In the midst of my own tree studies, I'm taking an online course with Deborah Paris called "Drawing and Painting Trees." Perfect for me, right? She has us doing all sorts of studies/sketches of trees, and this week one thing we've studied is the taper of a tree.
Deborah recommends reading The Elements of Drawing, by John Ruskin, an influential late 19th-century artist. She suggests copying his and other's sketches as a way to learn. It's a time-honored technique, but I can't say I'd ever done it! And it's very different copying another's work--following rather than leading, if you will, but I learned some very valuable lessons. First, slow down. Be more thoughtful about each line. Study what you're drawing. Look twice, mark once. All of these apply to painting, and all are things we tend to gloss over in the bliss of spreading paint.
A big thank you to Karla Uphoff, for making my blog her "Blog Find of the Week" on her blog. My tree studies are what drew her. Thank you!