Awkward Botanical Sketches #3: The Ginkgo Edition

For most of my life, ginkgo has been a meaningful tree to me. I remember first learning about it as a fourth grader. Our teacher had assigned us each to make a leaf collection. My grandparents heard about my assignment and sent me a ginkgo leaf from a tree growing in their front yard. It was unlike any other leaf in my collection, and it had a fascinating back story. Not only is it the only living tree in its genus and family, it’s also the only extant species in its division (Ginkgophyta). It was around during the time of the dinosaurs, and is considered a living fossil. I felt honored to have it, especially when I learned that I was the only kid in the class that had one.

Since then I’ve considered Ginkgo biloba to be one of the best trees. It continues to fascinate me. It’s a beautiful tree with captivating foliage, and it’s resiliency is amazing. It’s no wonder that depictions of ginkgo are so common across many cultures.

Since I love looking at ginkgo leaves, I decided to try to draw them. If you’ve been following this series of posts, you’ll remember that my drawing skills are severely lacking. A shape as simple as a ginkgo leaf should be easy to draw, but not for me. I resorted first to tracing leaves that I had pressed, and then going from there. Below are some of my results.

Ginkgo biloba leaf rubbing inspired by a page in Gayla Trail’s book, Grow Curious. After several attempts, this was the best I could do.

Finally, a freehand drawing of a cluster of ginkgo leaves in my pocket notebook in celebration of Staple Day.

Some ginkgo leaves I mailed to the Smithsonian for their Fossil Atmospheres research project.

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6 thoughts on “Awkward Botanical Sketches #3: The Ginkgo Edition

  1. Some of those aren’t that bad…especially the outlines. ๐Ÿ™‚ We have a few Ginkos in our neighborhood. The town recently started planting trees in the manner of the old tree belts and Ginkos were among the several species. And, as you might imagine, I consider it a distant namesake.

  2. I had no idea what Staple Day was — I thought maybe it was a day to purchase staples for the pantry, or listen to the Staples Singers. When I learned the truth, I laughed aloud. Wonderful!

    I like your first, dark green sketch, and the black and whites the best. I’m not sure I’ve seen a Ginko tree, but I learned they are around. As pretty as they are in fall, maybe I’ll put finding their color on my autumn “to do” list.

  3. I particularly like the cluster of leaves against the green squared ground.
    I noticed that in your first post on this subject you asked for books that readers have found useful. When I was trying to improve my drawing I found these two books to be good:

    Edwards, Betty
    Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain.
    This is widely available and affordable.
    I selected a few exercises that I found helpful and did them most days – a bit like practicing musical scales.

    Evans, Anne-marie and Evans, Donn
    An Approach to Botanical Painting.
    This is rather expensive!! I borrowed a library copy and made extensive hand written notes. It is excellent and very detailed.

    I haven’t drawn much for a few years and my skills are very rusty! You inspire me to take it up again. Thank you.

    Elizabeth

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