Colored Pencil Plein Air Drawing Week 1 Report

Colored Pencil Plein Air Drawing Week 1 Report

It was a short week and busy, so not much time to draw. But I did manage to get outside early Friday evening (September 2) and found a sapling growing next to a larger tree a few feet from our front porch.

The Method I Used

I started the drawing with a long stroke of French Grey 20% along the right side of the tree. I used the side of a blunted pencil to draw that stroke with medium pressure, since I knew there wouldn’t be a lot of time to draw.

Next, I used the same type of stroke and pressure to draw the opposite side of the tree with French Grey 70%. With the trunk and branches thus defined, I layered each color, overlapping colors and layers to establish the basic light and dark values.

Colored Pencil Plein Air Drawing Week 1 Detail 1


I drew the leaves and leaf clusters with the side of a spring green pencil. This time, the strokes were short and followed the direction of the leaves. I drew individual leaves, but used one or two strokes for each one and let the shape of each stroke define the leaves.

Colored Pencil Plein Air Drawing Week 1 Detail 2


Here’s the full drawing.

Colored Pencil Plein Air Drawing Week 1

Time Spent Drawing

20 to 30 minutes. It was late in the afternoon or early evening when I finally got outside, so there wasn’t a lot of time to draw before the light began to fade.

What I Learned

Choose Drawing Time More Thoughtfully. It was late enough in the afternoon that the shadows crept up the tree quickly. By the time I finished, nearly all of the tree was in the shadow of the house. When I want to do more detailed drawings, I need to chose a time of day when the light doesn’t change quite so quickly.

Allow More Time to Draw. I didn’t check the time when I began drawing or when I stopped, but it wasn’t more than 20 or 30 minutes. This drawing is only about half finished. It was my intention to work on it again the next day. Plans change, though, and there was no time to finish the drawing. So I need to allow more time to do more detailed drawings.


Choose Smaller Subjects. I need to choose smaller subjects to draw or focus on smaller parts of larger subjects.

The bottom line? I’m not as fast or as accurate in drawing as I thought I was. That’s not a surprise. I tend to over-estimate a lot of things.

But that’s okay. This challenge is all about learning. I learned a lot with this little drawing.

Tools Used

Mead Academie Sketch Book, 9 inches by 6 inches, Heavyweight white paper

Prismacolor Pencils

  • Spring Green
  • French Grey 20%
  • French Grey 70%
  • Cream


  1. Patty Coulter

    I agree, when my mind is really on something else, or I am hurrying to just get drawing time in, I never get as good as results nor enjoy it as much as when I have time to be totally focused. But lovely little tree. You really captured the gesture of it.

    1. Patty,

      Thanks. The interesting thing is that I’d never noticed that little tree before.

      I admit it. I’m a studio artist. My preferred method of drawing is to put a grid on a photo and do a detailed line drawing. Drawing from life or drawing outside is not new to me, but it’s something I have to work at.

      But having said that, I already have a subject picked out for week 2!


  2. Patty Coulter

    I was going to hop aboard and do your Autumn challenge…I thought I had signed on . Will I continue to get an email like this? How do we post own work if we wish , like was described in the challenge?

    1. Patty,

      You did request an invitation. I sent an email to you through Pinterest. All you need to do is respond to that email and you’ll become part of the Autumn Plein Air Challenge board. Once you become a member, you’ll be able to publish your drawings to that board.

      If you didn’t get the email, check your spam folder.

      If you don’t have it there, either, let me know and I’ll resend the invitation.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *