Friday, July 24, 2009

The view from Château de Béduer

This is a contribution to Vivien Blackburn's trees challenge. This is Vivien's challenge
The challenge is to produce sketches of trees done from life
  • These can be: close ups, extreme close ups, whole tree, part of tree, distant views - whatever you want.

  • Style: anything goes - photorealism to impressionism but with underlying observation

  • Medium: your choice, anything goes :>) oil paints, acrylics, watercolours, mixed media, charcoal, graphite, coloured pencils, pen, oil pastels, pastels, pastel pencils ....... etc etc etc

  • Timescale: we'll finish at the end of July and I'll post links to your blogs then - please leave your links in the comments as with the skies challenge
To think about
  • The character of trees - they are so individual, consider the way it grows, the dynamic way the branches reach for the sky, the way winds may have shaped it or it clings to rocks or hillside

  • Look at the texture of the bark, smooth, rough, flaking, damaged, patterned

  • The colours - which are rarely simply brown - look for the greys and greens and in some cases ambers, blue greys, off whites and more

  • Close ups as well as views of whole trees - look at the bark

  • Look at the pattern of branches and the negative spaces

  • Remember that branches come towards you as well as sideways

  • Look at where it joins the ground - roots showing ?? base buried in tall grasses?? look how it melts into its surroundings without a line beneath it
paint or sketch trees: challenge
The view from Chateau Beduer

The view from Château de Béduer
watercolour sketch in sketchbook

copyright Katherine Tyrrell

This is a watercolour sketch of the view from Château de Béduer. This castle is situated on the outskirts of the village of Beduer in the Célé valley, a beautiful tributary of the river Lot, near the medieval market town of Figeac in Aveyron area of France and the countryside round about was very beautiful.

It was done plein air while I was on a painting holiday there some 15 years ago. I understand it's still being used for painting holidays. I can certainly recommend La Grange which we stayed in for accommodation. (If you're interested in painting holidays - check out Art Holidays - Resources for Artists)

This sketch was a major innovation for me. It was during that holiday that I began to loosen up a bit with the way I painted and stopped trying to be quite so nitpicky about my watercolour painting. It was quite a revelation to paint this sketch in a way which tried to capture the impression rather than every single leaf!

Yesterday I went to see the Corot to Monet exhibition at the National Gallery. This looks at the development of landscape painting using examples from the collection. I came across Pierre-Henri de Valenciennes and his Advice to a Student on Painting, Particularly on Landscape for the first time (about which I'll be writing more on Making A Mark next week).

Towards the Gates, Château de Béduer
17" x 11.5", pencil in Daler Rowney sketchbook
copyright Katherine Tyrrell

One of the things Valenciennes recommended was really getting to grips with what the bark of a tree looked like.

On the right is my sketch of the trees - with their gnarled and twisted bark on the tree trunks - either side of the driveway from the main gates up to the chateau. I think it was the very first time I'd drawn trunks and no leaves!

I was also fascinated with the design and pattern of the shadow of the leaves from the canopy of trees just behind me

I'll always remember this sketch as it was the one I was doing when I found out that my eldest niece had just been born in Australia!


  1. I do love seeing you painting in watercolour, Katherine - even if it was quite a while ago. But I think you are getting sucked back in, aren't you? You always manage to find the patterns of the patchwork quilt in the landscape - it's something I aspire to.

    That's a very pleasing pencil sketch of trees too.

    There's is a great read in the link - too late in the day for me to focus properly but I will look forward to your MAM posts on the subject. It's a great idea to attempt to draw from memory the scenes one has painted on location. I'll certainly practise that.

  2. I so love the watercolor Katherine!

  3. lovely

    and I like the patchwork quilt of the landscape too Robyn :>) especially on days where there are passing clouds and flashes of bright light on just some fields.

    I'd really like to see you do more watercolours Katherine

  4. That's a fascinating idea, to focus on the character of a trees bark when painting it--or, at least be aware of it. I'll have to think about that next time I paint a tree.


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