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I have lots of lichen, moss and liverwort in my garden, and I like to encourage them, especially the mosses which are spreading to all sorts of places this damp summer. The way they form miniature ‘forests’ appeals to my love of detail and small things.

Sketchbook drawings of lichen

A few weeks ago I decided to start some sketches of lichen, and that same day when I was out walking I found my way blocked by a huge branch fallen from a massive oak tree. This gave me the opportunity to study and photograph the lichens up close, and I picked up a small piece for my collectors drawer, which you can see below. Some days later when the subject had begun to dry out I began some sketches of the shape and detail of the branchy lichen.

Above: My first attempts at getting the lighting and details, and then a more overall sketch (far right) to see the way it grows. This is a complicated little subject which I found quite challenging.

Pencil drawing of lichen on a branch

Above: Here are stages in the finished drawing of this twig with lichen. Once I had sketched lightly in H pencil the approximate position of the branches I added in more detail, finishing the dark shadows in the softer pencil. The drawings were all done with H and 2B pencil on cartridge paper. The finished drawing is approx. 11 x 7.5″.

Below: A view of a corner of my studio, with the lichen drawing in progress on my desk. Behind are some of the drawers I use to store some of the collected items from my walks. You can see inside one of the drawers in the image top left. Centre is a view of my desk showing how I like to light the subjects while I am drawing, and on the right is a view of the drawing in progress. You can just see the lichen subject in the background. The light is also a magnifier which is useful for studying the smaller details of the subject and in completing the drawing.

I have not identified my shrubby lichen, but if you are looking to identify some sample from your garden or walk, I did find a very nice picture ID site here: British Lichen.

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