My wife and I have been going for evening walks over the past couple of weeks.

We spend a lot of time outdoors already but evening walks are a bit of a new thing and something we’re really enjoying; places are generally less busy, the light is different (that golden ‘magic hour’ much loved by photographers), and you can hear the owls and other nocturnal critters getting more active.

I’ve really enjoyed taking photos of weird shaped trees.

We came across a particular tree in Golden Acre Park, all covered in stumpy growths, with this very thick-lined bark pattern. Very gnarled up and characterful.

It got stuck in my head. I really wanted to draw it and realised I’d been thinking about this bloody tree off and on for the past few days before I finally sat down and sketched it out this morning.

You’ll notice if you look at the original photo, I haven’t drawn in the pine tree right behind. It’s quite dense with foliage and is competing with the focal point of my study – the texture of the bark in the subject tree.

I did want to add in a tonal background element, so some loose texturing with a Copic marker did the trick.

I often see people perhaps just starting out sketching feel the need to put everything into a scene, sometimes to the detriment of the overall composition. Remember, it’s fine to modify a scene to bring out the elements you want to be the focal points.

This isn’t perfect. Just a sketch. I’m already spotting a few areas where I feel the pull to add lines or thicken a shape but I’m trying to be less precious about things like that and, much like my evening walks themselves, just enjoy the process.