Monday Morning Art School: Merry Christmas!

Beth Carr drew a concolor fir, which has a softer branching pattern than many other evergreens.

My friends (and students; the line is blurry) Diane Fulkerson and Beth Carr drove up this week to spend Christmas with me. While they were en route, I texted them to ask if they would do this morning’s exercises as examples. “I knew there would be work involved,” Diane said. The last time she visited, I had her do an exercise for Monday Morning Art School on using Pilot FriXion pens with watercolor.

I drew a Fraser Fir. If I’d been thinking, I’d have drawn a balsam, which was my favorite tree in the days when we had real trees. (I’m allergic.)

If you look at Christmas tree drawings online, the majority have boughs facing down. That is not how most young evergreens grow. Their boughs point up until they reach maturity. Even then, the upper branches tend to arc upwards. Pine boughs droop when they’re snow-laden, so maybe that’s why people persist in drawing them that way.

Moreover, every species has a unique branching pattern, needle length and color.

Diane Fulkerson did a blue spruce. She’d started out wanting to paint a black spruce, but her photo from Schoodic was too backlighted to be useful.

This is an exercise in seeing. If you celebrate Christmas, look at your tree and draw or paint it. If you don’t have a tree, look online for some of the common species used for Christmas trees, including but not limited to balsam firs, Scotch pines, blue spruce and Douglas firs. (My own Christmas tree is so fabulously fake that I used an online picture.)

Diane, Beth and I decided to use colored pencil so that we could work in the dining room next to the wood stove. None of us are expert in this medium, but we still had a great time. Pam wisely used watercolor.

Pam Otis painted a Christmas tree that was brought to the beach by a family. “They had a nice picnic and a campfire and left the tree behind for others to enjoy.”

I don’t really expect you to do much work today, but this will give you something to do if your uncles get into an argument about politics, your cousin gets stuck too deeply in the eggnog or your partner falls asleep after eating too much pie.

Above all, have a wonderful and blessed Christmas Day and Christmastide, and may God bless all of you.

My 2024 workshops: