First I searched online for and found My Reference. I liked the whiteness of this scene with the bold contrast.
The lesson was to use masking fluid to paint over the trees to keep them white, and then remove the masking and do some detail work on the trunks and bark.
I didn't have masking fluid and decided to use blue painter's tape instead, which worked out well. Especially because I could rearrange my "trees" on the paper before I started painting or sketching and was able to envision the composition more easily.
First, I did a practice run at home. I waited until the last minute so I didn't have time to finish before class, but I did prove that the painter's tape could save the whites just as well as the masking fluid.
I wasn't able to finish completely during the hour and a half at class, but here's a photo showing how far I got. I was very pleased and even got some sincere compliments during the critique which was nice.
The next day during lunch I finished it, and although I like it better finished than unfinished, I wish I had kept with the simple tree trunk patterns and "less is more" on the bark. I wanted to try to use some more colors and tie them in with the trees in the background, but these new colors feel a little out of place to me and spoil some of the dramatic contrast between the lights and darks. I also still need a lot more practice painting tree shadows.