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Almost Dusk Trees Sketch


Treetops sketch in late afternoon on Moleskine watercolor journal.
A lovely little afternoon sketch of treetops in my moleskine.

Sometimes when I am sketching everything just turns out. This sketch is one of those times. I looked out the kitchen window when I was making dinner, saw the light was perfect and grabbed my painting go bag, leaving my poor husband finishing up dinner. Sometimes you just have to take that sketching time when the light is just right! It won't be the same light in 15 minutes.

You can't pick up subtle tones in a photo. That's what sketching is for, not copying a photograph, but showing things a photo misses.

It was freezing outside, but that light... amazing. The base of our backyard is a bit of a bowl, so light skims over the edge, shadows the deep forest and glows in the tree tops. This was a very very quick sketch, about 10 minutes max. I kept the colors limited since they are limited in winter in late afternoon. First I dashed on the cool blue of the sky. Notice that the blue is up at the top but fades at the bottom of the sky rather like a child's painting.

I left more blues on the right side since it was almost completely in shadow. Then while it was still wet, I dashed in some blue purples and a bit of dull green for the pine tree tops.

This dried very quickly since the wind was cold and brisk! I was able to thickly drybrush golds over the blue sky on the left, while keeping just a few dull red browns on the right. I used my fingers a lot for smudging, as you can tell. I really loved how this little sketch turned out and I'm planning on making it into a real painting.

If I didn't have the sketch, the photo would never give me an accurate impression of the light and color. This light can't be captured in a photograph. Bolder and stronger light, yes, but paintings show subtleties. Really immerse yourself in the moment, let the beauty of the moment flow out your fingers into the painting. Enjoy the moment!

What light inspires you to sketch today?

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