Having fun drawing trees

Hi Mark, thank you for your response. Glad to know that my lengthy comment is of some help for you. I will try to be as short as possible, but two points to add:

  1. choice of soft pastels:

Faber-Castell is very useful for its wide variety of colours in a small set, but I recommend you at least try using Schmincke. You don’t necessarily need to buy a huge set, but get a couple of sticks of the colours you most often use. Once you use them, you will soon realise Schmincke is much more creamy and sticks to the paper much better. Rembrandt is the hardest type of pastels in the items listed above, and you can utilize the edge of Rembrandt pastels to draw some thin lines.

Speaking of drawing thin lines, it is very difficult to draw details using soft pastels, especially when you use a relatively small paper. Pastel pencils are the first choice for some people in such a case, but my preference is to use “colour shaper”.


I used this for this wild trees piece almost everywhere, and maybe a better example is my “the waterfall within”. Without the colour shapers, I couldn’t possibly have completed all the details of the columnar joints, the leaves, and the water, i.e. EVERYTHING in a nutshell!

  1. exhibition plan to push yourself:

I wonder if you have some reasonable rental galleries or restaurant/cafes where you can exhibit your artworks in London. I think those who can constantly give themselves a new assignment have a strong probability of success in making their creativity blossom. Planning an exhibition is an effective means to put yourself in such a position. Actually, my “life per leaf” series was created because I needed to draw something very quickly so that I can prepare enough number of artworks in time for my exhibition at a local restaurant. The exhibition was planned sometime in Feb this year, but the owner asked me to make it earlier. I had to shorten my prep period by 10 days, so I wanted to draw something simple and yet beautiful. This is why I set my eyes on leaves drawings. Once I actually started working on this subject, it was way more difficult than I had imagined…but I could not give up because that was my responsibility. As it turned out, it became a very interesting series. In your case, it might be interesting to plan an exhibition in 6 months or maybe one year, focusing on the artworks of the same subjects drawn/painted using different mediums. Then you can orient all your practices from now on trying a variety of mediums which interest you towards this short-term goal. I understand how overwhelming the whole thing is, so you definitely need to give yourself a direction. An exhibition is a very specific and easy-to-understand plan to guide you through this chaotic realm of art.

All the best!(sorry, it’s NOT short at all) :tumbler_glass:

Don’t apologise for the long thread - I appreciate being educated!

Shapers are ordered and Schminke pastels added to my wish list (they’re expensive, so might need to wait until next pay day :slight_smile: )

I love the idea of an exhibition - most things are shut in the UK at the moment, but I know my local golf club used to showcase works by local artists in their restaurant. I’m going to ask if I could book a slot and give myself something to aim for. Again - great advice, and really inspiring! Thank you!

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Hi, now that I know that you’re a musician from your profile, I came up with something; an assignment which you may find intriguing.

This is my pastel drawing of waterdrops on a leaf. I titled this one as “bassist” because:
a) As far as I can tell from some bassist friends, they are nice persons. Green, a healing colour, appears to match them.
b) Plants work as the base for all other living creatures. Bassists’ role for other players look similar.
c) Waterdrops are not jumping and staying on the leaf. Bassists are not supposed to be jumping during the session either. If they do, other players will be in trouble.

Then, what kind of pastel drawings would you think of for “drummer”, “guitarist”, “pianist”, “trumpeter”, and so on in line with the concept of “bassist”?

This is something I was going to do when I finished this piece. And you can probably know how your creativity will start working by knowing the way I have come to the idea of this series.

At first, I just wanted to practice waterdrops drawing using pastels. I had no other intention at all. I looked for a reference photo which looked easy enough, and tried drawing it looking at the photo. Once I completed this work, the title “bassist” came to my mind. Like I explained above, some features of this piece appeared to fit my image of bassists. Then I thought that I could develop this work into a series covering musicians playing a variety of instruments. I was even thinking about having an exhibition titled “waterdrop rhapsody”. But another idea using the same concept occurred to me, so I dropped the idea of musicians-series and decided to add something different to this series.

So, until I completed the first waterdrop drawing, it was just a practice. The moment when I looked at my own finished piece, my creativity started functioning and thought of drawing a musicians series. By practicing a waterdrop drawing, I gave my creativity an opportunity to come out.

This process is quite close to what Candace mentions in your thread, “Rather than copy what he’s doing, I try to think of something that I could do that is similar, but not the same.” You copy or practice something, but don’t stop there. Think about how you can apply the techniques you learned from copying and practicing for other themes or subjects. This way, you will find it quite easy to think of what to draw/paint as your original works. Then the next issues you will face is how you should organise and prioritise the pieces you work on because you have too many things to draw/paint!

Plus, since you’re interested in the idea of an exhibition, I will tell you something I remembered. A Japanese illustrator currently living in Melbourne once wrote in her blog that she used to buy frames before she drew/painted anything for her exhibition. This approach makes sense, because anyway you must get your works framed, and how the frames match your works is actually pretty important. Then, you can utilize this approach in another way; i.e. you have an exhibition titled “frame-inspired drawings” lol I mean, you buy some frames, and think about what kind of artworks will work well with each one of the frames you chose. You can come up with your original works in this way too. Well, I want to try this approach for myself… :sweat_smile:

Anyways, an exhibition is one type of entertainment and there are many different ways to entertain people by showing what you have created. For example, showing your before- and after-pieces of the same subject side by side could get the viewers very interested; “before” is created in June 2020 and “after” is December 2020, something like that. And then the theme of the show could be “veni, vidi, vici” lol

I know many people are reluctant to show their works at their beginners’ stage, but exhibitions are not technical excellence competition. You show your earlier works, which might look terrible, but by placing the improved works next to them, viewers, especially those who are interested in doing art for themselves, will get the feelings that “Hey, one can improve so much in such a short period of time! Then I might be able to do art too!”, which means you are giving them hope. From your apple drawing in coloured pencils, I think you’re a pretty quick learner with probably natural observation skills for values and shapes. And experiences in photography is helpful in designing the compositions of your works. So I guess if you do a “before- and after-pieces between 6 months” exhibition, the show would be something surprising and inspiring.

I wish I could see your exhibition. I hope you share some photos once you actually do. I myself am planning to have one later this year, maybe sometime in autumn at a local gallery, covering almost all the areas I have been through for creating animated films, e.g. photos, CG, pastels, and ballpoint pens.

Cheers, and all the best :pancakes:

Hi Maki,

I love the musician idea - that’s really got me thinking! (although I think you have bassists all wrong. A musician friend of mine once told me that if a bassist can count their own fingers, they’re over qualified :smiley: )

The frame idea is also inspiring. I can really imagine how having the frame first could inspire the art that goes in them.

I’m definitely going to aim for an exhibition - hopefully by the end of this year. I’ve already made enquiries, and just waiting for a response. It’s exciting!

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that is an interesting idea maki (regarding an exhibition)
… and a little daunting

is having an exhibition as a near beginner common? I have had a few daydreams about displaying some of my best work. but at best I imagined a craft fair or art contest.

and part of the hang up is the idea that perhaps among serious entries anything I could enter would seem bad or embarrassing.

but I’ve not heard much of about exhibitions around these parts.
what kinds of places host exhibitions?

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Hi Jason, thank you for your comment and question.

I have no idea whether a beginner level artist’s having an exhibition is common or not, maybe it depends on the community you’re in, I wonder? Every morning I check a local newspaper’s exhibition information page, where I find many exhibitions of local artists listed. I don’t know if they’re beginners or not, which information does not interest me either because I don’t even know how I can define “beginners” anyway. I know of, e.g. somebody who won a major competition after he practiced the shamisen for only 7 months. He became a professional shamisen player immediately and started teaching very soon too. Can we call him a beginner? Maybe not, so “how long” has nothing to do with the definition of a beginner. What else? I don’t know, and I am not interested in judging whether other artists are beginners or not. Whether I like their works or not, that is the only thing that matters, and I guess it is the same for the majority of people. I check the exhibition info on the paper, know what kind of exhibition they are, and if anything looks interesting, I just go there. There are many different types of exhibitions around here, they are not always drawings or paintings. Sometimes I find a handmade accessories exhibition, and when I am looking for something unique, I go there and check if there is anything I want to buy. That’s all.

Regarding the fear of your works looking bad compared to other artists’ works, it is very unlikely that it actually happens, because most of exhibitions I see here are solo exhibitions.

And the places which host exhibitions, we have a lot…as far as I can remember, restaurants, cafes, tourist facilities, hotel halls, nursing care facilities halls, local banks, post offices, civil centers, local libraries, some private galleries, and so on. Using a public space as your exhibition’s venue is pretty convenient because you don’t need to work hard to attract viewers. People come to these places for their own businesses, sort of “bump into” your works exhibited there, and if they’re interested they usually want some information about you. So you place some useful materials at the venue such as business cards, brochures, or information about your class if you’re teaching. Those who like your works will bring such information back home, and maybe come to your next exhibition too.

If you’re hoping to have this type of casual show, maybe you could ask a local restaurant or café, where you frequently go, if you can use it. In March, I did this for myself; there is a very delicious Nepal Cuisine restaurant in my neighborhood, but they had not hosted any art exhibitions before. So I contacted the owner, asked him if I could exhibit my works at his restaurant, and fortunately he was pretty happy with this idea.

Hope this information is helpful :cat: :+1:

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ty, maki

there’s alot of seriously great advice in that post.

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