No Skill Required for a Meditative Experience ‘Drawing Trees’

Books Crafts Featured Reviews

Art was always my favorite elective in elementary school and junior high, but I stopped doing much with it when high school hit. And then I never got back into the kinds of activities one does in art class. I turned more to crafts, like sewing and crochet. But in the past few years, I’ve been going back to drawing and even digital art.

I love natural and organic shapes, so when I saw a new book come out called Drawing Trees: Trace Thirty Different Trees and Their Leaves, Branches, and Seeds, I wanted to try it. Not only is it filled with nature shapes, but you’re meant to trace the shapes, so my still-amateurish skills wouldn’t be a hurdle.

Drawing Trees is a pretty neat book. Its intention seems to be to get the artist to connect with nature by paying attention to all the lines and shapes that make up leaves, trees, seeds, fruit, and other natural features. The front of the book includes some pages on leaf types and shapes, tree types, and a table of contents.

Each tree consists of two or four pages that include the common and Latin names of the tree, a tree description and history, a silhouette of the full tree, and one or two traceable images of the tree and its features. Some are simple while others are intricate. Those that cover four pages also include a “Practice Noticing” section that asks you to meditate on your experience, with thought-provoking words that don’t pertain to that specific tree.

There are also a few spreads, scattered throughout, with line drawings and quotes. The very back of the book includes some additional images to trace that aren’t labeled or categorized, along with a few pages where you can record notes.

This book is half drawing book, half meditative exercise, but fully designed to help you connect with nature and with your own experience. With just this book and a pencil, you could have a quiet moment or two, best experienced alone, where you can really focus on your thoughts and the movement of your pen or pencil.

I found that tracing the images helped me realize just how many lines and curves there were to what I was seeing, and helped me appreciate natural shapes all the more. I wish I’d had some real-life specimens in front of me too, though. Perhaps you could use this book while traveling around, and picking what to trace based on what you found in nature.

I think the book is designed to trace the images right in the book itself, as they are printed in a pale green. You can just trace the lines, or add shading, color, or other elements to the pages. But the book doesn’t lie flat, so I chose to photocopy pages and then trace the copies. Copying the page made the lines even lighter, which made tracing them all the more of a stark comparison. I liked working on a flat piece of paper, in any case.

Drawing Trees is a nice alternative to those “adult coloring books” out there for a physical, meditative activity that feels more directed than just coloring. There are also fewer choices to make than with coloring, since you can just trace in pencil or pen, and just spend time with the page with very few supplies. I think it would be improved by having a lay-flat binding, or even a wirebound one, but that’s my only nitpick. It’s a neat book, and I recommend it.

Note: I received a sample for review purposes.

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