There is something beautiful about an autumnal tree. But we know that. Its contours stand strong, silhouetted against the sky, proud in its nakedness. So its obvious advantages as artistic fodder can be understood. But there is nothing simple about trying to capture it on paper.
In search of my perfect tree I walked down the cliff path scouting trees. Some were still annoyingly leafy others far too complicated. Once I located the perfect tree I took out my charcoal and paper and set about drawing the tree in front of me with the intention of capturing the most awe inspiring winter tree anyone’s ever seen. Really our egos are uncontrollable! Within minutes though my page was smudged with charcoal my eyes stinging and tearful from the cliffside gale force wind and my nose watering from the brilliant English weather. In between trying to blow my nose, wipe my eyes and keep my hand free from frost bite (yes I’m exaggerating but they were numb) the future of my observational sketch did not look good.
I understood that the worst possible thing you can do while trying to draw a tree is to try hard to draw a tree. Its shapes are not the ones you see, the lines and forms are not simple. The more I tried to replicate it exactly the more I failed. There are little nooks, bumps and fissures that make a tree bend and sway in its journey towards the sky.
Its safe to say that the first trip to the cliff didn’t produce much of a tree. After three attempts I finally made something which resembled a tree. As with most things there’s a difference between looking and understanding. You have to keep looking until you finally see the real tree.