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London’s trees in winter

A project to paint and draw trees across London is quite an undertaking. Ian Sidaway describes how he achieved this – from making made both pen and watercolour sketches on site to selecting subjects to work up into finished paintings
Winter Morning SW19, watercolour on Saunders Waterford, 141⁄4x22in (36x56cm). A common theme when painting trees is that of repetition, especially when depicting a stand of tress of the same species. Aggressive cropping splits and strengthens this composition. Although the leaf- and ivycovered areas beneath the trees looks complex on first viewing, it was methodically but loosely painted in layers, with masking fluid used for the finer grasses in the lower left-hand corner. I added the linear pattern on the peeling bark with a graphite pencil

The idea sounded simple enough: paint and draw trees in every postcode district of London, over a one-year period through the seasons January to December. A little research revealed there are 131 main central London postcodes covering an area of 241 square miles, with an estimated 80 species of trees. In all that’s eight million trees scattered over 142 parks and 600 squares, not including cemeteries or street trees. So it should be relatively straightforward, I thought – I would need to visit between two and three postcodes every week for a year in order to produce images.

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About The Artist

Welcome to our December issue, packed with inspirational workshop-style features from our team of top professional artists and tutors. This month David Curtis demonstrates an oil painting of a corner of his garden, Graham Webber shows how to paint boats in the landscape, Judi Whitton shares her 'creepy crawly' drawing methods to help you produce unique sketches without a viewfinder and Penny German reveals her tips for setting up and lighting a still-life subject. Watercolourists will love learning how Claire Harkess paints her prizewinning wildlife paintings, and how to paint a successful botanical subject using just three primary colours following Jarnie Godwin's advice. Writer, broadcaster and painter Andrew Marr discusses his thoughts about abstraction with reference to the development of one of his own compositions, as well as much more to keep you inspired, informed and, of course, drawing and painting!