A couple of months ago a girlfriend and I went for a drive in the hill country of Central Texas to take pictures of the countryside. She wanted to show me this tree she had discovered. The tree is growing along a dry creek bed and has about a quarter of its roots exposed from the run off of floodwaters over the years by rainstorms. Erosion has created an awesome sight allowing us to see the puzzle of twisted roots that are normally below ground and out of sight. I took several pictures of it thinking I would like to use it in a drawing at some point.
I try to keep something on the drawing board at all times so after finishing one drawing I pulled out the photos of the tree and decided to give it a try.
After transferring the outline to my paper I have started to put in some of the darkest darks in and around the tree base and roots. I've added a little bit of texture on the bark and put in some grass. The grass is done by shading in the area and then using a pointed eraser and erasing each blade of grass. Highlights on the bark are done much in the same manner by either erasing or lifting out the graphite with putty eraser.
I've added more texture to the bark of the tree roots and added more of the darkest black under the main part of the tree for depth. I'm still laying down graphite with my pencil with varying degrees of pressure and a couple of different leads then picking up or erasing the graphite for highlights where the filtered sunlight is coming through the trees.
I'm really enjoying drawing the roots and bark - they are really fun to do! It's very freeform in many ways. Although I am following a very basic outline of the tree roots, my pencil is leading me where it wants with the lines and scribbles - I like the effect I'm achieving.
I'm beginning to put in the shadows on the roots cast by the branches above.
To achieve the "dirt" look on the left side I put a heavy layer of graphite down and then took my click eraser and moved it up and down and around making smudges in the graphite.
Here I have put in more of the background behind the tree and along side of it. There is a hint of a spider's web too. I've put in small branches that have probably fallen from the tree by using negative drawing - drawing around the branches rather than drawing the branches themselves.
I'm continuing to add to the roots and dirt underneath the tree - putting in more textures and shadows. More lights and darks. More smudging with the eraser. Just a bit more to do and I'll be finished.
Well here it is - "Roots." This one was fun to do and I've decided that sometime in the near future I'm probably going to do a larger version and maybe include a Cardinal for a flash of color.
I hope you enjoyed watching the progression of this drawing - be sure to check back to see what is on the board next.
Detail of "Roots"
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