How to draw trees by Frank M. Rines is the second cheap book on drawing trees I want to review here. The first edition of this book was published already in 1936 under a different title. The paperback copy I bought was published in 2007.
The book is similarly constructed as the previously reviewed one by Norman Battershill, but there are differences. In fact I think both books overlap but make a good match together.
After a short introduction ten full pages of text are dedicated to the design and construction of trees. Mr. Rines text is not that clearly structured on first sight. But during reading I found that the author takes the reader by the hand and leads him through and around the major difficulties that a beginner in drawing trees will run into.
There are very useful tips, for example how to handle less pleasant aspects of real trees or how to avoid unfavourable depictions of branches. In fact all aspects from trunk, branches, twigs and leaves are covered. Mr. Rines also gives some instructions how to use Pencils in tree drawings.
On the following 40 pages on each page there is a tree (almost full page) drawing either with leaves or in winter conditions without leaves. Each drawing is accompanied by some explanatory text. Most of the tree species are deciduous trees like maple, elm, oak and beech, but also a pine tree and a cedar are shown. All images are in black and white, even though a few oil paintings are included.
The drawings of Mr. Rines are somewhat more painterly than those in the Battershill publication. My humble sketches after some of the illustrations hopefully will convey this impression. Also the trees are more isolated from a landscape context, and those landscape backgrounds are less convincing than this in the Battershill book from my point of view. But that does no harm to the tree drawings as such. Apart from pencil and charcoal drawings which are great material to learn about tonalities there are also some fine ink and pen line drawings. Therefore I think that this book with an emphasis on tonal drawings is a good match to the Battershill with an emphasis on line drawings.
The line drawings of trunk and branches on the left are an example of the tips you will find in this book. Sometimes some branches grow parallel which can look odd in a drawing. Mr. Rines recommends to change the rendering of the branches in that case to a more pleasing view (A/ changed to B or C).
Mr. Rines and Mr. Battershill both have the same philosophy that a mere accurate as possible copy of a subject is not art and not the desirable goal when drawing trees. Nevertheless Mr. Rines states that an artist can only simplify if he knows (can draw) exactly what is left out. This is a paradox that I meet again and again: one must be able to draw exactly i.e. become slave to the visual fact in order to gain artistic freedom.
Next week I want to discuss this a little more in view of an interesting historical controversy on the very topic at the end of the 18th century in British landscape painting.