As I walked back, I stopped and did a quick sketch of the trees and path (below right) in biro pen. Felt happier with this: perspective created by the path, juxtaposed trees with strong light & shadow.
Decided to return to do some research: Cezanne oil and water colours of trees and woodland... amazing the way he captured the dappled light, the tree forms and depth of field.
Kurt Jackson acrylic & mixed media:
David Hockney watercolour sketches: These were really helpful as they summarise the visual information so well; they're not the finished pieces.
So after this, I returned and did the marker pen sketch of the willow trees (below), and finished it by adding a little blue chalk pastel to the sky... I would have left it blank but it was such an intense blue I wanted to note that intensity.
So after all this, I still wanted to do a further study, so did a watercolour sketch of the trees and path that I'd drawn in biro:
Not entirely happy with this: I lost the forms of the trees by overdoing shadow, so repeated the image, being more careful to retain light on the right side of the trees, see below.
I built up the sketch in layers, starting with the lightest wash and getting the forms in place.
I then built up the layers of darker wash.
Following Hockney, I made simplistic marks with the brush to record different leaf shapes and the mass of leaves & shadow in the trees. The hardest to capture were the willow (top left of the picture) which were wispy & light. I left patches of original light wash to emphasise sunlight and rounded forms of the trees and added layers of darker wash for the shadows.