16th November- oak study in watercolour at Yorkshire Arboretum

Last week saw immense change at the arboretum as large quantities of leaves dropped in strong winds. Canopies were opened up giving the space a very different feel; light penetrating where it has been blocked since May. I am starting to really look forward to winter. I wandered around concentrating on tree trunks, the different textures of bark on different species and the play of light and shadow.

I spent some time studying and sketching a large oak. What struck me was the intensity of shadows on the bole. I am excited about sketching trees now, especially winter trees. This is a reminder that at any level sketching teaches you to really look at and appreciate a subject in a new way. Before my arboretum residency I probably wouldn’t have stopped to sketch this oak, but here I am doing just that and I feel so inspired.

In sitting and sketching there is so much more to be gained beyond painting the subject in front of you. Time in a clock watching sense disappears as I become aware of shifting shadows and the passage of clouds. I heard crossbills, a hawfinch, redwings and fieldfares and a jay. A treecreeper spiraled up the trunk before flying into the wood behind. I become completely immersed in the scene and each time I pass this oak I will be thankful for the time I spent with it and the joy that this gave me.

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