Birch Bark and Buds

Winter is still wrapping up in our part of the country, but there is no shortage of drawing material thanks to our neighbor’s beautiful, white birch tree.

About a month ago, I went outside to run an errand and found what I thought was a piece of plastic garbage in the driveway. We have had a mild winter and it had been cool, rainy and windy that week. I picked it up and looked closely and realized that I had a beautiful piece of birch bark in my hand!


It was curled up on one side, frayed on the other and had a pretty little lichen on top. The underside was the gorgeous, light peach/tan that you expect from birch wood. I was looking for a subject for my next sketchbook entry and this was it!

I decided to do two views – one from each side – and chose my usual favorite media of ink and colored pencil. I really liked the look of just the pen, so I only used colored pencil on half of each view to give a sense of the coloration without having to detail it too much. I love that with a sketchbook study you can do partials, give an idea of color, shade or shape and move on. Here is how it turned out:


Thanks to an additional windy night, I was able to grab some small birch branches that had blown down. These had a great mix of the papery, white outer bark along with some lichen and hints of the peachy inner bark. I did a quick study in graphite and colored pencil


Finally, thanks to the continuing mild weather and a nice day, I visited one of my favorite small trees at a nearby park. This star magnolia is gorgeous when it blooms, but it also has some wonderful, fuzzy, pale-green buds. I did a quick drawing, just in pen, to capture some of this late-winter/early-spring growth.


What finds have you made this winter? Or are you eagerly awaiting spring with me? Tell me what you are looking forward to!

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