One Tree 3 1/2 Ways {#SketchbookSummer}


If ever I need to still my heart, all I need to do is step outside my door and feel the sun on my face and spend a few minutes in fresh air and quiet.

I’ll never forget being 10 years old and encountering the cherry blossom season in Washington DC. Monuments and buildings escaped me but the soft beauty of the falling snow of flowers etched itself in my soul.

Today is going to be a lot of fun.  Do you have your sketchbooks ready?  We are going to do an exercise that is extremely practical.

Have you ever had a moment where you needed a new way of “seeing” or “interpreting” your situation?  Where you needed fresh perspective but you felt stuck?  I know have!

One way to become more skilled in seeing the world around you in more creative and innovative ways is to practice!  This exercise is for executives and leaders, for those of you who say, “well I’m just not creative” as much or more than it is for those of you who create regularly.  We can all practice stretching our perspective!


I took a sketchbook page and divided it into quarters with blue painters tape which was later removed.

  • Section 1: I took the reference photograph of a cherry tree and did a loose pencil and watercolor sketch.
  • Section 2: I created an abstraction based on the reference. Blossoms are round and branches straight so I created a pattern of overlapping circles and lines.
  • Section 3: I did a very loose watercolor sketch {no pencil} of a close up view of the blossoms themselves.
  • Section 3 1/2: Included the fact I edited the reference photo {which had no copyright restrictions} quite a bit to achieve the color balance I was looking for.

Now for your challenge… Find a tree online or offline that inspires you.  Divide your sketchbook page into 4 sections using painters tape which will be removed when done.

  • Section 1: Print off a small reference photo and put it here.
  • Section 2: Do a loose watercolor/pencil sketch.
  • Section 3: Create some form of abstraction.
  • Section 4:  Look at some detail element.
  • On the back brainstorm how many other ways you could represent this tree creatively.  No limits.  Just let the ideas flow.  We are practicing stretching our perspectives!



When I am simply working in my sketchbook, I gravitate toward using children’s watercolor supplies.  I love the fact I can use them without any thought to using an expensive alternative to explore ideas.  Plus they are nontoxic.

The watercolor wheels above are a Chinese generic brand I found on Ebay and I really enjoy using them.  I also enjoy using Prang, Crayola and Daler-Rowney Student grade paints.  These pieces are not being sold or given as gifts so I am not worried about colors fading over time.


Here is a comparison color chart of a 12 pan set of Daler Rowney, a Crayola set of 24 you can find in Walmart, and the SBYL Chinese Watercolor Wheel.

Especially if you are just getting started, you don’t have to break the bank account with expensive artist grade supplies for art journaling purposes.  If you are seriously interested in learning watercolor then I would recommend investing a bit more in a mid-grade set like Winsor Newton Cotman.

I’d love to see what YOU create!  Snap a picture of your 3 1/2 ways and post it on my Facebook page’s wall.