Symbols, Definitions, and Representation (A Study of a Park)

A little over a month ago my wonderful mother got me a drawing tablet for my birthday, and since then I’ve been brushing up on my skills and working on a new webcomic. More on that some other time!

The comic’s main character lives near a park with a lake, so I’ve started doing some work on that front since it’s been a while since I’ve drawn outdoorsy stuff. (In ‘analog’ painting, trees are, in fact, my nemesis.)

So I was tooling around the Internet trying to find information on how to draw a tree. There’s a lot of good stuff out there! And a lot of bad stuff. But I was surprised, I guess, to find so many talented artists writing up freely available tutorials. This wasn’t something you would’ve found when I was last seriously Doing Art in my teens and early 20s.

I say I guess I was surprised because lots of people are doing lots of high-quality hobbyist writing out there nowadays. Some folks write about areas of interest, some folks write about a their profession, the lucky ones find little gap between the two. So of course there’s going to be a lot of good content about drawing. It just wasn’t something that I had available to me when I was younger, and I’m jealous of people who do. Which is stupid, since obviously I have access to this as well, but I’m not slightly younger than myself, so, jealousy. Being human is hilarious.

Anyway. I wanted to draw trees. And I found this one tutorial that actually wasn’t showing me how to draw the exact style of tree I wanted, but had some handy tips.

This is not about those tips. It’s about what preceded them. It showed two examples of what people might draw when asked to draw a tree, one roughly like so:

Screen Shot 2017-06-12 at 7.27.44 PM

And one roughly like so:

Screen Shot 2017-06-12 at 7.27.46 PM

The problem here is that for the first you’ve drawn a symbol of a tree, and in the second you’ve drawn the definition of a tree, but what you’re actually going for is a representation of a tree, something that evokes the symbol in the viewer’s mind, while being true enough to the definition that it does so accurately.

Then it teaches you a particular way to draw a tree, which somewhat detracts from the larger point since it’s rather a definition, don’t you think? But I digress.

Actually, this whole post is a digression, because I just wanted to share the park I drew.wash park.png


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