This little scene was right on the bank of the river, there are a million similar scenes all along the river.
This scene wasn't close to the river bank but not on it. What interested me was the little pathway full of small rocks with the tree background. There was nowhere for me to sit for this sketch so I did just a quick tonal hatch sketch just to record my impressions of the scene quickly.
There's a small ditch that meanders around this section of the parkway, in fact on one part it's lined with cottonwoods, (hence the name for this section of the parkway, Cottonwood Park). This ditch hardly ever has water in it but a section of it did today, not much but enough to create an interesting lead in to the tree. I just sat and watched the trickle of shallow water for a few minutes, it was kind of mesmerizing. Even though I'm studying nature by doing these sketches I've found I often get so involved in the sketch I miss other surroundings. It's always a good idea to stop and just observe, be in the moment so to speak.
This looks complicated, but I simplified it quite a bit. These trees with the multitude of trunks always create interesting shapes. I had one of those "stop and observe" moments while sketching this. Something landed on my knee, my automatic reflex is to brush the thing off but I looked first this time and noticed it was a lady bug. I stopped and watched it walk around on my knee for a couple minutes then coaxed it to walk onto my finger and watched it walk up and down my finger until it flew away, A short break from sketching that was worth it.