Apparently this is how you draw a cherry tree the Sachiko Umoto way. I am not very good at copying her style, I’m afraid. She has many more cherry blossoms in place than I do, and she has much more skill at making her cherry tree look like a cherry tree. But!
And it’s a big ‘but’ —it turns out that copying the drawings and pictures of others is a critical way to teach drawing… this line, angled this way, is the curve of a cherry tree, and this other line, curved this way, becomes a smile; if you curve it this other way, it signifies worry. These are not things one can learn by being told them… one has to learn them by doing them.
I’m minded of an idea for a reverse-engineered exercise I had in a college Art History class. We were each given a picture of a painting, and we had to write a paper about that painting — the first two pages were about who painted it, for whom, and why; as well as the historical details of the painting… and the last three pages were an analysis of what skills and technical detail the artist is displaying in the work (i.e., is there perspective, is there color, what tools is the artist using, how is the artist manipulating the viewer, and so on). It was an interesting exercise. I wonder how I would carry out such an exercise with middle schoolers?
But more importantly, I wonder how these drawings can be used to help me? Today, I used those little Artists’ Trading Cards to make nine small drawings of bouquets of tulips. In Japan, Sachiko writes, it’s the custom to give tulips on the first day of school. I’ll be giving drawn bouquets of tulips to my homeroom students, as a way of welcoming them to my advisory. They’re all very similar to one another, but colored differently, and I hope that they set the tone for the year — good will, peace, prosperity, and great fortune in the coming year.